I started 2014 with one goal…walk the distance of 52 marathons in 52 weeks. Simple enough, 1,362.4miles in 364 days. What I didn’t expect was the life-altering process I set into motion.
For 6 months prior to 2014, I worked closely with my doctors, therapists, and anyone who could offer advice. I was in uncharted territory. I’m an individual living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). I have blurred vision to my left. I become dizzy and experience vertigo when I move my head too quickly. I have spasticity and numbness in my legs that lead to frequent falls. I did, after all, walk with a cane for 7 years. Yet, best of all, with an increase in my body’s core temperature, I lose my vision (Uhthoff’s Phenomenon). And NOW I was going to tackle the distance of 52 marathons!
JOURNAL ENTRY Day 1: Jan 1, 2014. I walked 3.31miles around the golden triangle of downtown Pittsburgh and finished it off with my annual jump into the frigid river with other like-minded ‘polar bear’ individuals… One down, 363 more days to go. By the way, I’m 0.43miles short of the average daily distance…what!!! I’m nearly a half-mile behind pace already.
No worries, week 1 finished with a weekly mileage of 26.23miles. We were off and walking. In January, I was featured as an awesome user on the Runkeeper blog. I was able to tell my MS story and more importantly, I told the world about my 52in52 journey. This aided in keeping me accountable.
Through Runkeeper, I was also able to create goals. I’ll admit, I do not view myself as a goal setter and only now I realize I had goals for everything pertaining to 52in52. I had daily goals. I was very aware of the 3.7429miles needed every day to maintain “pace.” As time passed, I was setting monthly goals based on mileage or frequency. I was even personally and privately competing with others. It was fun interacting with others within the running community.
As the year went on, I continued to progress. I finished my first non-stop 26.2mile walk on April 12th as part of a Walk MS event in Pittsburgh. There was plenty of media coverage around this event. I was helping to create MS awareness.
Shortly after, my feet challenged me further. They wanted to go faster, SO they took me for a run!
We started slow, only a few steps at a time, increasing gradually. Running created an entirely new host of problems for my MS. I was up for the task and WOW, I felt alive!
Through trial and error and just one fall, I found myself at the starting line of the Pittsburgh 1/2 Marathon in May. By July, I created a 7-hour Walk-A-Thon event at my local running store to raise MS awareness and money for the National MS Society. I covered 32.84miles on a treadmill during those 7hours. An ultra-marathon on a treadmill. The treadmill never stopped and I never got off!
I finished July by spending a day running with the MS Run The US relay team. This team starts running in mid-April in Los Angeles and stops running in mid-August when they arrive in New York. Yes, 3,100miles across the US, averaging a marathon a day! An incredible group of athletes raising funds and awareness for MS. I was beyond thrilled to knock out a few miles with them.
And don’t worry, at this point I’m still knocking down my minimum of 26.2miles per week.
I’m setting more goals, short term, long term, and branched off into outer space goals.
Next up, a what in the hell am I thinking moment…and this is how it played in my head…“hey, I have family in Chicago. This race is in the fall and it would be nice to have an ”official“ marathon finish under my belt. SO, why not run the Chicago Marathon?!?” LOL, OOPS, no one told me it was a World Marathon Major with over 40,000 participants and a million more on course spectators. OK, let’s frame this for a moment. A guy with MS… MS, balance issues, numb feet, AND if we overheat him…he becomes blind! OK, let’s do this but, we’re going to need a lot of ice…
On October 12, I went from a person with MS, using a cane, handicap placard to park, etc; to Chicago Marathon finisher in the span of 1 year, 3 months and 12 days.
I won’t lie. It hurt, took every ounce of energy, effort, and every fiber of my being. I ran the entire race with a cap on my head packed with ice while squirting my body and cooling sleeves with ice water. I even became pre hypothermic from all the ice after I crossed the finish line. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
From Chicago to the end of the year, I set and adjusted several goals and pushed possibly too hard. So I didn’t hit every ‘adjusted’ goal I set forth. That was ok.
I can proudly say…in 2014… I ran 26.2miles or more 51 out of the 52weeks. I ran a total of 1,667miles*. 305miles MORE THAN THE GOAL. I ran through 8 pairs of shoes. (*All of which are tracked on Runkeeper.) Bonus points: I lost 40 pounds. (I just wanted to stop using my cane.)
JOURNAL ENTRY Day 364: Dec 30, 2014. 6.31miles in Chicago. Where I first walked outside cane-free 17 months prior. Where I ran my 1st world marathon major. Where I didn’t walk alone, a coyote shared my path at mile 3.
In 2014, I ran because I was trying to beat some chronic, progressive disease with no cure. I ran because “it was good for me.” I ran because it released stress as I was trying to find the “answer,” to the “something” about the “subject.”
During these 365 days in 2014, I ran. I’ve graduated from that class.
In 2015, I will run the NYC Marathon on behalf of the National MS Society sharing the stories of others with MS. You can find out more about me and these stories my visiting my website at www.johndplatt.com. Please consider donating to help individuals with Multiple Sclerosis find their legs, just as I have found mine.
I run NOW because I feel free from all constraint. I run NOW because there’s an incredible world out there and I want to absorb it all.
I run NOW because there are no balloons at my finish line, it’s just ice cream. I run NOW to be ONE.
Why not? Anything is possible.
Runkeeper is there for all of it…