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My Parkinson's Journey

In which Terri shares a humorous look at her journey with Parkinson's disease and Dystonia:

For me, illness and health are not opposites but exist together. Everyone has something that is challenging to them. Mine just simply has a recognizable name. My life will take a different path because of this but that's okay. Everyone has changes in their lives that create their path.  I'm learning how to enjoy whatever path I'm on.

Training – Day Two

Terri Reinhart

It’s all about pacing.

Daniel doesn’t know it yet, but I read his journal on running to get tips on how to pace myself.  I figure that every day is a small marathon to me now and pacing is critical to my getting through till evening.  If I don’t do it right, I’m a little weird when it comes time to cook dinner.  My family doesn’t always appreciate the way my arm flies around the kitchen as I attempt to cut vegetables.  I need more training; I admit that.  It’s time to consult the master.  As I am also his race pacer on Sunday, it’s even more important that I understand how to train for a marathon.

Following Daniel’s training guide, I will work on the following: (The bold words are Daniel’s.  See his article titled, “You must not love the bear” at http://longrush.blogspot.com/2009/09/you-must-not-love-bear.html.)  Here is his guide, with my personal goals added in:

1.  Long tempo runs, executed with patience, toughness, and playfulness:  Daniel runs 9 miles just because they are there.  He likes to run with other people and keep up with them.  Sometimes it is good to push myself, to have a “long tempo run” day when I clean, bake, work on artistic projects, and maybe even chop down a tree or two.  My mantra on those days is, “If I do this now, I’ll feel useless later.  If I don’t do this now, I’ll feel useless all day.”  Trust your training.

2.  Bounteous training table:  I have to eat right.  We try to have as much organic food as possible.  I absolutely must have a good hearty breakfast with plenty of protein.  If I fudge on this one, I pay for it all day.  If I have fudge for breakfast, I have no right to any sympathy.  Daniel’s wife, Melissa, writes about food for a living.  I suspect she’s an awesome cook, too.  Trust your training table.

3. Recovery days:  It was so nice to read that even Daniel takes a day off from running!  Days off are a must for me, too.  After a “long tempo run” day, I must have a day of rest.  I’ll start looking at these days as “full rest days between workouts”.  It sounds better than “crashing”.  Trust your rest.

4.  Training with others who run more consistent and tougher paces that I normally would.  The best new thing I am doing is Yoga with Paul Zeiger.  Paul has Parkinson’s, too, and he started teaching yoga long before he received his diagnosis.  He and his wife teach this class for people with Parkinson’s and their spouses/caregivers.  My husband, Chris, comes too.  So does Chris’ brother and sister-in-law.  His brother has Parkinson’s too.  Our teachers watch and see what we can do then challenge us to take it just a little farther.  Trust your training partners.

5.  Meditating:  I was very good at spending time meditating every evening for several years.  I let that go somehow, probably because I thought life was getting too busy.  I should know better.  The busier my life is, the more important it is to meditate.  It’s that time when my body and I get in sync with each other.  It’s time to let go and relax.  If I can relax and meditate for an hour each day, I can certainly trust that I can focus and be with Daniel in spirit during the race.  Trust your inner Zen master.

6.  The baby teaches me:   Hmm…Daniel has a beautiful baby girl who teaches him the “value of patience and the big picture”.  I’ll have a grand baby to teach me in a couple of months.  For now, I will have to change this one a little.  My family and friends teach me:  One of my favorite Buddhist sayings is:  “Be grateful for every person who comes into your life, for they will show you where you are stuck.”  I could be very specific here but it would take up too much time and space.  So many of you, my family and friends have been there just when I needed to stop worrying about myself and the details, and look instead at the bigger picture.  Sometimes this is done with a nudge, sometimes with a kick in the pants.  It is always appreciated, though not always at the time.  Trust your outer Zen master.

These, then, are my training goals for the week.  Is there anything else I would add to Daniel’s list? 

7.  Find your rhythm:  I suspect that Daniel does this automatically at this point.  Sometimes I need some outside help so that I can find my rhythm.  The outside help is often in the form of music.  If I can listen to music, I can find my pace.  If I listen to music, I can walk longer and faster.  If I can dance a little to the music, I am not as apt to fall.  If I start to have dyskinesias or some mild dystonia, I can always start singing and dancing.  It might help and even if it doesn't, it'll look cooler.  Trust your inner dancer.

That’s all.

Today was a long tempo run.  I got up and made a good breakfast for my husband.  It was his birthday and I wanted it to be special.  We were limited in what we could do outside the house as it had been snowing steadily for the last day and night and we didn’t want to drive in two feet of snow; so I baked a cake and brownies and chocolate chip cookies.  I finished sewing elves for my Christmas fair table and I cut and folded paper for greeting cards.  I also did 35 minutes on the exercise bicycle and 20 minutes of yoga exercises.  After a short nap, I made dinner for my family and then cleaned the kitchen.  It felt good!

I think tomorrow better be a rest day.