Always a wanna-be athlete. That’s me. Admiring the smooth graceful power of athletic movement, wanting it, but never quite there. . . .
1955 -1976: I grew up pre-Title IX – ever the “tomboy” – constantly reigned in by concerned parents. . . Went to Caltech in the early seventies – before they had enough women to have actual women’s teams. That’s where I met Hal – my life partner and favorite running buddy. . .
I always loved to run – felt it gave me clarity, and running fast was the closest I could get to flying, another of my youthful aspirations. . . I was plagued from childhood by a torn meniscus in my left knee, which would periodically cause my knee to lock up, swell, and hurt. As time passed, those episodes became more and more frequent.
1979: A ski incident the year Hal and I got married did me in. The entire lateral meniscus was removed in 1979 – I was told by my surgeon to anticipate total knee replacement in 15 years, and to avoid running.
Didn’t do a real good job of following the doc’s orders. Continued to run, entering age group competitions in the San Gabriel Valley, wearing a knee brace. Had a couple of kids.
1991: I prepared to enter PT school, determined to learn enough about rehab to fix my knee and the world. At the same time, Hal, the children, and I moved to Santa Barbara – an opportunity we just couldn’t pass up, even though PT school was in Los Angeles. Too much! I came down with pneumonia – and the aftermath was a trigger of a latent autoimmune disease diagnosed as Lupus. My hands and feet started to break down.
1992-1997: Those are years I’d rather not re-live. I hated my feet. I hated my hands. Somehow, I completed PT school, often using a cane, hardly able to walk, unable to hold a fork, carry a plate, or open a jar. Took up swimming and stationary cycling. When I felt up to it. Glad I didn’t have to live with me. Poor Hal. Poor kids. As a Physical Therapist, I often had to use a cane. Patients told me I was “an inspiration.” DIdn’t feel like one. Felt like a person who had grown old before her time. . .
1998-2003: Lupus quieting down. Discovered Spinning. Started to feel more like myself. Dabbled in a few triathlons – still limited by pain when running. My “runs” were more of an “modify your gait and endure it” experiences.
2004-2006: Took up cycling. Joined a Cat 4 women’s cycling team – Femmes Fatales. Fun to compete again!
2007 – March 2009. Hal started to run daily – training for long distance races. I watched. I lusted. Finally, I cautiously tried. And tried again. And again. And again! To my shock/disbelief/rapture I’m getting away with it! Gotta keep myself reigned in – space out the training, keep the races short – but Man! It feel great to be flying down the road again. Not on wheels – just on my own feet..
April – May 2009: Hal continued to train, me at his side. But Hal started to have problems with his training – he was always tired, seemed to be getting slower. Meanwhile, I was building distance, getting faster. Then his speech started to become sluggish, slurred. His Neurologist ran an enormous number of tests. I won the Women’s Elite Master State Street Mile.
June- July 2009: Hal continued to have problems- and was sent to UCLA for more tests. We celebrated our 30th Anniversary in SLO – and for the first time we didn’t quite finish our annual bike ride – where we cycle the number of miles that we’ve been married.
August 5th, 2009: Hal was diagnosed with ALS. And my life changed forever.