What is it about?

The rollercoaster adventures of parenting three kids, dealing with disability and mental health - and discussing disability discrimination and how to tackle it.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Running with the girl

Those of you that know me personally know that  I have taken up running. It is not something I thought I could ever do, and now I can't imagine life without it. Nothing feels as good as a nice run. Especially one with my daughter.

How did all this come about?

And how, you may wonder, do I run with my wheelie girl?

I started with a personal trainer after I injured a muscle in my shoulder from lifting her. I seem to remember it was when I lifted her onto the toilet. I instantly realised that I needed to do something. BooBoo is not getting any smaller or lighter and I will be lifting her for years to come - no point moping about that. Much better to start work.

I found a very nice personal trainer called Andy who worked out a program for me to strengthen my shoulders and arms and core strength. I started work twice a week and was keen to add a third day to speed things up. We couldn't find a mutually convenient day, so Andy recommended his mate Theo. that was april 2010. By now these two blokes have become regular parts of my life. I see them at least once a week and consider them friends.

Theo is an amazing guy. He lost 42 kg through exercise and became a personal trainer. He's the kind of trainer any chubby person can relate to - he's been there, done that. Not one of those young muscly fitness fanatics that put you off but someone who truly knows how hard it can be to shed those extra kilos and gain fitness.

Theo is a keen runner and from the very beginning used to push me to run. I was fighting him every step of the way. Can't run. Don't want to run.

Can't! Don't wanna!

And then I have to digress for a moment. I really really wanted BooBoo to have a dog. But I all my life I have been highly allergic to cats, dogs and horses (and dust and some pollen). Now I had used hypnotherapy before with some success and was determined to try it again. Three sessions and my dog allergy was cured (although not cats and horses). And the dog came (our beautiful black Labrador Jenna) and I found I could breathe!

So after the dog came and I could breathe I decided to give it a go. I bought the Couch to 5km app and never looked back.

It was a hard slog in the beginning. But I had help from the lovely Marijke (our then au-pair) who gracefully committed to run with huffy puffy slow coach me. And Theo pushed me steadily and mercilessly. My first full kilometer. Two kilometers. My first 7km Fun Run challenge - and I now not only understand how those 2 words fit together, I actually love Fun Runs. My first 10k run. My first half marathon. The City2Surf. And the lot again. And then I recently covered the marathon distance (42.2km!) and count the weeks to the next fun run. I have also discovered the joy of trail running and am toying with the idea of completing a (small) triathlon.

I went from around 80kg to 67kg and am probably fitter than I have ever been. I am keen to take up Karate again now that I am fitter and lighter.

But the best thing, as I noted, is running with my girl.

Just because she can't run doesn't mean she can't do a fun run!

She totally adores the speed and atmosphere of a fun run. On our first run together I mounted the iPad on the running pram so she could listen to music or play games while we were clocking our 9km. She only turned it on on the way home in the train.

She loves looking at all the other runners, the roadside entertainment, and pointing out the gaps in the crowd for us to wind through (most fun runs insist prams go in the "back of the pack" which means we get stuck behind enless walkers nattering along three abreast, or with earphones listening to music and totally tuned out to the world around them). And she especially loves her medals at the end!

We yell out a fair bit as we dodge them. BooBoo has an old fashioned bicycle bell on the front of her chair which she thoroughly enjoys ringing. And as loves to yell "faster mummy, faster". She will regularly ask me "when we go running again mum?"

How do you run with her, you may wonder.

You have probably seen YouTube videos of Team Hoyt. These guys are amazing and inspiring, and very helpful to boot. I contacted them and they had some excellent advise on how to run with a disabled person.

Based on their wisdom and advice, I bought my first running pram.

When she grew out of that, I got a bigger one. And then she grew out of that one too.

So now I'm trying to work out the next solution. Just last Sunday I did a short run with her in the wheelchair with the FreeWheel. Twas good, but I'm not happy with the chair's handle, so I've ordered a different one. I will also need to try some different aero bars.

One major drawback of running with her wheelchair is that it has no handbrakes for me (tricky when going downhill, especially in a big crowd). I am not yet sure of the solution here. But I have to say, on all other fronts the chair beats the prams - she sits so much better, it's easier on public transport on the way home (I take the FreeWheel off) and we don't get any stupid comments about the bulky size of the running pram or her "laziness".

In fact, last Sunday we did a little run together. As we approached the finish line the announcer called out "And ladies and gentlemen, here comes our first wheelchair racer" or some such words. The girl was totally stoked!

Team Hoyt have inspired people around the world to run with their disabled friends and family, and some people have designed great running contraptions. I'm spending many hours online searching for suitable things - it's only a matter of time until BooBoo truly grows out of running prams, and while her normal manual wheelchair with FreeWheel works for now, it surely won't forever. I will keep tinkering until I find a good solution for us. My ultimate dream is to get hold of a second hand racing wheelchair. Ideally i'd like to modify one for me to run with, and she can start racing herself if she wants to.

But run we will!


KatieMac Publicity said...

Great blog Heike and Billie. Love the announcer calling the first wheelchair racer and can definitely see Billie propelling herself over a few finish lines nefore too long. Sorry-I couldn't work out how to post as Katie McMurray! Much love Katie xx

Glee said...

Love everything in this post. Big hugs to you Heike and Boo :)