Today’s guest is someone that has been running for several years, but recently her running has taken on a bit of a different meaning.
She was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in 2020, became an ambassador for MS Run the US in 2021, and will be on the MS Run the US relay team in 2022!
Needless to say there will be plenty to talk about today and I am looking forward to going a few easy miles with Kelly Irving.
Ignorance Is Bliss
Kelly Irving didn’t run at all while growing up and only recently got into the sport in 2016.
While in college she consistently did exercise DVDs, but she wanted to add to her routine.
Kelly didn’t know anything about running, but she decided to give it a try.
She began by running 15 minutes out and back a few times a week.
Kelly had no idea what she was doing or how far she was going.
The most she ran was likely around 4 miles during that period.
After college, Kelly moved to a rural area in the Catskill Mountains in New York.
She continued to run consistently.
Climbing The Distance Ladder
Kelly was a regular at a nearby BootCamp.
The instructor suggested that Kelly run a 5k that was coming up.
Kelly signed up for the 5k and much to her surprise survived it.
From there, she continued to progress up the distance ladder.
She loved the half distance and made it a goal one year to run 12 half marathons in one calendar year.
After completing that challenge she wanted to push herself more.
The marathon was the next logical step.
Kelly trained for and completed her first full in 2016 and finished feeling great.
Clues That Something Was Wrong
For the next few years, Kelly continued to run a spring and a fall marathon.
Beginning in 2019, she began to notice signs that her body felt off.
In hindsight, she realized these symptoms were likely caused by MS.
Her normal training began to feel more difficult for a variety of reasons.
She began to have issues with her right leg, which she initially attributed to orthopedic issues.
Kelly also noticed that her legs cramped up more than usual along with electrical shock sensations in her legs.
She was in and out of physical therapy without much improvement.
Kelly continued to run 2 marathons that year, but she was getting discouraged with not having any answers as to what was going on.
Putting The Pieces Together
It was the summer of 2020 when all of the symptoms that came and went in the past year began to pile up.
Kelly could no longer deny that something greater was going on with her body that had nothing to do with running.
Prior to her first appointment with a neurologist, Kelly was aware of MS and suspected that was what she may have had.
Her suspicion was confirmed by two specialists that she did indeed have MS.
Kelly wasted no time and immediately began researching what steps she could take to improve her symptoms.
Dietary changes along with the addition of medicine helped to minimize many of her symptoms.
Kelly found that eliminating gluten and dairy played a big role in helping her to feel better.
She also cut back on the amount of legumes and sugar she ingested as well.
Searching For Support
Shortly after her diagnosis, Kelly began to search online for a community of runners that could relate to her MS struggles.
Initially, she didn’t have much success until she stumbled upon MS Run the US.
She first heard about the organization through a podcast that she listened to.
Immediately after learning about the organization, she signed up for the ambassador program.
There was zero part of her that thought about doing the relay, she was content with raising money and awareness as an ambassador.
As time passed and Kelly heard more stories from the 2021 MS Run the US Relay team she began to get intrigued.
There was a constant back and forth in her head as to whether or not she was capable of completing the challenge.
Eventually, a friend that had done the relay gave her the final push she needed to apply for and be accepted on the 2022 team.
Enjoy The Journey
Once Kelly was officially accepted on the 2022 MS Run the US relay team, she was having a hard time processing what it would entail.
Training has not yet officially started, but she has been busy nonetheless.
Kelly ran the NYC Marathon for the first time in 2018, and most recently in 2021.
The 2021 race was a bit different due to the reduced field size, but she still loved the experience just as much.
While running the race, she tried to imagine running the same distance only doing it 6 days in a row.
Rather than getting hung up on all the details, Kelly has chosen to enjoy the journey.
Making A Real Difference
Prior to joining the 2022 relay team, Kelly had never done any fundraising before.
Initially, she was nervous about asking for donations.
Kelly was surprised at how supportive people were.
She hasn’t done any formal fundraising events, yet through the generosity of family and friends, she is almost to her goal.
Kelly is hoping to surpass her initial goal and continue to raise as much as she can.
She was drawn to the organization for a variety of reasons including how they help families in real-time.
The majority of the money that is raised through MS Run the US goes directly to people to help ease some of the financial burden associated with MS.
Kelly has found that people are more inclined to donate when she makes it personal and shares her story.
Mentioned In This Episode:
- Kelly Irving MS Run The US Fundraising Page
- Her best friend inspires her because ‘I run to stop MS’ Post Gazette article by Brigid McDevitt
- MS Run The US
- The Pittsburgh Marathon
- TCS New York City Marathon 9+1 Program
Kelly Irving was diagnosed with MS in 2020 and committed to doing her part to stop the disease. She's doing just that as she preps to run her leg of the 2022 MS Run the US relay team. 160 miles in 6 days to beat MS. Click To Tweet
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