Seven Marathons on Seven Continents with MS (Part 2)

Claudia Dieckmann
Written by
Claudia Dieckmann

One woman’s dream to run seven marathons on seven continents: An interview with Cheryl Hile (Part 2)

Cheryl Hile is a wife and runner learning to live with her multiple sclerosis diagnosis. Together with her husband Brian, she plans to embark on an adventure to become the first person with MS to run seven marathons on seven continents, all in only 12 months! Last month, she shared about her life before and after her MS diagnosis. This month, she talks with LLY blogger Claudia Dieckmann about how she plans to break the record for MS-marathon runners around the world.

Claudia: I love your mantra “Do what you can and never give up.” Tell us how this has helped you manage your MS.

Cheryl: For many years, I exercised during my lunch hour at work. However, in the last 2 years, my workouts have not been very effective. I was just going through the motions, and I soon realized it was because of MS fatigue. Now I do all my exercise at 5:30AM before work when I am fresh and have more energy.

Claudia: What else do you do to manage your MS?

Cheryl: I make a concerted effort to eat well every day. We make all of our meals and snacks at home and rarely eat out. It is important for me to eat quality fats to help repair myelin, but fats are calorically high. In order to not gain weight, I cut out all empty calories like white sugar and processed foods. Also, some foods are known to set off neuropathic pain, and to me it is just not worth losing a night of sleep with mini electrical shocks running up and down my body because of a few cookies. I still do splurge during holidays, but I try to keep mindful of portion size.

Acupuncture is an enormous help, too. I have L’hermitte’s syndrome and certain head positions cause fire-freezing electric shocks down my right shoulder, back, arm, stomach, leg and toes. It’s a terrible sensation and I have it often when I ride my bike because my head points down. Sometimes it is so strong and rapid in succession that I feel queasy in my stomach. Acupuncture helps to calm L’hermitte’s. I also have a burning left foot and a few needles in my right palm seem to douse the fire for many months.

Claudia: Let’s chat about your 7 Marathons in 7 continents. How did you come up with the idea?

Cheryl: Ever since I was a kid, I knew that I wanted to do something big in this world, but I never knew what. In the summer of 2015, I was in the beer garden after a great 5K race talking to one of the brewery staff. We were in discussion about following your passion (by the way, Brian is an accountant, but wants to work in a brewery!). Maybe it was the beer, or maybe it was the conversation, or maybe it was both, but as I exited the beer garden with Brian, I told him that I want to be the first person with MS to run 7 marathons on 7 continents while also raising money for the MS Society. Being the supportive husband he is, he was completely for the idea.

I have never done anything of this magnitude. Although I know I have it in me to run seven marathons in a year (in 2014 I ran six marathons and three half marathons), the challenge will be in establishing an effective fundraising strategy. For me it is hard to promote myself while also being the centre of attention.

In terms of the physical aspect of my journey, I plan on running organized marathons (26.2 miles or 42.1 kilometers) on all seven continents, rather than flying to a country and running the distance on my own. I am not just raising funds for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society but I also have to crowd fund for our travel expenses. (Antarctica is really expensive!) This is my dream plan but I will have to make adjustments if I cannot raise enough funds to travel:

• September 2016 Cape Town Marathon

• October 2016 Buenos Aires Marathon

• December 2016 Honolulu Marathon

• January 2017 White Continent Marathon in Antarctica

• February 2017 Tokyo Marathon

• April 2017 London Marathon

• June 2017 Christchurch Marathon

Although my goal is to accomplish these in twelve months, I have built in a three month buffer in case I need more time.

Claudia: Tell us about your training plan?

Cheryl: According to my husband Brian, running a race is the best training you can have so that is our strategy. For the seven marathons, each marathon will help us train for the next. Although, we did space the events to allow some time to heal in between. We will also pepper in some training runs, perhaps an occasional 5K, in between.

To kick off our training for the seven marathon adventure, we will be running the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati, Ohio, plus two premier Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathons in San Diego and Seattle.

Claudia: What is your ultimate goal in this adventure?

Cheryl: My ultimate goal is to raise funds for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society for drug research and patient programs. I also really want to inspire others, with or without MS, to do what they can and never give up! I especially want to reach out to newly diagnosed people to never lower their expectations!

Claudia: I feel I can keep asking questions as I find this endlessly interesting but, I wanted to take a moment to say a huge thank you for taking the time to share your story and the miraculous adventure you are undertaking for MS. To read more about Cheryl’s adventure, follow along with her below:

To learn more about Cheryl, visit her blog, Facebook page or CrowdRise!

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