Ask Amy Kelley her opinion of running.
She doesn’t like it. Finds it annoying, actually. Matter of fact, she’ll flat out tell you, it stinks. It really stinks.
“I don’t like running,” she said.
But still, she runs. A lot. The Carlsbad, California, woman is in the midst of running a half marathon every month for a year until her 40th birthday. The Kauai half marathon on Sunday will be number six on that quest. She’s not here to race, though. Her finishing times aren’t important.
“It’s not just me against the clock, it’s me enjoying the race with everyone around me,” said Kelley, who will be arriving on island with husband Mike on Saturday.
She loves the camaraderie and sense of purpose while running side by side, strangers with the same goal on the same day.
“I just get out there and go,” she said.
And she’ll keep on going, as long as it takes, raising money for the Multiple Sclerosis Society and hopefully, find a cure for the disease that attacks the central nervous system and disrupts the flow of information between the brain and body.
Kelley saw what multiple sclerosis did to her father-in-law, who was diagnosed with it in his late 30s and battled it for three decades before dying in April from complications due to MS.
“He fought it for a really long time,” she said.
Her husband’s father was a Navy captain and a surgeon, a proud, strong man. MS, though, slowly robbed him of his abilities, gradually took away his mobility, freedom and eventually, claimed his life. The disease didn’t just affect him, but his family and friends, too.
“To see his decline was a very humbling experience,” Kelley said.
It also made her appreciate what she had.
“I realized what a blessing it is to be healthy and pain-free,” she said.
With her 40th birthday coming up, Kelley decided to pay tribute to her father-in-law and raise money for MS during her campaign to run a half marathon a month.
“I figure if I’m going to run all these half marathons, let’s try to do some good instead of just doing it for me,” she said. “It’s not just a solitary thing I do.”
Her preparation usually includes two runs during the week, a long run on weekends and a lot of CrossFit. She’s hoping to finish Sunday’s 13.1-mile race in about 2 hours and 30 minutes.
“I’m not training too crazy for them,” she said. “I’m not the fastest runner in the world.”
Not that she wants to be, either.
What she does want, and what she preaches, is to stay sharp in mind, body and spirit. Her father-in-law, she said, did his best to take care of himself even as MS stole his strength.
“It’s so important to keep up your health,” Kelley said. “People with MS who continue to keep themselves healthy can live much longer.”
Kelley, an environmental planner with the Navy, is having a little fun, too. To raise money for the MS society, she set up a web page with the campaign, “MS stinks more than running.” She’s been posting “selfies” with her medals and finish line photos — the celebratory fist pump — of her other half marathons that included several in her home state. So far, she’s raised nearly= $1,000.
The Kauai half marathon, she said, “is the perfect celebration for number six, the halfway point of this challenge,” she said.
Kelley laughs as she talks about the challenge ahead.
“Because I do not really enjoy running — sorry to all the diehard runners.”