Archive for June 23, 2010

I thought it would be a good idea this morning, still basking in the successful defense of my Holland Cornfest 5K age-group title, to check in on my good friend Ashley Kumlien who is running across the US this summer to raise money and awareness for Multiple Sclerosis. 

Sometimes we all need a little perspective in life.

Although she may not know it – I think of Ashley often while I am running.    She is doing something extraordinary to not only help someone who she loves dearly, but to hopefully inspire others to make a difference in the lives of all of those suffering from MS. 

Cornfest trophys are great and everything, but Ashley’s commitment, drive and determination are a much better example of what gets me going every morning and I know what keeps Dom fighting every day.  Thinking about her on the road each and every day fighting for what she believes in, provides me with a great perspective as I chase my own goals and dreams.

Ashley and I connected when I was training for “Run for Dom” this winter – and she immediately became a great source of motivation for me during my training.  She was kind enough to drop me an inspirational message on the eve of my second marathon that I tucked inside my left shoe and carried for 26.2 miles. 

Ashley’s mother Jill suffers from MS and has been battling the disease every day for the last 27 years.  In honor of her mother’s fight Ashley began her run across the United States – 3,230 miles worth – give or take a 10K or two, in March.  You can read my first post about Ashley and her commitment to the cause here:

Tuesday was a big day for Ashley as by the time the sun set in the west, she had traveled more than halfway across the United States, 1,625 Miles.

Ashley's Route Across the US

I have to admit that before I connected with Ashley I really didn’t know very much about MS or how many people it affects on a daily basis.

MS is a chronic, often disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system (CNS), which is made up of the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. Symptoms may be mild, such as numbness in the limbs, or severe, such as paralysis or loss of vision. The progress, severity, and specific symptoms of MS are unpredictable and vary from one person to another.  An estimated 600,000 people in the US, 2.5 million worldwide have MS and 200 new cases are being diagnosed each week. 

In fact MS is the most common progressive and disabling disease among young adults today – Ashley’s goal is to generate donations as well as increase overall awareness in support of MS non-profit organizations to aid the research and fight to find a cure for this disabling disease.

Ashley and Her Mother Jill

Ashley typically runs 3-4 times each day – covering a total distance of 25-27 miles by sundown.  She has her dinner, often a foot-long Subway Sandwich that I tease her about frequently, and wakes up to do it all over again seven days a week.

That is a 175-189 miles every week for 24 weeks.  To place that in proper perspective I typically run 35 miles a week when I am not in a marathon cycle, 50-55 miles a week when I am a the most difficult point in my training.

Most people that I know think I’m crazy.

It is that incredibly grueling schedule that will take Ashley from sea to shining sea in just about six months.  As you can imagine, a lot of things can and will happen out there when you piling on the mileage and taking on the elements for 180 straight days.

Ashley has had her share of excitement already in the form of wind, mountains, rain, sun, heat, humidity, freezing temperatures, snow, road closures and a broken radiator on her bus. 

All of that occurred before she even reached Denver!  Ashley talks about her journey and what she hopes to accomplish below:

As I look ahead to Ashley’s route across the country I see a couple of opportunities where hopefully work, life and my “New Daddom” will conspire for me to be in the same location as Ashley as she makes her way east.

There is nothing I would like more than to join Ashley for a portion of her journey.  In the meantime, Ashley – thank you for everything that you are doing in honor of your Mother’s battle with MS and for all of those suffering from that debilitating disease.  You have a legion of followers that think about you more than you know.

Congratulations on that first 1,625 miles, you rock. 

If you should happen to see Ashley along her journey – just a bit of advice – do not yell encouragement like, “you are almost there!” or “Only 1,600 miles to go!” – distance runners hate that kind of thing.

Best to you Ashley!  To pass back the message you shared with me the day before the Pittsburgh Marathon:

“Run like you’ll never run again”.

You can follow Ashley on twitter at or visit her website at to learn more about her journey, make a donation or simply provide encouragement.