This is the last instalment of my 5 part series on what I deal with on a daily basis in order to train and compete as an Elite Para Cyclist.

I love racing, in fact if truth be known racing to me is much more fun than training. I love the fact that I get those little nervous moments just before I’m about to race, it gets my heart going and the endorphins flowing through my brain. But after a race I need assistance to get off my trike because I get tremors in my legs. (This part I’m not too fond of) It’s usually because I have put so much energy into doing the best that I can do. It always happens at the end of a race because of the intensity but more recently it has started to happen during a race or during a hard training session.

The first time it happened during a race was in Spain at a World Cup in 2014. I was trying to catch each rider during the time trial and only had about 800 meters to go with one rider to catch when my left leg started to shake. Let me tell you it is very hard to keep a smooth pedal stroke when your leg decides it wants to shake side to side! I actually started yelling at it as I was riding and I can’t tell you the words I used while telling it to go away! Luckily I was able to finish but I didn’t catch that last girl, which really didn’t matter but it was my goal within the race.

With the unpredictability of Multiple Sclerosis and the fact that it is a degenerative disease, I guess this hasn’t really surprised me. I have been very lucky in the fact that my disease really hasn’t progressed too badly and I thank exercise for that. But it does get frustrating when you are having a great training session with some intense intervals and your leg decides it’s just going to do what it wants. I am getting used to it, the bruises I get on the inside of my leg due to hitting the cross bar and I am working in the gym really hard to build the outside muscles to try and combat it. I guess it’s just one more of those things to deal with.

I wanted to write these articles not to get sympathy from people but to educate people about what it takes to be at the top and stay at the top. I love my life and the fact that I can go out and do what I love every day. I was asked a question by a 9 year old girl “If you could go back in time and change the fact that you were diagnosed with MS, would you?” and my reply to her was a definite “NO”.

MS has made me who I am and given me so many opportunities that I would have never had. I wouldn’t have met most of the people in my life right now, I wouldn’t have written a book, I wouldn’t have represented Australia in two sports, I wouldn’t have started my charity event and I would not be the person I am today. Would I like a cure? You bet!!! And it will happen one day, but until then I will just keep dealing with my symptoms, keep enjoying my cycling and live life to the fullest. After all my next goal isn’t that far away, only 290 days until the 2016 Rio Paralympics start and that will be here before we know it!

Thanks to the UCI for the photo

Thanks to the UCI for the photo

About the author : CarolC

3 Comments

  1. Ellie Kennedy 25/09/2016 at 5:51 pm - Reply

    Carol,

    Your words give me hope. Thank you for your detailed description of how MS affects your training. I will “try” a Trike later this week. I do not have MS but a neurological condition with many of the same symptoms including exercise induced ataxia, heat intolerance, severe muscle cramping and (often) crippling (hate that word) fatigue. Your description in your blog of needing help getting off your bike helps me not be fearful of needing help. In addition, I also get that line “you look so good” when people have no idea how much pain I am in 24/7 or how difficult it is just to get out of bed (on some days).

    I have a goal set for my first race (in April 2017) and I have work to do getting fit and learning how to ride a Trike. Your blog gives me hope that I can return to cycling, have fun and learn to deal with “the” (I never call it MY ILLNESS) illness in a positive & uplifting manner.

    I also enjoyed your thoughts and writing in regards to your father. I took care of my mother for 6 1/2 years so I understand how your heart broke every day watching him suffer. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family as I know you continue to miss him each and everyday. My mother is still alive but no longer in my home since with “the” balance issues I have it was no longer safe for me to care for her. We (Mom & I) joked a lot about our mutual balance issues. However, it reached a point that it was no longer safe or funny.

    You talk a lot about the positives of MS. Recently I was hospitalized and needed post hospital rehabilitation. I chose the facility where my mother currently resides for my rehab. I had the honor of sharing meals with Mom and doing activities with her. At times I would push her wheelchair while motoring my wheelchair with my feet. It was a sight to see and a good workout too (great for the hamstrings)! Most days it was like Groundhog Day since my mother would say “What are you doing here in that wheelchair” and I would explain (again) why I was there. She is always in the moment (a great life lesson) but is unable to remember 5 minutes ago.

    So, Carol,thank you from the bottom of my heart for posting your blog and revealing your life in such a sincere and honest way. It makes a difference to me here in the USA and I am quite sure you have helped countless others.

    I will get on a Trike this week and think of you as well as all the other brave Paralympians from around the world.

    THANK YOU – THANK YOU- THANK YOU!

    • CarolC 26/09/2016 at 12:33 am - Reply

      Hi Ellie,
      Thank you so much for your message and you are more than welcome! I always hope that my writing will help someone in some small way. I really do hope that you enjoy your trike because it is so rewarding to feel the freedom of being able to get out and ride. I understand how hard it is some days but I really do believe that the fitter we are the better we are to be able to deal with our everyday issues. Please let me know how you go, you can always email me on carol@carolcooke.com.au I would love to hear from you.
      Best of luck ~ Carol xx

  2. Ellie Kennedy 26/09/2016 at 2:57 am - Reply

    Carol,

    I will let you know how it goes!!! Thank you again!

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