Cheryl Hile started running marathons before she was diagnosed with MS, and her goals have only gotten bigger since.
A variety of orthotics can help people with MS walk and maintain better balance. Ankle-foot orthotics are most commonly prescribed.
Cheryl Hile, 41, has run a total of 47 marathons — 34 of them since being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) nine years ago.
But, she insists, “I’m just a regular person. Really.”
Hile, a contracts and grants administrator in the computer science and engineering department at the University of California in San Diego, wasn’t particularly athletic as a child. In fact, she remembers failing the Presidential Physical Fitness Test in fifth grade.
“I couldn’t do a single chin-up,” she says. “I was thrown off the school badminton team, wasn’t able to swim and breathe simultaneously, and couldn’t run a mile in under 10 minutes.”
But in 2000, at age 26, Hile got the running bug after watching her husband, Brian, come home from 5K and 10K races feeling exhausted but euphoric.
“I had this twisted desire to feel the same soreness,” says Hile. “And I wanted to feel the same sense of accomplishment.”
Jumping Into the Deep End
Not one to dip quietly into a new activity, Hile signed up for a marathon before completing her first training session. Some might call that a little impulsive, but Hile was sure this was what she wanted to do.
Shortly after her first run, however, she broke down. “How on earth am I going to run 26.2 miles?” she sobbed.
With a good deal of grit and determination, Hile ran her first marathon in October 2000 in Toronto, the city of her birth. “It seemed strangely appropriate that I should run my first marathon where I learned to walk,” she says.
She was hooked and, with a dozen more marathons under her belt, Hile looked forward to a lifetime of running. She wouldn’t be concerned with winning or breaking records necessarily, but she would be able to share something outside of work with Brian and feel the rush of trying to beat her personal best — 4 hours and 13 minutes, set in January 2006 in Phoenix, Arizona — each time.
“I never set out to become a marathon runner,” she says. “But now I couldn’t imagine my life without it.”