June 17th, 2002
By Rick Anderson -- Daily World sports editor
Terry Haney has heard the old fitness saying. But, for her, it applied in reverse.
"People say, 'Use it or lose it.' With me, I used it until I lost it," the Montesano resident reflected.
Haney's physical deterioration began in 1983, when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She requires a walker while at home and a three - wheel scooter at more public locations.
But, 19 years later, she's back using her body in a manner that didn't seem possible a few months ago.
The 48 - year - old Haney last week finished the Lazy Man Triathlon sponsored by the YMCA of Grays Harbor. That involved completing the events and distances used for Hawaii's legendary Ironman Triathlon - 2.5 miles swimming, 112 miles biking and 26.2 miles running - during an eight - week period. Haney needed barely five weeks to meet the standards.
"All the people are inspired by her," said YMCA assistant fitness director Josh Dick. "Watching her, it gives them more drive to do the things she's doing themselves."
Her fitness routine has also created positive lifestyle changes for Haney, a lively, quick - witted native of Colorado who has lived on the Harbor since 1979. She reports that she can sit up straighter and, while gardening, can make it from the lawn to the walker without assistance. She can even climb into a bunk in her camper.
"It's given me a lot more confidence," she said. "With M.S., you usually don't get better, you get progressively worse."
To be sure, Haney capitalized on some liberal conversion rules in order to complete the Lazy Man Triathlon. The YMCA contest allows competitors to substitute certain activities for the designated events. One hour of aerobics, for example, converts into 31é2 miles running or 6 miles biking.
Haney did all the swimming herself in the Y pool, albeit utilizing a flotation device while dog - paddling or backstroking.
After originally substituting aerobics for biking, she wound up using the stationary bikes in the YMCA Fitness Center and covered as many as 8 miles per day.
Running was the one activity beyond the red - haired Montesano woman's capabilities. Instead, she converted one hour of strength training on the Y's Nautilus machines into 21é2 miles of running.
An avid gardener, she even cut a deal with Dick allowing her to substitute one hour of weeding for 6 miles on the bike.
"When I saw the conversions, I thought I could do it," said Haney.
Multiple sclerosis is a progressive and chronic disease that affects the nervous system, usually resulting in a loss of muscular coordination and speech difficulties.
"The brain is fine, and the muscles are fine," Haney explained. "It's just the brain telling the muscles what to do (that is impacted)."
Since the effects are gradual, Haney was able to walk without assistance until 1995, when she began using a cane.
"People were accusing me of being drunk, and I could scare them with a cane," she joked.
Haney has remained upbeat about her condition.
"You really don't have any other choice," she contended. "It's like I tell my husband (Jack), I'm not M.S. My name is Terry, who happens to have M.S."
Haney underwent physical therapy for a time but said "that was too much like a doctor's appointment. There's really no fun in it."
She joined the Y on a three - month membership last fall, concentrating on weight training.
"My focus from the beginning was gaining strength," she said. "Not losing weight, but gaining strength."
Even so, Haney intended to let her membership lapse. Then she heard about the Lazy Man Triathlon.
"I was not asking enough of my muscles," she said. "This was something to aim for, a goal. It has matched my expectations and more."
During the triathlon, Haney's training routine seldom varied.
Taking advantage of Grays Harbor Transit's program for riders with disabilities, she boarded a bus outside her home and arrived at the Y just before 10 a.m. four or five days per week.
She spent about an hour per day on the Nautilus machines, working first on her upper body and then on lower - body exercises.
"Sometimes, I get on the bike and see if I can crank out a few miles," Haney added.
Then, if all went well, Haney headed to the pool for a few laps. "Swimming is my reward, because it's so relaxing," she said.
She expressed appreciation to Dick and Fitness Center trainers Dan Brown, Kris Tomlin and Linda Geraci for their assistance in helping her use the machines.
Dick, however, said one measure of Haney's progress is that she seldom has needed significant aid of late.
"When she started lifting weights, she couldn't go from machine to machine without me helping her, adjusting her legs," said the Y's assistant fitness director.
"She had no muscle strength to get her legs onto the machines. She's now to the point where if I'm off helping somebody else, she can go through the whole cycle herself."
And from originally needing Dick to manipulate her legs through 20 revolutions on the bike, Haney can regularly do a couple of miles per day without help.
A testament to her fitness is that few heads currently turn when she motors into the Fitness Center.
"You don't have people staring at her wondering if she's going to be all right," said Dick, "because they know she's going to be all right."
Haney said she isn't concerned about overdoing it.
"The M.S. won't let you overwork," she explained. "When it tells your muscles it's time to quit, it's time to quit. With M.S., you reach a point where you don't function."
Haney said she plans to continue her Y workouts "as long as they have these Lazy Mans."
She's also looking forward to her 30 - year high school class reunion in Durango, Colo.
"My twin sister is going with me, and she says 'You'll be so buff and in shape,' '' she said.
"I said, 'You're right!' '' Terry Haney concluded with a grin.
Copyright 2002 The Daily World