Saturday, September 26, 2009

Miracle Mile

Sweet are the uses of adversity,
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head;
And this our life, exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in every thing.
As You Like It Act 2, scene 1, 12–17

This morning Jennifer and I threw on our running clothes; I jumped on the treadmill to warm up and she headed outside to do a neighborhood mile. When we finished we gathered a few items and drove over to the new town track in the Park West neighborhood. I have a long history with the town and the old track, mainly because I didn't like the idea of being run down by their many vehicles driving on it - yes, you read that correctly - or to having it damaged by those same heavy trucks. But that is another story.

The current track is mainly in existence due to the efforts of Gary Santos, a town council member who would not compromise on its construction. I had stopped running by the time it was built, and another factoid is the company I work for did the design. It has a superb Mondo surface and the price tag was steep enough to keep off vehicular traffic, including the roller bladers who were allowed on the old track. Dang, that old story sure wants to be told but not now!

We arrived at the track to find little kids playing an organized game of flag football. There was a cow on the field, unbelievable! The Chick-Fil-A two-legged variety, having his picture taken with the kids. There were some spectators milling around on the track at times - some things never change - but they seemed more aware of the runners, meaning no one had a collision while we were there.

When we pulled into the parking lot I had a few butterflies in the stomach, the ones that migrate there on race days; these were a species closer to the ones I felt in high school. My brain starts shutting down everything but the task at hand, and this unfortunately means I become more scatterbrained than usual and the short-term memory ceases to exist. Just get me to the starting line and all will be well...especially if I don't throw up.

We drop off our sports bottles and my amp bag (with my socks, towels, and miscellaneous supplies) and walk to the start. We don't tarry, off we go.

I have been doing all of my running - except for a few steps at the office - on the treadmill, so running on this new track feels a little odd at first. By the time we run the first 100m I have settled into my stride.

First lap: Jen reports were are running around 11 min pace. I am surprised to feel and hear myself breathing very hard; although I have been running on the treadmill for a couple of weeks I thought I was in at least minimal shape. We complete the second lap dodging a few spectators and by now I am coming out of my starting fog...hey, there are several other runners and walkers on the track.

I get some love from the runners in encouraging statements; I feel my throat tighten a bit and tell myself to relax. You are just on an easy run with your wife; this day is the same as it ever was.

Lap three and I am feeling good and look around a bit. The cow. Kids running on the field. People on the track. I moved out of the inner lane to avoid them then, dammit, back to my lane. Jennifer yells "Track!" which is the signal for people to get the hell out of the way and they comply. They don't know how close they came to the lightning bolt.

Lap four and I am thinking, yeah, I'd like to stop after this. The prosthetic leg is heavy and I have to think about my mechanics, but occasionally my mind remembers how I use to run and wants to take off flying. I entertain the thought but know right now that would probably land me with my nose on the track and I resist the temptation to sniff the mondo.

As we run the homestretch, I do say something like "let's kick it in!" and speed up a modest amount, still recalling of what a sprint should feel like. We cross the finish line and I have run one continuous mile.


We grab our bottles and my pack and walk to the far side of the track. I take off my leg and dry things out while Jen and I discuss taking some pics. I decide to run a lap so we can get a movie. During this time a woman comes up and talks to us; she is a lifetime runner and commends my effort. My form has a little too much forward lean but I am running without any limp with a decent stride; I have to learn to trust the leg and let it bear my weight. It will and I have to adjust to the new running me.

Teresa is a nurse and mentions she has worked with some amputees, others who chose this path because old limbs no longer functioned. I am thinking how good my nurses were to me at Roper Hospital...such wonderful care and several wanted to hear my story. We tell her this is my first mile run since my surgery, my personal goal realized this very day. As I write this, I am thinking how perfect it was to share this day with Jennifer and this nurse and the other runners on the track; that there are these small miracles happening every day. Mine is a little more obvious with my prosthesis, but this was my miracle, my miracle mile.

Jennifer later relates that one of the other runners was asking about me, saying he had just gotten off the couch a few months ago and had lost a lot of weight running. He said I was inspiring; I am hoping he has found what I know is running, the thing that is me.


I am now what I am, a runner again. I hope by early next year to improve good enough to get a sponsorship to help defray the high cost of a running specific prosthesis; I hope the removal of the painful foot will eventually let me run faster than with it; but I will have my running prosthesis. The only limitation I will have will be of this physical body; and I know it has some peaks to see yet.

We will climb them all, and by all that I am, I will never, ever quit.


  1. It was fun having role reversal. You sucking air while I'm chatting away. ONLY time THAT has ever happened and I'm sure it will reverse in short order. GREAT running with my pal again! :)

  2. Maybe this is what the running gods had in mind, I guess they figured this was the only certain way for me to get the message. =:^O)~