Friday, January 29, 2010

What If

About two weeks ago I did a podcast interview with Chris Russell, who I met via Twitter. Chris' website is and you can check out our conversation there in Episode 105. Chris, unlike me, knows what he is doing, and I think did an admirable job getting me to mumble a few things about my amputation journey.

Now for the good stuff: one of Chris' friends suggested to him that their running sphere take up donations to buy me a Cheetah running prosthesis. Here is someone who doesn't know me from Sasquatch, but a fellow runner who truly sympathizes with me. I was completely overwhelmed with this act of incredible kindness. I sat for a long time just staring at that email at a complete loss for words.

I explained that I am working towards getting a running foot, but if my avenues for obtaining one falls through then I would gratefully accept the offer. As runners we are fiercely independent and self-reliant because it is the nature of our sport. We support each other through PRs and PWs, celebrating those days of near-perfection and commiserating when injuries deny us our release. Toward this end I have been saving for the contingency that I might not get sponsored because I know this: I will have my running blade.


I've tried to explain what it's like on this side of the fence of the able-bodied and disabled: imagine blindfolding yourself for one week to see what it is like to be sightless. Stumping your big toe on every item in your domicile. Finding walls with your nose. Peeing on your pajamas. Thing is, after a week you could remove the handicap and return to the sighted world, perhaps a little worse for the broken toe but nothing that won't heal.

It is just not the same thing as a blind person, who will never see again, who will always have to negotiate a sighted world. Yet a blind person is going to experience life, only differently. But no one can know what it is to be blind until the light is extinguished.

I regret having to lose my foot, but I do not regret for one second the things I have seen from this new life perspective.  It serves no purpose to think "what if" and I don't dwell on it.


As lifetime runners, we can imagine what it is like to not run for many reasons. Disease. Injury. Time constraints. Maybe a pesky hurricane. I recall years ago when my ankle first started really bothering me, and talking to Jennifer about whether or not I could enter wheelchair races with that aching foot. I thought about it for some time but decided, for me, it was not running and not something I wanted to pursue except, perhaps, as cross-training.

I think what made me feel so good about this donation offer had nothing to do with whether or not a dime would be collected, but that fellow runners could understand what "not running" meant and would come to my rescue if I needed help.

Runners rise above and I am honored to fly with you.


What I am thinking about is the Charlie Post race this weekend. I had wanted to do the 15k, but the Achilles aggravation caused me to back off my distance training. I missed the race for several years due to the old ankle problems, but not anymore. I will be doing the 5k come rain or shine, most likely the former. The weather for this race is almost always challenging, often windy, cold, and perhaps spitting raining. I can't wait to be on the starting line, thinking:

It is a good day to run.

A very good day.

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