Monday, May 23, 2022


Just a few days away now from the Bayshore Marathon, my first marathon since 2016. Training is done and all that is left is to run a few easy miles, try not to forget to pack everything, and keep checking the weather every 5 minutes. :)

There is always so much uncertainty in a race but definitely amplified for this distance. I will have family for support that is without question a force that will help me when the going gets tough.

Lately I have been thinking about my mom often, how she supported me when she saw my passion running as a child and even tried to get me coaching when it simply wasn't available where we lived. I think how I wish I could do the impossible and tell her only now can I appreciate what I had, a mother who always loved me and never let me doubt who I was or what I could do.

I can hear her voice now, calling me "Ricky" as I was known as a kid, telling me I can do this. I can see her face and feel her presence and know too I will see her in my mind and heart as I take to the starting line. And remember.


If There Are Any Heavens

if there are any heavens my mother will(all by herself)have
one.   It will not be a pansy heaven nor
a fragile heaven of lilies-of-the-valley but
it will be a heaven of blackred roses
my father will be(deep like a rose
tall like a rose)
standing near my
swaying over her
with eyes which are really petals and see
nothing with the face of a poet really which
is a flower and not a face with
which whisper
This is my beloved my
        (suddenly in sunlight
he will bow,
&the whole garden will bow)

                                                                 - e.e. cummings

Mom and Me
Hannibal MO October 1, 2007

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists - March 3, 20222

Brent Wright and me

I had a fantastic time at the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists yesterday. Met some amazing professionals at Hewlett-Packard and their partners in this great endeavor.

One thing that struck me over and over is how well these people worked together for a common goal, to produce the best outcomes for current and future patients. What a great profession of caring individuals.

I gave an abbreviated version of my story at the HP 3D printing presentation, strange how it comes to life in my mind when I do this, especially the emotions that surface in this journey. I realize how fortunate I am to touch my dreams through the efforts of an army of healthcare professionals.

This could not have happened had I not been a patient at ProCare Prosthetics & Orthotics, and having worked with such dedicated prosthetists there. The teams and facilities Stephen A. Schulte has created and specially the efforts of Shane Grubbs allowed me to me to work in the development of a one-of-its-kind-in-the-world running prosthesis. Shane's passion for his profession parallels mine for running, he loves his work and is ever looking to improve the lives of amputees.

Brent Wright has been working with Shane to produce my current 3D printed running prosthesis. He was kind enough to walk the AAOP exhibit floor and talk to some of the professionals there. He, like Shane, loves his work and I am fortunate to come to know him.

No alternative text description for this image
Outer Socket Showing Vacuum at Knee 
I would say it is unbelievable but I was there so... There is so much promise in this technology, I am very familiar with HP printers in my former job and know as the equipment becomes more advanced and volumes go up, prices come down and can be available to a much wider market.

We still have a ways to go, but the fact I have run for 15 weeks now with zero blisters or other skins issues is something that I've haven't done for at least 8 years. Plus my current long run is 17 miles and almost 60 miles for my 9 day training block.

I am not sure I can achieve the time I need to run at my next marathon in order to qualify for the competitive Boston mobility impaired division, but I do believe I can run such a time at Boston in 2023 with the training I can now do. I will be 70 then, something probably even more unbelievable to me. Whatever the future brings, its promise is brighter than ever for disabled athletes.

It is a good day to run, now and tomorrow.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Running to Tomorrow

3D Printed Inner Socket

We are on our third prototype socket as seen above. The main difference is it is completely skinned,  that is you don't see the lattice structure of the previous two designs.

Those designs were initially in response to a problem I was having with distal fib swelling. This was caused by a single surgical screw what was employed to hold my Ertl type leg reconstruction together while the bones fused to each other.

X-ray showing exposed screw

Over time the screw caused irritation and sharp pain and induced swelling as the leg remodeled itself. This most likely caused the eventual blisters that were the bane of my running for years and made any distance running impossible without severe consequences.

I had the surgical screw issue finally identified by Dr. Ohlson and it was removed on December 15, 2020 in an out-patient procedure that was fairly quick. Pain was minimal and I jogged my first post-surgery mile on January 21, 2021.

Screw removal stitches

So we continue to refine my 3D prosthesis with modifications to the inner socket and I suspect outer frame in time. I seriously doubt I would have had access to this new technology at this point in time had I not had this screw issue. Shane Grubbs, my prosthetist, dogged pursuit of a solution brought us all together. The old adage "opportunity in adversity" is a recurring theme in my running saga, and it has taught me humility and patience far beyond any natural inclinations for those traits.

I have been asked by HP to join them at their booth at the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists (AAOP) on March 3, 2022 to highlight this new technology and the benefits it offers. It will be an honor to meet the some of the people who have made great advances in prosthetics and helped me return to distance running.

I ran 17 miles two days ago, and although I did have to make some modifications to my fib head area for fit, I ran the distance with no blisters and little post-run muscle soreness. For years this had not been possible for me.

Now...I run to tomorrow.

2013 Boston Starting Line

Left to right: Randy Spellman, Mike Lenhart, Me, MD Shariff Abdullah, Kelly Luckett, BethAnn Perkins

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

The Long and Winding Road

My first 3D printed inner socket

 It has been a while since I worked on this blog, which is basically and account of my amputee running journey.

I intent to restart soon as I am attempting to qualify for the 2023 Boston Marathon, which will be the 10 year anniversary of my first marathon...and one that will live forever in history in the love that rose from the ashes of hate.

Much has happened in the time from my last postings until now. Lost family, new residence, and considerable prosthetic trials.

It has been a journey I could never have anticipated, yet one I embrace daily. I will be 70 should I make it to the starting line in Hopkinton in 2023. Covid has had a shouting say in our lives that may yet cause disruptions, but there is nothing I can do about that.

What I am doing is training to my goal, aided by a tremendously dedicated prosthetist - Shane Grubbs - who has gone far beyond the extra mile in getting me back to consistent training.

We cannot know what tomorrow will bring, yes, life is that box of chocolates.

Let us have One More.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

My Litter Mate

The fields are so large I could run forever in one direction
and then forever back.

There is no end to these fields.


In Mongolia, when a dog dies, he is buried high in the hills so people cannot walk on his grave. The dog’s master whispers in the dog’s ear his wishes that the dog will return as a man in his next life.

Then his tail is cut off and put beneath his head, and a piece of meat of fat is cut off and placed in his mouth to sustain his soul for its journey; before he is reincarnated, the dog’s soul is freed to travel the land, to run across the high desert plains for as long as it would like.

I learned that from a program on the National Geographic Channel, so I believe it is true. Not all dogs return as men, they say; only those who are ready.

I am ready.

- Enzo, "The Art of Racing in the Rain" (Garth Stein)

Saturday, May 31, 2014


In my dream we have run a long, long way. A lifetime. We have been this way before but never this far.

Time moves where it once stopped.

We push beyond into the unknown, where we go under, not over, the bridge. Voices of thousands aloft in the air. Life vibrates, ringing. Lifting.


I am.

We. Are.

We turn right. Pain falls away.

Faces are many deep. Ahead I see one more. One more turn.

Left. The weight of the miles falls away.

I am lighter than air.

I stay left. Was it here, I think, as we move past. 

I glance up, to the side, unsure where I am, this place of dreams. I think of them, the lost, the beloved.

And here...was it here...

Up go my arms, my wings, I hear only the wind. They flutter away, released from this place.

Time will not slow, it will not stop, it moves and moves and moves and we cross over, we who live in this place. This now.

We stop, returning to this earth.

They circle and are gone

where we all go

into forever

Boston Marathon - April 21, 2014

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Kelly Luckett - Amputee Trailblazer

Kelly's CAF Trading Card!

We first met Kelly at the Getting2Tri camp in March of 2010. I had read some articles about Kelly and had looked forward to talking to her about amputee running. Kelly has been an amputee for most of her life, far longer than anyone else I knew. She has been a mentor to me and helped with all the questions I had about running Boston as a Mobility Impaired Athlete over the years.

There is a wonderful article written by Kelly in the American Coalition of America's InMotion magazine here about the Boston Marathon. Kelly talks about the race last year from the unique perspective of an amputee who will be running her 10th consecutive Boston.

Hope you enjoy this special blog interview about a great friend and runner, Kelly Luckett!


You lost your foot at age 2 and you've told me you don't really recall not being an amputee. Probably the best known amputee runner at the time was Terry Fox. How was life as a child amputee?

As a child amputee, in the 1970's, I never knew another amputee, neither another child nor an adult.  I'd hear stories from people about their uncle or grandfather or whomever they knew wore an artificial limb, or an "appliance" as they would often call it (seriously, some older people at that time used to call a prosthetic limb an "appliance", and it would always give me an amusing image of someone wearing a washing machine on their leg!). 

Sadly, I never heard of Terry Fox until I was well into adulthood.   

The term "amputee" was actually pretty foreign to me until I was in high school, and even then, I did not feel any connection to that term.  I'm not completely sure why my family never used that term with me, but they didn't.  We just referred to my prosthesis as my "artificial limb" and there was never any label assigned to me.      

My parents did not put limits on me of what physical activities I could try, so I was active in Girl Scouts with hiking and camping trips, climbed trees, went ice skating, played all the usual games with kids in the neighborhood, etc. 

Many amputees find sport after losing a limb, like triathlon. What were you thinking when you first began running? What was the most challenging thing or things you had to work through?

What was I thinking when I first began running?  I was thinking I was just going to run the Peachtree Road Race 10K and that would be the longest distance I'd ever do!  It's very funny to look back and remember that 10K seemed like such a long distance to me then, and I had no idea I would end up doing ultramarathons. 

When I first started running to train for the Peachtree Road Race 10k, I remember thinking that maybe it was a mistake.  Maybe it was ridiculous to think that I could run 6.2 miles with one leg.  I told Brian of my doubts, and he told me to just try it, that it wasn't ridiculous, and that the worse thing that could happen is that I'd have to slowly walk to finish the race.  With his support and confidence in me, I kept training and not only did I finish my first race, all 6.2 miles, but I finished it running!  Little did I know that I'd somehow end up running marathons, 50Ks and races as long as 24 hours, and using walk breaks in those races is not uncommon and is acceptable!  

The most challenging things I had to work through when I first started running were really the same things that all new runners have to figure out, such as what to wear, what shoes work best for me (errr, “shoe”!), what to eat and when, and how to build up my mileage, etc.  I really did not have much in the way of challenges of running with a prosthetic leg, other than I only had a walking leg/foot for the first few years and it was much more difficult to have an efficient running gait with a walking leg than with the Cheetah running blade that I have now.     

Boston 2013 was so tragic, and 2014 will be your 10th consecutive year running the race. What are your feelings on this year's race and the personal milestone you will reach there?

Brian and Kelly at Boston 2011
I have tremendous emotional pain from the horrific tragedy of the 2013 Boston Marathon, knowing that innocent lives were lost, including a child, and that people were injured and lost limbs.

I am hoping that the 2014 Boston Marathon will be a celebration of the human spirit and the ultimate example of "Boston Strong".  l hope it will help with the emotional healing for everyone affected.

For me, being back in Boston and running the marathon will be very emotional. I do not expect it to provide closure, since I personally do not think there is closure to such a traumatic event, only acceptance of what happened and strength to continue with our lives the best as we can.   

This will be a milestone marathon for me, since it will be my 10th consecutive Boston Marathon.  I was stopped at last year's marathon on Commonwealth Ave at the Massachusetts Avenue tunnel.  The only part of the course BethAnn and I had to cover before crossing the finish was to run through that tunnel, then the legendary "right on Hereford, left on Boylston".  But we were stopped, and at that time had no idea of the unspeakable events that had happened and the damage that was caused.  Not getting to cross the finish line was completely insignificant compared to the lives lost and horrific injuries.  

To cross that finish line in Boston this year will be bittersweet.  I’ll be thinking of those who were injured, the first responders, and the families and friends of those who were killed.  Martin, Krystle, Lu, and Sean will often be in my thoughts during the marathon, as they have been this past year.

Since I have a unique empathy for those who lost one or both legs, I will continue to have them in my thoughts, and I hope the 1-year anniversary of the bombings and this year’s marathon will be a milestone for them, to help continue their emotional healing and transition to the next chapters in their lives.

Since your husband Brian will be your guide this year is he excited to share this with you? Will you continue to extend your Boston streak?

TNF Endurance Challenge 2013
Brian is excited to share this year’s Boston with me, since it will be such a significant year, not only for my 10th consecutive Boston, but to remember those who lost their lives and honor those who were injured in last year’s bombings.

It’s also exciting that this will be my 10th year being sponsored by Challenged Athletes Foundation, who has given me a grant to help cover my expenses to every single Boston Marathon I’ve done.  To add to the excitement, this will be my first year running Boston as a Hanger Clinic Patient Advocate!  I’m honored and proud to have earned a sponsorship from Hanger Clinic.  I had thought for a while that 10 Boston Marathons might be enough, that I should move on and try different races that time of year.   Now that I’ve been given the opportunity to represent Hanger, I’m planning to continue my Boston streak for a while longer, to represent both CAF and Hanger Clinic, as well as to enjoy running Boston a few more times.

Do you find yourself thinking of anything more often during runs?

I think of so many things while I’m running, but sometimes I just zone out and think of nothing at all.  I’m often trying to enjoy the scenery while I run, and to also be aware of my surroundings to avoid any trips, falls, collisions, or other problems.  I’ll often think about my mileage, pace, and breathing, and I try to do the math in my head of when I should finish, how many miles I have left, or when is the next time I need to have an energy gel or whatever I’m planning to eat for calories and electrolytes.  

When running gets tough on the longer runs, I think about people who inspire me, who do more than I do with less physical ability than I have.   I also think about the people who tell me that I inspire them, and that I don’t want to let them down.  I want to live up to whatever it is they think I am.  

What most people don’t know is that I always pray on my long runs.  I always thank God for specific blessings (including people) in my life, and then I pray for all the things I want to ask Him for.  I’m usually praying for friends who are going through a hard time, or have asked for prayer for a family member, etc.  Even friends and family who are doing ok, I ask God to protect them and watch out for them.  It probably goes without saying that I’ve done a lot of praying this past year for everyone affected by the bombings.

Any favorite memories of past races or training runs?

Rails-To-Trails 50k Finish Line
My favorite memories of races and training runs are the ones I did with friends.  Even though I almost always train on my own, and often run races by myself, the times I’ve run with people I enjoy are my favorites.  Some examples are the very long training runs I did when I lived in Atlanta, while training for a 50-mile race and a 24-hour race.  One of my very favorite running buddies when I lived in Atlanta was Holly, who would always join me for at least a few miles, often more, and I could always count on her if I needed good company on a run.  She helped me run 42k around Stone Mountain on the 42nd anniversary of when my foot was amputated in a lawnmower accident! Also, Anne and Drina, who were always willing to say yes to a 20, 30, or even a 40 mile run!  Anne and I ran the Silver Comet trail all the way from Smyrna to somewhere past Rockmart for 30-something, maybe 40 miles one day in 2010.  Good times!

Favorite memories of races that I’ve done with friends include every marathon I’ve run with BethAnn, which includes the several times she has run the Boston Marathon with me as my mobility impaired guide.  Her daughter, Mia, who I also consider a friend, ran the 2012 Boston Marathon with me as my guide, in the 2nd hottest year in Boston Marathon history!  Mia was melting from the heat but never gave up and made it with me to the finish!  I also ran with Mia in her very first marathon, so we’ve had some wonderful marathon memories.  More recently, I ran the last 11 miles of the Savannah Rock n Roll Marathon with Nancy, a Savannah runner friend, in her first full marathon.  I enjoyed every minute with her, and it was such a wonderful experience to see her very first marathon finish, knowing she had trained so hard.

Another favorite race memory is the Savannah Rails to Trails 50k in 2012.  My friend Jennifer ran the 25k (she won 2nd place!), then hopped on her bike and rode alongside me for most of the last half of my 50k.  I hadn’t finished a 50k in a couple of years, so it was a personal accomplishment for me as well as a lot of fun with Jen.

Of course, races I’ve run with my husband, Brian, are some of my favorite race memories.  He has run with me as my guide for several Boston Marathons, as well as running with me in the Iron Horse 50 mile and FANS 24-Hour race.

Last but not least, one of my favorite race memories is my very first race, the Peachtree Road Race 10k in Atlanta, July 4th, 2003.  It’s what started this whole crazy running thing I love!

We both know the story of the great Jason Pisano, the West Warwick runner who, despite having CP and only the use of his left foot, completed 52 marathons in his running chair. You did see him run at Boston. As the years go by, can you tell me how seeing Jay at Boston made you feel? Did you ever speak?

Seeing Jason Pisano at the Boston Marathon was one of my favorite highlights each year.  He and his two guides were truly a team and it was obvious they were pros at this marathon thing!  To say that Jay was an inspiration to me is such an understatement.  He made me realize that what we perceive as a challenge is all relative to our experiences.  I thought I had a difficult time running 26.2 miles with “only one foot”; Jay pushed himself backwards for 26.2 miles, including those hills, with only one foot!  Whenever I saw him at Boston and thought about him at other times, I’d remember that if Jason Pisano could have the determination to do marathons the way he did them, then I could push through the tough miles of my marathons with a prosthetic leg.  He had such a presence, such a shining example of how strong the human spirit can be.

I only spoke to him a few times, very briefly, to introduce myself the first time I saw him before the start of the Boston Marathon, and to say hello when I’d see him each year.  Some years at Boston, the school gym (the staging area before the marathon for the wheelchairs, handcycles, and mobility impaired runners) was so crowded I didn’t make it over to where he and his guides were to say hello.

Tell us why guides for MI and VI runners have come to have "Guide" bibs worn on their fronts and backs as I believe you had something to do with this!

 The "Guide" bibs are worn on the guides' back in addition to their front so that when the faster runners catch up to and are passing a Mobility Impaired or Visually Impaired runner, they see the word "GUIDE" on a bright yellow bib and instantly know to be alert for a runner who may possibly be running more slowly than typical Boston Marathon runners, or not be able to see them if they cut in front of them.  This is very helpful to avoid collisions or other problems.  Because many MI runners get an early start time at Boston, the faster runners catch up to us in a few miles and pass us, and it can potentially be a bad situation if we impede their progress by being in their way.  They could trip and/or we could be knocked down, and no one wants either of those things to happen.

  The first year I had a guide run with me at Boston (my friend BethAnn, in 2007; I ran my first two Bostons without a guide), only one Guide bib was given to her to pin on her front, just like a race number.  Unfortunately, 2007 was the year of the Boston Marathon nor'easter, with enough rain, wind, and cold that the BAA almost cancelled the race.  Because of the weather, I wore running pants for the marathon.  During the marathon, no one could see my prosthetic leg since I had it covered with pants, and even though the Cheetah blade looks much different than a foot with a shoe, the runners were not able to see it in the sea of legs.  I am not a fast runner (I qualifying for Boston with the MI qualifying time), and I use the Jeff Galloway run/walk in my training and most of my races.  Therefore I'm at a much slower pace than most Boston Marathoners.  A few of the faster (and less kind) runners yelled "Get off the course!" to me as they passed me, because I was slower and they apparently did not realize I was one of the MI runners.  They couldn't see my prosthesis, and I'm assuming they thought I was a bandit, or one of the charity runners who started in a wave/corral sooner than I was supposed to.  Either way, I realized then that it was important not only to let the other runners know I had a right to be on the course, but to also make sure they had some indicator to let them know they were coming up on a slower runner.  My top priority when I run Boston is to make sure I am in no way impeding the other runners.

The following year at Boston, when I picked up my race packet, I asked if we could have two Guide bibs, so that my guide (my husband, Brian, that year) could wear one on his back as well.  We explained what happened the prior year.  We were given two Guide bibs, and it worked perfectly!  Since then, the BAA has required that the MI and VI runners' guides wear the Guide bibs on both the front and back of their shirts.

If someone was putting music to your amputee running soundtrack, what would it contain?

Runnin' Down a Dream by Tom Petty, Run Like Hell by Pink Floyd, and Long May You Run by Neil Young

One More Mile!