My prosthetist phoned the other day with an intriguing invitation. He asked me if I would like to participate in a running clinic. With invitations few and far between these days, and never one to back down from a challenge, I eagerly accepted. Only after I hung up the phone did I realize the commitment I had made.
There are a few talents that I obviously do not possess. I love to sing, but I have absolutely no talent. Robby has started putting his hand over my mouth when I break into song with his cartoons or CDs. Running is another ability I am missing. I have the heart of an Olympic Champion. I have the grace and coordination of a recently beheaded chicken.
I was unable to run when I had two feet! It isn't that I didn't try to run, because I did. I played softball for years. Although I felt like I was going very fast, apparently I was not. I could hit the ball into the outfield and still get only a single.
My softball coach was concerned about my "unusual" running style. In his less than sophisticated style, he asked my mom if I was "deformed." Regardless of the instruction I received, my running style always remained the same. I put my head down, leaned foward and my legs kicked out to the side, frog fashion. I guess you could say I "waddled" very fast!
I have had a few occasions to run after my amputation. Usually they involved chasing after Robby through a store, park, airport terminal or doctor's office. I have always been successful catching him, but I think it has more to do with the advantage of arm reach versus running ability. All things being equal, Robby could take me in a full out sprint. This is an unfortunate fact I discovered as I was shopping for appropriate clothes for the running clinic.
I was told to wear running shorts and a comfortable shirt. The problem? I don't own a pair of running shorts, and pretty much all of my work-out t-shirts have stains and a lingering odor. An excuse to go shopping! I packed up Robby and headed to Dick's Sporting Goods.
Being a huge Lance Armstrong fan, I immediately set out to find "flattering" Livestrong clothes for the running clinic. I am already worried that I'll be the only slightly pudgy non-athlete in the group. I figured a new Livestrong ensemble would bolster my confidence regardless of the abilities of my fellow participants. It never hurts to look cute.
Because I don't own a pair of running shorts, I was unsure of the sizes. I searched through the store until I found a pair of running shorts that were not too short. This was not an easy task, and Robby was becoming restless. I grabbed the shorts and a shirt and Robby, who was antsy and loud, and went to the dressing room.
I tried on the shorts, and was happy that they fit. Robby was busying himself playing with tags on the floor. I tried on the shirt. Robby was talking to himself in the mirror. I knew that my "happy toddler" time was coming to an end. I took off the shirt and put it on the bench.
I took one last look at the shorts in the mirror, to make sure that my backside didn't look too "lumpy." During this time, Robby managed to grab my shirt and shorts, along with the shirt I tried on, and was commando crawling under the dressing room door.
He slipped out of the grasp I had on his ankle, and I heard him giggling as he took off through the busy store. I quickly looked in the dressing room for a shirt, but I was out of luck. Realizing I had no choice, I grabbed my purse and opened the door.
It must have been quite a sight for the other customers. A happy toddler was running through the store, laughing and carrying clothes. A one-legged woman in a bra and not so short running shorts, carrying a bright pink purse, in pursuit.
Robby is fast. In addition to having speed, he has the advantage of ducking around racks and fitting through small openings. He made it through the kids' section and halfway into the men's department before I caught him. I put on my shirt in the middle of the store, apologized for my child, bought the clothes and headed home. I am sure that the customers and clerks went home with great fodder for conversation.
Today I am going to a running clinic. I have no illusions that I will emerge from the clinic today as a "runner." I am hoping to increase my confidence and, hopefully, my speed. I am going to leave what is left of my pride at home, and try to learn a new skill. I am hoping that I will be able to keep up with my mischievious sprinter. Wish me luck!