I have discovered that I hate running. It feels unnatural to be running for no reason. Sometimes I find myself imagining that I am being chased by a charging lion. In my life scenario, running has a purpose.
I feel self-conscious when I run. My movements are not refined and graceful like experienced runners, and I know that I look awkward and ridiculous. I blame my middle school softball coach for my running anxiety. He asked my Mom if I was "deformed" when he saw me run. Apparently I was lacking grace back then, too.
I was an unsightly and uncoordinated runner before my amputation. Now that I am relying upon a prosthetic, the visual has become worse. My only saving grace is that the eyes of spectators are naturally drawn to my prosthetic leg, and they are probably so surprised by seeing an amputee run that they are unaware of my style.
Despite feeling like an unsightly running fool, I have taken my training seriously. Every evening after the dinner dishes have been cleaned, I change into my cute running outfit, swap out my leg and go for a jog. I always take my cell phone but I try to leave my vanity at home. I try to remind myself that I am running for a cause, and I give myself credit for trying something which is both physically and emotionally difficult.
I traverse the same route. I am becoming familiar with various landmarks which I use to mark my progress. I can't help but lament the fact that, if I had a completely comfortable socket, my goal would be easier to attain. At this point, after numerous visits to the prosthetist, I am beginning to think that my prosthetic issues are par for the course for the amputee runner. I am not sure that further adjustments will help so perhaps I need to build up my tolerance with my running leg.
I was jogging past a house in the neighborhood when an elderly man came running out his front door. I wanted to keep moving, but I knew that he wanted to talk. I am glad that I stopped.
He told me that he has been watching me run past his house every day. He explained that his wife had a stroke six months ago and has been depressed because walking is difficult. When he told her that an amputee was running everyday, she apparently perked up. He told me that now, every evening after they finish their dinner, she sits in her front window and waits for me to run by. She is starting to participate more in her therapy and seems happier and more motivated.
Wow. I wiped a tear from my eye after he told me his story. I was humbled and immediately felt unworthy of this praise.
I began running out of a sense of adventure. I wanted to prove to myself that I had the ability to complete a 5K. I wanted to test my abilities and my strength. I wanted to show that although I am an amputee, I am strong and capable. I never, in my wildest imagination, ever thought that I would be able to motivate a stranger merely by jogging past their house.
I am going to keep running out of the commitment I made to myself. It takes me a little longer now to get home. But I don't mind the extra time because I get to stop and chat with two new friends along my route.