At the risk of sounding pompous or conceited, I have to admit that I am proud of myself. I suppose I am still in disbelief that I actually jogged the entire 5K. The entire day feels surreal.
I am so thankful that my sister Sheri came down to run the race with me. In addition to being an incredibly strong woman for her own family, she has helped me throughout my journey. She is a breast cancer survivor. Saturday was the one-year anniversary of the date that she started chemotherapy last year, so it was appropriate that she was by my side, celebrating life and perseverance.
Although she has not been running since the birth of her children, Sheri is an experienced runner. She is familiar with how races are run and knew where we should be positioned. She was invaluable maneuvering through the crowds and protecting my leg from being bumped or my being tripped. She was my cheerleader, my guide and my bodyguard during our run.
I spent Friday embroidering shirts for Scott, Robby, my Mom and my niece to wear. I also decorated my socket with pink rhinestones for the event. We were quite the coordinated and spirited family! My Mom had to leave her house at 3:30 AM in order to make it to the event on time. I cannot thank her enough for her unwavering show of support.
My nerves were jumping when my sister and I took our places at the starting line. I was in awe of the sheer number of participants and spectators. I began to doubt myself. Had I trained hard enough? Was I ready for this challenge? I was scared.
For the first few blocks, my sister and I were held at a slow walk due to the congestion. As soon as we had an opening, we began to jog. I had a moment of disbelief. I was actually jogging, in public, on a prosthetic leg and I wasn't failing!
Unfortunately, my socket issues were not completely rectified in time for the event. I continued to be plagued by pain and rubbing on the bursa/bone spur. I was forced to stop to adjust my leg several times.
The first time I stopped to adjust my leg, I was embarrassed. I assumed that everybody would stare as I slipped off my leg to make an adjustment. It didn't take long to realize that all of the participants were busy with their own race and that they were oblivious to me.
With the exception of my socket adjustments, we never stopped jogging. We weaved through the traffic of people as we kept a steady pace. I realized that the most dangerous location in a race for the amputee runner is around the water station. I almost fell twice because my prosthetic slipped on the discarded waxy paper cups.
Just when I thought that my leg pain was going to be unbearable, I encountered the boost that I needed. I saw my Mom, Scott, Robby and Tiffy excitingly cheering us on. It is impossible not to feel an extra surge of adrenaline when you hear "Run Mommy Run" being happily yelled!
Apparently Tiffy and Robby took their responsibilities as cheerleader seriously. I later found out that the two camped out by the side of the road, high-fiving the runners as they approached the last corner before the finish line. They jumped up and down and gleefully celebrated each victory!
Robby ran into the road and ran a portion of the race holding my hand. Seeing the excitement in his eyes was the lift that I needed to keep going. He looked at me and said, "Momom you're running." Pushing away a tear, I smiled and kept moving. Tiffy joined our group, skipping along as we jogged towards the finish.
I was exhausted, elated and feeling a numbing sense of pride when we crossed the finish line. I had made it. When I lost my leg, I never fathomed that I would be able to run an entire 5K. I realized that I am, indeed, a stronger person now than I was when I had both legs.
We finished the race in 56 minutes. It is certainly not a record breaking speed, and most casual runners can probably put forth a faster time. Those runners did not have to contend with the socket issues and stump pain that I endured for each of those kilometers. Under the circumstances, I feel that my time is "brag worthy."
Technically, slow and steady did not win the race. The strategy did get me to the finish line ahead of about 25,000 people. Despite all of the pain and the set backs I encountered during my training, I was able to stick with it and I never gave up.
As I was approaching the finish line, I thought of so many friends that I have made since starting my blog. The support I received through comments, emails and Facebook were invaluable. I cannot thank you enough for believing in me despite my own doubts.
The record books will not list my name as the winner, but I am choosing to ignore the scores of people who crossed the line ahead of me. We did finish within the top 25%, which I think is impressive for my first run. In my heart, and in the eyes of my little boy, I am the winner. I received a participation medal, which for me is as good as the Olympic gold. I did it! I ran, and I finished.