In the early hours of the morning, not able to sleep, as usual, I was online, catching up on some reading of other’s blog posts.
Kristin of Halfway to Normal wrote a post about why she does not run.
Anything to do with running always catches my attention because it is close to my heart, embedded deeply into the motherboard of my being, somehow.
I wasn’t a great runner. Really.
But, for some inexplicable reason, I was captivated by its power, particularly its control over my psyche. Running had the authority to relocate my mind, mysteriously separating it from gruelling physical pain in my body, transporting me through extreme emotions, forcing my moodiness into submission and gently placing me in another more comfortable, happy-place.
Never have I allowed anything else or any other human being such dominance over me. So, running, very quickly, became my drug of choice.
I always came back from a run feeling calm and relaxed with a deep sense of peacefulness in my spirit no matter how sore my muscles and aching joints were.
To say that I miss running would be an understatement. There are days that I wish I could just put on my running shoes and run, and run, and run.
The last time I ran, was on a beautiful, unspoiled stretch of beach on the Eastern Cape coast, South Africa.
Then, I got into the car with my husband and ten-month-old baby to travel home after our first holiday together as a family – the happiest time of my life.
I made it home, eventually, paralysed from the neck down.
Since then, every fibre of my being has craved, wanted, wished and dreamed of running again.
But, no matter how much I pray, plead, beg, cry, scream or rage I am never going to be able to run, ever again.
In her blog post, Kristin writes:
“Running says all kinds of positive things about a person: that you’re serious about your health and fitness; that you’re disciplined, and able to push past the pain; that you’re someone to be reckoned with.”
There was a time in my life where I would have agreed with that 100%. In fact, I was living it. Arrogantly, I felt a little sorry for the non-runners, thinking that they were really missing out on truly living.
Kristin goes on to write:
“Not running, of course, seems to say the opposite: unhealthy, undisciplined, uninspired, unintimidating. I am the un of running. Yuck.”
Shamefully, when I was running, I would have nodded my head in agreement to that statement.
Thankfully, running did give me many skills, I still use today, to cope with the difficulties of being a quadriplegic. But, I’m grateful that my mind has now been opened because there is nothing more limiting than a closed mind.
Gladly, I can say that I am most certainly not the un of running.
By the grace of God, I am healthy. I’ve not even had the flu in the past five years.
I am disciplined – living this life trapped in my corporeal prison demands strict routine to enable small things to function optimally like, my bowel and bladder being emptied at specific times of the day, every day, for the rest of my life.
I am inspired to make the most of each day and each moment I have on this Earth. I know what it‘s like to face death, survive and realize what a privilege it is to have been gifted an extra 13 years with my son, family and friends.
I must be incredibly intimidating. I spent many hours alongside my running-buddies, pounding the pavements, covering thousands of kilometres whilst pouring our hearts out to one another and most of them were too afraid to even face me after my accident. But, I understand that mindset so, I forgive them. Most people have an innate fear of physical differences and disabilities because it evokes their own personal dread and insecurities. One just has to go out to the shops with me to see how scary I really am to other people. Some can barely look at me whilst others will stare so that their mouths literally hang open. I can’t say I blame them because I often feel like an alien living in a world specifically designed for able-bodied people.
What I do know is that I am strong – maybe not physically but, more importantly, emotionally.
Society views disability a weakness yet, it demands the utmost of strength for those of us living this life. I do believe that I gained this valuable characteristic from running.
If I had a choice, I would choose to run, without a doubt. But, since I was stripped of that option, I decided to rebuild a new, meaningful life in a different body, learning many, sometimes very hard, life lessons along the way.
Besides, if you have been following my blog you will know that I completed last year’s Comrades Marathon through my very special Sexy Legs. So, running will forever be in my blood.
Mostly, I have made peace with my situation and always try to remind myself that I am… ENOUGH.
If you like running and you are still able to do so, then, go put on your running shoes, now, if you can. When you are really tired, thinking that you cannot go on anymore, take a few extra steps, just because you can.
If you don’t like running, go for a walk, jump on the bike, go to the gym or for a swim – whatever you can, just because you can.
If you, like me, are no longer able to walk or run, help me to encourage all those other able lazy buggers to use their arms and legs while they still can.
I still get enough exercise, pushing my luck!
Hi this may be of interest to you. I’m looking to get off road in one soon. All the best. Thom.
Just touching base, Tracy. How are you doing?
Hi Tracey, I started running this year to spend time with a friend I got to know from work. It started as challenge to myself to start something new and different. So November 28, 2011 and sms’d my friend telling him what a privilege it would be run with him (having finished the comrades 13 times, I know insane). Since then I have become hocked. I’m planning my first 2013 comrades, wish me luck. I have shared the link to your blog with another friend also trapped in a wheelchair. hopefully this will inspire him as much as your touching words have for me.
I found you through Amy…what a joy and inspiration you are Tracy…God bless you…with prayers that He always keep your remarkable and awesomely inspiring spirit in the Palm of His Hand…
Hello Tracy, I’m from PE and came across your blog as I heard about you from the running scene at the time when Roy ran the Comrades connected to you via cellphone. I feel quite guilty dropping in like this, not knowing if I will be a regular visitor to your blog. I didn’t feel I had a right to comment anything last year when I read some of your postings. I mean, so I feel so incredibly moved by your life story and how you manage to deal with being a quadriplegic. But so what? What will that help you, that I feel moved? You still have to carry on regardless of the rest of us. But reading your October 2011 post and the December 16 post, I just can’t help but write and say “hello”. I hear what you say about feeling that you can’t live up to people’s expectations of you, that at first your blog was an outlet for all the stuff you have to deal with each second of every day. But that it then almost created an expectation amongst your readers, that you always need to be this amazing superwoman. Also the posting about the two boys having a stay-over with your son and the prejudice you picked up from their parents at first. How much strength of character must be required to deal with things like that, without becoming incredibly bitter and frustrated in the long term. Tracy, please keep on posting if you can, say it like it is. Your voice is powerful and needs to be heard. Even if you don’t always feel so strong and courageous.
Thank you for being you, Tracy. Best Regards from Nina in Port Elizabeth.
Tracy, you are beyond remarkable and are the most inspirational person – I am privileged to have found your blog – I treasure and absorb your every word in your posts and admire your tenacity!
I am now going to enjoy a ride on my bike, thank you!
I’m so glad you’re posting again. I found your post ‘Ignorance’ especially inspiring – a wonderful read. As for this one about running – your spirit runs off the page every time you write! We play catch-up.
Wishing you all good things at Christmas, and I look forward to reading your blog again in 2012.x
Is that SL dashing over to see you?
I respect all that you are and who you are, Tracy. Keep right on giving us hell. If anyone has the power to have impact, it’s you.
I recently attended a presentation given by Robert Bateman, a Canadian wildlife artist, environmentalist par excellence – 81 years of age and he hikes everyday. His presence and energy feels like 26. He recited numbers of hours our youth spend in front of some sort of screen, becoming more and more unhealthy. They are strangers to nature. He said, “One of my octogenarian friends told us to get to the gym and keep as active as can be. After all, he warned, you folks will be needed to wheel your grandchildren in wheel chairs!”
There was no outburst of laughter!
Ah, loved reading this post, Tracy… I agree with you – I used to love running and would gladly run again if I could. But, unfortunately, walking up stairs seems to take all the energy I have. But one day, maybe one day… And yes, I agree, running, more than any other sport in my opinion, teaches one so much about perseverance and and and. As always, your post was most inspiring – I would love to show it to as many people as possible! Have a good December and a most blessed Christmas!
Because of reading this, I truly enjoyed contemplating all the layers of meaning in the concept and practice of running. I ran a lot until puberty, developed asthma. I can still run, but rarely do. I don’t like the side effects from having to use an inhaler. (I switched to lifting.) It’s the rapid in-out of breath that seems to trigger the problem, that and/or emotional stress. I’ve never really thought how this permanent obstacle, so much less acute than your situation, still consistently required me to become a contemplative, slow buffalo. I had to learn to pass slowly through the material world in order to breathe. Well, we adapt to survive and thrive.
One thing you and I have entirely in common. Our minds tend to run all the time. Isn’t it interesting, how humans seem to use the life-long fight of flesh against gravity as a means of strength training by resistance?
I’m so glad to hear you’ve been healthy. We get puppy number two in three weeks.
(Merry Christmas, and much love, from here in the cold, windy woods.)
I love running, I love cycling and swimming and used to be a halfway decent triathlete, heck I’ve run more marathons, ultra’s, cycled in more races than I care to remember. Thank goodness I have those memories because my day also came when in answer to the question ” When can I race again?” …. the chilling ” Never” stopped me in my tracks. I can however walk which I do all the time and am mobile…and in fact I am writing this from beautiful London…so when I think of you dear Tracy I remind myself to encourage all those lying on the couch right now to “get up and get going, NOW” because you may not be able to, tomorrow.
Happy Christmas Trace and tomorrow when I am looking down at the Lights of London from the London eye I shall hoist a glass of Champagne and drink a toast to you…the person who Inspires me most when I dig deep for courage.