Posts Tagged ‘identity’

This question has been in my mind for the last several years. It was my friend, Liz, who talked to me about running on New Year’s Eve morning in 2006. The next day was a new year – the perfect time to make a new year’s resolution, and mine was to run a half marathon. How do I remember this? Well, I was returning a printer to her that she had loaned or given me for the new Push to Walk gym that was opening in 2 weeks. I had gotten another one donated that was much better for our needs, so I was returning this one to her. We were standing outside and she was telling me about a run she had done that morning or was doing the next day (I can’t remember EVERYTHING in that conversation!). It had been many, many years since I had done any amount of running, either in distance or for a consistent amount of time. I was feeling good and decided to take on the challenge of the MORE Half Marathon which would be in March, 2007.

I trained and completed that half marathon with a pretty respectable 2 hours and 10 minute finish. I was pleased and satisfied with my accomplishment! At some point after that, I decided that I wanted to run a full marathon before my 50th birthday. Again, the MORE event fit into my plans perfectly – local and it was scheduled for April 6, just 8 days before my birthday. Again, I trained and ran and was happy with my finish. I’m pretty sure I said “I’m never doing that again!”

I didn’t run for quite a while, but then staff and clients at Push to Walk started putting together a group to run either the half or full marathon at Disney in January 2009.  Despite breaking a rib in early September and delaying my training, I was able to train enough and complete the half marathon at Disney that January. But then I didn’t run again until I was training for this most recent event.

So I battle with the above question: am I a “runner?” I like to run; I enjoy running. I like the discipline and having a goal to reach. I like the quiet time, and time all for myself. But it has drained me physically and emotionally. It takes a toll on my body. When I crossed that finish line, tears of joy streamed down my face. Also tears of relief. I finished. I could stop running now. It’s been almost two weeks now, and I haven’t run. I haven’t rode the exercise bike; heck, I haven’t even walked. I am enjoying sleeping later in the morning and not planning my whole day around running, eating, drinking enough water, etc. I know my body needs to recuperate.

If I was a runner, wouldn’t I be running again? I think I could honestly say I have been a runner at various times in my life. Or maybe I am trying to be a runner. I think both of those statements are true. But my real message, although it’s taken me 500 words to get here is – running is part of who I am. I am not defined by my running. I am lots of other things – a woman, sister, wife, mother, aunt, etc. And I write this because how this relates to people with spinal cord injuries. From my conversations, observations and reading up on this topic, a person with a physical disability doesn’t want to be defined by their injury or condition. It might be one of the most obvious parts of who they are if they use a wheelchair, but it is only PART of who they are. They, too, are husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, students, musicians, professionals, etc.  They are not “just” a person with a disability. The people I know, including my son Darren, who have spinal cord injuries, have goals and aspirations. They are working towards accomplishing good and big things in their lives. They are living life.

So maybe that old saying, “you can’t judge a book by its cover” is really true. Who knows who another person really is unless you make an effort to know a person more deeply than what you see from the outside. As I lined up for the marathon with 3,000 other people, I thought, “Wow! Look at all these runners!” But who are they, really? Are they all “runners?” Does it matter?

I encourage you all to look past the obvious; to see the person; to get to know the person. 


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