The Man I Ran Behind

April 24th, 2010 by Amy Gonsalves Leave a reply »

Today’s post is dedicated to a certain WILD woman who embarks on her first marathon this weekend.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed mine, Mari!

I received a true gift when I ran my first marathon in January 2010 at Walt Disney World.  I don’t know my gift’s name but a part of me loves him.

I think I first saw him about 5 miles into my 26.2 that day.  He was outrageously tall; he easily beat me by 14 inches (making him 6’4” at least).  His gait was rather lopsided, which made for a blessed break in the rhythmic monotony that is distance running.

His gait was lopsided because he had only one foot.

One knee.

One leg.

And one prosthetic “Cheetah” leg.

And I was running behind him.

The entire rest of the way.

He stopped every few miles to unscrew his Cheetah and wipe off.  I stopped every few miles to check my blood glucose.

Yet we stayed in tandem, occasionally leapfrogging in front of one another for the next three and a half hours.

I’m fairly certain that my gift doesn’t know I ran that day. I’m fairly certain he didn’t see me or notice me.  I’m fairly certain he would not have cared if he had seen me, even if he had seen me stop and check my blood glucose.

But because of him, I felt certain the marathon was no longer a challenge for me.  I knew that he was doing something that others could see required a mental and physical journey, one he (I hope) considered himself fortunate to experience.

Just like me.

I never once felt sorry for him.  I never once felt sorry for myself.  I knew that other runners might have looked at him and said “what an inspiration” and “how amazing” but I didn’t really get that from him.  I got that he was working on a goal that he wanted to accomplish; one that would take him inside himself and one that would only re-affirm what he already knew about himself and his own strength.

Kinda like me.

So when I think about my marathon, I think about the gift I received that day when I found myself next to a man with one leg.  I know everyone was watching him as he ran.  I am fairly sure no one saw my insulin pump on my hip as I ran, or what it means.  I know people who saw him probably thanked their stars they had both legs they were born with.

I wonder if anyone thought about their beta cells.

But that’s what was so amazing about the marathon—everyone out there that day had to work to be there.  Everyone had to take a lot of time inside themselves if they wanted to get through.  Everyone had challenges that they probably wished they could trade away, and challenges they would never wish to face.

I have never once wished to trade away my diabetes.  I know that with any challenge that I will inevitably come across, I will deal with it and, with work, continue to thrive.  Legs, pancreases, blisters, ripped shorts, they are all just things.  The true test of success in a marathon is what happens inside yourself as you keep going and watch yourself succeed.

What a gift that man gave me that day.

What a gift I gave myself.

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