Members of Team SJS just minutes before the start of the 2010 Fox Cities Half Marathon!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Enjoying the Journey

It's been nearly 1 year since I met my friend and running partner, Deb.  I had always wanted to find someone to run with that was willing to continue and follow through with training schedules.  Someone to hold myself accountable to if need be, someone to do races with, to have a similar pace so I didn't have to feel guilty for holding him/her back or feeling like I had to push harder to keep up, and someone who loves this sport as much or more than I do.  Well, I have found that in Deb and much, much more.

This Sunday, we are running our first half marathon together.  We have trained through the cold and dreary months, changed our work schedules to be able to run together, have each recovered from surgeries and/or hospitalizations, texted and emailed words of encouragement and support, gotten to know each other's families, are now in a book club together, agreed to sign up and train for our first full marathon, and then after that get matching tattoos of our 26.2 accomplishment.  Nuts, right?

Yeah, maybe, but I will say that my friendship with Deb, and so many other runners that I have met in the community this past year, is more than I ever expected from this sport.  For a long time, I felt very alone after my illness.  Of course, I always had my SJS family that I could chat with through Facebook or even call if things were bad.  But I always felt different when it was just me in my community.  If Mike and I would go out, all I could think was that people were staring at my scarred skin or my prosthetic eye wondering what in the heck was wrong with me  or if they could figure out which eye was real and which was fake.  I was self conscious of putting tears in my eyes every few minutes and I felt as though when people heard my story, they felt pity for me.  I HATED that!  It's tough because you want people to know what you went through in order to educate them about the illness, but you also want to just go back to living a "normal" life and not be just a Survivor of a horrible, flesh eating disease.  I wanted to be me.  That's it.

So when I started at the No Boundaries Half/Full Marathon Training group through our local running store, Fleet Feet, I was amazed to find that the people who were there were incredible in their own right.  Some people were losing large amounts of weight, others were running their first marathon in honor of a loved one who  had battled an illness or lost that battle.  People were running for themselves or for others and no matter what, they weren't giving up. I found myself drawn to their determination, pulled into their passion to train hard and finish strong.  They became my friends and I am forever changed by this community.

Thanks to all of my running friends, I am as "normal" again as I will ever be. When I am with them, I am just another person who runs.  They encourage me, support me, cheer me on and pick me up when I fall.  They are my angels on Earth.

As for Deb, she keeps me grounded.  She pushes me to my limits and has been the main reason I feel whole again.  She doesn't see me as being blind in one eye, she doesn't see me with my nerve damaged feet, she doesn't care that that I have scarred skin, although she has reminded me on a few occasions to wear sunscreen.  She sees me as her running partner, her friend, the idiot who thought it would be a great idea to do our first full this year!

The weather forecast for Sunday is extreme heat and lots of road construction along the route.  So we'll see how we do.  We have goals lined up as A, B, and C.  A is to finish, B is to not end up in the medical tent and C is to just have FUN!  Trust the process, enjoy the journey, right Deb?

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