Tuesday was the first day I hadn’t had stitches on the back of my left calf. For those who don’t know, I gashed my leg when I was carrying out the garbage. My caterer threw away broken glass and didn’t tell me. I told them that thanks to their carelessness I would forever have the memory of their company etched into the back of my calf with 21 stitches.
I wake up every morning thinking I want to run and then sometimes I don’t. I had a two-and-a-half week excuse for not running because of my leg, but now I don’t. It’s a constant battle with myself. I want to be able to say, “I ran four miles today.” But, oftentimes, I just create this mental hurdle that I fail to get over. I basically did that this past fall after I got back from Nepal. I ran but not with the same discipline I had the summer before I went to Nepal.
We all have moments when we just don’t want to do it, and little excuses, like chaffing on the inner thigh or stomach cramps, sneak in. I’ve lost toenails, skin, my sanity, and then some in order to keep going. But despite the pain, I go forward. When I have doubts, I think of Allisson Kessler, one of my dear friends, to keep running.
Allison is like me–a ferociously tenacious woman who achieves things on her terms and won’t listen to no’s. She is also paralyzed from the waist down from a skiing accident that happened when she was at boarding school. She didn’t want to play accommodated sports, so she turned to coxing the Harvard men’s crew team in college. She’s now training as a medical student to help paralyzed children. Watch this video of her in action. Stunning.
When she didn’t want to listen to arguments about limiting stem cell research, she, along with her father, became a voice in that community advocating for it so that she can someday realize her dream of walking again.
Right before the holidays we went to dinner, and she said to me, “Everyone always asks me a lot of questions about my situation, but they never ask me what I would do if I could feel again in my legs. ” Her answer is to run barefoot through the grass and just feel the grass as it touches the bare skin and in between her toes.
Whenever I don’t want to run, I think of Allison and how she reminds me that it’s a privilege to run. I think of her not allowing people to tell her no because she’s paralyzed, and I am grateful that I have working legs.
Allison will tell you that she looks up to me, but I will tell you that there are few people in this world that I admire more than those who defy the odds and through their tenacity and strength make us look at things differently. When I think of her in races, I don’t pity her (though I am sympathetic for her situation), but I think she wouldn’t want me to take this moment for granted or the fact that I can run. Because believe me, if she could run, I just don’t know the limits of how far she could go.
New York Marathon training starts now. I am eager to be at that race.Tweet