Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Bucket List #13.1

Several years ago I had an 'Ah, ha' moment. It was at the end of the first episode of one of The Biggest Loser's early seasons. The new group of recruits had shown up at the ranch--overweight, out of shape, and in pain. They had to walk a 5K that first day, and were told that there would be an eventual marathon in their futures--if they lasted long enough. After watching their first week condensed into a couple of hours, and seeing their struggles and triumphs, I decided that I was going to walk a half marathon. If they could do it, then so could I. No excuses. I had just received a flyer from a local cancer charity about an info session they were sponsoring later that week that involved training for a marathon in conjunction with their fundraising efforts, and I was going to do it. I even went walking around my apartment complex as soon as that episode was over, to get a jump start on my training, which was saying a lot for me, since it was at 9:00 PM on a very cold January night. I hate being out in the cold.

I went to that info meeting, registered as a walker, and was all set to walk in a marathon that next April. I went to the weekly training walks, and was about a month away from the marathon when I stepped wrong at the end of one of my twelve mile walks. I did not fall, but I did end up with a swollen knee for a couple of weeks, which was not anything major, but it was enough to keep me out of that particular race. It was a little discouraging, but another marathon would come along.

Marathon training - version 1.0

Fast forward several months later--

Once again I began training to walk another half marathon--this one in my hometown. No excuses. I was back on track with my Saturday walks. One particular Saturday in November, I had walked six miles as part of my training schedule, and later that afternoon I was on the way to pick up some items for our Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes, just a couple of miles from our apartment, when I was involved in a car accident that broke both of my knees and tore all of the surrounding tendons and ligaments. I was stuck in the car for quite a while before emergency personnel could figure out how to open the crushed driver's side door and get me into the ambulance, which gave my husband enough time to get the call from the other side of town that he needed to head back my way. The first thing I said to him when he finally arrived was, "I don't think I'm going to be able to walk that marathon in January". (The next thing was, "Call my mom and tell her that I am going to need her a lot for a while").  The emergency personnel kind of exchanged "is she kidding, she's not walking ANYWHERE" looks with each other--not really getting my different sense of humor.

I did not walk for a while. My rehab was a very long ordeal, and it eventually became clear that my knee function was going to be permanently impaired. Four years later, I still cannot get up and down off of the floor because my knees do not bend all the way, and there is always pain involved with flexion and extension. Walking that half marathon became something missed but no longer attainable.  Plenty of legitimate excuses.

Or so I thought.

This past summer, I saw a knee specialist because of increasing knee pain. One of the many things that I had learned in researching Harrison's diagnosis is that osteosarcoma is much more likely to show up after a bone fracture, and I did not want to be stupid and just assume that the pain was 'normal' for someone with injuries like mine. This doctor assured me that while knee replacements are almost certainly guaranteed in my future, walking at slow speeds would not increase the rate of breakdown, and that walking that half marathon was not out of the question, as long as I worked up to it. So, guess what?

 I started walking one mile at a local nature trail. After several weeks, I added another mile, as well as a walking partner. At this point I had serious doubts if I would be able to walk a 5K, but she encouraged me and we did a 5K together. We were absolute last, but we finished. When she suggested walking a half-marathon (it was on her bucket list, too), I agreed to give it a shot, figuring I would quit when it became too much.

But my doctor was right. The constant knee pain did make training more of a challenge, but knowing that I was not doing further damage kept me going. That, and knowing that if I did happen to fall on one of my training walks, I would have a partner to help pull me up off the ground! I did not tell anyone I was training, other than a couple of family members. Whereas before I had posted regular updates on my progress, this one was all for me.

And in October, we did it. We walked a half marathon. We were the last two to cross the finish line--seconds away from having the clock shut off at the four hour deadline for walkers. But we did it. We walked a half marathon--two middle aged ladies with crazy schedules, kids at home, health issues, pain, and busted knees.

I LOVE this shot--everyone has gone home, except for our own personal cheering section of folks that matter the most.

And if we can do it, so can you. No excuses.

I finally have my very own sticker--sweet!