After I told my personal trainer in February of 2008 that I wanted to run the 2009 Boston Marathon for Spaulding Rehab, she told me that I needed to get a pair of running shoes. She referred me to the Marathon Sports Brookline store about a mile from where we live. I had no idea what to expect. As a survivor of paralytic polio, buying shoes had always been somewhat traumatic for me. I had a completely different experience in buying my first pair of running shoes.
From my memoir, "Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility (I donate 50% of royalty payments through on line sales to The One Fund to help Boston Marathon survivors and their families. Copies are also available at Brookline Marathon Sports. $5 of each book sold at Marathon Sports is donated to The One Fund):
“What are you in now?” Spencer Aston asked me when I walked into Marathon Sports in February of 2008.
“Well, truth be told, I’m in ‘polio shoes.’ I borrowed these running shoes from my daughter. Let me give you the twitter version of my story.”
I told Spencer about my history of paralytic polio, my ‘remarkable recovery’ as was Spaulding’s tag line when I was a patient and how I was planning to run the Boston Marathon. He took so much time and care doing a gait assessment and working with me to find the perfect running shoes. We figured out that I needed an insert at my heel to ensure comfort.
Spencer spent at least 45 minutes with me trying on different shoes and figuring out what I needed to begin my running career.
My first pair of running shoes ever at the age of 53 years old were Nike Vomeros. They got me through months of grueling training through the New England winter of 2008/2009 and to the finish line of the Boston Marathon:
Fast forward to National Running Day 2014. I now wear Altra Intuition:
Tom and I briefly gathered at Brookline Marathon Sports Brookline-Run Group and headed out for our early start.
It was deceptively humid although there was a chill in the air. Tom and I treasured our time together to talk, to vent, to enjoy being outside and for me to train.
I printed out The Best Race Week 5K Workout from Active and plan to begin more formal speed work. Last night, I continued to race with imaginary competitors on our run as we had at Jamaica Pond on Memorial Day. It's my own version of Fartleks.
As we came down Beacon Street, members of the Run Club passed us. I tried to pace with a few of them and discovered that I am able to run without feeling pain in my right knee. Tom had to remind me to be mindful and not get swept away by the energy and excitement of running with the pack. The fartleks and pacing with other runners resulted in a -1.20 minute split on my last mile.
We socialized back at the store after the run. I was feeling the runner's high, the joy of being with the running community and a heart filled with gratitude. I paused for a moment to consider that I've come a long way from when I bought my first pair of running shoes at the store. The journey has been filled with uphills, downhills, forks in the road and twists and turns. But last night, I had the clear realization that I have transformed from a survivor of paralytic polio to being a runner. What a wonderful way to celebrate National Running Day - the place where my journey as a runner began.