Before discovering that I had 3 dislocated toes that would require surgery, I signed up for several 5ks…..and the 2018 IMT Des Moines Half Marathon.
I didn’t want to miss out on this new hobby (racing) that I loved so much, and I also didn’t want to miss out on the money I had already paid for race registrations. I knew I could find a way to make it still work, but it would require some creativity.
At this point, before surgery, my foot had become painful, and I knew that I needed to protect it from further damage. I started using the knee scooter early so I could practice getting around. I discovered that I could function pretty efficiently with the knee scooter, so I got a brilliant idea: I sent an email to my foot surgeon, Dr. Raatz at East Village Foot and ankle, and to the directors of the races where I was already registered, asking permission to participate in the events on a knee scooter.
To my excitement, I was permitted to race, with precautions, of course. I would stay to the right and start at the back of the pack-things I normally did anyway. I realized that an unconventional racing method would require different training, so I started putting in the miles at Grays lake….on the knee scooter.
The first race I did on the knee scooter was at Conception Seminary in Missouri. The event I chose to compete in was a 2-mile walk which consisted of 2 loops around their beautiful campus. The winners of the 2-mile walk were determined by how close the participant estimated their correct finish time. I had a blast “racing” on the scooter, and at the luncheon after the race, I was exhilarated to win in my age group for the closest estimate of my time.
I also did the Mary’s Meals race and the Run from the police on the scooter to overwhelming support and cheers from other racers.
Surgery was scheduled for June 1st. The pins would remain in my toes for an estimated 8 weeks after surgery, which would potentially leave just 6 weeks of scooter training on longer distances before October. I’m stubborn and determined, so I decided to set my sights on the goal to keep a good mindset during recovery.
Once the pins came out, I cautiously started getting ready. I was able to keep a pace of a 12-minute mile safely. For me, a 12-minute mile was a huge improvement over what I could do on my own arthritic knee and problematic foot.
At the IMT Des Moines Marathon events, I was very nervous but also very hopeful and motivated. Racing on a knee scooter was definitely odd, but it enabled me to have an amazing time still.
My spirit was uplifted by the cheers, waves, and support I received along the racecourse. I thought I would cry when I crossed the finish line, but, to my surprise, the tears came as I was circling Grays Lake: the spot where my journey had first begun. As I exited Grays Lake, I knew the finish line was quickly approaching. By the time I rounded the corner into the home stretch, I could hear the roar of the crowd. My tears dried up and turned into a happy smile. I didn’t realize it at the time, but when I saw the race photos, I had crossed the finish line laughing with joy.
Even though I can no longer run, and walking even short distances is a struggle, I am grateful beyond measure to participate still, even if it’s uniquely. I won’t be running the half this year, but I’m planning to do 13.1 nonetheless. I’ll be propelling myself with one leg, using the knee scooter to take pressure off the weak, injured area, but you will see me there, with a smile on my face all the way from mile 1 until I cross the finish line.