I was never athletic growing up and throughout the years, most times that I started anything athletic, I would get an injury. In college, I began weight lifting and hyper-extended my left knee, which required surgery to relieve the pain and resulting “water on the knee.” That knee would flare-up often so, I stayed away from anything that would cause pressure on it. I tried to run in the past but fear about hurting my knee again stopped me. So, I started speed-walking under the belief that doing so would be the closest I could ever get to running. I got rather good at that and in 2009, I participated in a half-marathon in Central Park, NYC. That race was called at the 7-mile mark due to 100+ degree weather and concern for the participants. I “trained” for weeks by myself. I now know that I did everything wrong and it was only God’s grace that kept me from re-injuring myself. Anyway, I was happy to have had the courage to participate and go 7 miles.
Fast forward to 2014. I tripped on uneven pavement and that time injured my right knee. I knew for sure then that walking was the best I could ever hope to do. I gained weight because my physical activity decreased. In 2015, I started boxing and doing Bikram Hot Yoga. In 8 months, I lost 50 pounds and was happy! Nevertheless, I still was very cautious about re-injury to my knees.
In 2016, I was promoted and relocated to Charleston. I couldn’t find Bikram Yoga or a boxing gym so, I speed-walked 5Ks on the boulevard 3 times per week until August 2018 when I underwent bunion surgery. That recovery has taken over a year and to this date I still suffer from foot pain. Again, another physical limitation that limited my mobility; I regained almost all of the weight.
In mid-July 2019, I committed to getting back to activity despite the foot and knee pain and began walking one 5K per week, albeit not very fast. One Saturday morning, a woman passed me and told me about the Saturday ParkRun program. I participated a few weeks later and speed-walked that 5K. After the ParkRun, I met Pamm Moore Haley who told me about Genesis and the Charleston Distance Run, which I did the week before Genesis began. Again, it was only by God’s grace that I finished the Charleston Distance Run with good time as a speed walker and without injury. A day or so later, I met Big Mac, who coaches Genesis at another location. He and his wife were praising Genesis, too. They shared about their progress with learning how to run. Well, I figured meeting Big Mac was confirmation that I should at least try Genesis and I emailed you.
On the first day of Genesis, I wasn’t going to be the pig or burn the sails or whatever you told us to do. I intended to “maybe” and “hopefully” learn a few tips and, at best, increase my walking speed. These knees, and now the added foot pain, had betrayed me before. I really knew that the best I could expect was to walk because I started the program knowing I had the deficits of scheduling conflicts for the Hope Run and even the Marshall 5K itself.
Then, something happened! Over the past 9 weeks, I’ve picked up far more than a tip or two. I picked up encouragement, motivation, reminders to ground my success in His Word, and I even found a new friend—Jackie. As I did the practice run on week 8 and passed a few runners, a woman said to me, “Hey, didn't you have a knee brace when you first started? Is your knee all better?” It was the first time that I thought about it. I had run the entire time without the safety of that brace. I replied, “I couldn’t find it but I decided I was going to run anyway!”
After an easy start and finishing strong past the point where I had begun running, I walked a few feet and like you said, I felt like I could do more, and I did. I did an easy run back to the gathering spot.
As I ready to leave Charleston this week to head to Tupelo, I thank you for the memory of Genesis and the gift of running. Look at me: At almost 55 years old, I’ve decided to be the pig!
May God continue to richly bless you as you continue to bless others through this program.