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Earlier this week, I got a little too up close and personal with the trail. I’m not exactly known for my physical grace, the layers of scarring on my knees a testament to previous tumbles. Still, each new fall is painfully jarring, and something I’d prefer to avoid.
Ironically, I was running with my friend Michael Stone who, in addition to being a gifted athlete, is legally blind. Michael does have some vision, but what he can see is limited and varies depending on light conditions. When he runs with other folks (either casually or while competing in XTERRA off-road triathlons), he generally takes the lead, keeping his eyes closed and running by feel. Think about that for a minute – these are hardly obstacle-free running routes!
So there we were heading out for a trail run, Michael and my dog a ways ahead, me getting my running rhythm from behind. I was a bit distracted, watching to make sure Viggo wasn’t tangling his exuberant puppy self in between Michael’s legs. Unfortunately, I lack my friend’s intuitive feel for the trail – the moment I take my eyes off my next step, I’m pretty much guaranteed to trip. And trip I did, on a semi-steep downhill, slamming arm, elbow, quad and knees into the gravel. I even managed to scrape and bruise my belly, and barely missed grazing my face. I think if I wasn’t blessed with itty-bitty A-cups, I would have done some damage there as well!
But yes, running does mirror life. When we fall down, there’s not much else we can do – once we’ve unleashed a loud stream of expletives, brushed ourselves off and sucked up the sting – other than get up and keep going. Perhaps there are some lessons to learn that will better protect us – in this case, staying focused on the trail and practicing high, quick steps – yet still the occasional stumble is inevitable. The best we can do is shake off the pain and continue moving forward, one brave foot in front of the other.
– Holly Bennett
P.S. Be sure to check out Michael’s book Eye Envy, a compilation of inspirational stories of people
coping with vision loss, as well as an invaluable resource for both vision-impaired individuals and their family and friends.