Running has been one of the great passions I’ve kept throughout my vision loss.
There’s something about having one foot after another pound on the pavement that makes me feel alive and healthy. Maybe just sweaty — but it’s a good sweat. Maybe more than anything, I feel I’m still living life my way. I feel kind of normal when I run.
I think about blisters and speed and miles and feeling fit.
Just like anyone else who runs.
Or maybe I should say anyone who jogs. (Just keeping it real here. As I get older I’ve slowed down a little!).
Where I once I used to run through exotic scenery like rice paddies (Taiwan) and ocean vistas (Costa Rica) and along the Gulf (the United Arab Emirates), I now have to run in a controlled area. I’ve had to compromise because running over rough terrain or even in the road doesn’t work for me anymore. Once I even tried running with my cane but the problem with that is you can’t outrun your cane. Besides that, you look funny (like you’re a pole vaulter that never takes the hurdle!). When I run in the streets, I fall over sewer gratings and potholes. Uneven sidewalks trip me up and I pitch forward. Skinned knees, a sprained ankle, gravel-in-my-hand accidents taught me to value boundaries.
So a smooth track works well. It’s body-friendly. A tumble there doesn’t leave much of a scar (though I could do without those track and field vaults, which block some of the lanes and catch me unaware sometimes). I might cross a few lanes on a bad vision day but it’s not crowded enough to hold me back.
And so I run.
I run like anybody else.
Sometimes it’s as if I’m flying down the track. That’s how great running makes me feel!
Sometimes it’s as if I’m flying down the track. That’s how GREAT running makes me feel!
Lately, I’ve been coping with another phenomena I call “light-outs.” Because I love to run in the evenings, sometimes the sun is positioned just so … that I can’t see anything. Evening is my down-time so it’s always worked out well to run then. I don’t know whether others struggle with them or if my eyes are becoming more sensitive to light.
The first time it happened, I saw black dots, and the organized way they were arranged looked like Braille! I was so amazed by this comparison when suddenly… I ran into the chain-linked fence surrounding the track! The dots were actually part of the fence! It left me chuckling for quite awhile that day. Good thing I’m determined to run because I crossed six lanes to reach that fence and those “Braille” dots!
The four black dots reminded me of Braille. I unwittingly ran toward them … and collided with a chain-linked fence surrounding the track!
Running has its moments!
Now I’m getting accustomed to these “light-outs.” They usually happen on the right side of the track while the left side remains sharp and clear. I put one foot in front of the other and trust my gut. I run straight and the lane marker washes in and out of my vision but I keep trusting. The light-out reminds me of “white-outs” that I encountered when I used to drive home from work via Interstate 90. The wind would whip the snow across the highway. I couldn’t see anything for a few seconds and then I’d glimpse the white line and adjust myself. I used to drive like this, praying that God would keep me safe and out-of-range from the other drivers. Luckily, like the track, Interstate 90 didn’t have much traffic during those white-outs.
So I keep running as I peer through the glare to stay on course. This light-out is not to be confused with “lights out.” I realize I run a fine line between light and darkness. When the darkness sets in, it’s like “lights out” and I have to race home because I don’t take my cane to the track when I’m running (even to set it down beside the track) and I don’t want to get caught in the darkness without it. Then the darkness blinds me!
When I run into the light-out now, I often see a succession of odd-shaped dots (no more systematic Braille!That was a one-off, probably God’s sense of humor!) in sensational black, blue, red and yellow colors. Probably green as well. It’s just my eyes trying to tease me into playing Red Light, Green Light!
Sometimes I wonder why I don’t change my running to the morning. It would make sense because I have tons of energy! The truth is I don’t really mind. I run to relax. And to think about my day and if I’ve used it wisely or not, and how I might use it better the next day, if I haven’t.
So I run a fine line between light-outs and lights out, hearing the sound of my feet hit the pavement.
There’s no better sound.
Despite my challenges, I’m still a runner.
That day I ran into the fence, I finished two miles before going home.
The only thing I can say is “That’s life in the track lane!”