Running has been one of the great passions I’ve kept throughout my vision loss.

The local running track in our hometown

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!

Entering the light-out

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.

The full-blown light-out

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!”

My favorite running shoes!
Running a Fine Line
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32 thoughts on “Running a Fine Line

  • July 7, 2014 at 6:07 pm

    Hey, Amy! Way to go! I love that you are not allowing circumstances to determine how fully you live your life. What a great example you are to us all.

  • July 7, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    As a non runner, I am amazed by your drive to run, and even more so with a vision problems. That takes a lot of courage and self-motivation. What an inspiration! Thanks for sharing and inspiring others!

  • July 7, 2014 at 6:22 pm

    Kudos to you for continue to run and finding ways to make it work for you. It’s been many years since I put on running shoes to run/jog. I never got ‘into it’ so instead, I dance. Still using my feet and enjoying it!

  • July 7, 2014 at 6:43 pm

    Amy you are such an inspiration! I used to run, but I never really enjoyed it all that much. After reading your post, you have brought all new meaning to running. I am feeling the bliss through you, and honestly with your vision problems, I think you are amazing how you persevere! You are making me want to get off this chair and run, even if it’s just down the block! Thank you!

  • July 7, 2014 at 10:19 pm

    Denise, thank you for your kind words! If we are determined to overcome obstacles, we can have a full life. My sister taught me that.

  • July 8, 2014 at 1:04 am

    Thank you, Katherine.
    On your site, you have a special (I’m guessing Pintrest) poster that states our life is the only message that we leave to inspire others. =)
    But really, I just want to enjoy my life however I can. =)
    Come back and visit again!

  • July 8, 2014 at 1:07 am

    Hi Debra,
    Dancing is great! Following whatever your interest / passion is terrific!
    Living life is such an adventure and participating is the most important part!

  • July 8, 2014 at 1:09 am

    Thank you, Maryann!
    It warms my heart to hear you say you can relate and can feel my passion for running!
    And that you want to run even a tiny bit!
    Just tickles me and makes me smile!
    Hope you come back and read some more stories!

  • July 8, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    Another great story, Amy! Applause to you for your determination to make it work despite obstacles. I understand the drive to keep your interests alive…I’ve discovered I can still ride a bike on the paved trails, and I enjoy it a great deal. I wouldn’t venture out on the roads, but like you said, “a controlled environment” helps. Feels great to move and feel the breeze, hear the sounds, and smell the grills cooking on Presque Isle. Maybe we’ll go there together sometime! 🙂

  • July 8, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    Hi Beckie!
    Hooray that you have found a way to keep riding your bike!
    Yay for controlled environments! (Never thought I’d say that!).
    Definitely have to go to Presque Isle together sometime! They have some special days in August called “We love Presque Isle,” that lasts three days. It’s crowded but they have tiny little stands that sell everything and it’s really neat! I go every summer!
    Will talk soon. =)

  • July 9, 2014 at 11:47 am

    Amy – there are numerous times as we age that we love the feel of feeling the “same-o”…… it does connect us to our history and yes, makes us feel vital…. still. When something isn’t as it should be….. I always cling to what is the same. The other day I had a massive nose bleed, the first of three for three days….. so bad I was choking on the gush…… but in the middle, I was praying…. focusing on the Lord…. resting in His presence…knowing there was nothing between – as the old song used to say….. I encourage you to do all you can…… pursue that which connects you to your own history….. and see that the Lord is good….. consistent. Love KarenB.

  • July 9, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    Hi Amy –

    Loved this post, I could feel your joy for running in every word. I’m not into running as much as this but I do like to run. Now that I’ve lost 65lbs I’d probably love it again. My preference is for kickboxing though. A good solid “thwack” to the heavy bag w/ my leg for a round kick or strong “smack” with my glove, such a a great stress reliever. I should get out and run though, the weather is great for it…

  • July 9, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    Thank you for these encouraging words! I love your reminder to do all I can and to see that the Lord is good and consistent.
    Yes, as strange as it sounds, I can rest in the Lord even when I’m running!
    So sorry about your terrible nosebleeds! But so thankful that you have the presence of mind to focus on God during this difficulty.
    And glad that you can relate to me through this hardship.
    Thank you for taking time to respond, Karen!

  • July 9, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    Hi Amy,
    Congratulations on your weight loss! Wow! That is no easy feat!
    Kickboxing sounds like a fun sport and, as you said, a great stress release!
    The weather is great, even for a short run! =)
    Thank you for reading my post and do come back!

  • July 9, 2014 at 10:39 pm

    Oh Amy – you’re amazing! Colliding into the fence and still running? Ouch! That would have been my cue to take up yoga. I loved the image of running down the street with your cane, I have done that on occasions when rushing for a tram and feel so clumsy and become suddenly aware of just how funny it must look to others – a blind person running with a cane? I feel like a knight on his horse thrusting a lance out in front and beware to any opponent coming the other way…so, yep, stay on that track – I’m there, cheering you on, go Amy! (says she with hot coffee and cake in hand)

  • July 10, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    Wow! I’m not a running fan, but I sure am a fan of your enthusiasm! Thanks for giving us a peek into your passion. Lisa

  • July 10, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    Thanks, Lisa! Ha ha! It looks like another great running day today, in fact!!

  • July 10, 2014 at 5:11 pm

    I too am impressed with the fact that you ran into a fence but kept on running. I think that’s the metaphor for your whole life, encapsulated in this post. I’m equally impressed with the way in which you actually handle the complexity of telling this story.

  • July 10, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    Hi Maribel,
    I like that–like a knight on his horse thrusting a lance out in front and beware to any opponent coming the other way!
    Thanks for the cheers (and withholding any jeers!).
    Always love your take on things!

  • July 10, 2014 at 8:05 pm

    Thanks for sharing your world and your experiences with us, Amy. Your tenacity and good sense of humor while adapting to your vision challenges is an inspiration to those of us who see – but don’t always have the VISION to get out and move every day.

  • July 11, 2014 at 5:07 am

    Hi Jane,
    Ha ha! Who’d have guessed that the “Braille dots” I was seeing were actual physical features of the fence created to protect runners!
    I never thought about it as being a metaphor for my life but I think there may be some truth in what you say.
    Thank you for giving me something to think about, Jane.
    Come back again!

  • July 11, 2014 at 5:26 am

    Hi Denise!
    There’s nothing like running for sure!
    I appreciate your comment and know that you, too, like to get out and move in the fresh air!
    Though, for you, that means early morning before it gets too hot!
    Thanks for checking out my latest post!

  • July 12, 2014 at 8:42 pm

    I’m a runner, too, and your post puts things in perspective. I was just telling my husband today that I was going to be one of those little old ladies one day, running a marathon with my walker. His response – you’ll never use a walker. I hope he’s right. Question- have you ever run with a guide dog?

  • July 12, 2014 at 9:03 pm

    This is a great post. As a runner moving from 5ks to a half marathon this speaks to me. Thanks for your raw, realness. Awesome!

  • July 12, 2014 at 9:53 pm

    I love this post and your determination to not stop living your life as you see fit. It is so great that you are sharing this the world, you are an inspiration.

  • July 13, 2014 at 2:36 am

    Colleen, hope you don’t use a walker! But if you do, you’ll do it with aplomb! No, I don’t have a guide dog yet. But when I do get one, I certainly will!
    Thanks for taking time to read my post!

  • July 13, 2014 at 2:40 am

    What a wonderful target, Amy, a half marathon! By the end of summer? Make sure you have fun with it! I love it that other runners can relate!
    Have a great day and keep running!

  • July 13, 2014 at 2:42 am

    Thank you for taking time out to read my post, Jen!
    I certainly appreciate your kind words!

  • July 16, 2014 at 12:28 am

    Enjoyed reading about your determination. Truly inspiring. Who takes your photos? Well done!

  • July 16, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    Thanks, Lynn! There’s a site I usually take my pictures from called Morguefile. It contains a bank of high-resolution (mostly photos) used to accompany old newspaper articles and it is royalty-free so anyone can use these pictures without worrying about copyright issues.

  • July 21, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    I found your post awe-inspiring. There really are no boundaries in what we can do in life and you emulate that. I look forward to reading more from you.

  • July 21, 2014 at 5:23 pm

    Hi Lauren, thanks so much for your encouraging words.
    No boundaries for all of us if we want something badly enough.
    Take care and come back again, Lauren.

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