I’ve decided the world is a highly ironic place.
At least my world is a highly ironic place.
In my walking form, I was one of those tall lanky ladies that you see and instantly assume plays sports. Yet, if you got to know me you would realize I was just 6 feet of awkward with no idea where in the world one of my limbs ended and the next one started. Sure, I played basketball in middle school but I spent most of my court time literally on the floor–I’ve always been pretty scrappy (I think that has something to do with my middle child syndrome). I also somehow managed to miss getting the “I’m-really-good-at-volleyball” gene that I swear every female (but me) gets. My role in volleyball games in gym class was like a strange form of a volleyball lightning rod. I’m pretty sure no matter where I was, I’d get smacked in the head by that stupid ball. In summary: Walking Sam = not sporty.
That seems to understate things, walking Sam = not sporty at all.
I still don’t think that’s quite right. Walking Sam = less than not sporty at all.
Yea, I think that’s about as good as it’s gonna get but I hope you get my point. Balls, bats, athletics are basically not my cup of tea. I mean I got into running in college as a stress reliever from all of my nerd classes and the fact there were not balls or bats required (or even found anywhere in the vicinity). I’m a bit on the anti-getting-hit-in-the-head-with-stuff bandwagon, I think middle school gym class traumatized me…
Yet here I sit, quote unquote disabled, having returned from my second year at a National Wheelchair Sports Camp. I wrote about my first year here, so if you want to “flashback friday” or whatever the cool kids are calling it, check the link out!
Excuse me for a second while I muse at the irony of the above situation.
Wheelchair. Handicapped. Disabled. National Sports Camp.
Which of these is not like the other?
But hold on a second. You know how sometimes you just naturally assume something is a certain way for your entire life? You assume that sardines are the nastiest things on the planet, but have never actually tried them. You assume that some person you work with is really mean but have never stopped to actually talk and learn about their life. You assume that people in wheelchairs can’t play sports or be athletic, and if they do play sports they must be really lame sports like bean bag toss.
I’m totally guilty of that last one (and the first one, but I don’t plan on ever trying a sardine…) and maybe bean bag toss isn’t a good example of a lame sport. I played bean bag toss for the first time last week and just for the record, it’s way harder than it looks and I’m remarkably terrible at it (maybe even worse than volleyball terrible…).
But getting a little serious again, you know I grew up with all these assumptions. Assumptions that I just formed without even realizing it. I mean, it’s not like someone ever came up to me and was all, “people in wheelchairs can’t play sports or be athletes.” I just assumed they didn’t or couldn’t. But man, after spending a week doing some pretty cool things and playing/watching some pretty intense events including paintball (that was a “I’m just going to watch this…”) and softball games where more people fell out of their wheelchairs than I bothered to count, it’s pretty obvious how wrong those old assumptions were and it’s awesome to be reminded of it. There’s a really cool video of the week that you should watch to experience just a tiny part of camp (check it out here!)
It was a great week, a really tiring week, but a great one. But of course it didn’t just end there…Now I mentioned earlier that running was the one sport I sort of did/started in college. I know I’ve talked once about actually getting started running again and then my first official race in other posts and I guess both of those kind of lead themselves to this, well, goal I’ve had.
When I was injured in May 2013, I was in the middle of training for Grandma’s Marathon held in Duluth, MN in June. Unsurprisingly, I wasn’t exactly “up to snuff” to run said marathon that summer so actually running that marathon that I was supposed to run has been on my “Impossible List” (a glorified bucket list) ever since.
Well, Grandma’s Marathon was June 20th and I just happened to be in Minnesota, I just happened to have been training for it, and I just happened to not get detoured from the race by a dumb dead tree again. So… I ran Grandma’s Marathon and I finished Grandma’s Marathon.
It down-poured for at least 40 minutes before the start of the race and since Duluth is right by the lake, it was pretty chilly. Let’s just say there was at least 5 minutes where I’m sitting in my racing chair in the big pack of racers waiting to start, practically convulsing with shivers, wondering why in the world I ever thought this was a good idea. It was way more enjoyable once I got moving and to be honest, I really loved it. The course was gorgeous and it felt great, granted when I finished my lips were seriously purple and after showering, I sat in front of a fireplace in my hotel lobby for at least 45 minutes. That’s probably not how most people celebrate running a marathon, sitting in front of a fireplace, but I thought it was perfect.
It was something else crossing that finish line, knowing I had finally done that one thing I couldn’t or hadn’t because of my injury. But here I was, no flat tires, 26.2 miles later. I guess I could share my time, I finished in 2:20:51 (a 5:23ish minute mile). Funny enough, that’s actually 5 minutes under the qualifying time for women wheelers for Boston. So I qualified for Boston in my first marathon. Now, I sure don’t plan on running Boston this year but I think it’s cool to be able to say I could.
Wheelchair. Handicapped. Disabled. Athletic.
Which of these is not like the other?
I’m pretty sure they all fit:D