I was born with a deformity. It is not obvious to anyone - unless they know me well or I take off my shoes. When I was born, my right foot was a mangled mess. I had 6 toes- sorta. They were all jumbled together when I was born. I had to have all but my two very little toes removed. I had so many surgeries I really don't know the exact count. Every few years the doctors would go in and shave down the bones (because they were growing too fast), cut some nerves, and re-pad the bottom of my foot. The bone of the second big toe (if I had one) kinda points downward on my foot. Big problem because it hits the ground before the rest of the ball of the foot does. It's rather painful. So the doctors always took some skin and fat from the rest of the foot and tried to pad that area. Plus, I've built up calluses under there so that helps too.
But anyway, I used a walker a lot when I was little and went through a TON of physical therapy. I went to Shriner's Hospital in Chicago and had the most amazing team of doctors, nurses, therapists, cooks, janitors, you name it. My physical therapist was the best. For many of my years there I had the same girl - Jill. I will never forget the feeling - the burning, blinding, white-hot pain in my foot after I had surgery and they would come into the room and tell me to swing my legs over the side of the bed and let my foot hang. Just thinking about it I'm breaking into a sweat!! But Jill was such a cheerleader. She was funny, kind, motivational, and tough all at the same time. Whenever I said I couldn't take another step she could somehow push a button in me that made me want to prove to her and myself that I COULD take another step.
In middle school, my band director encouraged me to join the track team. (He was also the coach.) He knew about my foot and knew that it caused me pain but for whatever reason he thought I would be good. My very first meet he unexpectedly stuck me in the 2 mile race. A mile in and I felt like I was going to be sick and my foot was THROBBING. I don't think I finished the race and if I did then I walked it in. That week in practice he had me running long distances again. I told him he was nuts. He said I was a wimp. Uh, nobody calls me a wimp. So, I went and ran my two miles as fast as I could. Took me less than 12 minutes. He was laughing hysterically as I crossed the finish line throwing up and crying. But I was HOOKED. I absolutely love knowing that I can go a little further...a little harder...a little faster than I thought I could. It's become an addiction.
It hurts like heck to run but whenever I'm out on a run like I had tonight the pain is worth it. I'm thankful I have a foot at all. I'm thankful for my strong powerful legs. Thankful for my strong heart and lungs. It's my private time to connect with God, nature, and my body. During every single run I thank Him for my throbbing foot. At the end of a run I feel strong, refreshed, and reminded that I can overcome anything I set my mind to. I encourage everyone I know to run. It's going to feel like death at first but stick with it and take it sloooow. One day when you finish your first mile without walking you'll understand what the hype is all about. I promise. =)