Thursday, May 14, 2015

Running 25K on Knee Scooter Takes Patience and Persistence

From the May 14, 2015 issue of the Grand Haven Tribune)

The words patience and persistence may seem to be conflicting, as if you can’t practice both at the same time. But in fact they are compatible, as I’ve learned again recently.

I wrote back in November about my wife needing to be on a knee scooter because of a heel fracture. She injured the heel in August, and the treatment requires not walking on it. In other words, be patient and let it heal.

Our patience has been tested as each time we visit her doctor we hope he will say she can take off the air cast and no longer need the scooter to get around. But each time he determines by painful prodding that the heel has a ways to go to be fully healed, and he says stay on the scooter.

This is especially hard on my wife, who is very active. More importantly, she is a runner. Her running could be described as persistent, since she runs hard in all kinds of weather, no matter the circumstance. You can see the brewing collision between the doctor’s advice of patient healing and persistent running.

But, as I learned, patience and persistence can go together. My wife has been a good girl and wears the air cast or “boot” regularly and uses the scooter for getting around outside the house. That’s the patient part. The persistent part is maintaining her running regimen by doing what she calls her “scoot and run.”

She’s received encouragement in this from everyone, including neighbors, friends, and members of the Grand Haven Running Club. The only one who did not encourage her is the manager of the medical equipment company. He could have seen this as an opportunity to demonstrate what knee scooters can do to help people maintain mobility with an injury, as opposed to crutches. But he was only worried about equipment. They ultimately wrote off the depreciation and let my wife keep the scooter.

When the scooter wheels were almost shredded, she went into a Lowe’s store to look for options. A kind store clerk suggested lawnmower wheels and even installed them for her so she could be back on the road.

We also received a lot of encouragement when we ran the 25K River Bank Run in Grand Rapids last weekend. A man named Josh who is a nurse at the state prison in Ionia as well as a pastor was carrying his study Bible as he ran. We talked with him for a couple of miles. A friend had written 15 names on her arm, and planned to pray for each person at their designated mile marker on the 15.5-mile course. My wife was number 6. Many women who had run the recent Gazelle Girls Half Marathon recognized my wife from that event and came over to say they had been praying for her ever since. There was the stranger who let me use his bike tools to tighten a wheel on the scooter. Countless others offered words of encouragement and told my wife she inspires them.

My wife also seeks to be an encouragement and inspiration to others. She wore a sign on her back for other runners to see that said “Beating stage 4 breast cancer, a brain tumor, and a heel fracture.” Many runners would read that and comment on it. We always try to give hope and encouragement to others fighting cancer or who know someone who is. We also use the opportunity to share our own faith in Jesus Christ, which is the ultimate source of our hope and inspiration.

That also explains the “why” question. When I tell some people what we did last weekend, they say that merely running a 5K would be enough for them. But a 25K, on a knee scooter?! As I explained in a previous column several years ago, when my wife was  diagnosed we decided quickly we weren’t going to think about dying of cancer, but living with it. And by that we mean truly and fully living. That’s why my wife runs, or scoots, in spite of everything. I really have no excuse not to be along side her.

My wife’s inspirational Bible verse is from Hebrews 12:1--“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” which is a metaphor for all of life but drives her perseverance in literally running. I think of 1 John 3:16 which encourages Christians to be like Christ and “lay down our lives” for each other. That’s also a metaphor, but while my wife is persistent, when I’m running I often do want to lay down.  Seriously, I draw inspiration from 2 Timothy 4:7: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

We don’t have to win the race, or set a record. We just have to run, and finish. That is done with both patience and persistence, as well as mutual inspiration.