Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Road to Recovery: The Journey of Run Hope Continues

On March 3, I went into the hospital to have my cast removed. Tears welled up in my eyes when Dr. Mo Brown got it off my leg. He sawed at the rock-hard fiberglass material until the length of it was split in two. Crack. Instant relief! The cool air rushed in, and I was free. With a loud clank, the molding fell away and onto the table. For the first time in months, I was unrestrained. All at once, my depression seemed to melt away. This was the day I had been waiting for. I wanted to run, jump, skip and play. I had even brought a pair of running shoes with me to leave the hospital in.

“Not so fast,” Dr. Moe said. “We need to keep your foot in a walking boot.”

“For how long,” I choked out.

“Six weeks.”

If I closed my eyes, I could relive the moment as if it were yesterday: the baking heat of a Texas summer, the road beneath my feet. I could hear the friendly chatter of the crowd as they ran with me towards the camper. I could see their smiling faces. I was smiling, too. Then, my foot rolled from under me. The pothole was so tiny. Hard to believe something so small could be so pivotal, so absolutely critical in my journey through America. I ran the rest of the states with a broken foot.

For six months after my run, the doctor had me wear a boot or a cast. I thought my foot would heal with time. I never expected what would come next: on Dec. 27, I had to undergo major surgery. They removed the broken bone and repaired the torn tendons. Without my family and friends by my side, I could not have made it to where I am, right here and now.

After the surgery, the foot had to remain completely non-weight bearing. Life continued. Days trickled by. I sat around feeling sorry for myself. A deep depression overtook me. I watched the world go by and I grew somber. I wanted to run but I couldn’t. The bitter despondency of inactivity took hold of my mind. I went from being in the best shape of my life to being in the worst shape. I felt isolated in my sadness. On top of that, the pain from the surgery was so intense. For about five days afterwards, it took all the strength I could muster to simply get out of bed and face a new day.

For those of you who know me personally, this is very unlike me. I remember when I turned 47 years old and got very depressed, some kind of mid-life crisis. What did I do about it? I gave myself a week. One week to get over it and get going. Being still is just not a habit of mine. Neither is feeling sorry for myself. The moment you stop living is the moment you start dying. I choose to live a vibrant, passionate life full of zeal for taking on new adventures and helping others. However, I do believe that sitting still for those few days was absolutely necessary; it gave me time to listen to God. How often do you take the time to just sit still and listen?

Suddenly, I had a revelation. As I sat there in the hospital, staring at the pieces of my split-open cast and the sutures on my foot, I realized I’d had it all wrong. Ever since I finished the run, I had thought of the journey as being finished. In my mind, the mission was over; Running Hope to America was complete. How wrong I was! It hit me that the journey was not yet done. This – this very moment – was part of it. Everything. The surgery. The cast. The boot. It was all part of a life-changing odyssey, something I had taken on willingly in the service of God and his children.

What was I waiting for? My foot might have been useless, but the rest of me was good to go! Over the days, I got really good with my crutches. My upper-body strength improved every week. I worked out on the arm machine to get my muscles strong and toned. I set little goals for myself: first, I wanted to cover 200 yards on my crutches. Then, I increased the distance by 200 yards every other day until, before I knew it, I was up to 2.8 miles. I remember that day, too. It took me an hour and a half to complete the distance. By the end, I was so exhausted. But, I was also very proud. Having goals is so very important for all of us.

Since then, I have made enormous progress. Badwater is in my future. You heard right: this summer I will be attempting my tenth and final crossing of Death Valley in what has been called “the toughest footrace on the planet.” My excitement knows no bounds. The purpose of this venture will be to raise money for AIDS Orphans Rising and orphans all around the world, big and small, young and old. There are so many orphans right here in America alone!

In the end, it’s all about raising money for children. Every person can make a difference. It’s the reason, I can push on. It’s my strength, my guiding star. It’s what Run Hope was all about. There is no greater joy in life than giving selflessly to others. Right now, I am in a boot, but, soon, the boot will come off and I will continue to run for the cause.

My first walk with the my boot took me a full hour to complete. On the road, I spotted 70 cents. Pennies from Heaven, my friends! Do you know how much joy this seemingly insignificant amount of money brings to my heart? Did you know that just six cents can feed a child in many countries. Think about that. It’s a wonderful cause that I am a part of.

You can be a part of it, too. Together, we can make a difference. This year, my wonderful friend Sandra Powell is going to attempt to break the women’s record for the transcontinental run. Sandra wants to carry the torch and continue to raise money for the children. I ask you to open up your heart to the true joy of giving. Donate today by visiting


Thomas Bussiere said...

I love your determined spirit. Thanks for sharing your inner emotions while in the cast - Great post. God does have great things for us all, we just need the faith to let it happen, and not let our minds cut short the gifts he has for us. We are all capable of so much more. Badwater - Wish I was there. My time will come. To go from cast to 135 in such a short time - That does take faith. You can do this.

RawBodyGoddess said...

You absolutely can do it! I also give myself a limitted amount of time to have my Pity Party :) I allow it because I am human. I cry, get angry, whatever I need to do...then I get proactive! :)

It is awesome to have a goal. It keeps you focused on the future.

Can you do pool running at all? Pyometrics are great, and can be done on your good leg to keep it strong. Praying for you!

Sarah Lavender Smith said...

Lisa, what a wonderful post. You're not just a superhuman athlete; you're also a damn good writer! I'll make a donation to Run Hope and wish you the best through recovery, Badwater training, and beyond. Thanks again for your time to do the Q&A and profile on The Runner's Trip.

purple said...

Lisa, I love your determination to make the world a better place--for everyone-- through your running. That mindset is both inspiring and energizing. What you are doing with Run Hope is so important. I'm a very maternal type and the tragic life circumstances of children around the world has always left me feeling broken-hearted, helpless and essentially pointless. THANK YOU for leading the way and showing how we can all do our part to make life better for kids everywhere. Knowing that there is a way to actually make a difference gives me hope.