My little red tether is my anchor in running with my friends. A beautiful guide dog has been my tether/anchor in mobility and independence for 17 years: 1. Pantera 2. Cricket, and now my beautiful 3. Georgina (Georgie). A life of family and friends is my joy and anchor in life.

The human spirit is stronger than anything that can happen to it. CC Scott

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Running. Retinitis Pigmentosa

I have received various comments and questions about my running blind. (I have retinitis pigmentosa.)  All running questions I will certainly defer to my friends who are much more knowledgeable than I.  Running with Retinitis Pigmentosa - perhaps I know a few things about this adventure and get excited any time that I receive an email saying ... I didn't think this was possible and I can reply back it is so possible!

I feel deep gratitude for my family & friends that are my running guides.  I couldn't do it without them.  I look forward to our time together and the opportunity to run and talk together.  I have loved getting to know them better.  It is indeed a blessing.  Each time they knock on my door, I feel gratitude and appreciation.

As I've mentioned (sorry if you've read this many times :), I prefer a tether which my guide/friend puts one end around their arm just above their shoulder and I hold on to the other end that is looped.  My friend Shannon made me the most awesome tether.  I actually ordered one online and it didn't even compare - it was too long, itchy fabric, not stretchy at all.  I have a way of losing things :) and this tether has been my friend and not gotten lost for almost two years.  Love it.  I hope this isn't sounding like too much of a hint to make me another one, Shannon :).  Seriously, though hers is the best!  Love this red, sweaty, stretchy piece of fabric!

One of the reasons that I prefer a tether is because I am used to following the movement of a guide dog and the harness -- with a tether I am basically doing the same thing with a dear friend.  If my friend veers to the left, I recognize it from their movement and veer left without us having to interrupt our conversation about funner topics!  They still do some verbal cues but much is done through following the signals I get from this tether.  We are running at the same pace - with me just a pace behind.

I run with a vest that says - blind athelete.  This is simply an identifier so that someone else is aware to possibly watch out or step aside.

Today we ran 20 miles.  I have never run this far and it was amazing.  It was hard.  It was challenging.  It was also exhilerating.  It was a beautiful morning as we started out with a little coolness in the air and ended with it being hot.   I am full of gratitude for my friends, for my healthy body, and that now we get three days of rest :)!  I also have some pretty great support at home.  Cricket pops up in the morning and eagerly follows me around and sees us off.  She is waiting by the door when we return.  It was early, early this morning and she was still there.  Steve also was there to cheer us on as we left.  Thank you to both of you :)!

I tell clients often ... acknowledge your victories!  Recognize that 'marathon' you have gone through with compassion. You did your best.  True, I'm blogging about this experience, however, my victory is not in telling someone else that I did this -- the victory happened inside me one step at a time.  What happened to that girl who walked into the stop sign and walked so cautiously for a while?  She learned how to walk safely with a cane ... then a guide dog and she is now running!   

I'm not sure why Steve just smiles when I say - okay, I'm just going to do one marathon and then I can cross it off the bucket list.  Sometimes my head is just swimming (oh, I haven't swam for a long time!) in ideas of what else I want to do in life :)!  Perhaps it is time to create that list of 50 things before 50, right!  


GOOSE said...

Look at that sweet Cricket face that waits for you to get back. Love that! And I think you might cross the marathon off your list but somehow I think there maybe others in your future. Every friend my MOM has had that have done one then they can't get enough.

wendy said...

You are such an inpsiration for soooo many of us.
Not with just your running...but your whole outlook of life and compassion for people.

20 diggity dog, that is a good run for sure.

Karen said...

So very proud of you and all of the interesting things you do. You just amaze us.

william Peace said...

Do you ski? If so perhaps you could explain the various options to blind skiers. I love the Winter paralympic games. Those down hill blind skiers are cool. The team work is awesome.

JaniceFromMilwaukee said...

Congrats on your longest run ever! My sister is also training for the Chicago Marathon, and running for charity (clean water).

Becky said...

Janice - congrats to your sister and so awesome the runs that are for charity!
William - I used to ski and keep thinking about getting back into it - with our NAC or Ski for Light but it comes down to - not a big fan of cold/winter (even though we love in the 'greatest snow on earth' right!) I have a couple friends that are blind and ski - I will ask them to write a guest post - sounds fun!

Jackie said...

I am a lover of running myself and i have posted your blog on my Facebook group ,please come and join it and inspire my members who all have RP .It is called the Retinitis Pigmentosa Support Group ,here is the link
copy and paste into search on FB ,we look forward to meeting you :)

Lydia Criss Mays said...

Perhaps thoughts "swimming" in your mind are a precursor of things to come. Swimming will feel great on your body after the marathon. Congratulations on the 20 miles! When I trained I thought the 20 was more difficult than the actual marathon.

I'm so excited for you! Cricket and Steve know how to garner up even more excitement too!

Liz said...

Awesome! I always post stories like this on my FB page to increase aweness! I also have RP but I am fortunate that I have 15 degrees & have good vision of what I can see. I will never surrender even if I can't "see". Thank you for sharing your story. SGLY (Smile God Loves You) <3

Neal said...

Thanks for sharing! I have RP (still have a fair amount of vision, 33 years old) and just started running 8 months ago. I love it! Never thought of myself as a runner.

I can still run by myself during the day, but as I have enjoyed this so much, I have started to wonder how I might run when my sight goes far enough. You have given me some great ideas.


Dave said...

Becky, I also have RP and this past January I did the Goofy in Disney World which is a 1/2 marathon on Saturday then a full marathon on Sunday. Next week we go to Disneyland do do the 1/2 marathon so I can collect the Coast to coast medal. I run with my daughter or son with a tether. Could you post a picture of the tether you use. I use a one and a half foot nylon rope which we both hold onto but am looking for something better. Thanks.

Grandma & Grandpa said...

Becky, may I say once again, YOU ARE AMAZING!
Love you, Loye

Becky said...

Dave - that is amazing! How fun to run through disneyworld and disneyland. I will post a pic of my tether! It works wonderful.

Neal - I so agree and excited that you are running and that something I am doing might have helped you if you need it later on.

Liz - Sweet :) and yes!

Loye - oh, thank you. Love you, too!!

Jackie - thanks so much for sharing with others and the invite!

Lydia - thanks :) love your beautiful and encouraging comment. That is indeed exciting to think that might have been harder than the marathon!

Thanks all for the comments!

william Peace said...

Becky, With the correct gear you need not be cold when you ski. I would do anything to be able to ski out West. It is just way past my budget. We get few epic powder days in the North East.

Beth Finke said...

Yikes, I have been out of the loop --and I am not referring to tethers here, ha! When's the marathon? Where? Go, Becky, Go!

Brittany said...

20 miles!! You are awesome! Good luck in your upcoming marathon.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for yet another inspirational piece.Best wishes for your marathon :)The other Becky Blogger

Kathy Peterson said...

Ok, Becky, believe it or laughing everyone;with only a little swearing,I figured out how to do this...I'm exhausted! more later