Often I hear women say that they can’t wear shorts because they don’t like their legs or won’t wear tank tops because of their fat arms. I’ve decided to stop listening to people when they complain about their bodies. This is my story. The reason why I’m not all that inspiring and why its time for you to wear shorts when you run.
In 2012 I signed up for my first race; I finished the last 8 miles of the Ogden Marathon running on a relay team. I was a new runner and this would be the furthest I’d ever run. As I came out of the canyon a woman ran next to me, told me I was inspiring and that she was on the verge of tears. Although the comment confused me I thanked her and finished the race. Later my brother-in-law would point out that it was likely my leg that got her attention. It didn’t occur to me but it made sense. Not only is the bottom of my left leg mostly scarred but my injury also effects the way I walk.
Since that first race, I would continue to improve as a runner and often received comments and praise for overcoming my obvious injury. In 2015 I was running the Ogden Marathon wearing my Ogden Pub Runner shirt. I stayed close to the 4:45 pacer who was from Florida. As we got closer to Pineview another runner got my attention, “Hey Pub Runner, what did you do to your leg?” she asked. I quickly replied that I was bit by a shark in Pineview. The pacer started asking questions about how sharks could live in our man-made lake. Other runners picked up on my made up story and I came clean to the pacer. But a shark bite is so much more fun than the truth!
So what’s the truth? As my husband tells the story I was boogie biking off the shores of my cul-de-sac when I was attacked by the great white station wagon. The boring truth is that the summer before 2nd grade I was hit by a car in front of my home breaking every bone in my leg. Although walking was never a question I would have frequent surgeries over the next couple years. In second grade having a cast and crutches was not without its perks, there was always an eager peer willing to help with my lunch or back pack. Every time I missed school for surgery my hospital room was filled with 30 cards that my peers made at school. This was Catholic school and we started our mornings with prayers. Every morning four or five students would raise their hands to “pray for Toni’s leg.” While I enjoyed the attention from the cards filling my hospital room, I found this part embarrassing. Those prayers should be used for people with real issues, people who may never walk, not me.
I never tried to hide my injury since I was isolated among people who knew what happened. At Catholic school in the early 80’s females were required to wear skirts, so hiding my scar was never an option. I was never made fun of and I didn’t mind talking about it so why hide it?
Running for me was no more of a challenge than any other 35 year old starting to run. If you’re looking for inspiration you can find it in what was one of my biggest challenges, running in shorts. If I can run in shorts with my gimpy leg and the catalog of other issues I have with my body, what’s stopping you?
Toni is an OPR board member and will be running the Ogden Half Marathon this Saturday, in shorts. Although she claims to be un-inspiring as a runner she’s wrong, dead wrong. She tends to down-play her “shark-bite” but those of us who knew her as a 7 year old know that this injury was terrifying, very serious and not as easy feat to overcome. She didn’t have any excuses then and she surely doesn’t have any now. What many of us may have used as an reason to run less, run slower or not run at all has never been a limitation in Toni’s mind. Thank you for inspiring all of us that know you today, for those of us who know what you’ve overcome and those that may be running beside you in an upcoming race! We love you, Toni!
Until next time,