They were wrong.
The smell of that rubber track in the rain became an obsession from the moment I lay in the hospital, actually aware of what was going on, to now, seven years in the future. As odd as this may sound, it represented something that was mine, something that I carried deep inside that I knew no matter what happened to me physically, would always be mine. It was my gift from God, and it was pure determination, for better or for worse.
I very much believed that for a reason I will never know, God was merciful and decided to leave me with the ability to walk, and I knew if I could walk, then I would run again. They're the same thing, it's just one is faster and you move your arms and breathe more. What relevance does pain have in this? Well, I got very good at ignoring pain in the years following, so good, in fact, that I developed the ability to ignore it even when it was trying to protect me (this is the "or for worse" part of the gift of determination). What I have realized now, of course, is that pain is also a gift, for better or for worse.
The best gift, and the gift of the greatest runners out there, is the true wisdom that is the ability to balance pure determination and ignoring pain. Like a beautiful singing voice, some have been blessed with it and others have not. I am convinced that anyone can learn to sing with the proper training and coaching, and it is in this conviction that I will continue my quest for balance.
I am thankful to be able to appreciate and see beauty in the world through which I run.
I am thankful for the reminder of the fine line between endorphins and pain (physical mortality).
I am thankful for the angels in my life who have so freely given their own gifts of healing, words, and nourishment.
I am thankful for the opportunity to give these things back to you.