Wednesday, June 17, 2009

"The will to win means nothing if you haven't the will to prepare." - Juma Ikangaa, 1989 NYC Marathon winner

As a kid I did jazz dancing, ballet, tap dancing, tennis, athletics, basketball... I was active and sporty. When I lost the leg at age ten, I became much less active - it wasn't all to do with the amputation, as I was at this stage getting more and more interested in reading, studying, singing, politics and activism, and other non-active hobbies - however, looking back I think I did let the amputation slow me right down. For example, I was too embarrassed to keep up my dancing with a prosthesis because I thought it'd look awkward and strange, and that people would stare or laugh. It seemed pointless putting so much effort into sport and dancing when I had so many other interests and hobbies to keep me busy.

Fast forward fourteen years, and I'm struggling with my weight, I feel sluggish and unhealthy, and I want to change my activity level dramatically.

For the last six months or so, I've been on weight watchers, trying to shed the kilos until I feel healthy in my own skin again. I don't think the program is perfect but it gives me a bit of structure, discipline and assistance in my weight loss struggle.

At the same time, I've been working out at the gym semi-regularly (trying to get big biceps so that Bertie will be impressed), walking as much as possible from place to place, and riding my fabulous new tricycle around the inner northern suburbs like a one legged, three wheeled hoon.

Meanwhile, my fantastic prosthetist and physiotherapist have been getting me toward a goal that in the last year has become very important to me - getting an energy returning foot, and learning to run! My prosthetist Hannah has also made me a fab new socket with a silicon suction suspension system, which took a bit of getting used to but is now working fabulously.

I am now running a little every day, and have decided to take a big leap of faith in my newfound ability - I've signed up to the Melbourne Marathon's ASICS 5km run on October 11 this year! I'm a little nervous about whether I'll be able to do it, but I guess if it gets to the day and I can't finish the race, I'll try and be happy with whatever distance I achieve.

I'm also wanting to learn how to participate in other sports and activities too - I've never been skiing, and would like to learn; I've played netball before and wouldn't mind having another go with this new running leg (before I used to kind of skip sideways to get down the court fast); I want to get back into swimming in a big way; and, somewhere along the way, I'd like to do some sort of dance to prove to myself that an amputee dancer can be as impressive as any full bodied dancer, if not more in this guy's case!

I'm no Oscar Pistorius, having only been running for a week, but today I rang Wheelchair Sports Victoria, hoping they might have contact details for a sports organisation or group for amputees I could get in touch with, and it turns out that they have an athletics coaching program on once a month, held very close to where I live, for wheelchair and amputee athletics! yay!

So, on the 5th of July, I'll be heading down there to make a fool of myself, have some fun, and get into a sport that in one week has made me so much happier about life, the universe, and everything :)


  1. I'm really impressed with your attitude and your running! I'm looking forward to getting my new socket so I can do a bit of that myself.

    You mentioned getting back into swimming which would be some great cross-training as well. Here's a conversation I had when I started getting back into swimming and was struggling! Maybe it will help? Check it out:

  2. what a great post about swimming! Thanks :D

    I find that I kick my stump as well as my right leg. It just feels more natural, but I'll be observing to see if it creates that drag/vortex backwards next time I try. I also want to see if I can improve the kick, as I've often felt it was pretty useless overall to my speed.

    I'm just really grateful that when I lost my leg at ten, my parents enrolled me in special swimming classes to make sure I learnt at a young age to swim - my teacher Glenda was tough but also extremely supportive, and in no time I was able to swim pretty well.

    Now I'd just like to get the swimming happening more regularly, as over the years it's become more of an occasional thing. I like that it's a form of exercise I can do without the leg on, which I think is really important.

  3. Hey there! Great to make your acquaintance....

    I see that Mike has already found you, or you him. That's great.

    I look forward to following your progress with the running leg - it's bound to help a ton with your weight goal and activity level aspirations.

    If you ever have a question, I am happy to give you any knowledge I have.



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