“If at first you don’t succeed. Fix your ponytail, and try again.”
I was scrolling through social media the other day, comments of encouragement here, motivation there, virtual hugs, virtual high 5’s, picture by picture, like by like and that’s when I went, wait, go back. And within a five second span I came across one of the most amazing, inspirational people I’ve seen yet. And I wanted the world to know about her. The reason behind this post. It’s how my brain works. Real quick sometimes. Running world, meet Jacky. You want inspiration? You want motivation? You want to not only beat yesterday but crush yesterday? Keep reading.
Jacky is an amputee runner. She found out she had cancer July 2002. She was given a running leg about four years ago. The whole finding out thing was unexpected. She was living in The Netherlands. She remembers going totally quiet when the doctor told her she had cancer. Jacky didn’t know what to think or say. “You always think cancer will happen to someone else, not you. You hear the word cancer and you immediately think it is a death sentence.” The doctor then gave her the next blow and said she had a rare form of cancer, Ewing Sarcoma, and due to the location and the size of the tumor they had no choice but to amputate her leg. How do you come back from a blow like that? Her world felt like it was spiraling out of control. Everything was happening so fast. She had her one week after diagnosis so she didn’t have much time to think about the amputation. She learned to try and focus on the positive such as being alive. She worked really hard to get back to “normal” after the amputation. Jacky was back at work within four weeks and back playing squash in six weeks.
Jacky’s first runs were just plain awful. She had constant issues with blisters, the leg was really heavy and she felt frustrated because she felt so slow when running. “It’s kind of the same as running with a poor fitting pair of running shoes. Your form is bad, you get blisters, pressure points etc. Resulting in you not being able to go the distance or even worse, having to take days off to recover”.
Jacky is very competitive so for her not to do well was incredibly frustrating. It all changed about eight months ago when she was fitted with a new running blade, which solved her blister issues and gave her more energy. Jacky got a taste for winning when she placed second in her age group in December2016. She started training really hard and started doing very well!
Jacky’s first couple runs post amputee were very tough. She needed to teach the brain to trust the leg, which isn’t part of your body. Her first few runs were tough on the rest of her body. She would compensate her weight onto her good leg so it meant the muscles in her good leg really started suffering and her amputated leg started getting a lot weaker. Jacky had to do a lot of training to get it into shape. And then there are the long list of other issues that pop up. Sweating, blisters, leg settings, wear and tear, maintenance etc. She has actually had leg slide off due to sweating. Now Jacky has good balance and she is feeling more confident.
So when someone asks Jacky how long she has been running for, she will always say May 2016. That is when she actually started feeling like a real runner. She could actually compete against “normal” runners and do well. Jacky would get very grumpy if she did not run. I’m pretty sure we all know that feeling! Jacky started with running 5k races and did her first half marathon in December 2016. She registered for a 10k but changed her mind the day before the race, because she wanted to see how she would cope with the distance. She totally surprised herself and did it in a really good time! Now she is training to run the Wilmington Half in February followed by the American Tobacco half marathon in March and the Raleigh Rock & Roll half in April.
Jacky has a mission, that’s what motivates her. And it’s what should motivate and inspire so many. Jacky wants to inspire others to run. If she can then anybody can. Life doesn’t have to stop after cancer and amputation. She wants to win. And I’m pretty sure after reading this we all want Jacky to win!
Like any of us, Jacky has her bucket list to get after. Boston, Chicago and the New York City Marathon. Jacky has a short term goal to get her half marathon time under to under 1h50. Jacky’s medium term goal is to run her first marathon and to run it in under four hours. And amazingly, Jacky has a longer term goal to do an ultra-marathon (50 miler and then a 100 miler).