I joke now that I’m an amputee that I run because I can. But really, I’ve run in the past. But after my illness in 2001, I was denied that for 17 years. I couldn’t even walk two blocks without crying in pain. Running gives me a sense of peace for some reason. I zone out when I’m running, and it’s personal for me. I challenge myself and I learn about myself each time. When I hit that wall by the 3K mark and start doubting everything, I have that 1K to get myself out of that funk. It’s that self reflection practice that has allowed me to get myself out of negative self talk in everything that comes my way in life. I remind myself “it’s just the 3rd K. There’s more to this, you can do it. And it will be worth it!”To be honest, I wasn’t expecting to be called or label myself a runner. My first race was something I wanted to do for me. No one knew I was going to run except my physiotherapist. We worked on doing it safely since I’ve only been an amputee for 5 months. We were not even really preparing for a run. Just being able to participate safely. But at the race, I picked up my feet and just challenged my legs to do what it knew. Like riding a bike, even though it’s been 15 years of not running and new biomechanics as an amputee, for some reason, I knew how to do it. Then comes the rush. As the finish line neared, I got even more excited. And when I crossed that finish line, I felt accomplished. There was a sense of “yes! I did it! I’m back, baby!” After that, it became easier to want to do it again. I wanted that adrenaline at the finish line. And I vowed to run at least one 5K race each month and have stuck with it.
I am also the founder of Amputee Coalition of Toronto, which is a peer support group for amputees here in Toronto (at first), but now across Ontario and parts of Canada that do not have peer services in place. I lead peer support meetups through activities or sports-themed events, potlucks or just meeting up over coffee. I also visit amputee patients in hospitals, rehabilitation centres, or Skype so that they can see that life continues after amputation; that they can go back to their life. My amputation gave me a new lease on life, and that’s an odd thing to say. But my amputation got me back into an active lifestyle. Believe it or not, I feel healthier now that I’ve become an amputee. I came to the Santa 5K in search of running what looks like a festive race. I learned about it last year when I saw a photo of hundreds of runners wearing a Santa outfit. I came to learn that it was the Santa 5K. So I said “next year, I’ll do that!”…and it’ll be my run for the month of December to close my running season.
Since becoming a double amputee earlier this year, my first race was the VR Pro Canada Day 5k Run, 6 months after becoming a double amputee. Then I had a bit of a setback physically. But I’ve done the VR Pro Buttertart Festival 5K, Super Hero 5K, the CIBC Run for the Cure in support of my mom and sister who are breast cancer survivors, the Terry Fox Run, and the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (but the 5K).
The iRun Santa 5k Burlington route is new to me so I am looking forward to that. But more than anything, I want to run in a Santa outfit!
Learn more about Aristotle’s running journey on Instagram – @amput_o or come and run with him at the iRun Santa Burlington in December – SIGN UP Now!