On a whim, I searched for a back-ward running record and found the female Guinness World Records title for fastest half marathon run backward with a time.
My brother, sister, boyfriend and two unrelated witnesses stood by my side as we waited for the start gun to sound the beginning of the race.Knowing that I could not turn forward at any time without jeopardizing the record, I relied on my team to alert other runners and to warn me of any road hazards.Water stops presented one of the biggest challenges as people often slow abruptly. I recovered quickly and continued the race, enjoying the opportunity to meet fellow athletes while striking up conversations along the way. I worried about the possibility of not being able to carry out the mission.Age: 35 San Diego, CA “I earned the world record for the fastest half marathon run backward.” “Something is seriously wrong,” I thought to myself.I’d only run about 20 miles in my new shoes, so how was it possible that I’d worn a hole through the sole of the left one?
My mind swirled as I tried to make sense of what could be happening.
I’d recently run the Boston Marathon and had felt off during the whole race. After the shoe incident, I immediately scheduled time with an orthopedist, beginning a string of appointments in an attempt to find out what was wrong.
Then a couple of weeks later, I fell and hit my head during a regular training run. After cycling through many doctors who couldn’t diagnose what was happening, I saw a neurologist who immediately recognized my symptoms as dystonia.
It was later diagnosed as runner’s dystonia—which like Parkinson’s disease is a movement disorder.
Since my father, who was once an avid marathoner, suffered from Parkinson’s for most of my life, I was all too familiar with the fact that my running might be over.
I discovered during physical therapy that while running forward may not be an option anymore, I could run backward without my legs failing. As a former collegiate athlete, race times have always been at the heart of my training.