Dawn Baker: The Day My Love For Running Slapped Me In the Face

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Setting a goal is easy. Finding a way to overcome a setback is what separates the women from the girls. 48 days ago, an obnoxious, mean doctor looked at me and told me I should put away my running shoes. A bone scan had revealed what my trainers and physical therapists thought were shin splints and a calf sprain for the last four months, were actually stress fractures in both legs.

I immediately started telling him that my trainer had already developed a program that would get me healthy and through the race, the doctor cut me off and just blurted out, "That Rock n' Roll Marathon is the worst thing to ever happen to this city! It has all of these non- runners, like you, believing you can run now." I tried to explain that I had been in a structured training program since the beginning of the year, but again he would not even listen. He went on this rant saying, "You should have started earlier. You should have been running at 35 not 45. Since you are not a real runner, you will never recover in time because you do not have anything to fall back on." I sat there on the exam table speechless. This doctor took great pride in saying he would advise me to stop running.

He added, "But, I know you won't because you are a public person and are probably under a lot of pressure to run." My mind was racing. I thought who is this man to judge me? He does not know me. I do not need any publicity. I have been a TV news anchor for more than twenty years in this town- everyone already knows who I am. I felt as though someone had punched me in my chest. Tears started streaming down my face. I could not even talk. He noticed me crying and flung a box of tissues at me while saying, "I didn't know you were going to cry. From now on whenever I watch the news, I am going to say, 'I am the doctor who made the news lady cry.'" I didn't say a word. I could not speak, but I thought what kind of person would say that to anyone. So, does he think I am not a real person with feelings because I work for the television station? I do not think I have ever felt so personally attacked in my life. I didn't feel this bad when I got divorced.

I had been in excruciating pain and icing my legs every day since about April 22nd. It was now August. Who would put themselves through that if they were not truly passionate about what they were doing? And, for the record, when it comes to seeking publicity for running, that could not be any further from the truth. I always go to great lengths to find dark sunglasses and ball caps to make sure people do not recognize me. I just want to be a regular person learning how to run. I run because I love it. I shuffle through the course like a turtle. I am slow. I am fully aware that I will never be Flo-Jo nor will I ever win a trophy. In fact, my friends tease me because I usually forget to even check the time clock when I finish. I am not motivated by that. It's about being part of something that I have grown to love.

During the summer months when it was hot and miserable, I got out of my bed in the dead of night, after only two hours of sleep to run because I love it. I have also added many more healthy years to my life since my health has even dramatically improved since I started running.

I just sat there as that same doctor continued to say many negative things about all of us who have ever been inspired to do anything physical after the age of 35. He went on by saying we are probably going through some kind of midlife crisis. It was humiliating. He told me to forget about fulfilling my dream of running the Rock n' Roll ½ Marathon on November 5th. At that time, it was about sixty days away.