My name is Melanie Rowland and I am 40 years old. I became a below knee amputee at age 18 as the result of a motorcycle accident. I have been fit with nearly every type of prosthetic over the last 21+ years as finding the right one has proven to be a bit difficult. As a result, my leg muscles were very weak simply because they haven’t had to do much work. A few years ago, thanks to the encouragement of my amazing friends, I thought I might try to run. An athlete was something I never was. I participated very minimally in track and basketball in junior high and high school, but was much more comfortable with working and studying.
With the help of my prosthetist, we came up with some adjustments to at least get me moving. Not many people in my age group, with my disability, in north central Ohio are runners, so finding someone with the experience to really help seemed impossible. The weight of the prosthetic, my weak leg muscles, perspiration and the mere cardio output were all obstacles that I struggled to overcome. My amazing friends once again came to my rescue and found information about ABR. It took me awhile to get the courage to apply, but I finally did.
In October 2016, I completed my first half marathon with my every day prosthetic. Unfortunately, some technical difficulties after mile 6 made it impossible to finish the race running, but I did finish it walking. Later that same month, I got the opportunity to go to Savannah and work with Ryan. It was so awesome to be a part of the entire process. I had never seen the behind the scenes materials and procedures that go in to making a prosthetic. Ryan explained everything and just the knowledge that I gained from him was priceless. Then it was time to try running with the blade. I’ll admit, it was very hard for me because all of the muscles that had not been used for over 20 years were now being tested. It was painful, it was emotional and it challenged me.
In December of 2016 I completed my first 5K with my blade. It was tough but I finished. The winter months in Ohio aren’t very cooperative when it comes to running weather, so I decided to focus on getting stronger. Ryan had given me some strengthening exercise ideas and that’s what I have been working on. Now, trying to run at all with my every day prosthetic literally feels like I am carrying an anchor. I love wearing the blade and am so excited that my muscles are strong enough to use it properly.
Just this past weekend, I completed my first 5K of this running season. And it wasn’t just a 5K. It was through the woods, up and down hills, with the terrain mostly consisting of rocks and mud. My running blade saw me through. I was absolutely amazed at what I was able to accomplish because of my blade. And this is just the start for this year. My friends and I are already planning on completing the half marathon again in October, and this time, my goal is to run the entire race.