My new BRDr.FF, Dr. L, slammed my falling off butt with another steroid shot Thursday in the SI joint. She said give it a bit and take it out for a shake down run, she wants to see what happens. Since it continued to hurt and actually felt worse after the injection I waited. Friday as the day progressed I was surprised to find that sitting wasn’t hurting near as much, and I decided to try a run this morning.
I felt like I was in high school again and after waiting nervously for weeks, the boy I secretly liked had just asked me to prom. I carefully charged up my Garmin, located the HR monitor, got my inserts back in my running shoes. I opened the drawer I’d just recently and reluctantly tucked my running stuff into, thinking I wouldn’t be seeing them again for a while, and happily dug out shorts and shirt.
It certainly did not hurt a bit that it’s a gorgeous fall day, brilliant blue sky, green, gold, russet leaves drifting in a breeze, birds chirping, cheeping, and flitting through the trees.
Spring, 2011 we moved into this house. I had not been running consistently due in part to the plantar fasciitis but mostly due to the incredible busy-ness of renovating a house, keeping up a house we were trying to sell, and then moving. Stir in a few emergency trips to my parents…it was a crazy time.
My usual route leaves my house and across the busy street at the end of our block. There’s a lovely upscale neighborhood about 1/2 mile away with a lazy winding road running through it. The developers wisely kept all the old growth; houses sit back from the road and 30′-40′ trees line the narrow road, natural undergrowth left in place. It’s like running through the country although I can vaguely hear the semi’s on I-40 a 1/2 mile away. I like the sound of trucks on a freeway, the thought of where they’ve been and where they’re going, zooming along in their little contained worlds.
Last spring when I started back running I ran this road consistently, reveling in the beauty of these beautiful trees leafing out, the birds serenading each other and wooing, daffodils and crocus popping up through a layer of leaves. Today I ran that same route, watching the swirling helicopter seeds float past me, squirrels rushing to the trees for more hickory nuts. It’s not uncommon to see deer here, usually does with their young ones in the spring, with their tweens and teens later on. I didn’t see any today but last time I ran I saw three young buck, antlers just fuzzy bumps, young enough they could still be friends. They stood back, but didn’t run.
I have friends who are former runners (committed runners, people who did well under 3 hour marathon PR’s in their younger days) now walking stiffly with worn hips and knees (and – not from running, but genes). They ride like crazy now, and we’ve discussed before my opinion of that as a substitute for running. At this time, and I’m trying to keep an open mind, biking as a substitute for running is like getting a turkey sandwich with an apple for dessert while sitting next to someone with a steak and sweet potato fries and a huge hot fudge sundae for dessert. It’s a moot point, I can’t bike anyway, it makes my toes go numb from the pressure on my back as I lean over the bars.
If I rode like this it would be OK:
Gotta find me one of these. Since I frequently match her cranky attitude, however, I might find myself cackling as I biked.
As I grow older there are many things I want to begin cutting out of my life, but activity is not one of them. I do not want to be that person who cannot carry two bags of grocery to a car. I will do all I can not to lose that.
I want to get rid of the worrying, catastrophizing (my counselor made that word up, it’s a great word) OMG this is the worst that could happen, that is horrid, what if, how can we, who will…impatience – that car is in my way, when is the paper getting delivered, my K-cups pouring forth nectar within 30 seconds. I want to slow down. I want to look around. I want to feel this day and live it, not wait it out, which I have done too many times.
When I run I am using the body I was given. I am making muscles what they were formed to be. I have life flowing through me and I am alive to the world. I feel that in some way I am doing honor to the honor I was given: life.
I love the act of running. Looking down watching my feet blur on the street. Hearing my breathing. Street level, looking at the world go by on my own power; open to the world on this little private journey, burning some endorphins. I’m alive in that moment, for just a moment existing in that present. Yes, of course, most of the run still has a running conversation of when, how, next, then – but the hum is quieter and running further in the background.
There are so many things we no longer do for ourselves. When my daughter was born I used cloth diapers. The first few months I didn’t have a dryer and I hung them to dry in the Arizona sun. I made her food. The grocery was about a mile away, if I only needed a few things I put her in the stroller and walked to get milk and things. I washed the dishes. We had a swamp cooler but no A/C. On Saturday she’d play in the hose while I’d wash the car and let her play with the bubbles.
Now I order Christmas online, getting most of it done on Black Friday as I sit in my climate controlled office in order to avoid the traffic. I drive everywhere, the washer and dryer left spinning and the dishwasher chugging away at home as I run my car through the car wash after I buy gas. I’ve got a sack full of microwavable veggies and pre-formed hamburgers, automatic bowl flush cleaner tabs. Hubs’ 100% cotton button downs go to the cleaner. I haven’t ironed in so long that while typing this I had to stop and think where the iron might be.
I’ve recently discovered a poem that has grabbed hold of me, circling in my brain, landing for consideration then lifting up and swirling back into my thoughts as it floats about lighting little dark corners of my day. I have too often and for too long held my breath and dug my toes into the sand, determined to stand still and maintain a moment, a place or an event. I stand, clinging, to imagined wrongs, to imaged rights, to how I think things should be.
I want to learn to tumble through life embracing it all, living in the coral castle, learning to breathe underwater. When I run, I feel I am.
I built my house by the sea.
Not on the sands, mind you;
not on the shifting sand.
And I built it of rock.
A strong house
by a strong sea.
And we got well acquainted, the sea and I.
Not that we spoke much.
We met in silences.
Respectful, keeping our distance,
but looking our thoughts across the fence of sand.
Always, the fence of sand our barrier,
always, the sand between.
And then one day,
-and I still don’t know how it happened –
the sea came.
Without welcome, even
Not sudden and swift, but a shifting across the sand like wine,
less like the flow of water than the flow of blood.
Slow, but coming.
Slow, but flowing like an open wound.
And I thought of flight and I thought of drowning and I thought of death.
And while I thought the sea crept higher, till it reached my door.
And I knew, then, there was neither flight, nor death, nor drowning.
That when the sea comes calling, you stop being neighbors,
Well acquainted, friendly-at-a-distance neighbors,
And you give your house for a coral castle,
And you learn to breathe underwater.
Sr. Carol Bieleck, RSCJ
from an unpublished work