For over two years I have been dealing with injuries that have interrupted my running.
I like to walk. I like the feeling of the early morning air and the calls of the birds as my dog, Yoshi and I walk around the park or along the creek that is swollen from the abundant spring rains. I like that I can carry a coffee cup without spilling too much. We’ve come to recognize the hawk that’s taken up residence by the little bridge and Yoshi’s timing has improved so now he doesn’t wait to do his business until we are at the absolute furthest point from a trashcan.
I no longer take Yoshi to the lake, though, because he cares too much about other dogs. He cares in the way of snarling and snapping when he doesn’t like their attitude. I try to explain to him that he shares some of the responsibility for the bad feeling. I suspect him of assigning inaccurate information to the aura he’s sensing. I’m quite sure he’s contributing to their attitudes by his own negative expectations. I remind him that as long as he behaves this way, he loses lake privileges. But he just stares at me, wags his tail and gives me that dog-grin that makes me laugh. We both know that his bad behavior is my fault for not training him better when he was young. I try to do better, be firmer, not laugh. I try harder than he does. He expects that my dog-parent guilt will excuse his bad behavior, and clearly he’s correct.
I do better parenting humans.
But this was not the point. My point is that even though I like to walk, I love to run. Even when I hate how difficult it is, I love the hard work and the way I feel after. There’s a sense of freedom that comes with running. I’m not at peace with this interruption. My body rebels. I used to tell my coach that the longer I took off, the more my body hurt. He laughed but he understood. He has struggled with physical changes and losses of his own. As we all have. As we all will.
I’ve done a good job putting my attention other places. I’ve written a book and a number of essays. I’ve learned to manage stress other ways. But my body isn’t in sync anymore. I stay up too late, eat worse than I should, don’t drink enough water, miss seeing my running partner every morning, and have missed way too many sunrises.
I haven’t given up, my physical therapy is going well, and I’m sensing repair on the horizon, but it’s challenging.
In the mean time, Yoshi’s getting A LOT of walk-time. Although not behaving any better.
Autumn has unfolded. I know, those of you who don’t laud autumn as the best season, focus on the fact that winter is coming. But when you love fall, you don’t think about the snow that’s coming, or about the leaves lying dead on the ground. You don’t see autumn as a pre-season. Instead, it’s the time of year you wish for when the air outside is sticky and hot and all you can do is lay still on a rock like a salamander. Maybe because I am a hopeful (or delusional) person, I always imagine we will have months and months of bright leaves, afternoon sun, and night air cold enough for a comforter but not cold enough to have to turn on the heat.
We are in the season of fabulous morning runs. We have to dodge all the runners training for the fall marathons. I’m still dealing with the tendon injury that stopped my Big Sur marathon and rendered me pathetic for my adventure race, but at least I’m running. The gift of an injury is that one’s passion crystallizes. I’m incredibly grateful to be running four miles three times a week. After a couple of weeks back, my serotonin levels raised enough that my general state of well-being was back. I was again happy for no reason other than being alive. Brain chemistry is an amazing force!
Fall brings a return to energized creativity and the need to get things accomplished, probably due to early imprints of heading back to school. My fifteen year old is in fact back at school and high school soccer is in full swing. In addition, my psychotherapy practice gets busier, probably because my clients also feel the need to get some things taken care of. I’m also busy writing a mystery novel and taking a few classes.
Thank you for all your emails. I hope the autumn is good to you.
I’m back from Colorado, where I participated in World T.E.A.M.’s “The Real Deal”, which was the first inclusive adventure race ever held. The race included mountain biking, rock climbing, rappelling, white water rafting, and orienteering, and sleeping on the ground for two nights which proved to be the most challenging, at least for me and a few other city type folks. Each team had five members, two of which needed to have disabilities, one of those who navigates life in a wheelchair.
Most difficult for me, even more than the fact that I had never done any of the sports involved, was being so untrained. I’ve been sidelined for over three months with this stupid tendon injury. I was clear with my team leader, Jim Bensen, that I literally hadn’t done anything aerobic in that long. He assured me, lying the way athletes do, that I would be fine. I wasn’t. The first hill of the mountain-biking segment (altitude-6500 feet) reminded me that training has a purpose other than making me happy. I knew I was in trouble when I had to get off the bike and walk on the first climb. I knew I was in even more trouble when even walking the bike up the hill, sucked the breath out of me. Given that a documentary was being made, every humiliatingly breathless step was filmed. Thankfully the other person with a disability on my team was Steve Ackerman who is one of the studliest athletes in the world. He and the rest of my team made up a bit for my less than stellar performance.
I wasn’t able to sleep in the hotel, the night before the race began and then not the first night on the ground, so after two nights with minimal sleep, I went looking for some Tylenol PM. I found a man willing to sell me some Quaalude’s. When I declined, he told me to wait, ran into his hut and brought out a huge jar filled with pills of every color and size. “Is there something in here that will help you sleep?” Oh brother was there but a few months from my 32nd sobriety anniversary, I declined again, and accepted that I might not sleep until I got home, which is what happened.
What also happened is that I was reminded during the race how critical it is for people with disabilities to connect with each other and to challenge themselves in sport. Some of the more recently disabled participants were new to “disabled” sports. They were able to compare notes, see how much better they will become at dealing with their disabilites, and see how much fun and excitement there is still to be had. Those without disabilites had that wonderful opportunity to gain perspective as well. We all, with disabilites and without, got over ourselves a bit more.
Look for the documentary sometime later this year, and read the Denver Post’s article at http://www.denverpost.com/sports/ci_9748215
NOTES ON GRATITUDE
I had a million things to do this morning, so many they woke me at 3:30, clamoring for my attention, pulling me out of a dream about a car careening out of control. I brush on some mascara, let the dogs out, check email, race to the club, get in a quick workout, and rush off to the coffee shop. I grab a cappuccino, exchange a quick joke with the Barista, and forget to appreciate my first foamy sip. I open the to-do list that is weighing on my brain. What do I have to get done today? Critique pieces for my writing group, answer emails, return phone calls, vacuum because my grand-baby is coming, figure out an Hors’duerve for my writing group, get to the Loft by 11:00. Get home by 3:00 for the baby, get to my friend, Sharon’s by 4:30. Oh, and find a poignant poem about the winter solstice, or was it supposed to be a poem about gratitude? I search the web, realize I can’t possibly take someone else’s words for gratitude, and instead quickly type Gratitude at the top of the page.
Okay, what am I grateful for?
· I’m grateful for my brain, that for all practical purposes, has never let me down
· I’m grateful for my grandbaby’s breath that carries just a whisper of mother’s milk as I hold his sleeping body nestled into my neck.
And finally, maybe for the first time today, I slow down long enough to take a deep breath.
· I’m grateful for my teenager’s vibrating exuberance that launches him into every day where anything’s possible, and given his trauma free childhood, he jumps in to the mix with the
assumption that all the possibilities are fabulous.
And I taste my cappuccino for the first time, even though it’s half gone.
· I’m grateful for my husband, who still loves me after thirty years, and treats me like I still have a great ass even though I maybe never did. Mostly I’m grateful that I had the good sense to marry up, because Jeff has made me a much better person than I could have been without him.
· I’m grateful for my humility, almost any time it shows up
· I’m grateful for having the means to help an old friend, who doesn’t have the means himself to buy a Christmas present for his son.
· I’m grateful the stars light our running path before the sun has gotten to this side of the world
· I’m grateful for the miraculously still crisp Pink Lady apple I frantically found yesterday during a blood sugar crash moments before the grieving motherless family appears at my door to talk about their first Christmas without her.
· I’m grateful for my sisters who still love me, even though they’ve been with me through my worst times as a person.
· I’m grateful for my spirit that has the audacity to hope for the best.
· I’m grateful that my adult son, who even given the traumas of his childhood, is more committed to his son than to his defensive pessimism…I’m also grateful that he has found a way to get paid for being an artist.
· I’m grateful for my friends who love me far better than I can love myself
· I’m grateful for my body, that for all practical purposes, has never let me down
· I’m grateful for my new agent that assures me it will all be fine.
· I’m grateful for my heart, that for all practical and impractical purposes, has never let me down.
· I’m grateful for my first child who inspired me to build a life so amazing, even though he had too few years to physically share it.
And now, list forgotten, moment remembered, I’m grateful for:
· Sharon, who faithfully brings her friends together to remember and share what we carry in our hearts.
A Monday in May
We’re back from the Big Sur Marathon. An amazing experience. The marathon course was one of the most butt-kicking and beautiful courses I’ve ever seen. Lisa ran well and Lisa’s husband, Mark, Jeff and I drove the course as part of a caravan to support the runners. We didn’t spot a whale’s spout,but we saw just about everything else. There was the grand piano, the tiara and tutu-wearing sisters, the Taiko drummers, and a few scantily clad dancers. At one point, the wind kicked in so heavily it threatened to push runners across the road. I felt for the bike-medics because there were no downhill rests for them. I also saw my old friend Jon Beesen, the head of the Paralympic Development Triathlon Committee, look studly as he ran by, finishing his race.
We spent a number of days in Carmel. Again, I realized that a part of me doesn’t breathe until I get back to the ocean. I remember the first time I went to work with my father on Catalina Island, which had a bit of the Carmel feel. When I got off the dinghy and stepped onto the Isthmus, I felt a rush of recognition, like for the first time in my life, I was home. All of it seemed familiar; the feeling of the ground under my feet, the sound of the waves crashing against the shore, the taste in the air. I belonged there. I felt connected with a place I’d never been but that inexplicably already held my essence
For those of you who have never been to Catalina, there are rolling hills and clear blue water that spreads out in every direction. Wild boars and a large herd of buffalo roam the island,feeding off the grasses. No one had warned me, and not even a Midwestern girl expects to have to navigate a herd of buffalo on her way down the road to the snack bar. Sand sharks and stingrays swim en masse in the harbor. At the time, there weren’t hotels, or paved roads on that side of the island.
My father had a Mexican restaurant in Avalon that lasted for a few years. Then he ran the snack bar, restaurant and hunting lodge at Cat Harbor for another twenty years. I spent my time divided between the restaurant and the shoreline. Everyday I took my fathers’ two dogs along the beach and let them run. We watched the sun come up and when I wasn’t working, watch it set. Every time I returned home to Minnesota, I felt like part of me wasn’t able to breathe deeply enough.
From this trip, we returned to the forecast of snow, which thankfully never came. It’s sunny and beautiful. I’m trying to be good so this injury will heal but it’s hard because it’s such a lovely time to run.
Spring has finally shown up in Minnesota, and it is beautiful. There’s not a more grateful group than Minnesotans when the sun finally returns. We had to wait a long time this year. My clients have been suffering through the hard weather, as have I, as have my dogs. My son and his friends finally gave in a few weeks ago and started wearing shorts even though it was only 37 degrees. The blizzard came, their legs froze, but they were done with the jeans. Who could blame them?
I’ve been injured for almost three months now, with a foot tendon problem. I tried to gut it out so I could do the Big Sur Marathon next weekend. Not going to happen. I made it through a couple of the long runs but now have been advised to cut it out. No more running, minimal walking, until we get this healed. After days with no exercise, I went back to rowing, which hasn’t seemed to cause the foot any problems. I don’t know how it is that people wake up without a run. Circles have shown up and stayed under my eyes. Ugh.
I will still start the marathon with my training partner, Lisa, who has done everything athletic I have asked her to do over the past decade, including Ironman. This was her wish; Big Sur for her fiftieth birthday. So we’ll be there. Look for us at the start, and her at the finish.