Monday, August 20, 2018

what i learned from not running

So Friday I met with the surgeon again.  He looked at his calendar and said, "So we are about 5 weeks out from surgery."  Knowing that 6 weeks is the magic number for running, I spoke up..."5 1/2" weeks!"

This guy is great.  He's very smart and very positive and he didn't kill me.  He smiled immediately understanding my angle.  He asked some questions, checked me out and gave me his blessing to run.  My internal soundtrack played Beethoven's Hallelujah Chorus all the way to my truck.  

I tried to wait until it cooled off to run but in August in South Carolina it doesn't really cool off unless there's a thunderstorm.  And let's face it, there was no way I wasn't going to run that day.  So I laced up and started out the door.  To say I was slow would be an understatement.  We joke at school about "slogging" (slow jogging) but this was a couple of degrees slower than that.  

And it felt so great.  So great.  I mean, it hurt and it was hot and humid and the sun was beating down on my bald head but I was smiling and laughing and happy.  It was amazing.  I know that makes zero sense.  Just trust me, it was wonderful.  

Our house has two flights of pretty steep stairs and my jelly thighs have cried audibly on each step for the last three days.  The soreness goes away, but the joy does not.  I'm so happy to be running again.  

A while back I posted some thoughts about what I learned from running.  As I've been not running for 5 1/2 weeks, I've been trying to pay attention and I may have noticed some things worth sharing.  Here's what I've got:

Sometimes Slow Is Good
I am goal oriented.  When I leave the driveway I want to get to wherever I'm going as quickly and efficiently as possible.  When I walk somewhere, I move with purpose and heaven forbid you walk slow in front of me.  I've discovered that time is valuable and I do my best to not waste it.  When I was forced to spend my summer slowing down I realized that when you move too fast you miss some things.  First of all, spider webs are much easier to see when you're walking slow.  I still got a few webs on me during my morning walks near the trees but I didn't take any whole webs to the face like I do when I'm running.  I noticed birds and plants and sounds that I normally race by.  There's a lot of beauty that I can miss when I'm moving too fast.  But we know this isn't about actual speed.  This is about walking with my kids every morning for the last few weeks and realizing they were babies yesterday and today they're almost teenagers.  Slow down.  Enjoy the seconds.

Listen To Your Body
It felt cheesy even typing that.  Such a cliché thing to say, right?  As a runstreaker, I mostly ignore minor aches and pains and simple setbacks like pneumonia, the plague and body parts falling off.  I would just get up and run regardless.  I was very lucky and I hope to have another long streak of luck and good health, but I hope I will listen a little more carefully to my body.  During recovery I went from that awkward "not being able to walk to the bathroom by yourself" stage to the "I'm not sure if I should do that stage" and now I'm still in the "lets try that and see if it hurts stage".  Each day was a new adventure in what I'd be able to do.  Sometimes there was a physical twinge or ache that let me know this wasn't happening.  Other times is was more of a gut feeling that something was a bad idea.  After I was feeling much more mobile and flexible I walked out to the front porch with my herd of hummingbirds and positioned myself in front of the hammock.  I stood there and thought about attempting to lie down in the hammock but I just knew that it wasn't a good idea.  My body was saying, "Dude, you know this is not going to end well."  Even a couple of weeks later when I finally got in the hammock I had to get G to help me get out.  Your body is smart, you'd be smart to listen.

I'm Not Easy To Live With
Can I get an amen?  If G reads this there's a good chance that no matter where you live on this planet, you'll hear her agree with this one.  I'd love to go on with my life believing that it's everyone else that is unbearable.  They can't drive, they can't push a buggy down a grocery store aisle correctly, they can't put their phones down, they can't control their children and they can't stop all the stupid things from coming out of their mouths.  But the truth is, I like things the way I like them and I think everyone else should like them that way too.  Failure to do so results in me thinking you're an idiot.  This makes me difficult to live with.  Or difficult to drive in front of.  Having to face this head on recently has hopefully helped to open my mind to the possibility that there may be more than one way to do things.  And maybe I can try to be nicer.  Maybe.

Running Friends Are The Best
Remember when I said this was one of the things I learned from running?  Well, running friends are not fair-weather friends.  When my running friends from around the world heard that I was forced to halt my streak, they rose up with support and encouragement.  Messages rained down on me from everywhere.  People who had never communicated with me before sent support and kindness.  It was moving.  And then some of them took up my miles for me.  Dominic, Lei and Ursa all ran at least 5K every day for the 36 days I was off.  Crazy!  These people amaze me.  Maybe running makes you really, really nice.  

Perspective Is Important
I remember when my 10th grade English/Lit teacher taught us about story.  She put a lot of emphasis on the idea that the same story can be told several different ways if you tell it from several different points of view.  Each person had a different perspective and it could totally change the story.  It would have been easy to look at my experience as a bad thing that messed up my running streak.  I could have cried nonstop about not feeling good and not being 100%.  I could have whined (more than I did) about not being allowed to run for 36 days and this would have been a bummer of a story.  There would have been no lesson there.  But if I choose to have a different perspective, if I choose to find the positive points in each day, then this becomes a happy story with much to learn.  I'm not saying I'd throw my hand up to volunteer to go through this again, but I'm a better person for going through the experience.  I've gained new friends and felt love and kindness from older friends.  And I was able to realize just how important running is to me.  We choose the story we tell.  

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