You have taken me on a ride this year, yes, you certainly have. Our first half marathon where we learned the impact of running in elevation and that walking some while your heart is pounding is just fine. Our second half, 3 weeks later, back at sea level where you discovered that you could run your half 18 minutes faster than previously thought! Long runs preparing for a full marathon, learning about the power of the mind and importance of not eating crap the night before. We also learned that some long runs require peeing in a ditch. Then the marathon brought the lesson of not giving up. Just don’t give up. It was alright to announce that I was beat at mile 16 or 17, to call for a ride home, to walk a bit, as long as I didn’t actually stop until mile 26.2. We learned that runners are some of the nicest and most supportive people around.
The hard lesson for my foot and I, was learning to cope with injury. The lesson was how truly important running had become in my life and how to move forward even when life felt adrift, lost at sea. Who was I if not a runner? I do not believe that I actually fully knew this answer before I began running a few months short of my 47th birthday. While I learned much about myself while beginning running and while training for distance, I did not understand the true significance until I could not run. You, dear offending foot, sidelined me for 4 and a half months. You made me pay attention to my being in a way I hadn’t before. You forced me back onto the couch; a place I do not want to live out my life. Running has helped to define me as a strong woman. It has silenced the body loathing that lived in me for decades. I say has, but it really is “had”, as the loss of running saw to it the the demons in my mind came roaring back to life. Time on the therapy couch is improving this but, damn, what a battle!
On this Thanksgiving I am expressing gratitude to my offending left foot. Without you, without this time off from running, I would not have seen the dark side of me, the side that still needs care and that needs love from the core of my being in order to find a full and true healing. Today I brought my body out to the trail and ran along the lakeside, calm and soothing. I challenged this body to run a bit farther, slower; forcing myself to walk the first 5 minutes of the run to warm up my plantar and peroneal tendons, caring more that my foot continues to heel, more than the number of miles or minutes I run. I worked on lovingly taking in the sensation of fatigue, and returning to the battle of the brain without giving in.