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31 July 2012

ON NOT RUNNING


We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.—Joseph Campbell


Usually by the end of July, Gary and I are managing long runs—long by our standards, so more than six miles. This time last year we were running close to thirty miles in a week with a ten miler on Sunday. This year I have been having foot issues. After an easy four-miler in April, I had so much trouble walking a mere two blocks in Portland one evening that I wanted to sit down on the sidewalk and weep—in frustration and pain.

The local PA was pretty useless, but the orthopedist I went to next walked me through his set of Xrays and explained why a stress fracture was unlikely. He was candid that “I probably won’t be able to get you running again” but suggested a later referral to a podiatrist might be more successful. I haven’t had the MRI he wanted mostly because I wasn’t feeling confident that it would provide useful information beyond something is wrong with my feet and I need to stay off them. Maybe they will get better, maybe not. My image of myself as a little old lady still walking to the store to buy her own groceries crashed to the ground.

There’s a great deal of baggage here. My maternal grandmother was unable to climb stairs for the last years of her life, could barely walk at all and her second husband who had brought her coffee in bed for as long as I could remember, carried her to and from her bed in the living room. My mother, too, had increasing difficulty trouble walking in her last years, falling again and again and even finding a scooter challenging. Gray, wrinkled, and old are not so bad, but frail and immobile is not the way I want to spend the last decades of my life.  

So I didn’t run for three months. Maybe I would heal.

Four days ago I put on my gear and went out for a very short run, so short it hardly counted—I would not have counted it three months ago—no more than a mile. Then I took my shoes and socks off and stood in the ocean to ice my feet and came in and put my feet up. I took a day off and then did the same thing two days ago. Today I intended to do the same thing again, but it was clear that my feet considered any running at all to be abuse, like knives stabbing my instep.

So Gary and I walked. We walked along the surf line and I picked up sand dollars and then rounded the Cape for the first time in over a year, well into Falcon Cove and back through the Arch. I walked in shallow waves to ice my feet and now I sit up in bed, grateful that I can walk. If I am careful and determined, perhaps I will last a long time—it’s what my husband and I have said to one another since we were young: Take care of yourself—you have to last a long time. 
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