I pretty much made it through my 20’s without running a step. I’d logged so many unhealthy miles in my teens that I needed an off season (maybe even an “off for the rest of my life,” if I couldn’t do it moderately). But then I had a baby. And an old friend gave us their ancient BOB jogging stroller that still functioned properly. See, my intentions were solely to stroll with my first born, and in the beginning, that’s what I did.
But then, that one fateful morning, a street sweeper came barreling towards us. I decided to run us to the nearest turn-off to protect my baby from being covered in road grime. I had been swimming laps at the time and, surprisingly, running didn’t seem too horrible that morning. Actually, as I kept attaining my tiny goals (the next driveway, the next stop sign, that black Ford F150 down the street), I kind of liked it. I kept going back for more, setting my goals farther and farther, until eventually I was logging miles (plural).
And then I started meeting one of my favorite girlfriends at Town Lake (which is now officially Lady Bird Lake, but I will never bring myself to call it that) for weekend runs. Those turned into four and five mile long runs and before we knew it, we’d registered for the 3M Half Marathon. I went from leisurely jogging to loose training. And I was having a blast.
I did two half marathons and then promptly got pregnant again. And because we had a miscarriage with our first pregnancy, I wasn’t about to chance it. So I quit as quickly as I started. But I missed it. I missed running in the cold of winter, with its 5:30 sunsets. I missed the sense of accomplishment I felt during a sermon on Sunday as my body began recovering from that morning’s long run. But by the time summer came, I concluded that I’m most likely a fair weather runner anyway – I’d find out after this pregnancy, I thought.
But I never considered injury. I thought I could just jump right back in. Wrong. My post-partum come-back was a disaster. It’s been start….stop….from the first stride. First, I pulled my Achilles tendon. I rested and then tested the waters again. With mild confidence, I signed up for the Cap10k – just to feel the glory of a race and to show myself I could do it.
I did it.
And then I got Plantar Fasciitis shortly after crossing the finish line. If you are keeping track, that’s two injuries in less than four months.
They say that the last thing a runner wants to hear is “rest.” I didn’t want to rest, and I still don’t, but there’s no other choice. I’ve done the golf ball roll, the night splint, toe spacers and cushioned shoes, but my heel and arch still kill me.
Running had become my outlet, the one thing I felt like I could call my own. And, during my last pregnancy, I always felt confident that I would be able to return to it. Almost itched to!
But last weekend, it hit me that I may not be able to. I spent an exercise-free weekend in the hill country and finally asked myself, What if you couldn’t ever run again? Then what? Would I be okay? Do I have value apart from the confidence I gain tracking distance covered by my shoes?
Maybe my little fall/winter fling of 2012/13 had morphed into a tiny god? One that I had to let go of to ever appreciate again.
It was yucky to look at, but the truth is, I felt different and special because I could run far. But just like eating mega-healthy, anyone can run far. It just takes practice. They say that if you can run 2 miles, you can run 26.2. Anyone can do it.
What if I am not the “clean eater” or the “distance runner,” then who am I? Is it enough for me to be a child of God? Because the truth is, that’s the only thing that no one can take away from me.