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The Walking Dead...or rather, the Walking Injured at the Savannah Rock n Roll Half Marathon
These guys ran the half and full marathon, but no matter how you get to the finish, it can take a toll on your body!
Are you still a runner if you can't run anymore? Is it like being an alcoholic, where you don't drink anymore, but are still tempted?
"Are you running the Rock n Roll this weekend?" people asked.
"Well, yes and no," I had to answer.
Technically I was not running it, I was walking it and technically I was not walking it, I was limping through it. I had run the full marathon last year only to be turned back at the 17 mile mark for a total of just under 20 miles. The weather was in the 80s for autumn and a lot of people weren't conditioned for the heat and humidity combined and medical personnel were so overwhelmed they couldn't keep up with all the people dropping on the side of the road white as a sheet and covered in a sheen of sweat.
We got a free entry to the 2016 Rock N Roll as compensation for not being allowed to finish, but I had worn shoes that weren't designed for that kind of mileage and ended up with a nagging sharp pain below the inside of my ankle that took almost six months to heal and then ended up with a locking hip that sent shock waves into the back of my knee so that when I tried to run on that side, the hip did not support me and the knee locked making it painful to walk even.
The plan was to keep rolling and stretching the bum hip and walk the half marathon, but by early August, I was struggling to go past four miles without my hip locking up and I wasn't even sure I could walk the 5K.
Stretching or Retching, running takes a toll on the body, but that doesn't mean you won't recover to try, try again!
The toll of running distance with a body designed to sit on the couch and eat potatoes
It's not uncommon to hear runners discuss their injuries, from torn ACLs to the dreaded hamstring pull or the nagging plantar fasciitis. My injury was due to a spinal defect where my hips were pushed out of alignment. About five years ago I went through the same thing with the left hip and it took nearly a year and a half to recover. It had been about eight months with the right hip gone bad and it did not hurt nearly as bad as the left one years ago, but it still made running impossible.
It's like when you have a really bad cold and people expect you to get over it in two days and can't understand while you are still wheezing and coughing two weeks later and think you should get a shot and make it go away, when it just takes time.
In late September when the hip was only getting worse not better, I went to one of those "four visits for $59" chiropractors and while it seemed to help some, it was still obvious this thing was not going to go away by the first week of November.
I was never really a fast runner to begin with and hadn't even broken an eight minute mile, but was starting to do really well and run consistent nine minute miles and was so elated, so to go from that to struggling to walk a twenty minute mile without being in pain was, well... a pain!
With the Rock n Roll marathon in two months, it was clear I was not going to be able to run the race, but what to do about that free entry? Oh the dilemma. What would I do? At this point I was doing good to walk four miles in nagging pain that worsened as the miles increased. Was I a fool for thinking I could do this race even dropping to the half? What would I do?
A month before the 2016 Rock n Roll, I could barely walk six miles without being in intense pain
So, was I fooling myself into thinking I could switch to the half? Maybe I could do the 5K instead, but whatever I did, it was apparent it would be walking not running. I spent the next six weeks walking Sundays with my friend Mary Jo and her dogs Max and Chance. When I expressed concerns I would not be able to do the race, MJ encouraged me to race-walk the half. Three Sundays before the race, she was walking 16 miles for a virtual race, where you record your race times on a tracking device and download it on the computer. She had already walked four and a half miles when I caught up with her, so onward we went, with me putting in a little over 11. I was sore, but it was no worse than any other soreness. Maybe it was possible?
The next week she invited me to join CREW at Fleet Feet at 5:30 on Saturday morning where we did 12.8 miles in about three hours and twenty minutes with a group of rather fast paced walkers who fluctuated between a 13 to 16 minute mile depending on how many stops we made for bathroom breaks or water along the way. It was then I knew I could do this thing and maybe even under three hours, but no marathon, just the half. I was kind of excited about it. I was going to walk a half marathon, but it seemed odd to walk it instead of run it. It just didn't seem right; like I was cheating somehow.
A race just doesn't feel like a race unless you run it, but...
Two weeks before the race started I had a rare Tuesday afternoon off work so decided to take the fit barre piloxing class at the Y. It started out easy enough but then we had to do leg extensions. The left leg extended just fine to the front and back but to the side, the right hip joint locked in place again and the left leg hung in limbo.
I tried rotating the right hip a bit, but instead of unlocking, it sent a cramp into my right buttock, so I could barely lift my left leg to knee height. I tried to unlock it when we were stretching on the bar, but when we did ski movements, I had to do them old lady style, right foot forward, pause, right foot back, left leg forward, pause... I hate doing that, but when your legs do not go in that back and forth quick motion anymore, you improvise... oddly I could run sideways, but not forward without my hip giving out or sending shock waves of pain and locking my knee in place.
It was then that I decided maybe I'd just volunteer instead of run. I really did not see me walking the whole thing even though I'd done so in practice. I hated entering a race and walking it. I'd only done it once when my left hip had done this same thing, only it hurt much worse then and it did get better, so I kept telling myself, this might not be the end of running for me, but it was depressing. I had to focus on being blessed to have legs and be mobile. My friend Richard was rolling through the race, literally in his wheelchair and friend Kelly was doing the race with a prosthetic leg, so who was I to complain and feel sorry for myself. Mary Jo had a hip replacement and had to give up running mostly as well. I should count my blessings, but the curses are easier to see when you are feeling sorry for yourself.
I was embarrassed to tell people I was walking the half but eventually I resigned myself to say, " I am planning on walking the half", that way I had an out if I could not actually do it. Like a crap shoot in a fish pond, it was a wait and see what floats to the surface kind of moment, so much so, that three days before the race, I wasn't sure I was going to be able to do anything, not even volunteer when both the horse and goat came down with stomach ailments from new hay and my truck shut off twice when I stopped at a stop sign on two different days about two weeks apart and acted like it wanted to run rough on three other occasions and then was fine.
When I went to pick up my race packet at the Expo on Thursday afternoon, I felt like crying and didn't want to talk to anyone and felt guilty staying when so many important things needed decisions that I wasn't really sure how to make. I was a physical and mental wreck and walking 13 miles in a race with 18,000 other people did not seem like a good idea. I really just wanted to be alone.
It didn't feel right enjoying the Expo with a sick goat at home. When I got back I crawled under the house and had to physically pull her out by her collar and front legs and walk and give her a second dose of Milk of Magnesia which the goat vet website recommended along with taking her for a walk and massaging her belly. She hated the medicine and we got more on each other than down her throat, but she seemed a bit better and ate a little food and drank some water. I told myself I would check on her Friday morning and if she was any worse I would give up the idea of Rock N Roll and volunteering and stay home. I didn't really feel like working the Expo and did not want to walk a race everyone else would be running so i wasn't too devastated, but still felt like every time i had something big planned; some life changing moment; there was going to be something that made the chance or choice to do it more excruciating than actually doing it.
The day before the race, I was still not sure I would be part of it
Come Friday morning I crawled under the house again to check on the goat. The goat has freerange access to the yard and chose to live under the house in about a two foot to one foot high crawlspace. it is her go-to safe spot and actually kind of comfortable with powdery soft dirt that keeps you warmer in winter and cool in summer... not that I actually have lived there, but all the animals, excluding the horse, tend to migrate there for shelter.
She would not come out when I coaxed her from a kneeling position outside, but when I crawled up to her with a peace offering, she ate a few tortilla chips and did not seem to be in any pain. It was hard to tell if she was being moody or did not feel well. Many times she would go under the house and stay all day and not come out in order to avoid the heat, the bugs or for other reasons I had yet to figure out. I placed a bowl of water and some goat food nearby and reluctantly left for the Expo where Margy and Helen and George and later Master Lee joined us to sort out race t-shirts and swag bags to hand to runners as they came past.
We arrived at 9 a.m. I had slept well the night before. The horse seemed fully recovered from his stomach upset, but I still worried about the goat and knew I should have called the vet days ago, though she had something similar several months back when she got into a packet of dried okra seeds and ate them all. It went away on its own after three days then, but I still felt bad, like a I was a bad person for handing out shirts instead of staying home calling the vet and hoping I could pull the goat out for him/her and not get stuck under the house myself.
Thankfully Margy and Helen and I got the same assignments and worked like a well oiled machine, moving as one with no obstructions until they brought in a crew of helpers who kept stepping on us and reaching in front of us, making it difficult to function. The wise crew boss pushed the tables out further to give us more room and after that, things went smoothly, but standing on your feet for six hours working nonstop bending and packing and tearing tough tickets off race bibs without even twenty seconds free to eat a snack before someone demanded service and didn't want to wait even a few seconds for you to swallow a bit of water took its toll on all of us.
Our helpers took off a half hour for lunch and oddly, despite being busier, things went a lot faster and smoother without them, but we did not get a break and it took its toll on my hospitality level. From that point on, my customer service skills tanked and I really didn't feel like putting up with any problems.
Usually the problem was that some lady who should have been wearing a large shirt said on her bib that she needed a small and then she was upset that she couldn't fit her arm in the armhole much less the rest of her and we were not allowed to switch out the t-shirt sizes so they had to go to the exchange table and a lot of women weren't happy with that. The race order form clearly tells you that t-shirts run a size small, but few people pay attention to such things and would rather take it out on volunteers who have no control over it. There were probably 75 to 80 percent women coming through, most of whom were doing the half marathon and most of whom were extremely pleasant, but it was those very few who weren't who took all the wind out our sails.
At 2:45 a new crew came in; over ten teen-agers all getting in the way and messing up our system, so I decided it was a good time to leave. At that point, I didn't really care if people had to wait five minutes or five seconds to get their t-shirts. I was tired and hungry. Margy and Helen decided to stay and help "train" the new arrivals, so I took a bathroom break and came back and Helen was still there, but could not find Margy, so went to the Expo to see if she had gone there and asked the information people if I needed to change my bib if I was running the half. They said no, just to go to my assigned corral and run the half course. I was in corral nine and felt guilty being that close up and walking. I had predicted a four hour marathon back in December of 2015 when I signed up. I would be lucky to do a four hour half now.
When I got home I forcibly drug the goat out again and gave her more Milk of Magnesia. She ate a little grass, but went back under the house and I wasn't sure if it was because she still felt bad or she was afraid I would do something else to her she didn't like, so decided I was going to do the half on Saturday and if she died or got worse, I would hate myself for life. Normal people act quickly and decisively and don't wait no matter what the circumstances, so why did I? She seemed to be improving, but there was still something off and i'd been too busy to really focus fully on her and her problems. I still didn't know what to do.
The night before the race, I packed all my things in my gear bag. The Savannah Striders had a tent set up at Forsyth Park where the race ended, so I planned to drop the bag off there with a non-dairy protein bar, some water, a towel and change of clothes if needed.
I had packed the gear bag twice and lost it three times, found my shoes, attached the timing band and promptly lost the shoes, found one shoe and lost the gear bag again. It was not like I had carried it to another room so could not figure out what my problem was. It was nearly 8 pm by the time I got everything squared away, double checked to make sure I had what I needed and put the bags on a hook by the front door so they would not develop legs and wander off on their own again... the only logical explanation I could find as to why they kept disappearing!!!
I needed to eat something but did not feel like eating real food so got two whole grain rolls and dipped them in nutritional yeast flakes and ate a handful of peanuts with a kids chewable vitamin. Not exactly the supper of champions. I tried to relax and watch a show on Netflix but could not concentrate on anything so finally went to bed. Wide awake all night I wondered if I would ever sleep and am not really sure if I did.
The plan was to get to the park by 6 a.m., find a parking space and drop my gear bag, take a bathroom break and meet with the Striders at the old Outback building by 6:45 a.m. I checked on the goat before I left and she was awake and sitting up under the house, so fed the other animals and headed out. It was the perfect morning with a slight chill in the air so that you could comfortably wear shorts with a light jacket. There was hardly any traffic and walking the mile or so from the truck to the race start allowed me to wrap my head around all that had happened over the past month with the hurricane coming through town, sending the horse and goat away for two weeks and trying to get them both readjusted to life at home without fear of being taken away again, cleaning up the debris, trying to get back on a normal work schedule, make up lost dollars from not working and the constant nagging hip joint that often had me limping after getting up from a seated position or working too long on my feet. It really felt like my world was falling apart and I was incapable of managing my own life, let alone the lives of others be they two legged or four.
There was still so much I needed to do and most of it took money, time or abilities I didn't possess, but I'd lived this way for so long, it was not like it was a major emergency from which I would never recover; it just made life a little more difficult than I would like it to be, but I'd get over it. I always did.
I wasn't even thinking about the race. It was like I was tuning it out. I shouldn't be nervous about it. Afterall, I was walking not running, so it was not like I had to be on-point, but I still wanted to be competitive and not stroll through the race like I didn't care what my time would be. I had made up a sign for the back of my jacket that let people know I was an injured runner walking and asking them to be kind to me as I had run in some races where runners said some pretty nasty things about and to walkers and to be honest I had been in large races where people started out running, lost their breath and stopped dead in their tracks causing a massive pile up behind them. It's like being in a hurry to get to an appointment and getting behind someone driving twenty miles under the speed limit in a no-passing zone. .
I thought if I could let them know that I was going to stay at this pace for the whole race, it would give them fair warning not to think any moment now I would "catch my breath" and speed off. I actually thought maybe I would not wear the sign because it would look like I was asking for pity but figured it would be safer to warn people for their sake as well as mine.
I was originally assigned to corral 9 so stayed there. We took off pretty rapidly and I really wanted to run, but couldn't. It hurt at that point just to walk. I found the prime spot was to the right of the road with a four foot buffer between me and the curb. This allowed people to pass on the right of me, but run with the main group to the left as well. I had tried walking closer to the curb, but then people kept leaping over the curb to get past, so live and learn.
Ten minutes into the race I was usually turning onto the first street and heading south, but this time I was still on the main stretch of Bay street heading west. It seemed like I was in a time warp. The Scottish band was the first to greet us and their rhythmical drumming and soulful bagpiping made me both cry and smile at the same time. I am way too emotional about certain things.i've always thought the bagpipes reminded me of my Scottish heritage, but a DNA sample kit I bought at a discount deals said I came from Poland and Iran so, who knows, maybe not. Still, it seemed fitting to power-on with ancient strains of music that had been around since before the United States were born. At this point my brain was racing as fast as my feet and it was hard to focus on everything going on around us.
While my legs could not run, my thoughts sure did
By mile nine of the race, I was really done-for. I had not really been drinking a lot of water or taking any supplements because my stomach was not feeling all that great and I didn't want to spend any time in the portable johns if I could avoid it, though I thought long and hard about it each time a line of them appeared.
I also thought about pulling on to the curb and stretching, but knew it would not help and I would just get further behind and become more frustrated at my final time, so kept putting one foot in front of the other and watching as the miles ticked by. I was doing what seemed to be a steady 14 minute mile pace for the most part. The back of my neck and between my shoulders was hurting because I was leaning into my walk and pumping my arms like I was running, but it seemed to help give me momentum.
I thought about everything. I started having these feelings about how odd I was and about how no one really liked me and how pathetic I was to put a sign on my back to get attention to my problem as if it were not obvious I was limping and injured. I felt stupid doing this. I didn't belong here. I wanted to cry. I kept walking.
A group of runners gasped and said "LOOK" as we passed by the twin towers of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. That was my wake up call again. I had forgotten how beautiful Savannah is. I see it all the time so don't often pay attention to the beautiful old homes and architectural structures that make the city so unique.
A group of runners came by with a pacer doing about a 12 minute mile pace and I kept up with them for almost two minutes before falling back. It felt invigorating to be part of a group moving at the same speed and I was actually a bit out of breath which felt neat considering I had not even broken a sweat yet.
I'd set my sights on someone doing a slow jog or walking and tell myself I could catch up to them and pass them and sometimes I did, but sometimes not. It helped give me a focal point though. At one point I struck up a conversation with a man next to me who was walking as well, but eventually we ran out of things to say, so I sped up or he slowed down and I was alone with my own thoughts again and felt more comfortable there than anywhere else.
Wonder Woman came by and told me I was inspiring. I was touched and then when a group from the sidewalk yelled out, "Wonder Woman, you are our hero," I couldn't have agreed with them more. So many people were so nice and so encouraging and so inspiring that it made walking the event well worth it.
By mile 12 I was right at the clock time of three hours and two minutes, which meant I would not come in at three hours, but I would come in if I could just keep moving. My left foot had gone numb and my right hip hurt so bad that I wished I could pop it off and replace it with a new one.When I tried to change my gait and shift my weight to relieve the pain I ended up making the right leg more unstable and my knee nearly buckled and sent a sharp pain into the inside of my knee joint for nearly a half mile before it started to fade back to normal levels of pain.
With my head hung low and a lilting shift from one leg to the other I thought this course would never end, but then saw the sign that said, "Grind now" and started to tear up again. Local Fleet Feet store owner Robert Espinosa had died a few years back and his motto was, "Grind Now, Shine later." I was grinding on and supposed I should be grateful rather than feeling sorry for myself. Some people couldn't move at all. Many carried deep wounds you couldn't see on the surface. We are all, in one way or another, injured and hurting but grinding on.
Have you ever gotten so lost in your own head that you didn't really pay attention to anything else around you?
Walking the race did not seem real. It was like I was watching someone else video the event and air it live on a screen in front of my face. I saw a few people I thought I knew, but wasn't sure. I could have dropped back and walked with friends in corral 19, but I wanted to do this on my own and go my own pace. I did not want to be pushed into running when I could not or slowed down to a crawl to take selfies. I had my camera with me, but didn't feel like taking photos. I just wanted to get through this and try to keep my pace at under four miles an hour. That seems so slow but even running I was doing good to put in six miles an hour so in retrospect it was not bad at all. It just seemed that way!
When we turned south it was still shady and cool. I listened to a few conversations as people passed. i'd slow my pace a bit and then pick it up when we heard another band. By mile eight a guy came up to me and said, "i am impressed at how you have been keeping up with our interval group." I gave him a blank stare, then smiled and said, "thank you," but still had no clue what he meant. Then a half mile later realized they were walk running and I would pass them when they walked and they would pass me when they ran. After that I tried to get out of my own thoughts and notice people around me!
The bands were great. The people at the water tables were all super nice, organized and efficient. People cheered from their yards and porches and some offered homemade muffins, beer, ice water and music booming when bands were not available. There was a group of soldiers wearing heavy rucksacks and running. There was an older gentleman in a leg brace walking as well and I told him "good job, keep going," which is something I never really felt comfortable doing, but felt so many people were saying the same to me, that I at least needed to share the love.
It helped to pay attention to others and not myself and stop feeling sorry for myself and be glad it was such a beautiful day and I was out with so many determined people who each had their own struggles even if they weren't physically visible or they weren't wearing a sign on their back letting people know about it.
The finish line! Thank God for the finish line!!!
That last mile in always seems to be the worst. When you run, or at least when I do, you try to conserve a little bit of energy for that final burst across the finish line. In a big race like the Rock n Roll, the final strip is crowded with hundreds if not thousands of spectators and you feel like you are an NFL player running out onto the field with massive crowds of fans.
I can't ever look at the people's faces as I run by and turn them into a human wall, all blurry and nondescript. I guess it comes from being shy, like when speakers tell you to look at the audience and picture them in their underwear. I look at the audience and blur them so they don't exist and if they don't exist I can't be nervous about them paying that much attention to me as I go past. All I do is stare at the finish line and try to get there as quickly as I can and get the whole thing over with so I can go back to being normal again.
The balloon arch makes you have to bottleneck and then people stop once they get on the other side, so its crowded and you want to keep moving and get out of the chute and into the open field where you don't have people bumping into you as if you weren't there or act like you are getting in their way rather than the other way around.
As usual, some person I don't know hands me a medal and I hold it in my hand because I don't feel like putting it on my neck. It is heavy and not very attractive, though I later get used to it and don't think it is so bad. The time on the clock said 3:21 or 3:24 something. Later I learn my time was 3:10:16. That is actually pretty good for walking and really only an hour longer than the first time I ever ran the course. I'm kind of happy about it, but still feel like a loser next to my running club buddies who did the marathon in less time than it took me to do the half.
Old Crow Medicine Show is the band. I have never heard of them. They are blue grass country and okay, but not my style, so I hang out with the Striders feeling like I am not one of them, just pretending. A few talk to me, but most don't. They are probably in their own worlds too like I was when walking, so can't fault them, but I am not having fun here so pack my bag and head back for home, wanting to check on the goat again.
I want to think of something great to say about the race. I want to write something witty and inspiring, but two days later I feel like it never happened, like it was a party I went to out of obligation to pretend I had a life and did stuff people wish they could do, but don't because it takes too much effort. It's not that I want people to envy my life, but it is nice to pretend you have one.
Old Crow Medicine Show performs in Forsyth Park
There are some things you do in life just to feel alive, this race was one of them
I remember years ago I fought in a Tae Kwon Do tournament. There were no women in my age or weight category so I got to fight against the men. I remember being so excited to fight with the guys and be a part of a real challenge, not that fighting women wasn't a challenge, but it was different, like a choreographed dance rather than a real spar.
The first guy I went against did not want to fight me, so danced around bobbing and weaving and landing axe kicks on my shoulder from eight feet away. It was like fighting a long legged kangaroo and it ended with me feeling like I had no fighting skills at all. I had not gotten in more than a single kick and barely a tap at that.
The second guy was a fellow student at the same studio. He was in the army and I was not overly fond of him, but had never sparred with him for real. When we started we were fairly evenly matched but you could tell he did not like a woman getting the better of him so started throwing powerful punches and kicks, one of which knocked me out of the arena and left my unpadded upper arm numb.
I realized I was outmatched and before I got kicked out of the arena by him I held up my hands in the universal, I surrender sign. That was when he came at me and hit me so hard it sent me flying. The female referee was about to call the match when I looked at my opponent and mouthed the words, "son of a b....," leaving the last letters off the derogatory word as if that somehow made it better for having thought or mouthed it in the first place.
When my instructor looked at me I begged him with my eyes to let me back in and he did and I beat the tar out the guy, driving him back with kicks and punches as his eyes grew wide and he finally grabbed me with his arms and hugged onto me until the final round bell rang.
He ended up winning, but I remember the audience going crazy when I started to fight back. It took a real beating for me to get to the point where I wanted to fight back. Until then I just took the blows and tried to fend them off as best I could.
After the match my instructor walked by. I was so bruised I could not even pull off my forearm pads and had a foot long black/blue bruise on my arm for over a week. My instructor looked at me and said, "Did you have fun kid?" and I remember looking back, grinning and saying, "Yeah, I did..."
Now to some people that may seem weird. Why would you think getting the snot beat out of you by a guy was fun? Well, the fun part came when I realized that when I wanted to give up and life kept on kicking me down after I had already surrendered, I kept fighting. Sometimes I forget that I have that in me; that we all have that in us. It just takes the right situation or the right (maybe wrong) person to bring it out, but we all have something more to give if we dig deep enough to find where it is hidden within us.
And so, walking this half marathon, limping along, feeling evil for leaving the goat to fend for herself and feeling like nothing I do really matters so why bother doing it, is really not a fight to win a foot race, but a fight to win against my own negative inclination that I do not belong in a world where I feel so different.
I walked past overweight ladies who were running their strongest, by themselves, no friends, staring at the ground with a look of determination so strong they could have drilled holes in the pavement with their eyes. I walked by a man in his late sixties who was sweating and breathing like he was half way to a heart attack. His eyes were fixed on some faraway place so that he barely noticed when I told him good job and then looked shocked that anyone had acknowledged him at all.
There's an old saying that everyone is running toward something or away from it, which one are you?
Most people who aren't runners or never have liked running, cannot understand why so many people do. Many runners admit they don't really like to run either and the majority say they run because it helps keep them sane and let's them eat the foods they love without getting too fat. Some run for a cause. Some run to win races with dreams of being the best in the world, while others run to feel part of a group and relieve the stressors that threaten to bury them under their worries.
For me running is about freedom and connecting with the natural world; seeing things from a different perspective. Have you ever had to drop your car off at the shop and walked to get to a shopping center or food place and noticed all these things you never noticed when you were driving? If so, that is what running is like. You see things differently and you connect with people without a glass partition.
You form intimate friendships with your band of runners/walkers. You talk about family and friends and vent about things that frustrate you and get advice on how to handle things and confirmation that you are not the only one who feels a certain way about a certain person or thing, you can also be alone with your thoughts and work out problems. When you run trails you pay attention to roots and rocks and trees and how each footfall hits the ground and the sensations you feel and the smells of the environment and the way the temperature and humidity changes when you go from low ground to high or through the woods or near a stream. You feel connected with the world around you, so yeah, that's why I run, to be connected.
It took a while to get to that. I have written and deleted six endings to this story that would not write itself and edited out some boring stuff in the middle. I wish I could edit my life the way I edit stories; could erase the bad parts and start over, go back and edit the mistakes, but life doesn't work that way and no one is perfect and we all have our demons, our good qualities and our faults that seem as ingrained within us as eye color and skin tone.
Not running, makes me feel as if I have a fault. It's like loving children and not being able to have one yourself. You come to grips with it, but there is always the longing unfulfilled. I may never be able to run again. That's okay. It hurts, but that's okay. There are other things I can do that make me happy.
In the end, I don't know what I am running toward. Most victories these days seem hollow and only make me want to do more, not rest on what I have already accomplished, but I feel a strong desire to connect and do good things as this seems to have the most lasting value and the greatest rewards.
The more I struggle with the end to this story, the more I realize a neat ending is not coming. Maybe I am too flawed to end it with a meaningful sign-off. Maybe it is a sign that the story is not over yet. I don't know. It would be nice to be decisive and awe inspiring instead of rambling and grasping for straws in the big pile of meaning.
Lately it seems i don't have what it takes to do what needs to be done in any area of my life, but you know, injured, limping, struggling to do things that should be easy, unable to find that connection I so desperately seek, I am still moving forward and having faith that things will get better and if not, I'll have the grace to find contentment where I can find it and not blame the world or myself or others for things that aren't going quite as planned.
As for running away. I don't think I do that. I may not run toward and ignore things that need fixing because I don't know how or don't have time to fix them, but I don't think anything haunts me and makes me want to bolt in fear and I guess that is a good thing.
As of this writing, the sick goat is returning to normal. The vet tech never called me back, but yon goat was full of herself today, chasing chickens, getting into things she should not get into and following me around just close enough to connect, but not close enough to be captured in case I was going to force Milk of Magnesia down her throat instead of offer her crackers.
I fell on the porch trying to install a green light for Veteran's day. The fold up step ladder folded on the stairs and my feet went out from under me and I fell four feet on my bad hip and scraped up both wrists as I slid down the concrete steps to the ground. It was kind of cool how it happened, sort of like those dare devil shows on TV, which makes me miss my Uncle Noel who used to call me Evil Knievel because I was always doing something dumb and getting hurt doing it.
The older I get the less adventurous I am if it means getting injured. I've learned to say no to people who pressure me to do things I know will end badly. I am naively positive about things other people think are bad, like falling on my bad hip. It hurts in an odd place, but I am hopeful that it actually knocked my misaligned hip back into place for good and I can start running again and proclaim the miracle of God who rewards those who wait patiently and don't lose faith.
Who knows what the future holds, with a new president everyone thought was a joke, just voted into office, wars and illnesses and injuries far greater than mine that change lives forever, for good or bad. This race we run to make it through life with some semblance of normalcy takes its toll on us all, but we keep grinding on hoping to shine later or at the very least, not burn out and keep doing all we can to encourage others to see the good in a potential bad situation.
And so this story comes to a rather grateful end. I don't know if I will ever get to run that marathon, but I still want to try, yet I am afraid of the damage it might do and the time it will take to recover if I do it. I guess we will just have to wait and see and if I never run again, I'll still be grateful for the memories and the people I met who have made my life so much more fulfilled.
If you are sitting at home lamenting that you can't do something you have always wanted to do; take that first step. Find a friend to go with you. Walk around the block, find a class that teaches what you want to learn. If you have skills, offer to teach them to others for free and get a group started at your social hall or church.
Do everything in your power to follow through on your dreams and don't let them fly away into the sea of regrets. Don't be afraid to ask for help or offer it. Join a group of like-minded people who will hold you accountable and push yourself past the barriers you have set up of "can't dos" and "never gonna happens". It is never going to happen if you don't take steps to make it happen, so get out there and do something with your life, don't let it waste away and find out too late that you could have actually done something great if you really tried.
Walking a half marathon is no big deal for me, but walking it injured when you thought just weeks before the race began that you could not do it at all is really sort of a miracle; a painful miracle, but everything fell into place despite numerous obstacles that threatened defeat.
Live your life as if someone was going to write something good about it and share it with the rest of the world. Do good, be good, see good and don't let the can'ts drag you down. Put one foot in front of the other and you will be surprised at how far those tired, achy feet will take you and the adventures life has in store for you!