When I laid on my couch, unable to walk because of a sesamoid stress fracture in my left foot, I started losing hope that I may never get better and not be able to run. A few months later I got the ok to start back on the elliptical and in a few weeks, try running.
3 weeks after my doctor's ok was last night. I had meetings all day which prevented me from walking home for lunch, getting in some additional mileage and exercise. I couldn't sit still all day. I fidgeted and twitched all morning long. I shook my legs throughout a 2 hour meeting, annoying the person sitting next to me. I made up my mind that when I got home I was going for a walk.
I put on my running shorts, grabbed my charged iPod sitting on a shelf, and laced up my sneakers tight enough to hold my feet in position. I qued up my favorite cardio music and walked out the door. I had decided that I was strong enough to venture out on a route that I haven't visited since my injury.
Running this path was like rejoining a community. I must have seen hundreds of bikers, joggers, runners, and walkers. All of them reminded me that DC has an active community of which I love being a part of. That trait is one of the things that drew me to Washington, DC is the first place. I was back. I have walked this path and run this path and today no one could tell I was recovering from an injury. I was just another exerciser.
I had avoided this path when I started doing my recovery walks because in my mind that route was something of strength and what my athletic self used to do. I quickly pushed aside those thought and set out on my way. I told myself I should try to run. "Slow and steady wins the race" played throughout my head to remind me to take it really slow. I felt like I had a second brain in my left foot, ready to alert me at a moments notice if anything felt wrong. That brain never shouted at me!!
I ran twice in the first part of that path and felt like shouting from the rooftops. My body felt strong. My legs, albeit a little different looking than in February, carried me confidently on my way. My lungs were up for the challenge and damn it, I was flying (running?) high.
I continued walking with a few spurts of running here and there. My path led me down to the National Mall via the back of the Lincoln Memorial. I couldn't help but think about how often I'd been down there before but that it'd been a long long time. I decided to walk to the front of Lincoln and subconsciously my arm reached for the pause button. I took a couple of minutes to marvel at the beauty of the mall - the Washington Monument with the Capital behind it. Lincoln with the sun setting behind him. The green trees lining a place that offered hope and inspired many. And then I walked to the dirt path along the reflecting pool and ran some more. Sans music - I wanted to hear crunch of my feet on the soft(er) dirt path, my breath, the birds, and savor it all.
Savor it I did. When I reached the World War II Memorial I really felt like I had found a piece of myself. Screw yoga, I was in a zen state of mind and nothing was going to change that.
I completed my walk / run with a few more bouts of running and made my way home. I listened to my head when it told me I should save some gas for the next time, that I shouldn't overdo it now. This was just my first time back and I didn't need to set myself back. And I stretched to make sure I ended the 4.5 mile run the way I should.
A sense of a runner's high has returned to me and I have a feeling I'll be on Cloud 9 for a few days. I felt like I left some frustration and angst regarding my injury on the pavement and it feels so good.
There were a lot more revelations I had on this run. It was my own little therapy session and a great one at that.
I reconnected with a part of me I was beginning to think had left. I am a different person though. I ran. And I realized:
I am resilient in the face of challenges. I have succeeded in the past and I will succeed again in the future. I don't doubt my own ability. I am stronger than I was in February and in so many ways. I love living an active life. I am appreciative of what my body can do, think, and say. And I appreciate all of the support and encouragement from family, friends, and blends as I continue to recover from my injury. Here's to more pain-free recovery runs!