“Well, when you’re running, there’s an edge… Between… What is and isn’t too fast . . .But, um, it’s not a sharp edge. It’s stretchy. And if you’re brave, you push on it.” – TrackTown, the movie.
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On May 22, 2017 I slid hard into 3rd base on my softball team. I first felt my right shoulder blade hit the ground and then immediately felt my left foot – specifically my ankle, on the outside part. I knew that I had done something bad in that moment and said as much to our 3rd base coach. My wife told me, before she went to her internship at the hospital that day, “Don’t hurt yourself.” Well, imagine her surprise when she learned I was just downstairs at the ER getting my ankle x-rayed.
I had broken my fibula, the outer bone of the ankle. Fortunately it was just the tip and not all the way through. It was dangling off the end of the rest of the bone like some kind of limb on a tree. The pain was intense and the ball of flesh that enveloped it was large, tender and quite precise.
After about two weeks I went in to see a surgeon – the team doctor for our local minor league soccer team to be exact (which was purely luck of the draw for me). He walked into the room and said to me, while looking at the x-ray, “This is good break!” Inside I thought to myself – oh, no, surgery again. (A year earlier I broke my left pinky finger, playing, you guessed it, softball.) When I looked up and he realized that I was thinking surgery he said, “No, I mean this one is good in that it won’t need surgery.” He told me that he had seen this type of break many times before and that the best course of action was to treat it as a bad sprain, which we did.
Tomorrow is the culmination of months of physical therapy, exercises, rehabilitation and trust of my body to get better. Tomorrow I’m running in my first long race since breaking my ankle almost a year ago now. Not only that, it’s the longest run I’ve done in my life – in an official race anyways. Usually I run the half-marathon distance of 13.1 miles (I’ve run 8 of those and will attempt my 9th in two weeks). Tomorrow’s run is a trail run of 18 miles, mostly downhill with the reward of a soak in a hot spring at the end. Plus I’m running it with one of my very best friends which makes it all the more worthwhile. The weather is supposed to be cool but not raining. Gear is out and ready.
Here we go!
This winter and spring I’ve had the opportunity to connect with others in the act of running. On Sundays I’ve been attending the TrackTown Fitness event at famous Hayward Field here in Eugene. At this event, they split people into three groups: runners, run-walkers, and walkers. Each week they have a specific workout and also bring in a specialist of some kind. One week it was a cardiologist, another week it was a nutritionist. The dynamic of running in a group is hard to explain – it’s not the same as running in an actual race, but there’s a connection with others who are out there for a variety of reasons. I’ve been able to meet some very nice people this way by attending these running workout sessions.
The other group that I was invited to join is the UO Noon Runners Group, which apparently has been going on for some 30 years. This group meets every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at noon and does a variety of routes around the campus area. I was invited by another campus IT professional, Cleven. I’ve known Cleven on and off via our work worlds for awhile now and we often would talk running whenever we saw each other. He is the most positive runner and one of the most friendly people I’ve ever met. Each run he always greets other people with a warm, “Good morning!” and a smile. I’ve noticed, too, that he runs freely, sometimes pushing the pace and other times slowing down to let the slower runners catch up. It’s always a good workout and a nice way to break up the day. I’m extremely grateful to have been invited (which happened on a whim – I was heading over to do my own run when Cleven saw me and invited me along).
Running is often a solo activity for me – a meditation of sorts and a time to focus on my breath, let my mind wander and clear it out. It gives my body a chance to de-stress and ultimately relax. Running with others has added a completely new dimension to this and so far I’m very content.
Last night the kids and I ran in the “1st Run” 5k here in town. It was a great way for us to start off 2018, with both Nora and Jonah running the whole thing. Nora’s goal was to literally RUN the whole race, without walking which she did. Jonah ran a fast 9:34 pace which helped him take first place in his age division.
I also acquired a cool little “scratch-off” calendar for the year put out by Tracksmith in New England. It’s a “No Days Off” calendar where for each day of running you scratch out the day and beneath the ink is a word which will make up a complete story as the year goes by. Now, I don’t plan on literally taking no days off from running as that is not how my body works, but I’m looking forward to scratching off the dates as this year rolls by.
Happy New Year!
“In our modern lifestyle we are not runners anymore. So we are basically disconnected from what we previously had to do. Most of us are out of shape and we don’t have to run for our hamburger or our dinner. But deep down we are still all runners and so our minds, as much as our muscles are part of this running phenotype.”