Friday, February 3, 2012

It really wasn't the end of the world

Yeah, it's been a while since I've blogged.  Why?  Well...let's call it a combination of work, volunteer work, house work, and oh by-the-way getting in all kinds of good shape on my road to recovery.

Remember how completely depressed I was a few months ago and I couldn't even bring myself to write a blog post?  It was -to use 2012 slang- "legit" the end of the world.  No, really.  Legit.  Day after day I skimmed through Twitter and saw everyone's "I ran 8 miles in 1 hour and felt GREAT!" posts.  I watched my friends continue to run all winter and plan races for 2012, and I felt guilty for feeling jealous.  The hip surgery was massive trauma, and the 3-5 month recovery became an insurmountable obstacle.  I tried to stay positive and filled my time as best as I could with other ways to contribute to the running community, but at times my optimism wavered.  Like the day my jeans didn't fit.  This happened over the course of one day (no, really).  I swear, the jeans fit on Friday.  Then Saturday, they didn't fit anymore.  Neither did my running shorts.  It was very frustrating since there was little I could do to burn calories.

Somehow, throughout all of this depressing trauma, I still managed to start getting to the gym regularly.  Although I couldn't run and couldn't even walk fast, I was able to sweat like an animal on the elliptical.  And while there, why not take advantage of the rest of the equipment and get in a full body workout!  I also continued my physical therapy for as long as my health insurance would cover it, and now I'm facing going forward on my own.  I've been logging my miles, and although it's the end of the world, I have still been managing to average about 20 miles a week of walking and hiking. I've been meeting my running club for our weekly group runs, and although it's the end of the world and I can't run, I was still able to walk the short course.  The funny thing is, people started joining me.  As it turns out, I'm not the only one facing the end of the world, and others are in the same injury-nursing, post-surgery position I'm in.

A couple weeks ago, an older gentleman joined me on my "walking" course at the group run.  He was a blast to walk with, and as a spry 77 year old, he had lots of stories to tell me about the early days of racing, and tales about running marathons in Boston, London, and Dublin.  He was entertaining, but he was also a hustler!  About a mile in he said, "I'm just going to do a little shuffle to the next pole".  I continued to walk behind him as he shuffled along.  We met back up and continued walking together, and then he said, "I'm just going to do a little shuffle up to that mailbox", so I said I'd just follow behind him.  So, on that 20 degree day in January, I did my first "run".  Scientifically I don't think it would actually qualify for a run, because I believe the gait is only considered "running" if there is a point in time in which only one foot is touching the ground.  In other words, it was slow and awkward.  But it was more than a walk, and I felt like a rebel shuffling along against doctor's orders.  My new pal kept pulling me along, each interval going just a bit further, and by the end of the course, we were jogging along at a respectable 10-12 minute mile, and I was smiling like my face was going to crack.  This man was my inspiration on that cold January day, and he's responsible for getting me moving again.  I will forever appreciate that.
The next week, my pal came back, and we again headed out (this time there were 5 of us!) on our walk/run.  This time I wasn't as timid, and I bravely jogged with my much more mature co-shufflers.  On Tuesday this week, I decided to go out on my own and see if I could actually "run".  I walked a quarter mile through the woods to a paved road, and then ran 1 solid mile at a 10 min/mile pace.  What surprised me was how effortless it felt.  It didn't feel like it had been five months since I had run.  I wasn't sore, and I didn't have trouble breathing.  I just...ran.  Granted, I ran with a shortened stride and I certainly wasn't breaking any speed records, but I had to acknowledge that this was the first time since probably last April that I ran without being in pain.  It was pretty freaking exciting.
Feeling pretty confident, on Thursday I decided to really test the boundaries and packed my running bag for work.  At work, I headed out with Kerri at lunch, just like old times, as if it was no big deal, for a little run.  I was of course a little timid about this and if I was alone I would have just stayed within the parking lot.  But, with Kerri's encouragement I went out on the roads.  The most amazing thing was that we went "running".  It wasn't a "walk with a few hundred yards of running".  It was a real run.  It was a slow run, but it was a run, and I ran for 1.5 miles consistently, then took a walk break a couple of times, and completed a 2.9 mile run.  For a "running" debut after 5 months, I think a 3 mile debut is pretty awesome.  (Okay it sounds really great but don't be fooled by my euphoric optimism...I booked an urgent sports massage for next week and I foam rolled three times today).
A few months ago I was convinced it was the end of the world.  I hated my life.  I was depressed, immobile, and no one could convince me that "this too shall pass".  For months I continued thinking this was the end of the world, even as I've made one improvement after another.  Sometimes to just have to step back and see the big picture.  I can complain to my running friends, who will certainly understand and sympathize with my misfortune of not being able to run 10 miles this weekend like I normally would.  But the rest of the world sees someone who recovered from hip surgery, walked earlier than the doctors thought she would, ran sooner than the doctors thought she would, and instead of doing a quarter mile running debut, did a mile.  And then 3.  And this is probably the part of the story where I should mention that (oh by-the-way) have started riding my horse again.  Just 5 or 6 times over the last week or so.  Which is great, because judging by the look on poor Rocco's face, he too thought it was the end of the world.