Saturday, December 15, 2012

After a Lay-Off

I went for a run today and, like so often after a long time away from running, found myself wondering, "how have I not done this sooner?" I was inspired to run this morning by my wife who took herself out for a run earlier. She looked so good afterward, fit, flushed, and happy, that I knew I wanted to get out there too. So I did.

The nice thing about me and running is that for whatever reason, even after a long time off, I can just do it. I'm not fast, but I'm not slow. I don't run terribly long, but I don't run short either. And I'm learning more and more to just go run.

All it takes to get me out in semi-cold weather such as this morning in Syracuse is a smartwool shirt, beanie, and shorts. I don't wear shoes or socks, so that's easy. For safety, I strap on a RoadID bracelet with my name and contact phone numbers on it. And for fun, I use a GPS watch. With that I stepped outside and started down the road.

The beauty of running after a lay-off is that I realize all over again that it is my way to meditate. I don't think much about big problems. I watch the road ahead for sharps and road kill, neither one of which I want to step in. I lose track of the mileage, the number of steps, and notice only my breathing and the sound of my feet on the pavement.

Once in a while a though comes to me and I make decisions about whether to stay with it or let it go. Today I thought a few times about the school shooting and how much we need to control guns in this country, but those thoughts weren't taking me anywhere I wanted to go. I turned onto a side street and kept going but left the thoughts on the other road.

Over on the side street, it came to me how much I was enjoying the run, how my body didn't hurt, how my bare feet weren't even a little bit cold, how it felt good to breathe hard.

Later, I thought about how I'm having surgery on Monday and that I won't be able to run for weeks afterward. I was about to push that thought aside, take another turn, but I kept going. The running was feeling good and I wondered where the thought might take me. I thought maybe I might run again tomorrow. Or I might not. And with that I figured out that I'll do what I can. I mean, neck surgery is pretty invasive stuff and I'll be a bit shocked for a while. I'll be up for walking around the house at first, but soon enough I'll walk some of the routes I like to run, and then some time after that I'll run.

There are these moments when I realize that things are going to be okay. This was one of them and I went with it. I kept running with the thought of recovery in mind and the run was, well, perfect.

I don't know how it's going to go next week after the surgery. Lots of people are asking if I'm nervous. I don't know and the fact that I don't know makes me smile. I'm not spending a lot of my energy thinking too far ahead and am instead trying to be aware of what's happening right now. In the middle of my run I wan't thinking about how far I was going or how long it would take to get home. Each intersection provided an opportunity.

So when I came to the steps at Euclid, I made the decision at that moment to climb them. Two guys in hiking gear were coming down as I started up. "Watch out, lots of glass up there." I thanked them as I went by, kept my eyes on the steps, and climbed. The first couple dozen steps are easy enough, but even the landings slant upward. By the time I was fifty steps in, I was tired, but the glass was easy to step around and the top would come when it came.

Today, I ran and found some peace. Tomorrow, I might run again. And Monday I'll have neck surgery. By then I'll probably have worked up some nerves about it, but it's going to be okay, and just think, after the long layoff for recovery, how good my first run is going to feel.

Write on.