RIP – The Turtle 1983-2014

I was cleared for take-off the end of August and had the toe situation.  I did try to run after that healed, only a quarter mile though.  My breath wasn’t labored or anything but my legs felt crazy heavy, probably because they are heavier than they were back in the spring and because I hadn’t done any running.  However when I stopped running, I felt that thing, that tingling from my butt down to the foot and the foot started going numb. I wasn’t ready to run but thought, if I lost about 10 pounds or so, I shouldn’t have any problems, you know the old self-diagnosis. I didn’t try it again though, I wanted to find out from my doctor, how I can approach running again. I had a physical in November, this is how it went down:

Me: Will I be able to run again? I haven’t attempted any running in a couple of months.

Dr: (looks at chart reads aloud) well it says you have severe arthritis between L4 and L5, moderate arthritis between L2 and L3 and degenerative disc disease.

Me: So that means…

Dr: You can run if you want to but if you do, you’ll be one of those that has to have surgery.

(cue: wailing and gnashing of teeth.)

 RIP The Turtle

I was afraid that this was the news I’d receive, given that after physical therapy and medication I’d been relieved of the pain, but it returned instantly during that last running attempt.  I was inconsolable and had already been low-key depressed about not running since July. At any rate that evening I swallowed that bitter pill with some wine and snacks and began to reminisce.

I ran my first 2.65 miles with my father in 1983 at Shady Side Park/Aqua Gardens. He left me of course because that’s what dads do, but it didn’t matter, I fell in love with running anyway.  I didn’t run much during college, only on summer breaks but after graduation into adulthood (yay/boo) I ran everywhere that I lived. Lakeshore Drive in Chicago, the streets of this little suburb called Addison IL, Audubon Park and City Park in . New Orleans the streets of Doraville Georgia and downtown Atlanta and the many fine parks of Gwinnett County where I currently live.  My first race was the Peachtree Road Race in 1995 and subsquently completed 16 of them. I ran for diabetes, alzheimers, AIDS, breast cancer, churches and various charities and I ran just for T-shirts.  One of my bucket list items was to run in all 50 states, I had 44 to go. Yet even with the bucket list and racing, those things were never front of mind because running for me was a matter of health, physical certainly, but mostly mental and most of my running was done alone.

There’s been some solitary miles spent working out problems in my head, grieving and crying and at times experiencing physical pain, but in all those years, the vast majority of the those runs were beautiful. Seeing some amazing birds, playing squirrels, rabbits, turtles frogs, deer all manner of bug and once a few years ago a snake.  I’ve seen everything bloom and die and bloom again. I’ve seen buildings demolished and new ones built and I have looked at the sky and everything around me on many mornings and thought, wow look at God. Given all that, 31 years of it, this transition has not been easy.

 Bird

It’s hard sometimes to listen to my friends talk about their training and races and such, it seems that ERRRBODY is running now, but I know that everything has a season. My running season has passed and things are changing, my life, my body and everything around me is changing. I could sit on the sidelines and lament it, and for a while there I did, but now I’m entering a new season. I have no idea what it looks like, but whatever it is, you can believe I’m going for broke.

I don’t know any other way to do it.

Until next time, see you somewhere out there… where I’ll be trying something NEW.

 Copy of IMG_0117

Photos: MsThorns
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