Monday, January 16, 2012

So ... what else have you been doing, Pam?

That's a good question. With absolutely no running in my life for almost two months, what have I been doing with myself? I feel like I have been through Elisabeth Kubler-Ross' five stages of grieving in miniature.

1. Denial. Well, of course. Deep, long seated denial was what got me into this mess in the first place. "Oh, my foot feels okay. My knee is basically sound. Those little twinges will go away." Don't I read other people's blogs all the time, and don't those blogs all say stuff like this?: "It felt like every bone in my left leg was shattered from hip to toe, and then five miles into the race I threw up a couple of times which seemed to loosen everything up and I went on to win that race and every other race I ever entered for the rest of my life." I was pretty sure something along those lines was going to happen to me.

2. Anger. I'm not sure I ever got angry in the sense of throwing things around the room and screaming at people. Let's just say I went through a period of annoyance. I was annoyed at myself for allowing these little injuries to build up ("If I'd just taken a week off after that last 50K I'd be running today," etc). That annoyance has now solidified into resolve. I will net get myself into this injury boat again. I will not. (I say this every time. We'll see....)

3. Bargaining. OK, foot, if I promise to swim for a week then you will let me start running next week. Back out there, foot. You and me. Pounding the pavement just like we were always meant to do (ad infinitum....)

4. Depression. This got kind of bad just before Christmas. This is all I'm going to say about that: I'm better now. Way better. Praise be.

5. Acceptance. This might be where I am right now. Not in the sense that I accept that I am getting older and I will always be injured and I will always miss running. More in the sense that I am getting older and I need to change the way I run. Run less, incorporate more cross training and strength training, not get carried away by big miles, and take days off. I may need constant reminders on this. In fact, I'll definitely need constant reminders.

Thanks to Meghan and Gretchen and TahoeRunGirl for the words of kindness on my last post. It feels so good to be understood. I'll look up Chi Running. A local running friend just mentioned that book last week. Time to act.

Lacking running, lo these weeks and months, other things in my life have kind of taken a step forward. Like I said in my last post, I have been swimming. Quite a bit. (Hello upper body strength!) I was cruising through a 400 yd backstroke Saturday morning when our local Gym Guy (every gym has one of there guys -- he's about 50, always at the gym, always flirting with the young lifeguards and desk people) jumped in to share my lane. "Hi, GG," I said. "Hey, Pam. Pam! Wow! You have a beautiful backstroke. Very smooth. When I jumped in here I thought you were one of the new college lifeguards they just hired." I kind of pulled a face and he laughed. He put up both hands and said, "That's all I'm going to say."

So. You take your affirmation where you can get it.

My usual physical therapist got deployed to Afganistan for 9 months (godspeed, Bill) so I have started with a new PT named Rick. I like him. He is working more specifically with my posture and quad strength. Myokinematic Posture Re-Positioning. We are doing lots of hip and glute exercises (my glutes are not "engaged"), and I'm starting to feel a difference in the way I walk and the way I kick in the pool. Buns of steel for summer!

I'd like to say I have been writing more with my free time, but I'm probably writing less. Swimming takes more time than running. To swim for 90 or 100 minutes I have to leave the house at 4:50 (it's 4:27 right now) in order to be back by 7:00 when my husband leaves for work. But I have been thinking about writing quite a bit. I'm delving into fiction, which, after 7 years of writing a weekly personal essay column, is quite a switch. It's almost like I have to give myself permission to make stuff up. And it's crazy the stuff that comes out. Crazy!

I'm reading Virginia Woolf: the novels, the biographies, the diaries. What a life! I recently had a bit of a Helene Hanff moment. I found a great deal on a gently used set of The Complete Diaries online. The day they arrived in the mail, individually wrapped in brown paper and tied with string, was a monumental day for me. I carefully unwrapped the first volume and turned to my daughter Nell with a huge smile on my face: "Nell! Don't you want to unwrap one? Share the joy!!??"

"Um, Mom..... I don't think that's possible."

Well, now. I think Nell is developing her father's sense of humor.

And we're having a great homeschooling year. My kids are at the perfect homeschooling ages: almost 7, 9 and 10. We're hopping around through the Middle Ages, the American Revolution, Helen Keller, fractions, Charlotte's Web, all the good stuff. It's cool to go through all of this again as an adult. You forget how much you've forgotten. You know?

I'm happy and hesitant to say that I am slowly dipping my toes back into the Big Lake. I have started running again. Just a little. I actually started last week, but then got derailed by a huge upper respitory infection (it's always something). The antibiotics have kicked in. I'm swimming this morning and back out on the roads tomorrow.

Wish me luck!