A few weeks ago, I had one of the worst pains ever. I feel I can judge this because I have fallen up the stairs, down the stairs, out of trees. I’ve had both feet operated on, and I had a baby. Maybe it wasn’t the worst pain ever, but it was a pain runners fear. The pain that makes runners cry in the middle of the night as they dream of PRs and destination races. The pain that derails training and leads to stretchy pants and ill tempers. I was demonstrating my mad jump rope skills to my student runners (and I was beating the whippersnappers) when someone stabbed my voodoo doll in its foot. I thought to myself, “What now?” The year 2015 has left me unimpressed. It started with one heck of a grief hangover with the loss of Guinness, in February, my Jeep’s engine block cracked, and now, my foot was screaming. I felt a bit like Alexander and his terrible, no good, very bad day. I considered moving to Australia, but they have nine of the 10 most poisonous spiders or snakes or some type of creepy crawlies, and since I have all of the phobias associated with creepy, crawly, poisonous things, Australia is out.
Since I could neither run nor limp away to Australia, the only trip I could take was to the podiatrist. The diagnosis on the first trip to the doctor yielded a stress riser, and the prescription was rest, ice, ibuprofen. I worried that I was given a placebo diagnosis, so I did a little research, and like my phobias, my diagnosis actually exists. After a week my foot was not better; I swear it was more worser. Yes, the pain piercing my left foot was interfering with my ability to use the comparative form of adjectives properly. I was pretty sure if I waited any longer, the pain would be the most worstest. Misuse of the superlative requires a second visit to the doctor. Bad grammar aside, I was issued a boot. My boot and I are having the bestest time ever.
Wearing a boot means I cannot run. The stress riser could become a stress fracture, so I am left leering at passing runners. If you see me staring, I promise I’m not wanting to harm you; I’m just jealous of your two free legs. Those beautiful legs pounding the pavement into submission as you log your miles that allow you to splurge on treats without the need to wear elastic waist pants. The miles that allow you to sort out difficult issues that are plaguing your minds. The miles that allow you to be a human being who is perfectly able to interact with other members of polite society. The miles that are not mine for now.
Time away from running has given me more time to practice yoga. Yoga has taught me to honor my body. I need to listen to my body and accept what is accessible to me at any given point. Running is not accessible, and my cosmic dancer pose on the left leg requires a wall, but none of that matters when I’m on the mat. Those in the studio don’t judge what I cannot do; they celebrate what I can do. So, why am I so focused on what I can’t do? It’s the weakness so many of us have. We berate ourselves for what we can’t, don’t, won’t do without ever honoring and celebrating what we can, do, and will do. There is a story floating around social media of a woman who decided to stop hating body after she gave birth to her twins. She decided to celebrate her body’s ability to create and nourish her babies. If she can do that, and the people at the studio celebrate my little victories, I think it is time to celebrate my boot and what I can learn from this time.
I cannot run, but I can get on the elliptical. I think I can trade miles outside with quiet time alone at the gym with my Kindle. I have more opportunities to practice yoga in a quiet, hot studio with a great friend. For the first time since I started teaching at my school, I used the pool. None of this would have been possible without my unfortunate injury. I also get to miss running. Instead of having to log miles for the half marathon in April, I get to go to yoga, read on the elliptical, and cheer on my students. I’ll get to be part of the thousands of spectators lining the streets of St. Louis screaming my head off. I’ll make silly signs to encourage my 25 high school students crazy enough to think a half marathon is super fun. I will get to do it all with an official GO! St. Louis badge, too. I will have access to some snacks (they have great post-race snacks) and the race route as if I’m an important person.
Finally, I’m learning to be patient with all things. Some days, like today, I am a little short-tempered and a little whiny. I don’t fit anywhere because my boot-foot is so large, I kick desks, chairs, walls, people. I fell between two cars in a parking lot after a meeting. On days like today, I stop and listen. I listen to the birds, the ice cream truck, the gentle thump-creak of my boot. The sound of progress that is happening slowly but surely. I will be back on the road again, eventually, and when I do I’ll have a brand new, sassy pair of running shoes that will make my time with the boot just another klutzy day in paradise.