As I do most Sundays, I went for a run. It was a short three-mile run that I have done tonnes of time. It’s a path that I like, a road along a golf course with some bamboo and other large trees.
I just completed mile two and I was thinking to myself, “The third mile is going to be easy”. Suddenly my foot was trapped in a bamboo branch and I went tumbling down. I fell. I could not believe that I fell. My right elbow was bleeding, the right side of my tights was torn just above the knees, blood was on my tights, and my little finger on my left hand was throbbing.
A driver stopped and asked, “Are you okay? I saw you fall.” He made some small talk, without exiting his vehicle, until I thanked him for his assistance and then he drove off. I slowly got up, to walk the third mile. My running mate, met up with me, and wanted to walk with me. I encouraged her to complete the run. When I got near to the finish she was on her way walking back to me.
When I got home, I started to ice, still in shock that I fell.
The more that I thought about it, the more aware I became that the fall had great significance for me. It brought some reminders to prepare me for what lays ahead.
- Pay attention – even if you are on a familiar path
- When you fall, get up and keep going
- It’s not how quickly you finish, it’s that you finish
- Don’t keep others back because you have a problem
- Sometimes it’s better to go around an obstacle than to go through it
- Even familiar paths have pitfalls
- When others pursue their agenda it does not mean that they don’t care
- Not every one who stops, can/is going to help
- Only you can finish your race
- It’s OK to change your strategy mid-race.
( Life was coming at me too fast October – December 2015, so I took a blog – break. For those who don’t know I’m thinking about my third book)
This morning I went for a run in Crotona Park. I have watched that Park for many years thinking how great it will be to run through it and today I finally did it.
It was not easy to get out and run. I planned to leave home at 6 a.m. but I woke up after 7.00 a.m. The house keys could not fit into my pants pocket– there was too much stuff on the key ring and it was a pain to get it off, so I ran with them in my hand. When I started the run I realized that the Nike running app was no longer on my phone. I was disappointed and decided to crank up the music. I turned on SoundCloud yet there was no sound.
I sucked it up and started to run. I started on the smallest of Park areas, then moved to the larger areas. I switched from area to area until I clocked 40 minutes. As I walked to cool off I realized that I was completely lost. Then I saw the local bus and knew exactly where I was. When I got home I realized that another app on the phone had recorded my distance.
Regardless of the size of the achievement , the process for me is more or less the same. I want to do something, I decide to do it, challenges pop up, I push ahead, and get it done. At the end, when I am celebrating the achievement I realize that I received serendipitous assistance.
What’s your process to get things done?
When I leave Trinidad, I leave my routine behind. I don’t run, I stray from my diet and I barely journal. When I am away from home, I stop doing the things that I regularly do. That worked when traveling was a once a year thing, now I’m not so sure.
When I returned home from my last trip and suffered the pain of the first-in-a-while-run, and did not like the way that my clothes fit, I realized that I was making decisions based on conditions that no longer exist. I was living in my past and needed to step into my present.
As I thought about it, I became aware that my decisions matched my old life and not my new one. My life changed but I did not change. I did not embrace travel as part of the fabric of my life or accepted that it is no longer a special event. I was stuck in the pattern of my old thoughts.
Last week as I planned my next trip, I got a grip of the situation. I determined to take my routine life with me. I will no longer put my routine on pause while I roam and press play when I get home. I commit to keep my life in play each and every moment of each and every day.
My luggage will be heavier and a little bulkier, but I won’t mind – it’s got my routine inside.
What habits no longer match your new life? What are you going to do about it?
Today, three months after my injury and remedial therapy, I ran. It was the first time since November, that I strapped on a pair of running shoes and it felt great. I was tentative when I started, I was fearful as I waited for the first bit of pain from my tibia. I was careful about how I ran, ensuring that I paid attention to the mechanics of the run. I was observant of what was in front of me so that I could avoid all potholes and obstacles in my way.
As I ran, I enjoyed the feeling of moving, and having my mind clear as I became focussed on finishing the run. I missed being around other runners, I missed the camaraderie as we encourage each other on, often by our mere presence.
At the end of today’s session I knew that I am back to running. I will continue to do the stretches and exercises that the sports therapist shared with me. I will continue to learn more about the mechanics of running and practice what I learn. New challenge for me and I am looking forward to it.
What activities that you enjoy have you stopped doing? Do you want to reclaim it? IF yes, then write me a note.
For the last three weeks I have been walking around in flats, sandals and slippers. During the last three weeks I have not worn a shoe with a heel at work nor at play, and it sucks.
I have not been walking tall, I have been cut down to my natural height and it’s been revealing for the people around me. It seems that they are shocked and delighted that I am short. “You look so short,” they say while looking at me up and down. “Wow I never knew that you were so short” as they reach over my head to reach something. While the shortest of them gloat, “ We are the same height.”
I suffered through the ignominy of it all because I though that this heelless situation would be temporary as well as the fact that I cannot stand for a minute in a heel without pain. When I stand in heels, the pain shoots straight through my tibia up to my knee and I hurry to take them off. Over the last three weeks I have been humbled by my shortness and am now fully reconciled with it.
I have also had to live through the pangs for a run, and learned to not envy the runners and to cast my gaze elsewhere when I see them run past my car.
Today with great joy I went for the eagerly awaited MRI. I have been thinking of the MRI as the first step in the healing process, since it will lead to diagnosis and therapy that will get me back in heels and running shoes.
As I laid down, getting prepped for the machine I was pretty happy. I listened to the technician’s warnings about the service, relaxed and fell asleep despite the noisiness of the machine.
When the technician returned to the room, he said, “Your calf must be sore”. My heart sunk. My calf has not been sore, but surely he saw something that allowed him to make that conclusion. I felt deflated. I did not ask him to elaborate. I thanked him for his service and bolted from the room.
I spent the rest of the evening throwing myself a pity party. My poor foot, I cannot wear heels, and I cannot run. My mind raced to a shopping trip for better looking flats and a new exercise and diet regime to compensate for the lack of running. The more I thought about it the sadder I got.
Then I remembered my self prophecy – by March 2015 I will be running and wearing heels. That memory brought hope. Sure my foot is busted now, but by March it will be better. Sure I have to be short now, but by March I will be back in heels, walking tall. Just like that my mood changed. I decided that I will be in the doctor’s office on the first working day of the year and I am starting therapy as soon as possible. The road to healing will be clearly laid out and I am going to walk that road until I can run.
What are you prophesying for 2015? What parts of you need healing? What are you going to do about it?
Today my catastrophic fantasy came through. The sports doctor said, “No running. Use the cardio machines at the gym that will not put any pressure on your foot – the bike, the stairmaster and the elliptical. Mix it up, use all three in a session, say 10 minutes each. Start each session with a different machine and use them in different order.” After that speech, he scheduled an MRI for my tibia.
I have had a nagging pain in my foot every time that I start a run. It usually disappears after 10 minutes or less and I complete the run in comfort. At the end of the run the pain returns and I ice it away. In the last two weeks the pain has been more intense and this weekend it stopped me from running.
I understood from the doctor, that because both my glutes and the muscles that control my big toes are weak, my tibia has been overworking when I run. As a result my tibia has become stressed and sore.
As I reflected on how my body compensated for weaker areas by overworking others, I thought about the times when I overcompensated for the lack in others and like my tibia I ended up needing special care. These were times when I dumbed down so that others could follow, the times when I took care of grown adults who seemed not to have a clue, the times that I accepted less than I deserved, or pretended to be less than I am.
Whenever I carried more than my fair share of the weight, the result was unwanted stress. It took years for me to understand that it’s not my responsibility, that I cannot help others, and that when I dishonor myself and show up as less than I am I will always be left holding the short, shitty end of the stick. It took some time for me to find the balance and to know that relationships (of any sort) do not work for me when they are lopsided. The balance, though shifting, can only be maintained by the efforts of all involved.
Amazingly this is exactly what I will be learning to do for my unbalanced body over the next few months. I will be strengthening the weak parts so that they can pull their weight and give the tibia a break. I am quick to acknowledge the difference between my body and my relationships. While I am in control of my body, I accept and remind myself daily that I am not in control of others. Whenever I think that I am overcompensating I set and share a boundary. If there is no change in the situation then I gently extricate myself.
Where in your life are you overcompensating? How does it make you feel?
We decided that we will do a long run, anywhere between 6 to 8 miles, on Sundays. We have a predetermined meeting point and according to how we feel we have alternate routes to complete the last 3 miles. We contact each other just before we leave home and meet at the predetermined spot.
This plan has been working like clock work. I get there about two to five minutes before my running mate and stretch a bit before she meets me. When she meets me, we exchange pleasantries, walk for a bit then we start to run. We run together, sometimes she leads, other times I do, but we more or less stay together throughout the run.
Today, I left home as planned and got to the meeting point. I waited the duration of two songs and knew that this was too long. I toyed with the idea of going home, but that would not serve my purpose of getting a long run in. Then, I decided to change the route and run in the direction of my friend’s house. I rationalized that if she was late I would meet her on the way. That did not happen.
As I reached the mid point of my run, I heard someone running towards me. There she was, my running companion. She explained that she also waited 10 minutes at the meeting place and then left. She intimated that she was much later than I and I explained that I changed the route hoping to meet her on the way. She then explained the folly of my plan since she overnighted at the hotel for the retreat, which was in the opposite direction of her house. We said goodbye and ran our separate ways.
As I ran off, I thought about how simply we miscommunicated even though we had the same agenda. I also thought about how one decision changed the course of our history. I changed the route, and did not meet up with her.
My thoughts moved on to what and how we communicate. My running partner told me that her retreat was at an hotel this weekend. I did not ask if she was sleeping over nor did she tell me that she was sleeping over. That one piece of information would have allowed us to change the meeting place and make different arrangements for our Sunday run.
This reminded me about the dubious nature of assumptions, the beauty of asking the right question, the magic of shared information and how these all contribute to powerful decision making.
I have had a head ache for three days now. The first sign of it was a splitting pain down the middle of my head on Friday night. By Saturday it was a low throb, that kept me company while I ran errands and did the chores. It is a lazy pain, that disappeared when I put on my running shoes on Sunday morning as it declined to join me for a run. As my feet pounded the pavement, there was no accompanying rhythm in my head.
When I returned home, the pain running returned full force, confining me to bed for the rest of the day.
All the while that I suffered the painters painted. As I slept, they put up ladders, cleaned surfaces, dipped brushes and kept painting. My only recognition of them was when they knocked on my door, “Ms Maxine…”to signal that they needed something.
This morning as I dressed for work I noticed the presence of my new companion. The headache was still there. My foggy head slowed me down, but I was still functioned and made it to work.
At work I had to adjust to the lights, the screen, and fight the desire to sleep.
This evening at home, I got a small reprieve. I noticed around 8.00 p.m. that my head felt different. No headache, it was gone.
Now that I am readying to sleep, I feel that familiar throb, that dull pain in my right temple. My old friend is back, reminding me of her presence, saying that she is not done with me just yet. I am resigned but not defeated. I have lived with this headache for three days and functioned, albeit slower. Now I am accommodating it and taking it slowly to bed.
Do you get headaches/ migraines? How do you live with them?
Today, the day after my first ever half – marathon I received many congratulations and comments about my efforts. Yesterday’s run rippled through my community, filling it with pride and inspiration. It feels good when one of us does something because for the rest of us, it means that whatever we want it is all possible. Other’s people achievements are never a source of envy. While they may encourage self examination and desire, they are symbols of hope, showing that we can all achieve and nothing is impossible.
My race completion felt like communal triumph, as people reached out to me to say how proud they were that I endured and completed the race, and that they were inspired to join me next year, on the run.
Then there are the people who said that they did not know that I ran, or ran long distances. They are right; in 2013 I was not a long distance runner, now in 2014 I am. In less than a year I changed how I show up in the world. That was a reminder that we control how people see us and how easily we ascribe and are ascribed labels. It was also powerful evidence that we can change what we are and be something completely different tomorrow.
As I closed the day on the experience I received the note that best summarized the experience from my cousin who herself is a marathoner
“Well done! Well done! There is a certain feeling of accomplishment that comes from fulfilling a goal. This feeling is only enhanced when you consider the hard work that goes into accomplishing the goal. A distance race like this is a good lesson in life, because it shows us what we can accomplish when we put our minds to something. Way to go, I had to miss this one, but I look forward to seeing you next year.”