As I have been writing a little about marathon running, I am filled with a longing and sadness for something that had been my constant companion for so many years. I ran for many years, but consistently for almost 20.
I ran to relax, I ran to think, I ran to celebrate, I ran to cry, I ran to laugh and I ran just because I never took a run that didn’t make me feel better.
Watch children run. Clearly they love the movement. Running was the ultimate release for me. If I felt sad, I always felt better after. When I ran with friends, not only did I get the pleasure of running, but the joy of companionship and sharing stories. We all knew that running was the bond that held us together. We all had very different thoughts about life, but running brought us together. We knew that we could pick up the phone and call each other and say, “Can you meet by the river in half an hour?” We all knew that we would try our best to do it.
I carried running clothes in my car, because I never wanted to miss an opportunity. A half hour of running is a tremendous exercise and escape. I have always exercised six or seven days a week and used to average four or five days a week running….six typically when in training. The days off usually included cycling and weights. I tend to have a fair amount of anxiety, but running every day just levelled off my emotions and made me calm.
I liked running in the heat. I liked running in the rain. I liked running in the snow. I liked doing speedwork on the track, I liked running up mile long, steep hills and I liked running in a group of people that were in the same rhythm and pace. No matter what I always knew I could turn to running and it never let me down.
When I went through a particularly rough period in my life when I had personal and financial problems, I ran and ran and ran. Pounding the pavement for an hour was always therapeutic. It may not have solved the problem all of the time, but it gave me momentary respite.
In 2014 I was no longer running marathons, but had continued running around Reem Island where we lived in Abu Dhabi. My back problems, which had never gone away had returned in a vicious way. I was having trouble walking and in constant pain. I was losing control of my left leg and foot, so obviously I could no longer run. I was trying to continue swimming but that became too difficult also. When the Dr. showed me the MRI on the screen, I could see where bone was pressing against my spinal cord. You didn’t have to have special training to see it.
I was scheduled for spinal surgery on Christmas by an excellent South Korean team. They went in with lasers and had to burn off bone spurs that were pressing against my spinal cord and also seal off intervertebral discs that were essentially gone. I have a lot of what is essentially bone on bone. The surgery was successful in that I could walk again without so much pain, but I have not been able to run since that time.
I walk pretty much everyday and when near water I swim. I also have cycled a fair amount, especially in the gym. I do what I can to keep fit as I want to be healthy for my children, but I miss running so much. I am almost crying as I type this. I am grateful for the running I was able to do.
Sometimes I think aging is just coming to grips with all of the things you lose the ability to do.. I was an outstanding baseball player with a rocket arm, but can no longer throw. I was a good basketball player, but would kill myself if I was on the court. I was an expert skier, but no way could do that anymore. ….and of course, I lost my love….running. I had planned to run until I died. People lose much more, so I try to keep it in perspective. Love you running.