Brooks, I like you lot. I wish I could use you more right now. We were doing so well. I’d been pain free for almost four weeks. For some reason I thought it was more like five-six weeks, which is why I currently want to slap myself. ANYWAY. I went out for a run on Sunday, and I was cocky enough to run over the West Side Highway. Confident that I could make it another eight miles. (Which is why I want to slap myself…too much, too soon, I think.) I had plans in my head of being all, “I’m baaaaaack!” When I got back.
But I’m not back. My back pain is back. It’s been a scorcher here in the NYC, as in many places. I ran in a sports bra and booty shorts. (You’re welcome, Manhattan. Or I’m sorry. But I actually refuse to apologize.) So anyway. I ran four miles, which puts me at about 42nd St on the west side. My back felt like it was tightening up a bit. Stopped to stretch a little, walked a little, kept going. Still felt tight. Got some water, turned around and walked a bit home. More stretching. Started to run again. Even tighter. While the “omg, I can’t move” pain never hit, I knew it would if I kept pushing.
So I walked home. All four miles. Such a depressing walk. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t sit on the side of the west side highway path and cry. (Thanks to Ben who said, “If I saw you I’d ask what was wrong…and then ask for your number.” hhhhah) Call me dramatic, but I’m a little upset. I thought that maybe, just MAYBE, this was all over. Then I was mad that I didn’t take my subway card or credit card with me. Such a long, sweaty walk home.
I wanted to scream at the guy on a motorcycle who saw me walking and commented, “Too hot to be out running today, huh?” I replied with something like, “Not too bad, actually!” when in my head all I could think was, “I’d be running it was 150 degrees, but I CAN’T.” No no, not dramatic. A block later, Erica walked past, listened to my story, gave me a sweaty hug and a pep talk. One step forward, two steps back, right? We’ll get there…
Okay, this all a bunch of babble…BUT MY BACK HURTS AGAIN. Which brings me to my point. What’s the meaning of the Fourth of July? Independence. Freedom. So first of all (more like secondly at this point…), thanks to those who defend that freedom.
My brother in his tank, circa 2003-ish.
So that’s important. You know what else is important that I’ve missed? The freedom to run. While it might be a stretch, I’ve missed being able to wake up and just run. Someone wants to meet for a few miles? Sounds good to me. You want to run to City Bakery? You want to run in all five boroughs? Crazy, but count me in.
But for the past few weeks (and months…), it’s been like tip-toeing around glass. Instead of thinking about what my next marathon will be, I’m thinking about when my next marathon might happen. Or if it will ever happen. And that “if” makes me really nervous. In the past, I’ve definitely taken for granted the freedom that my body gave me to more or less do whatever it is I want. To run what I want, when I want. You never really know what you have until you don’t have it anymore. (Remember when Instagram went down? Let’s all calm down, please.)
I’ve been more or less living in fear of running for the past few weeks, wondering if a step will suddenly hurt or if I’m in the clear. Looking back, I probably shouldn’t have been back at eight miles. Told you so, you’re totally allowed to say to me. But I can still be upset about it, I think. Running in fear has been terrible, and although I realize that in reality I’m ridiculously lucky that this appears to be my main problem in life, it’s still not great to have one of the things you love the most not be available to you.
Which brings me to my next point. We have a lot of freedom in this wonderful country that we live in, and since most people who read this are runners…we have lots of freedom as runners. Back when my mom was growing up, women didn’t run. You could be a cheerleader. You weren’t going to run a marathon. That all changed not too long ago, and I don’t even remember the days when women couldn’t run. Can you even imagine? I can’t.
It’s easy to complain about something when it’s easily accessible to you. It drives me crazy when I spend a night keeping someone alive and then someone complains because their coffee is made wrong. It takes all my strength to not be all, “Calm down, you can have another coffee made, okay??” So when people complain about their long runs, running in the heat, a tempo run that hurts too much, my injured runner rage wants to kick in with, “If you’re going to complain about running, then don’t. No one is forcing you to run.” I’m a rage-y runner, I make no apologizes for it.
Well, this turned into more than I wanted to say…oops? But it’s time to celebrate independence and freedom (right? not a day at the beach and fireworks?), and this year I’m including the freedom to run, even if I’m currently sidelined.
Who is running a few miles for me??
Sidenote: Happy birthday to the best roomie I could ever ask for, Sara! I haven’t lived with you for five years (crazy!), but you’ll always be my roomie. s^2forlife.