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March 1, 2013

Can You Learn to Fly?

Can You Learn to Fly?

He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying. 

~Friedrich Nietzsche

IMG_1377On the short list of reasons why I chose to take up running was a growing fascination I had with runner’s high. Try this experiment at home: poll runners – ones you know, random ones you encounter – about why they run. Almost all of them will describe some version of runner’s high for you.  Watch them carefully when they do. See the dreamy smile they get, the sort of glossy look in their eyes. For a moment, they might seem like they have wandered off to some alternate reality that is much better than wherever they might actually be with you.

When I first started to run, I expected that runner’s high would be one of the more immediate perks – one of the things I would get as a benefit if you will to keep me going. I ran. I waited. I ran. I waited. Maybe I was missing it??? I asked some more experienced runners and was assured that I would definitely not miss runner’s high.

Continue reading…

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February 28, 2013

Excuses, Excuses

Excuses, Excuses

It seems like the older I get and the longer I engage in an activity, the more excuses I can find to not do the activity.

This morning it was cold. If you are not a native Californian, please feel free to laugh now. I am sure it was not actually less than 50 degrees outside. But as I contemplated getting dressed for a run…well…I did feel cold.

There can always be something in the way. Cold, Tired. Sick. Stressed. Too much work. Too much laundry. Too many meetings. My life, wonderful as it is, is full of things, big and small, that can stand in the way of a run. Or sleep. Or 10 minutes to just sit and be quiet. Continue reading…

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February 26, 2013

Fits and Starts

Fits and Starts

We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.
― Joseph Campbell

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I had sort of abandoned this blog. Still, after all these months, the notes trickle in…we miss you, where did you go, when is it coming back.

There are things we have to do for ourselves, not for others.

After my back injury, I was really frustrated. I healed a little, ran a little, hurt some more. I think I did that for months. I eventually thought I am not going to run again – that was a fun experiment, but my body has called it quits. I rode a bike, went back to yoga, walked, stared at my running shoes. Continue reading…

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August 11, 2012
July 4, 2012

On Change and Challenge

On Change and Challenge

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.  ~ Victor Frankl

I guess that one could say that change is the most predictable thing in life that you can’t prepare for. So why then, are we still surprised when it happens? We call it “unwelcome change” or say “the change was unanticipated” – but isn’t that almost always the case? Change is change. Who am I to judge if it’s good or bad or just different.

For just over a month pain has been hampering my ability to run. Frankly, it has hampered my ability to walk on someday (stairs are the worst), or sit comfortably. So yesterday I took the next step in treatment.

Lumbar epidural steroid injection is a long name for a procedure that involves placing a long needle into the spine and delivering a drug (in this case a ling acting steroid) to the precise spot that seems to be causing the trouble (in this case between my 4th and 5th lumbar vertebrae. The hope is that over the next 3-10 days I get a whole lot of pain and symptom relief and then I can really get back to recovering and doing the things I miss including running.

Of course this also leaves open other possibilities. I might only get a little better. I might get no relief at all. I also have to assume that after this much time even if I had the most perfect outcome I’m still not going to get up in 10 days and start running where I left off. I have had a lot of moments lately of feeling pretty bad about the whole thing – sometimes that’s worse than the physical pain. Funny how the mind works like that.

To get out of that, one thing I do is ask myself: If not this, then what?

Nothing really beats running for fitting into my life. It’s portable, it’s adaptable, it’s efficient. I have come to rely on it in a way because I really can take running with me as easily as my laptop. But I certainly can’t do it right now and I don’t know when I’ll get the thumbs up to run again.

So today I bought a bicycle. Continue reading…

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June 29, 2012

Runniversary

Runniversary

It is necessary to try to surpass one’s self always: this occupation ought to last as long as life.
~ Queen Christina of Sweden

Technically, I am turning 43 today. But here, I am going to celebrate turning One.

One year ago today I laced up my very first pair of running shoes and I committed to a new course. I decided to start running but, more than that, I decided to run for a year.

Here I am. I have arrived.

When I started this journey, a year sounded like infinity and a half a mile in running shoes felt like a marathon. Today, I sit here hoping to recover from a herniated (ok 3) disc in my back and I finding myself wondering if I could manage to train for a half marathon in the fall if all goes well.

In-between, I have put a lot of miles under my feet and I have learned a whole lot about who I am.

Isn’t that funny? When you are a kid, you think of grown ups sort of like fully cooked humans. They are “done” and you are growing. Adults tell you that all the time don’t they? When you are grown up, you’ll see… But the special secret of grownuphood is that – if you pay attention – there is always more growing up to do.

One thing I learn more and more as I keep growing up is that we can be more or less conscious in this process. I am not saying that we can always choose the lessons or the training grounds, but we can choose how actively we participate in the process. On the surface, I chose running because I got to age 42 and realized that I needed to make a hard commitment to taking better care of my body because it was not getting any younger. (You can read about where I started here.) And I could have just left the decision at that. Lots of people make commitments to exercise right? And they quietly stop them 2 weeks or 2 months later and life goes on.

I chose to run for an entire year because I was looking for something more. Continue reading…

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June 28, 2012

Perspectives on Pain

Perspectives on Pain

Tomorrow is my birthday and I will have been running – and sometimes not running – for a year.

That seems crazy. I am sure I’ll have something more to say about it when I wake up.

Today, I have been just over 24 hours without medication for my back and my whole right leg is very unhappy about that – so it should not surprise anyone that I am going to say something about pain.

Pain is one of the great secretes of running. (and don’t any of you deny it)

When you are a non-runner, you look at runners along the side of the road or on treadmills or wherever and you think: Wow, that looks painful! You might even occasionally ask a runner why they would engage in an activity that looks like it hurts and they might laugh and say: Running doesn’t hurt – it feels great!

When you start running, you quickly learn that pain is just part of what you sign up for. Seasoned runners are kind of like military veterans. They won’t just go about telling everyone about their battle injuries – but once they know you are part of the team they all have a story or 5 or 10 to share because now they know you will understand. You hurt your foot and someone is there to tell you about their chronic plantar fasciitis or their last broken toe. Get hip pain and sure enough you will suddenly find 3 runners to tell you about their bursitis. Knee pain? No worries – five of your new runner friends will tell you about how they came back from that ACL repair and that that was the very thing that pushed them to a new personal record or their first marathon.

And you are going to tell me that running doesn’t hurt???

Running does hurt. Seriously. Let’s just all admit that. But it also feels great and this is the catch. When you pass that point where the feels great part exceeds the part where it hurts you are hooked.

Maybe that’s when you actually become a runner.

At least I can tell you this – ever since this injury got me to the place where I physically can’t run, I miss it all the time. Each and every time I see a runner on the road or the beach or simply tying their shoes, I get a little pang of sadness, envy, longing. I want that to be me.

Here is a true story from this morning. Continue reading…

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June 27, 2012

Up One Hill and Up Another

Up One Hill and Up Another

I got my MRI results today and I could use this space right here to review it and grieve over it a bit more, but I am not going to.

At least not today.

Today I spoke briefly on the phone with an old friend who always cheers me up. We mostly didn’t talk about my back, but about love and relationship and family and life. I just felt better when we hung up.

Tonight as I was reflecting on my day, I remembered a trip he and I took together in college to Yosemite National Park. We were camped for a time by a little lake in a more remote area of the northern part of the park. Beyond the lake was a ridge that looked like it must have a great view. The first day we set up camp we decided we should go up there to see the sunset. It took almost an hour to get to the top…and we found it was not the top at all. There was another higher ridge just beyond. So we watched the sunset from there and decided to try for the higher peak the next morning.

In the morning we set out. Up the first ridge, across a little flat, up the second ridge to the top…but no…seriously. Not the top, but another peak just beyond that. No problem it was early, we set out for the next one. Get to the top and then go back to camp for lunch. Up we go. What we found there was not what we had imagined. From the top of that ridge, we faced a mountain. A really, really big mountain. All those “peaks” it seemed had just been the foot hills.

For us, on that day, the mountain was just too big. We had not prepared for it.

I started running almost a year ago. I have had challenges on many levels but this thing with pain has been an interesting voyage. Continue reading…

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June 14, 2012

A Rocky Moment

A Rocky Moment

 

 

 

 

 

 

So while I sit around not running this week waiting on my ultrasound results, I might as well tell you about some other things.

At the end of May, I had the pleasure of going to Philadelphia and attending the annual meeting of the American Academy of Clinical Endocrinologists. I had not been to Philadelphia since I was a teenager, and was hoping to get out at least a little and see some of the city.

Since I took up running, and I travel often for work, it has become kind of a fun adventure to find cool places to run when I am away from home. When it turned out that the Philadelphia Museum of Art was almost exactly a mile and a half from my hotel…well, how could I resist. And, yes, I took a picture with the statue too. And no, I am not going to post that. Continue reading…

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June 13, 2012

Got Your Panties?

Got Your Panties?

A few of you have asked where I have been. I have a lot of blogging to catch up on. It will all help to explain why I spent the better part of 3 hours at the office of an orthopedic surgeon today.

But I want to start with this.

Two weekends ago, me and my two friends – W and B – we took a little mom-cation to Palm Springs. When moms are away, they talk. Not about the kinds of things men think they talk about. Surprisingly, even when what we are trying to do is get a day away from our kids, we talk about our kids.

B told this story:

She has a habit of doing a sort of oral check list when she leaves the house – “Got my phone, got my keys, got my purse…” You get the picture. So one day, she is folding laundry and her 18 month old toddles up when she is folding and says “Mommy, what’s that?” “Those are panties,” says B. “They are sort of like pull-ups for grown ups.” Sort of.

So the next day, they are leaving the house and B is doing her checklist. “Got my phone, got my keys…”

“Got your panties?” chirps her child.

We all laughed. B then recounted how her mom had always stressed that she should always have on nice panties in case she had to flee a fire in the middle of the night. After all, we can’t have firemen seeing us in old panties…or worse.

Now it was my turn to really laugh. My mom used to say the same thing. Seriously – how many of us got that advice drilled into us when we were growing up? But even more I figured I aught to tell my girlfriends about the time I did happen to end up in my panties with a group of firemen. Continue reading…

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