Denethor looks out over the plain of Pelennor and sees an overwhelming mass of enemies approaching the white city. When the attack begins, he commands his men to abandon their posts, to flee for their lives. At this point, the wizard Gandalf smacks Denethor in the head, and leads the men to defend Minas Tirith.

On the treadmill yesterday, while watching this particular movie scene, I realized the role I had been playing:

I was Denethor.

The pain in my knee, plus a million stresses from daily life, had formed battle lines outside the gates, and when under siege, I fled.

I didn’t quit running, but I did flee mentally.

Before going on vacation, I managed to do an 18 mile run. I planned to write a victorious blog about it, but that would have been pure fiction.

It was an ugly 18 miles. I had to stop, stretch, and even walk. It was not glorious. It was humbling.

However, yesterday I was smacked in the head by a Gandalf guised as a physical therapist. This wise and good person showed me ways to improve muscle strength, so that my kneecaps will track properly. That is the long-term fix.

Towards the end of the session, she looked at me and stated (though it was in question form), “You’re still going to do the marathon anyway, right?” The question had been floating around in my head, but the answer had never clearly taken shape.

I’d like to say I answered a rousing “Huah! Yes, Ma’am!”

Instead, in my own, quiet, Keri-like way, I replied, “I’d like to.”

Fortunately, this was on an army post, where even the babies are born tough.

“Okay then,” she said, digging out some tape, “You can run the marathon, but it’s probably going to be painful.”

Then she strapped my kneecaps into place with tape.

I went home and did nine miles on the treadmill with no pain.

When the armies of Mordor were defeated, I cried.

Hope is not gone after all.

Stats:

Miles: After my 18 mile run, I took six days off. However, I have run 45 miles since my last post. I ran some glorious trails while on vacation, though I walked up hills, and hobbled at the end.

Weather: it has gotten hotter here recently, which means I have to either run early in the morning, or on the treadmill. I’m SO glad the marathon begins at 7:30 in the morning. July can actually feel like July here.

Wildlife: I didn’t know it (though I hopped over much evidence) that in Austria I was running through cow pastures. I heard their bells before I saw them. If I ever own a cow, I’m putting a big leather collar with a bell around its neck.

A beautiful setting for a run.

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