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I’d forgotten how hard running can be. You may think that because I finished a marathon, I now have the running power of a Kalahari bushman. Ha. I haven’t run (except to chase the occasional child) in six weeks. As you may recall from last time, I was having a little trouble with my muscles, and my knees, and my foot. Last week, with doctor approval, I wrote 2 miles on my calendar for today. I was getting so stressed about NOT running, that I was determined to run, no matter what.

When I awoke, the rain was blowing sideways.

“Really? Is this some kind of test?” I thought, as I headed to the basement to drink coffee and play Barbies with the girls.

Later we emerged, and I got the kids started on their schoolwork. As I was teaching Libby the value of a good suffix, I saw a break in the clouds. Like superman in a phone booth, I jumped into my little room to change.

It was freezing outside. I wore my underarmor tights, long-sleeved shirt, and my rain jacket. I even put on gloves. I sprinted down the road, and then suddenly remembered I’d been neglecting to use my inhaler since the marathon. It was a little hard to breathe, especially when running against the wind, which was still trying to knock a few more branches off the trees.

I ran anyway, I mean, the wind wasn’t strong enough to knock tiles off the roof. And I kept thinking of how wonderful the run home would be, with all that wind at my back. Besides, what’s two miles? I know a woman who ran 26.2. I can’t remember who that was now. Probably Carla. Or Kirsten.

2 miles. I’d like to say it was easy, and that I felt like I was floating on clouds the entire way. I’ve wanted to run for SO long! But it was hard work. My lungs felt like they were stuffed with cotton. And I felt like I was running through jello. When I turned back to let the wind carry me, the sun came bursting out—thus roasting me like a Quicky Mart hot dog. I was sure I was leaving a trail of sweat behind me, like a slug leaving slime on the road. “I wonder if slugs work this hard?” I thought, taking off my gloves.

Only 2 miles. I couldn’t wait until they were over. It was the longest eighteen minutes I’ve had in a while.

I know running will get easier. Eventually, my two miles will lengthen. My endurance will increase. My strength will develop. But these first two miles are substantial, even if they are reruns.

Stats:

Health: My foot didn’t give me any problems. My right knee is a touch achy, but it could be from the cold, damp day (right???).

Weather: high winds, 50 degrees, however, there was a perfect break in the rain while I ran—and I even got some sun on my face.

Wildlife: I saw one deer jump into a cornfield. I took it as a good sign.

Future: I have a physical therapy appointment Thursday. We will be working on long-term solutions to my knee problems (I still want to be a marathoner when I’m a great-grandma). I may have to make some sacrifices, such as decrease my M&M intake to reduce fat, but I think it will be worth it.

Goals: I still can’t do ten proper push-ups. Or even one pull-up. I’ll have to re-roll those goals. I’m going to buy a weight bench and start ‘real’ training. My biggest goal is to have my knees better by next summer, so I can run a marathon without taping them.

Did I just say another marathon?

If I don’t go for a run soon, someone may get hurt.

If I DO go for a run soon, I may get hurt.

What a dilemma: a Sophie’s choice for runners.

It has been exactly four weeks since I ran the marathon—and what a month it has been! Not only did my friend and I have the chance to jet off to Rome by ourselves, I also landed a job as a writer. Oh yes, I also had multiple doctor’s appointments to find out what was wrong with my foot.

After the marathon, I walked around like Frankenstein for a few days. By the time I could walk downstairs the correct way (as opposed to backwards), I was deep cleaning the house in preparation for company. Though I iced and elevated my foot at night, it didn’t seem to be getting any better.  I knew (with my typical positive outlook) I had a stress fracture. With the prospect of Rome only a couple days away, I finally went in for an x-ray.

 No stress fracture. Whew!

The doctor told me to take it easy, so I immediately  proceeded to walk 9 hours a day for the next 4 days, with frequent rests for gelato, espresso, fine art, and “I ♥ Roma” bags.

 My foot improved.

Another x-ray upon return validated the absence of a stress fracture. In addition to extra bones in my foot (which the doctor found amusing), I also had something ironically called Neuroma (get it? Roma…Italian for Rome?). The doctor told me no running for 2 more weeks, which is why I am sitting here in the sunshine with my feet propped up.

I don’t know if I can stand another week of not running.

Not running gives me time for introspection, which, considering my melancholy personality, is probably not the best thing for me. I have been pleasantly distracted by having a houseguest. I’ve also been busy with my new job as a travel writer (and the book my colleague and I are writing). And yet, there is a void where marathon training used to be.

I miss it.

This morning I looked out over the countryside. The sun was turning the shorn wheat fields golden, and there was enough crispness in the air to make for a perfect day for running.

I lifted weights instead. I don’t know why, but lifting weights doesn’t give me the release that running does.

So, I turn to writing and philosophizing.

Running a marathon seems like a ridiculous thing to do: a way of beating yourself up, as my husband so politely put it. Which makes me consider why I did it in the first place, and why I’m still not satisfied? Part of me thinks I should learn to be content. Another part  says I should always strive for more. After all, life is about learning. If you become content with how things are, you can never  truly grow.

As for me, I’m still not quite the woman I want to be. Though I have come a long way, there’s still a lot of room for improvement. My dreams are still only partially fulfilled.

But maybe it’s not the fulfillment of dreams that is important. Perhaps it is the continual striving towards a dream that shapes us more. Once dreams are fulfilled, there is nothing to look forward to but more dreams. No matter what the fairy tales claim, dreams are not filled with the donning of a glass slipper or a kiss from a prince. Rather, dreams are collected in bits and pieces, like shells on the seashore, during our walk through this life.

My life is a work in process. Whether my book is published someday, or if I qualify for Boston, the graceful process of life has worth in itself.

Will I run again?

Will I need surgery for my foot?

I have no idea.

In the meanwhile, I will continue collecting the little fragments of my dreams until one day, I can glue them all together.