The last time I laced up my Asics for a run, the maples were undressing, dropping leafy garments on the ground.
I stepped out onto our country lane, and jogged past gilded fields where combines would soon cut swaths through grain.
I felt the pain stab through my heel, intensifying with each foot-fall. I had to stop. I retraced my steps up the driveway and limped home.
As autumn stripped trees, my running season ended — almost as quickly as it began.
It was only ten months earlier, in January 2010, that I had agreed to do the completely illogical and marvelously ridiculous thing: begin training for a half-marathon. Me, the kid who was always picked last at recess, who never won a race, and who was the final kid to cross every finish line. Me, the mama who couldn’t have run to the mailbox and back without an ambulance on standby.
Yes, I would run 13.1 miles. I would do it for cancer victims. I would do it to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, to fight the cancer that took my husband’s farmer-father.
And I did, it. Five months later, on a cool May morning in Lincoln, Nebraska, I plodded on the pavement for real people with real hurt. I had no hope of finishing first, or finishing pretty, but I ran for the joy of it.
And I had a ball. Can you tell?
And then, a few months later, I did it again. This time, I invited a few friends along.
But on mile 11 of the second half-marathon, I felt the first stabbing pains in my left heel. I finished the run, claimed my medal and after a week tried to run a few miles. The pain worsened.
During a writers retreat with friends from The High Calling, I had my last good run, as the Texas sun rose over the canyon at Laity Lodge. But it still hurt, and this time the pain didn’t subside.
I tried to run once more a few weeks after I returned home from the retreat, and that’s when I had to turn back, limping home in the autumn of my running season.
A physical therapist told me I had plantar fasciitis. The doctors said it would take time. About a month ago, I was physically able to try again.
But I didn’t. I had lost my motivation.
I knew it would hurt.
I knew it would be hard.
And I knew that all the fitness I had gained last year would be gone.
I didn’t want to begin again, knowing that the old me would have been half a mile ahead, or more.
So I didn’t try.
And then, on Thursday, I read what my friend and High Calling colleague, L.L. Barkat, wrote about exercise. She called exercise a miracle. A miracle!
And I don’t want to miss any miracles.
I Tweeted L.L.
“@llbarkat I’m about to partake in a miracle, and thought you’d like to know. I’m headed downstairs to the treadmill. :)”
I stepped onto my very dusty treadmill, and began to run. Sloooooowly.
But even with the super-slow pace, I was dog-tired after a mere half mile. I was so discouraged, that I about started bawling.
I mean, eight month ago, I was running a half-marathon! And now, I couldn’t plod out a half mile without my lungs screaming at me.
Yes, there is great humility in starting over.
But I didn’t give up. Instead, I slowed the treadmill even more.
Right then, I knew that if I was ever going to be serious about running again, I’d have to stop chasing after the shadow of who I was, and just run for me, for today.
I ran two miles.
And then the day after that, I ran two miles again.
And then the day after that, I ran two miles one more time.
And today, after I hit PUBLISH on this post, I’ll lace up the Ascis, and I will run again.
I want to be a part of a miracle. I won’t chase a shadow of who I was, but I will take another step forward in who I am today.
Linking up with Michelle. She asks us: What are you hearing from God in your life lately?