…and I mean really ran! The last time I blogged, which was not long ago, I was running a slow mile. Today I ran five miles, without walking, at a 10:07 pace!! I was pretty much to the point that I regretted my surgery, and felt I’d never be able to run again. I just couldn’t accept that, so I kept plugging along. That first week, I ran twice, a mile both times. I was happy to do anything, but longed to run farther.
Last weekend my family was in Lake Tahoe, which just so happens to be one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. The lake is just incredible, and the mountains and trees make a perfect backdrop. The homes are all made of cedar or stone, and fit right into the landscape, and the air is crisp and clear. And the one thing I wanted to do while we were in Tahoe was run. Whenever I travel, I love to go out for a run because it’s such a great way to experience new places. We miss so much when we just drive through new areas. When we get out and run, we can take time to take in our surroundings, smell the fresh air, and embrace the opportunity to just be in the moment. Because my knee still hurt and I hadn’t done any substantial running, I was afraid I would be unable to run while we were gone, but I was certainly going to try!
Friday morning Gary and I got up well before the crack of dawn to head out on a run. It was 21 degrees – a brisk morning to say the least. We had packed our cold-weather running gear, so we suited up and headed out. It was dark, but we took off toward the lake. As we were running along the main road that runs alongside Lake Tahoe, the sun began to emerge over the mountains. Ahhhh….those are the moments I absolutely love. We stopped to peer out over the lake, take in the scenery, and just thank God for the chance to experience his handiwork. That morning, with my husband nearby, I ran just over two miles for the first time in months. I ran those miles in Lake Tahoe.
The next morning, Gary was going to play golf with his son, so I planned to run on my own. I waited until it was light, and took off along the same route. This time, the sun glistened on the lake, and the snow-capped mountains shone in the background. I was in awe. I looked at the detail in the homes I passed, enjoyed the magnificent pine trees that claim this land as their own, and breathed in the cold, clean Tahoe air. I didn’t run fast; I was really too busy taking in the beauty. And there is the little issue with elevation. I didn’t notice it being too much of an issue, but when we got back to Indiana, I noticed it was easier to breathe while running. That morning, I ran three miles. Three beautiful miles. My knee was pretty sore when I stopped, but I really didn’t care. I had run in one of the most beautiful places on earth. What’s a little pain?
When I returned to Indiana, I wanted to be sure to continue to run. I went out alone Wednesday after school. My knee hurt. A lot. And I was angry. I cursed as I limped along, and felt that I had, once again, taken several steps back. I am not sure how far I ran that day, but I think it was between two and three miles. Friday I tried it again. My sister/friend Jackie was free, and I was determined to run with her. We went out and ran four miles, with a bit of walking in between. I cannot begin to express how wonderful it was to be back out pounding the pavement with my friend. As much as I’ve missed running, I’ve missed my running friends even more. I love these ladies, and life just didn’t seem right when I didn’t see them regularly.
Today, Sunday, was a picture-perfect running day. By afternoon, it was in the 60s, and the sun was beckoning me to get out there and soak up its rays. I went out with no real plan. I had hoped to be able to run at least three miles, but I really just wanted to run and enjoy the day. I had eaten two pieces of gooey butter cake and drank two diet soft drinks, which can often be a recipe for disaster (or at least stomach issues). I put on my favorite playlist and my new shoes (Did I mention I bought myself some gorgeous new Asics? New shoes can be very motivating.), and took off on one of my favorite routes. My knee didn’t feel great, but when the little voice in my phone informed me that I had hit the first mile, and I had run it in 10:03, I just knew it was going to be a good day. I began to tire in the third mile (I found I got out of running shape really fast), but I wanted to get to at least three miles without walking. Once I got there, I decided to try to get to four miles without walking. I hadn’t yet done that, and knew it would be another major post-surgery accomplishment. I was just about to the turn-off for four miles, when I decided to keep going. I knew I could always stop and walk should it be necessary, so why not? It was such a great day, and no one was home, so I had the time. I kept going, and when I realized I could make it to five miles, I was ecstatic – almost to the point of tears. Today, I ran five miles without stopping. Today, I knew I was back. Today, I thanked God for helping me heal, and for giving me the drive and determination to keep trying. It would have been very easy to give up. When I have tried to run and my knee hurt like hell, I could have easily given up running. But I can’t. Running has become part of who I am. I love pushing myself to run just a little farther. I love the feeling of accomplishment I have when finishing a run. I love the time with my friends when we can talk about absolutely anything, and know it’ll go no further. I love the time alone to process my thoughts and to remember how very blessed I am. I love the calorie burn running provides.
Another thing I love is the support of the running/fitness community. Without all of you, I might have given up. The running/fitness community is an amazing group that supports the very best, and encourages everyone. We get such a natural high from our fitness endeavors, and we want to share that with anyone who will listen to us. When Gary and I began running, I kept expecting to quit. I always had. I would get on an exercise kick for a few weeks, and then just quit. The past four and a half years have changed our lives. It isn’t an exercise kick, it’s a lifestyle change. I cannot imagine my life without fitness. My running has led me to become a Zumba instructor, which I love, and most recently, a Tabata Bootcamp trainer. Through running and fitness, we have made the best friends. I am blessed to have my incredible husband by my side through all of this, and to have such amazing friends who have never given up on me.
Did I mention I ran five miles today?