I used to run before I got sick. I sucked at it, or at least I thought I sucked at it. I was probably actually pretty decent at it, but I felt so wretched doing it that there was no way I could confidently believe that I was good. My best time was 5K in 27 mins. That was “booking it” for me. I think I averaged around 35 mins. That gradually deteriorated before I got pneumonia and totally tanked after my lung collapsed and I didn’t know it had.
Yes. That’s how awesome I am. I lived with a partially collapsed lung for 5 months and had no idea something was wrong other than a dull ache in my upper chest and a series of runs that seemed to suck more than their normal level of suckage.
I used to run later at night. I’ve always found the air changes after the sun sets and I like how the night seems to quiet my senses.
Either way, there was a couple that used to run in the same area as me, and they always seemed to be out at the same time as me regardless of what time I went out. They kind of annoyed me, if I have to be honest. They’d wear matching black jogging suits and run in perfect sync next to each other. No reflectors or lights. Nothing flashy to let you know they were there. I’d see them sometimes and wonder what they were thinking dressing like that on a night run. They should have been a blinking Christmas tree, like me.
There’s a road in my neighbourhood that I always begrudged when I first started running. It’s literally uphill in both directions. I’d always take it on my return and it was a long and gradually climb up that easily stretched 750m before it dropped steeply down. It is one of those climbs that you don’t realize is a climb until you’re half way into it and find yourself wondering why you feel like death.
I used to own that hill.
I remember being on a run one night and the Bobbsey Twins tucked in behind me. They’d scared the crap out of me because I heard them before I saw them. They were right on my heels on the hill. I wanted to turn to see how much space they’d left for me but I didn’t want to break my stride, have them pass me, and be stuck having to pace myself in their shadows. So I’d watch our shadows as the cars passed. Every passing car showed me they were falling further and further behind. I admit to feeling giddy. I admit to even taunting them slightly, in my head. They were pushing me. They were forcing me to better myself. So I booked it up the hill, beat the traffic light at the top of the hill by a few seconds, and carried on down the other side and kept on trucking. Victory was mine.
Tonight, as I was on my walk, a car passed me as I was climbing the hill and I remembered the runners. It’s the first time they’ve entered my thoughts in probably two and a half years. My eyes welled as I realized if they were to show up tonight on that hill, they would have owned me and there would have been nothing I could have done to stop it. It took me almost a year and a half post surgery to accept that running isn’t something I can do anymore. I can weight train, I can throw kettlebells, I can bootcamp and circuit class with the best of them. I cannot run. I bet I cannot Zumba either, but really, should anybody really Zumba?
I walked along the sidewalk for about 500m choking back tears before I stopped to remind myself of how strong I am. Then this voice popped in my head and said, “Seriously? This is how it’s going to be? Don’t make me stuff your nose up on you!!”
I read something once online that said you know you’re fully healed when you can look back on what you’ve been through without crying. As confident as I am that the day will come eventually, I’m not sure I really want it to. It’s moments of weakness that remind us of our strength. Sometimes, I wonder if I’ll have a day in my future where I’ll be able to move through the day and not be reminded of the battle I faced… but I think I’ve come to realize that when someone loses a part of themselves, that part is lost… and it only makes sense to keep looking for it.