The quiet return

I was out running on Sunday.

Yep. Just stop, for a moment, and savor with me the awesomeness of that statement.

Can you feel it?

There was a little flutter as I started that old routine. Capris. Shirt. Hat? No hat. Favorite socks. Those new running shoes I bought in July? Yep. Time to bust them out. Double knot. Where’s my ID? Cash? Keys? Lock it up. Start the timer. Five minute warm-up, walking up the hill.

Those people on the street don’t know how long it’s been. They can’t see the ten years I ran before ever getting hurt. And the two years of slogging and fixing to get back. Chin up, girl. Chin up. Rounding the corner by the tube, and it’s gorgeous. There are fall leaves just waiting to swirl around my steps. Okay, so it’s a six minute warmup. I’m waiting for the path.

And then I’m across the road, and I want to run, but I’m smart. Two years of an empathetic but instructional running doc and physio – two years with guys who taught me smart rehab – and 8 years of time with great running coaches, and I know enough to start this one on a walk. So I walk. There’s soft, just barely wet ground under my feet. A well-worn running path circles Clapham Common and it’s kindly telling me to take my time. Step where I want. There’s no crown to manage, no branches to avoid.

And then, that little magic watch does its thing. And I’m running again. Only two minutes to start. The stride is the same – or is it? Step lighter? Maybe a little. Maybe it’s the 25 pounds gone that makes it seem simpler. But it’s cautious too. Roll through the toe, push off. But pace the breathing, just like old times – breathe in in time with each step – one, two three (in, in, in), one two (out, out)…wondering now how I have the stamina even for that, having not seen a run in 9 months. How is that possible?

And then it’s merciful beeping. Turns out, just as challenging as it should be. The common is busy with people getting yelled at – by soccer coaches, by parents, by drill-camp instructors who make me, just for a moment, miss my running coaches. I round through the gazebo, checking my watch (I’m running again) and head for home. After all, there’s only 30 minutes on today, with 5 warm up and 5 cool down. I resist the urge to beat up on myself. It’s 30 minutes more than I’ve done in a long time.

I motor back through the park towards the tube. It’s thinking about raining now, but I don’t care. I have a red face, and that hair that’s always in my eyes – but hasn’t been a problem for awhile (because how bad is it when you’re sitting still?) is suddenly real annoying.

I trek home, stopping for water. As I turn into my apartment and stop for a stretch, my watch keeps beeping. For the next 20 minutes, as I putter and putz, it beeps at me, every 3 – then every two minutes. It’s a quiet, but insistent reminder of the celebration a long time coming.

I turn off the watch, and think for a minute of the countless weekends I’ve spent in the last ten years, doing just this. Sailing through a park on heavy feet – but with some of the best friends I could ask for. I miss them today, but today life is uncomplicated and happy. I ran. It didn’t hurt. I’ll do it again.

Sometimes, the simple joy in grasping that one thing just out of reach is more powerful than anything you could have imagined.

See you on the path.

11 thoughts on “The quiet return

    • Ah, Christy πŸ™‚ You saw that I jumped the gun, eh? I know. I couldn’t resist. But fingers crossed that it works out and that it was a good decision πŸ™‚

  1. It’s wonderful to hear that you are getting back to it. I know it’s been a long road for you (I’ve been reading your blog for a while now) and I’m so overjoyed that you are getting to enjoy running again. You are smart to take it slow and not push too much. Injuries are no fun and it’s hard to keep yourself from jumping back in full force. The best to you and I hope to see more pictures from your paths. (I’ve never really been anywhere and love to see photographs from other lands.)

    • Rocky –
      Thanks so much for the note πŸ™‚ It is an awesome feeling to be back out again – I am looking for short distance races as a reward, hopefully in some fun places, so I’ll promise to post pictures….thanks for the encouragement, and for sticking with the blog all this time!
      Sallie

  2. Welcome back Sallie!!!! Looking forward to some more posts as you do more! Not looking forward to an IL winter and no races. 😦 Boo.

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