The last week or so — OK, two weeks (three?) — my leg has been hurting. I can’t quite describe where, other than it’s my left leg, below the knee. But it’s not my knee. Not my shin either. Not exactly. It doesn’t always hurt and when it does, the pain isn’t always in the same place.
When I described all this to the nurse at the orthopedist’s office, I suspect she was either rolling her eyes or holding her hand over the receiver, pretending her snort-laugh was a cough. The first open appointment isn’t for another week or so. Meanwhile, of course, I’m hoping I’m fine by the time it rolls around.
To that end, I have avoided child’s pose in yoga, as well as some balance poses that I probably couldn’t have done even without a bum leg. On days when slowing my run hasn’t eased the discomfort enough, I’ve done a walk/run (emphasis on the walk).
On Saturday and again today, I thought I was ready for an all-jog attempt. But I could tell before I reached the sidewalk this wasn’t the day. So I walked.
Quite honestly, going slowly — whether walking, jogging or both — hasn’t bothered me at all. In fact, I’m rather enjoying it, a reaction that surprises me. But truly, this is where my body is, and I just need to accept it. So (knock wood) I am. And the results have been more than physical.
I became especially aware of that on Saturday morning. While crossing a street near my house, I saw a man and his dog I tend to see only in a blur as I whoosh past.
“You’re going a lot slower than usual,” he called out.
I hardly (as in never) stop on runs. I rarely say anything other than “Good morning,” or make a comment about a particularly beautiful sky. But what was MY rush today? So I stopped and told him about my leg.
“You need to listen to you body,” he said. I agreed.
Then he asked how far I usually run. I told him about my longer Sunday runs and the shorter ones during the week.
“You must have a lot of miles built up,” he said. “You take it easy. Besides, it’s a holiday weekend.”
“You’re right,” I said. I asked him his dog’s name (“Oh, this is Tucker”) and whether they go the same route every day.
“A different one. Today we’re going to check out the bridgework that’s been going on.”
We waved and continued on our separate ways. A half-hour or so later, I saw another familiar man, this one walking two beautiful collies. One was limping; I stopped to ask about her and the man told me the dog has hip issues.
“I’m so sorry,” I said. “How old is she?”
“Twelve,” he said.
“They are so beautiful,” I said.
“Thank you,” he replied. I uttered a little prayer for them both as they deal with the inevitable sadness of aging, and kept going.
This morning, walking along a sidewalk lined with trees, I happened to glance up into the branches just after saying hello to a woman walking her dog. I saw — not just a bird’s nest, but an occupied bird’s nest. I was so excited that I hollered at the dog walker.
“Did you see this?” I asked. She walked back and peeked up.
“Will you look at that?!” she said. “Well, no wonder she (her dog) was so excited when we walked by there.”
I also had quick visits with a Texas Rangers fan who was hurrying home with a bag of groceries, plus a recent law school grad, who was waiting for his friends to meet him to study for the bar exam.
I saw a red-breasted robin, watched the clouds move, smelled the rain before I felt it. At some point on my way home, I decided to skip even the slowest of jogs in favor of walks until my doctor’s appointment next week.
So for slowing down, for the heightening of senses, for learning a little about people you see every day — and for walking, which makes this all possible — The Grateful Runner says thank you.