Saying thank you for walking

In that leg somewhere is an ailment that's leading me to a new view of the world.

In that leg somewhere is an ailment that’s leading me to a new view of the world.

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.

Saying thank you for reminders

Image

Sometimes we all need a reminder.

 

My month, quite honestly, didn’t start out great. In retrospect, I’m kind of embarrassed what was getting me down. But I am going to touch on the reasons, with the confident belief that seeing my silly gripes in print will put them even more in perspective.

First, my phone. The bad news was that I washed it. The good was that it was insured. The bad was that the replacement phone didn’t work because it was reported stolen (so how could it be in my hand?). Three days, three trips to the AT&T store, a couple of calls to Apple and to AT&T, and another replacement phone later, the good news is that I am able to call and to receive calls.

Second — nah. Suffice to day my upcoming birthday was involved, and double suffice to say I continue to be reminded how blessed I am by each and every year.

But enough about my former gripes; instead, I’m here to remember my wonderful Wednesday.

It started with a note from shortyawards.com, telling me I’m a finalist in the social fitness category. I am incredibly honored, but what makes me especially tickled is that my colleague and friend Leslie Brenner nominated me for this.

Then I spent a fulfilling and downright fun couple of hours with members of the Dallas Kiwi Club. The group — in case your mother wasn’t one — is made up of current and former American Airlines flight attendants (or, in Mom’s case, stewardesses). They meet monthly for lunch, a speaker (me!) and also raise money for such worthwhile organizations as Patriot Paws.

I do not thrive in front of a group. Public speaking, as my dad would say, is not my thing (as it was his). But I said yes to this group because of the loose Mom connection (though she isn’t a member). Plus, at another group where I spoke last month (what’s gotten INTO me?!) a woman there asked if I would. Because the first group made me feel so comfortable I said yes….and would have stayed all day if I could have.

The women (and one man) were wonderful. And I, who had written down what I’d planned to say, hardly looked at my notes and couldn’t seem to stop talking. When I told them that I tend to be pretty quiet (as my colleagues would attest), they didn’t believe me. Yes, I’m laughing right now thinking about that, as well as how we all did yoga breathing, and how I did a few squats to show them how easy incorporating fitness into everyday life is.

Part 3 of my wonderful day was going out for pizza and wine with my yoga instructor and quickly-becoming-dear-friend Jill. She knows my birthday is next week and wanted to start my celebration early.

So there you have it. My reminder that while nonworking physical objects and irritating other things do get in the way of the who and what really matter, they only stay as long as we let them. So for that, and for the burst of energy that shoves them out of my psyche and makes room for the sunshine, The Grateful Runner says thank you.

 

Saying thank you for taking it slowly

Last night, I reached down to turn off the space heater I use to make my room toasty before I go to bed. As I stood up, I clonked my head on a corner of the door jamb. I screamed. and my son called out from the other room: “Are you OK?”

“NO!” I yelled back. “Could you bring me some ice?”

He did, bless him, and I kept it on my non-bleeding (thank you, Lord) wound all night. I slept quite well, actually. But when I woke up, I started thinking, “Oh my gosh. What if I have a concussion? What if (remembering what had happened to the youngest son of my friend Laura) I can’t look at a screen or read or exercise?”

Then I realized my head really didn’t hurt. But wisely, I think, I also figured if I was going to run (which I kinda thought I’d end up doing) I needed to take it easy.

So I did a run/walk ratio, running (rather slowly) for three minutes and walking for one. I do a two-minute-run-30-second-walk once or twice a week, but haven’t done the walk-for-a-minute part in eons.

Off I went, around the block a few times at first (just in case, well, you know, I started seeing double and feeling woozy and wanted to make sure I remembered which house was mine). But the longer I ran (and walked) the more confident I felt.

I finished in a decent amount of time, much slower than usual but I really didn’t care. I was happy to have run, happy to have listened to body (specifically the lump near my hairline) happy I didn’t conk out and forget my name.

For those, and for oh-so-much more, The Grateful Runner says thank you.

Saying thank you when wind chill trumps stubbornness

I left my jacket on the counter...for today, at least.

 I left my jacket on the counter…for today, at least.

We are, as you may have heard, in the midst of a bone-chilling, bone-crushing, downright nasty cold snap. I knew when I went to bed last night that today would be even colder than yesterday, with wind chills closer to negative single digits than to double positive digits.

When I woke up, my iPhone said 4 degrees windchill.  I turned on the radio, and the chief meteorologist (excuse me while I swoon at that job title) at KRLD (1080 AM) was saying a degree or two below that. I looked at my pile o’clothes I had planned to wear….

Tights

Shorts to wear over tights

Sports bra

Tank top to wear over sports bra

Long-sleeved zipper top to wear over the tank top over the sports bra

My all-time favorite Brooks LSD Lite Jacket (oh my gosh, it’s on SALE!)

My (ok, my son’s) Mizuno ear coverer

My beloved red cap, a gift from my dad

Two pairs of gloves

….and I thought, “Nah.” To get an idea of how unusual this word is for me to utter when it comes to running outside, well, let’s just say I run every day. I just do. During December’s ice storm, I ran in place (yes, in place) outside for three days.

I am — and I say this with neither pride nor shame — stubborn. I come by this naturally, having inherited it from — well, not to name names, but let’s say this parental person also gave me a really beautiful red cap a few years ago.

But today, I looked at the pile of clothes I had carefully laid out last night. I moved them a bit, looked into my closet and selected a pair of capris and a sleeveless top. I put them on, and the shoes I’d planned to wear outdoors, and I ran in place. I even broke a sweat, which I haven’t done on an outdoor run since the temperature was several times what it was today.

I didn’t crumble. I didn’t die from boredom. My legs didn’t atrophy from not being stretched. I finished with a warm face and no frostbite.

I felt calm and rather pleased with myself for brushing stubbornness off my very being and doing what I felt I needed to do. In other words, using a bit of common sense.

And for that, The Grateful Runner says thank you.

Saying thank you for (finally) laughing at myself

I had a beautiful run today. Yesterday’s wind was gone, leaving stillness and silence in its stead on this crisp and calm morning. After feeding the dogs and eating breakfast, I went to yoga.

I love yoga; specifically, Fit Yoga with Jill Murawski, which I discovered last February. Though I am well aware of my limitations, they’re not as blatant as I used to think they were. Yes, I periodically lose my focus and thus my footing, but I seem to have achieved (or be en route to) a relatively decent sense of balance.

Downward dog no longer mortifies me either. Plus, I’m hardly embarrassed at all at my (waning?!) clumsiness or lack of flexibility. That realization hit me during class today, starting with crow pose, at which point I said (to no one in particular), “I don’t think I can even visualize myself doing that!”

I did a very modified pose, which suited me just fine. Then Jill said since there weren’t very many of us — five, I think — we would go to the wall to do the waterfall pose. In this one, you lie on your back, your bottom against the wall and legs pressed against it.

My bottom was five inches away. I shimmied it as close as I could, and then — I’m trying to remember this exactly — Jill had us reach our hands for our legs. Mine were flailing somewhere midair.

At this point, I broke yoga-etiquette rules (which stress you need to focus only on yourself, not your neighbor) by glancing at Angie, the woman on my right (who moments earlier had made crow pose look so easy). Her hands were quite comfortably touching her legs.

My admiration “Wow!” just popped out. And then, “Look at how her arms can reach.”

I could all but hear Jill smiling. She then said offered an explanation on why Angie’s outstretched hands met their goal — one that had nothing to do with the length of her arms.

“Angie’s arms aren’t longer?” I asked. “Are you sure?”

I started laughing, and heard the other women in class laughing, too. That was fun, and now, a dozen hours later, I’m smiling all over again — tickled at our shared amusement, but also at myself for being able to do what has stymied me in the past:

Laugh at myself.

And for that, The Grateful Runner says thank you.

(For more about The Grateful Runner, click here)