Saying thank you for in-sole surprises

money shoe

When I put on my shoes — old shoes, by the way, which I’d been planning to donate, but couldn’t seem to part ways with them — I felt something inside the left one, like paper. Had it felt like a rock or thumbtack or baby squirrel, I’m sure I’d have taken it off, turned it upside down and shaken it. But the object wasn’t enough to be annoying, so I headed out for my run.

Later, I went to the gym for a short swim, and when I took off my shoe, look what was there! A 10-dollar bill! Somewhere in the recesses of my recent memory, I vaguely remember losing — excuse me, misplacing — a 10-dollar bill, but had all but forgotten about it.

But then, voila! Here it was. To be quite honest, there it remains. I’ve yet to take it out and thus, yet to spend it. I will of course. Meanwhile, though, just knowing it’s there makes me smile.

So for the delightfully unexpected, for items we don’t quite remember losing but are happy to find, and for surprises stuck to the inner sole of a favorite pair of shoes…The Grateful Runner says thank you.

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 runs that could go on forever

When a run can go on forever, we never want it to end.

When a run can go on forever, we never want it to end.

Good heavens; did you run or walk or do anything outside today? Glorious, absolutely glorious.

Sunday’s my long run day, so I had a distance in mind when my alarm went off and my feet hit the floor. I wore capris (hooray!), a long-sleeved shirt, Mizuno Warmalite Headband (which I knew I looked weird in, but oh well), and my trusty Saucony Cohesions.

I left the house at 6:20 a.m., while stars still lingered and the sun waited in the wings. I circled my block a time or two, then the next one, and did an elongated Figure 8 course over a few more. I don’t have a particular route for any certain distance; I just go where my shoes and my mood take me.

The sun started to rise and the stars to disappear. I ran up and down a hill I hadn’t been on in awhile, around a certain park a time or two. I saw a trio playing tennis; watched a woman in a white robe carry a mug of coffee onto her side patio and sit down with the newspaper (something which, as someone who writes for that fine publication, I was especially grateful to see).

It was one of those mornings, one of those runs, that I wanted to go forever. They’re not all like that, of course; I never know when I step out the door what course they’ll take any more than I know the direction I’ll head. So when I’m lucky enough to have one like this, I vow to remember it when my feet are a little more faltering. Meanwhile, as I watch and listen to the world wake up, I want to cling to these moments, to these feelings, as long as I possibly can.

Alas though, long-run day is, as I’ve mentioned, Sunday, a day that happens to coincide with church. As I sat in the chapel service (having arrived only 10 minutes late instead of my sometimes-15), I saw a red and blue stripe on a column in front of me — a reflection of the sun streaming through a stained-glass window.

It reminded me all over again about the lure, about the power, about the promise of forever. And for that, and for runs that we don’t want to ever end, The Grateful Runner says thank you.