When my former personal training colleagues, Billy and Mike, came over for lunch a couple weeks ago, I mentioned how much I miss being physically strong, and that I’d been thinking a lot about just putting on some running clothes and heading out. Billy suggested, “You should. Why not?”
Fear. I’ve been afraid of the imagined frustration and sadness of not being able to run the way I used to, or maybe even not at all. But I thought to myself, if fear is the absence of love, then arrested by fear, I’ve stopped loving my body. I can’t let cancer do that to me. I’ve got to run … come to peace with my body again.
So, this week, I put myself on a steady diet of spelt muffins, quinoa, kale and all-things-clean – the way I used to fuel up when I was in training. I went to bed an hour earlier and lived like I was a runner again. I was determined not to let my physical agony get in the way, not the middle-of-the-night interruption of menopausal night sweats, searing headaches and not even pelvic bruising from the 100-puncture-spinal-tap-from-hell, which had kept me from walking. I stopped thinking about what was wrong with me and focused on how strong I still am.
Last night, I dug beneath my piles of hospital-appropriate sweat pants and hoodies, and pulled out my favorite moisture-wicking running attire – forever infused with the smell of body glide and sunscreen. I clapped off my running shoes and peeked beneath the insole where I had scrawled “8/10/09” – the date I had started using these shoes. Back when I was logging 40 to 50 miles a week, I used to wear out shoes every 3 months.
This morning, I woke up nervous for my moment of reckoning. I started out shuffling, then jogging slowly and gradually picked up my pace into the Presidio with a goal of making it to the Golden Gate Bridge. I kept at it with intervals of shuffle, jog, walk, shuffle, repeat. It felt so amazing to eventually stride out into that familiar string of silence, replete with my breath and a simple heartbeat. I didn’t care about the sting of tumors in my chest. I didn’t even care that what I was doing looked nothing like the running that I had known before. I was running. I was home in my body again. I was alive.
And as I got closer to the bridge, it occurred to me that these past couple weeks of treatment delays had allowed me more time to heal my body and had given way to this very moment. Creator gave me this gift to remind me that I’m still me and that I’m still strong, before I enter into the physical pain of more drastic medical treatments. I bawled my eyes out all the way to the bridge … but I made it! And I grinned ear to ear on my return home. I’m now home with an ice pack on my rear end and ready for a nap.
Ironically, this pic was snapped on my run/walk home, by a bright pink woman training for the breast cancer walk.
I hope you all get out there and enjoy playing in the weekend sunshine!