Day One, Mile One
Today was my first run in four weeks, almost exactly thirty days. Four weeks ago, I ran three miles in attempt to fix myself. For some reason I thought that it would help me to feel better. And it did. But it didn’t heal me. So fast forward four weeks and I found myself this morning puttering around like any other normal Saturday psyching myself up for my run. Normally I do my long runs on Saturdays so I have to talk myself into getting out the door and trying to accomplish some (for me) serious milage. Today I was trying to get myself out the door to run ten minutes.
There has been a lot of well meaning cautionary advice from family and friends. Take it slow, don’t go too fast. If I do too much I could set myself back. If it hurts, stop. And in my head the knowledge that I walk around so tired almost all the time anymore, how could I ever run? Even for just ten short minutes? But it has been four weeks. Four weeks! An eternity. In the last year or so this has become a big part of my identity and I sorely missed it. Even my daughter has asked if I am going to run again, she wants life and me back to normal. So today was the day.
The plan? Walk ten minutes, run ten minutes and then walk ten minutes. I found it on Competitor.com as a way to come back from injury. I decided my experience qualified. If it didn’t work, I was going to try the couch to 5K program. But, to be honest, I wasn’t sure I could do either one. And I wasn’t sure, if I did run ten minutes, how far I would possibly get. One thing I did know is that I was going to take it slow. I just didn’t know how slow.
I know from experience that if I set out to run three miles it is three hard miles and if I try to run six the first three can just glide by but the last two are difficult. I know that whatever length of time I try to run it can seem hard. Also, the first mile is the hardest. The first seven to ten minutes of the run are often the times I most want to quit. It’s when I remember, “Oh, yeah, this is work and it is hard.” So an attempt to run just ten minutes meant that I was going to start out with a head game that I wasn’t going to push through. By the time I did, I was suppose to be done. So after ridding myself of every possible excuse and procrastination I was finally out the door. Runkeeper ready to go, Polar M400 (the birthday present I was so psyched about five months ago) at the ready. Down the street, around the block the ten minutes of walking was taking forever. I couldn’t believe how far I got. And then, finally, running. Slow.
At first I was constantly checking myself, “Is this how I always feel? Don’t I always start out feeling tired?” I don’t know. This time, I was feeling pretty slow, and I would be lying if I said nothing hurt. My stomach ached some and felt a little sore around the incisions. But, unlike my last run, it didn’t hurt going down hill. It was just sore feeling. I’m not even sure it isn’t how I felt sometimes before. And my stomach hurts almost all the time anymore. Besides, even though this was a passive work out for my abs, it is the first real work my stomach has had in a long time. So, I kept going.
There was a space of time after four minutes that I felt really good. It felt good to have my blood pumping, it felt good to be in charge of my own health again. And I didn’t feel tired. When I realized I was closing in on nine minutes I panicked. I was so not ready to be done. So, after ten minutes I kept running. I decided I was just going to get to a mile. Once I got to a mile, I would stop. Except, that was twelve minutes and some seconds. And the stop sign was just up ahead, and it would be so much easier to have a base run that was just thirteen minutes. So I went to the stop sign. And I realized that I was really, really tired. Which sucked because I thought I would feel a little more triumphant.
Somehow, this run made the whole appendix thing way more real. Even though I walk around tired, I still wonder if it is all in my head. Maybe I am just a little depressed. Maybe if I could just make myself more positive and grateful, I would be more energetic. As I went the last two tenths of a mile to the stop sign I knew I was running out of steam and that surprised me. It was proof positive that the last four weeks did happen and I can’t just keep going like they didn’t. I have to work back from where I am and not where I was or where I want to be. So on Tuesday I will be at the gym in the morning, I hope, trying to do two minutes more than I did today on the treadmill.
As I was walking back home, I wondered if this was just going to be the new me. Maybe I will alway be tired. But I reject that idea. There isn’t an old me or a new me. There is just me. The me in this time and space right now. And this me is going to write a thank you note to my surgeon. Because it may not be far or fast, but I am alive and I am getting back out there.