I missed running, though I never thought I could be a runner. I was a girl who always got a cramp in my side when I tried to run anything more than a 50-yard-dash. In phys. ed. I ran the requisite laps around the gym, but my lungs burned and my midriff always hurt. I was among the last. Not THE last person, but close. And, in my twisted child’s mind, I took solace in that fact. That fact still gives me solace in my twisted adult mind when I slowly run races.
Friday I returned to running. Sometime last winter I got injured running and found myself walking the city for months. Any time I tried to run, much to the chagrin of my PT, I would feel arbitrary pains in my hip, my knee, my calf. My mind said yes, but my body said no. After persistent stubbornness, I heeded to my lower half, and refrained from jogging at any speed.
After continued physical therapy and medical massages I dipped my toe in the water. I went for a slow, even jog by the East River. The sun was setting, and the path was unpopulated. I was so happy. Bed, Bath and Beyond was my destination. I like having a destination. I was buying a new bath mat. A purchase that was sorely needed. And, yet, the light weight would allow me to jog back home.
I was slow and steady. I made sure that my posture was upright, since I tend to slump when I’m not thinking. When I was 6, 7, 8, my Grandma Bec insisted I walk paces across our living room with a thick book on top of my head. She saw good posture as a sign of good breading. I watched her walk with her head held high and her back erect until she no longer walked at age 98. She prided herself on her continence. That has always informed my drive to stand up straight.
So, while running slowly and carefully with good posture, looking at the commuters leaving their jobs to start their weekend, thinking of what I was going to try to get done Saturday & Sunday, I fell forward. As I move towards the York Avenue sidewalk, I put out my gloved hands and broke the fall with a less than perfect plank. Billy Joe Young, my sometimes trainer, though always awesome being, suggested I do planks on a regular basis. At best I did them on a semi-regular basis. Yet, having done them at all helped me break my fall so that I fell well. Initially startled, I was thrilled to be pain free. My gloves protected me from scrapping my hands. My upper arms, which I always considered weak, were strong enough to keep me from hitting the ground. My knees were safe. Oh, yeah!
The strangers who kindly stopped to ask if I was okay, were visibly relieved when I got up so quickly. Then I ran with glee for the next quarter mile until I reached my destination. Staying in the moment is challenging. I can barely do it when meditating. And, I have a harder time when I’m running. Somehow I see running as an opportunity to go over all the arbitrary thoughts that pop up. But maybe the best thing about falling was coming back to the present. Maybe, just maybe, a safe fall was the best present I could ask for.