This past weekend we were blessed with the first real snowfall of the season. It seems that the past few snowstorms have just missed Big Lake, leaving me with a longing for snowshoe running. This weekend the snow arrived. It was beautiful, wet and heavy.
Saturday I had errands to run in Maple Grove so I swung by Elm Creek Singletrack afterward. It was just as beautiful as I had hoped. The snow was deep and powdery. It shimmered like diamonds under the robin egg blue sky. The pine trees were heavy with piles of white snow, resembling heaps of icing. It was magnificent.
Tears began to stream down my cheeks. What is it about running that makes me feel…feel everything so deeply. Feel what? Feel gratitude for my surroundings, for the peace and quiet, for time by myself, for movement, for fresh air. I’m not sure. I don’t feel the same as I begin a hike. I strapped on my 17 year old snow shoes-how can they really be that old, I remember buying them shortly after I purchased Topaz. Crazy! I began to travel down the trail, scaring the squirrel and rabbits into the underbrush. I made the first tracks. It was magnificent. I trudged along, sinking into soft snow, loving the moment where I was. My feet felt good, my knees were fine, I began to run. I smiled, I laughed and cried. I spilled over with joy, it was tangible.
I hadn't run for almost a year; inconceivable, I would have thought, yet I took the time off. I thought perhaps my second neuroma would heal, the ligaments in my knees would feel strong again, my ankles would not be so sore. I began to practice hot yoga, deep fascia tissue release, active release therapy, walking instead of running, prayer and release of control It all helped.
My neuroma didn’t go away, it’s there, talking to me. I’ll have to have it surgically removed as I did in my other foot. It’s been bothering me more and more as time goes on. Not running didn’t relieve the pain. The rest of my body feels good, healed. Strong. I need to respect it and treat it well, while running. I can do this. I should be able to do both. Health and running. They can coexist. My running doesn’t have to look like my alcoholism, does it? Time will tell.
Time off from running taught me a few things. I had allowed running to define me. It defined who I was, it defined my relationships, everything about me. It no longer does. I am so much more than a runner. I get that now. I can exist without running. I can stay sober without running. I wasn’t always so sure. Running can be a part of my life; it doesn't have to be my life.
I began a few new hobbies. I am painting, knitting, practicing yoga, lifting. I am enjoying all of it.
I didn’t miss the anxiety of packing drop bags, of packet pickup, all of the people, of group training runs, of others asking if they could stick by me during a race, all of those made larger in my mind anxieties.
I’m just taking one step at a time and smiling all the way.