Running is like breathing to me–as natural, as simple, and as necessary. Without it I often feel like I can’t breathe–a great deal of my best coping happens as my feet beat a steady rhythm on the trails. In the woods, I feel powerful and fast–that pushes back against the anxiety and fear. I’ve let out a lot of anguish in the shelter of the trees. I’ve passed so much joyful time running at the side of a favorite training partner.
During my early efforts at water running in the pool, I frequently made the mistake of closing my eyes and attempting to visualize the canopy of green whizzing by–which just made it worse.
On New Year’s Day, I am alone. I’m heartbroken, and I miss the trails I still can’t run. So I bundle up and drive to the trailhead. The trees are a lot more barren than they were on my last visit, and this reminder of time passed hurts me. I’m overwhelmed by a wave of bittersweet memories, and then I’m moving, cold and angry–alternately stabbing the ground with my crutches and stomping with my uninjured foot. I rapidly cover the quarter of a mile to the first bit of single track and turn left, where there is a bench in a large circular clearing. I sit there, covering my legs with my poncho from the marathon. At first, I glare insistently where the trail continues into the woods, and I ache to get up and run it as tears turn cold on my face. The sun is shining, and it doesn’t warm me on the first day of 2018–but it comforts me to be out here, facing the bitter cold and the bitterness of my grief together surrounded by trees. I don’t feel happy. I don’t feel hope. But I accept all this as it is–and I face the day.