On December 3, 2013, I began running seriously. And ran, mostly seriously, through March 20, 2016. For nearly two and a half years, I ran more than half of my days. It was glorious.
I know the exact day I stopped running seriously, because that was the day of the Oakland Marathon. I shouldn’t have run that race at all, knowing I was overtraining and had a very high risk of injury. After spending most of the race on pace to come in the top 10 (it’s a small race), I walked much of the last 6 miles and came in 26th.
A doctor charged me (or charged my insurance company, who in turn charged me) too much for an X-ray I didn’t really need, to determine my ankle wasn’t broken. Instead, it was Achilles tendinitis and acute plantar fasciitis, the second injury I’ve had that can be blamed on tight calves and my repeated failure to stretch adequately.
I did physical therapy. I stopped running while spending the summer mountain biking in preparation for a bike/camping trip in the North Dakota badlands. I got a night brace that helps my Achilles stretch out overnight.
I eventually started running again over the winter, probably the worst time to start running, what with the late sunrise and cold mornings. (Neither of which was a problem when I started running in December 2013, because I worked in a restaurant and could sleep in, not running until it was sunny and warmer.) I ran a 5k in San Juan Bautista, Calif., and did quite well.
It’s not the same. Even before that 5k, I struggled to run with any consistency. I’ve planned to run two other 5ks but had to drop out of each because I couldn’t afford the entry fee. (When my actual Achilles isn’t bothering me, money will always be my Achilles heel.) I used to get up to run at 5am, at least three days a week. Now I set my alarm at 5:15 every morning, but am lucky if I actually get up to run once a week.
Snoozing until 6:30 has been bad for both my running and my actual, paid work.
This morning I got up and ran, and am reminded that this is the happiest I am on any given day. Not sure how to get back to doing it regularly, but it’s one of the major loves of my life. Right up there with writing, and my wife.