February 2, 2014 by scratchtype1
She would tell me strange tales about running. And she would ask me about running, how it felt to me. She would tell me how she loved running. At times I wondered if something was defective in me, and I comforted myself about it by thinking we all have our own reactions to running and they’re all valid. While I might not have deeply enjoyed running, I loved the challenge of it for me, figuring out how to do it as a type 1 diabetic and keeping blood sugars in check, how I went from breaking my ankle by running too much too soon, and then 11 months later completing my first half-marathon, running every step of it, running in a mass of confusion, of people, of something which not that long ago I had never dreamed of doing. Not that these were accomplishments of greatness, I am far too obscure for that, but there was some measure of learning in it and that’s a deeply human thing to do. May we all continue to learn into old age.
So today I took a run. Or maybe it’s not today. An exact location in time is unimportant. I took a run. And went a route I had never done before. As I’ve become older and more confident in knowing what happens to my glucose levels while I run, I’m becoming more exploratory. When I first set out for this run, I had sketched in my head another route, but early on when I felt a surprising amount of spring in the legs, the mind began to wander and wonder. Should I go out there? Should I run that hill? The answer came back yes and so a little after running 3 miles and reaching an intersection, I turned left, ran a bit, then turned right and headed for another road where I would make a right turn and first face a short steep hill.
After cresting that first hill, the road leveled out. And just beyond a little dip, there loomed the challenge. From that perspective, it looked nearly vertical. There was no fear. There was some wry consternation that I have gone insane, that I should think that running up that would be fun. Yes, fun. To run up that hill, with a pasture of horses and ponies to the left and cows to the right. A woman drove past me in other direction. I grinned insanely, the hill was edging closer. I did not fly up that hill. I ran it, short and mincing steps, a quick rhythm but nothing like taking flight. Just determination, to run it all, to bit by bit run a hill that I’d never run before, that once a long time ago I rode up many times because it was part of the school bus route that I had as a child. No bus this time, no companions of kids disappointed to be heading to another day of school. My companions were the ponies I startled and then later the couple of cows who mooed at the odd sight of human being running past them.
So I reached the top and it leveled out. Then it was another right turn as I went to make a lollipop head to take me around to the stem for going home. The road there then gave me some downhill, then a trip back up to the top, and there having crested, and with the openness of the fields to my right, I could see across the small valley nestled between the ridge lines of the hills. There were layers of mist streaking across and I threw up my arms at the beauty of it, that having come to there under the guidance of legs and feet, I was moving at a pace where I could see this. Even so, perhaps running was too fast for it and I had a short war inside of me about whether to stop or continue to run, because the rhythm of the feet had been so perfect on this run. Every step had had spring and bounce. So I ran, and would continue to run until the spring ran out and finally satisfied, walked the remaining distance home.
There are hard and sharp things in life. One sharp one I lived was putting a hand through a window at age 5. It tore open the right wrist, and there’s a heart shaped scar from the flap of skin that was sewed back on with 13 stitches. The doctor that day gave me a shot before stitching me up and said something like, “There’ll be a little sting.” He was right, but it was nothing. He repaired that wound and I remained living, still with a whole lot to learn.
Another time, age 13, I fell up some steps at school and cracked open my forehead. It took 8 stitches to close that. There was some disappointment because of the wound being on the forehead, I couldn’t watch the doctor sew.
Then age 36, a moment of distraction and stupidity, I gashed open the base of my left thumb with a razor cutter. That also took 8 stitches and led me to meeting a new primary care physician who in our first meeting, talked about the basal-bolus method of controlling type 1 diabetes and that knowledge would lead me to taking on running for the first time. And would lead to so much more, to me being asked by the woman in the first sentence of this post, “Do you love running?” To me being confounded and knowing that I could not really say then and there that I loved it, that while I loved things around it, I didn’t know if I loved it.
And there’s a story in there, and then in between to the run I had where I felt I knew great love, by myself, just past the top of a hill, seeing the world stretching before me. There is desperation in that, though. How do you tell someone this? How do you make them feel that moment that I saw? How do you communicate madness and insanity? Who do you tell? I don’t know. Maybe that’s simply a personal problem, being that I have so few close friends and even those that are close are not daily confidants.
I did go today to meet someone and we talked well. But there was no tingling, that sense of possibility. Somehow while she and I have similarities and she is intelligent, the divergences that we’ve had in our lives probably make it too great a gulf. It was almost as though like I was running on top of that one ridge of hills and she was over on the other, and the mist obscured things between us. Still I marveled some at the odd rearrangement of positions, where now I’m one who asks others, if they run, do they love to run? And when this person spoke today about it, I saw the parallels to how I had seen running.
It’s a tricky proposition as to whether someone can be taught to love running. I can’t say that I was taught to love it. I got lucky and unlucky. Without both of those, I may have never ended up to the first barefoot steps and feeling the world come alive under bare soles. And you can’t say that bare soles are a requirement, because she of the opening sentences, runs in shoes and loves it. It was, however, necessary for me, to finally receive that full tactile stimulation through the nerves wired into the feet, to feel the run in every part of me and have it transform running into something resembling a personal art, an expression of wandering, of joy, of longing, of ferocity, of joining the world. Yet there is that odd paradox of realizing that I don’t know if I could explain it to the person I met today. Art without an audience. Odd that she and I would walk through an art museum today. The museum would be useless if none of us ever came to visit.
But it’s been a good day. It’s nearly time to tuck it in and go wandering through the world of dreams. The next run might be some days off depending on how the weather plays out. But, trusting I get there, at least I have that for some love in life.