July 24, 2015 by scratchtype1
Early Tuesday morning, in thick heat and humidity, the Garmin beeped indicating 1 mile of running had been completed and extending my running streak to 100 days. The run ended up going 5.3 miles and it was tough, it was the third straight day of the worst heat and humidity so far this year. I felt rather sapped by it. But I felt good. In 2014, my longest running streak came to an end because of trouble in the left hip and I had felt some disappointment that I had come up short of a hundred day streak. Soon following that breaking of the streak came the cutting down of running into a once a week affair while the left hip flexor learned to live, to walk and run painfree again.
Still, it seems almost bizarre that I now have a streak of 103 days. I still remember that first evening that I decided to go for a run in the fall of 2006. It was fittingly enough run after dark, in the darkness, the first searching strides with really having no idea of what would come because of them. I was testing new boundaries then, I had recently changed the way I administered insulin for type 1 diabetes and with the realization that because of that, I might be able to begin doing long endurance activities with less risk of bad hypoglycemic events.
So that’s why I began running. They say that we should be comfortable with who we are and what happens to us, but I’ve always had a difficult relationship with the damn thing. There’s something that makes me angry sometimes knowing that my immune system nuked off the beta cells in the pancreas, that my body’s own defense system wanted to kill me, if we can properly ascribe the idea of will to an unconscious function like the immune system. Truthfully enough, I sometimes wanted to forget all about it. And I ignored it. I was a bad diabetic, an uncontrolled diabetic for a number of years. I’m fairly lucky to still be mostly complication free, save 2 frozen shoulders that I’ve had to go through.
But anyhow. I still had a lot to learn. The first hard lesson that running taught me was that I sucked and was slow. The second hard lesson was that I was showing signs of not being in all that good of shape in my late 30s. After about 7 or 8 weeks of running, I was doing a run on the winter solstice of 2006 and at the top of the hill in a township park, the left ankle began to hurt. Not terrible, but definitely some pain. I thought maybe I had tweaked the ankle some, somehow, nothing serious. 2 weeks later armed with a RX from my doctor I went to the hospital for an x-ray, and a few hours later, I was in a cast for transverse fracture of the distal tibia.
While the ankle healed, I plotted and laid out a plan to get me to the finish line of a half-marathon in November 2007. Soon after the cast was off, I began walking. So long as I wasn’t feeling any twinges, I walked. I built up to walking about 8 miles without any signs of pain and on April 20th, I started running again. Although I didn’t get the ok from the orthopedist to begin running until late May or early June, I think. He was very conservative. That certainly doesn’t mean I would be always right to defy what a doctor thinks, but in this case, I was right.
And on that chilly gray day in Philadelphia, November 2007, I did it, I ran every freaking step of it. It took me 2:16:25, so I was slow, but I did it. I wasn’t a hero. I wasn’t redeemed. I wasn’t transformed. But I had run a half-marathon as a type 1 diabetic.
Over the next few years, I would continue to run, somewhat off and on. No one would describe me as a fanatical or maybe even regular runner. It also seemed like the most I could really do was 4 days a week of running. More than that, the legs got too beat up. More than that, I just didn’t want to do it. Then came the long year of 2010, the year that took almost 5 years and aged my heart 10 or so. I ran a half-marathon in November. Sort of. I mostly walked the last half of it because I had stopped training for it in September.
By early 2013 I had somehow mostly stitched my heart back together, using some duct tape and wire too, to fashion it into something resembling a human heart again. It’s still nothing much to write home about, it’s lousy in lots of ways and still springs an odd leak from time to time. But because of various influences and doing a fair bit of hiking, one day I decided to experiment some more again. I began to live more barefoot in early June 2013. 2 months later, in August, I did my first barefoot run.
And things changed. I think the thing that confounds people the most when they see or hear about the idea of going barefoot and running barefoot is that it must hurt. Only a few weekends ago a cyclist riding by yelled, “Doesn’t that hurt?” I yelled back, “If it hurt, I wouldn’t be doing it.” And that’s very true. But that certainly doesn’t mean my feet don’t feel something when I run barefoot. What I feel is a fundamental connection to the earth. The soles of our feet are like eyes. I don’t blindfold my eyes all the time. I don’t wear earmuffs all the time. I don’t wear a plastic covering over my tongue when I eat. So why do we wear shoes all the time? Seriously, spend some time barefoot. Learn about the world that you’re missing by wearing shoes so much.
Because of running barefoot or minimalist in a pair of thin sandals, Xeros, I really learned to love running and I wondered if it could be possible to run every day that I would want to. Now here I am, 103 days of a running streak completed. I don’t know if I’m any wiser really. But I did go over 1,000 miles of running this year today. 1000 miles. In 2014, my goal going in was to run at least 1000 miles. Now this year I’ve covered that much distance and it’s not yet August.
I’m still waiting to get fully recovered from Lyme. Oh it’s been a bit awful some while I continue to lack the energy I should have. But one of these days again I will find a cool morning, springy legs and a bit of speed that will feel wonderful. One of these days.