This morning I had my first physical therapy appointment to treat my damaged hamstring. I'm happy to say I survived, though that wasn't a foregone conclusion.
The first half an hour was not entirely unakin to a torture session, as the strong, sadistic man with the hands of steel and elbows that could cut glass "massaged" my leg. "Does that hurt? No? Does this hurt?" he asked, over and over, no doubt mocking my contorted face and anguished, silent screams. Ohhh, the pain. The pain and the agony.
After he'd released me, he showed me some stretches and strengthening exercises to work on for next time. "Any questions?" he wrapped up, no doubt eager to torment his next victim.
Timidly, I asked, "Is it ok for me to start working out again?"
"You can start with some gentle stretches," he began generously, "but NO RUNNING!" I swear his eyes narrowed at me, as if he suspected my plans to defy him.
So FINE, sue me. I like to run! I'd never run a day in my life until early 2013, when I, um, signed up for a marathon. As you do when you can't run a mile without stopping. *beat* If you happen to be an idiot.
But guess what? I finished that 2013 marathon. Fine, it was the Marathon du Médoc, where people drink wine along the way, eat oysters, sing, and dress up in remarkably complex costumes you wouldn't think would lend themselves to running 26.2 miles. Like the guy who ran it in flippers, or the guy dressed head-to-toe as Chewbacca. Still, I trained for it, and I finished.
And after that, I took a break. I'd only started running for the race. I didn't actually like it.
...Or did I? In mid-2014 I started up again, and crushed my hoped-for under-two-hours half-marathon time in my second big race. Then in 2015 I set a personal goal to run 800km (500 miles), and I crushed that too, topping out at 1,252km (roughly 840 miles).
My goals for 2016 were much less ambitious. I'm keen to make this my Year of Yoga, and running tends to impede my flexibility, so I told myself I'd just go for 600km, just to keep in shape and keep my heart happy and healthy.
And now, it's been nearly two weeks since I hit the pavement, cruised along the London canals, listened to my Big & Rich/Andy Gibb/Muse/Stromae playlist. And I miss it. I've come to rely on those early mornings, seeing the sunrise over Camden Lock, being alone with my thoughts. I never thought I could possibly miss running, but I do. I like being a runner. I like seeing my progress and getting to know new places, and pushing myself just a little bit more.
I miss you, running. But I'm coming back soon. Keep those trails warm.