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May 20, 2005

As long as we keep our stride, I believe we'll be fine

I may never go back to the gym!

No, I haven't given up because of the shin splints. I am babying my legs a little bit, though; I skipped the last hour of dance classes last night, and I haven't run in a couple of days. Instead, I've been walking a lot. In Prospect Park. Wow!

Yesterday was perfect.

I put on my running gear, had a look in the mirror, and thought, "Someone who hadn't seen me since I took up running would walk right past me on the street and never recognize me!" I looked like any amateur athlete you see in the park: reasonably fit but not strikingly so, wearing a snug black tank top over a running bra, fuchsia yoga shorts, and a baseball cap to shade my eyes. I'd never have been seen in public in such a get-up a year ago.

I walked over to the park and it was an extreme effort to keep myself from running the loop. The walk itself was invigorating (it's about five minutes from my house), the sun was shining, the air was balmy with a faint floral scent. I felt like a big dog straining and begging its master to let it off-leash. When I got to the park I bounced up and down a bit and felt my legs out, I stretched my lower legs in particular, and I just remained unconvinced that it was a good idea. So the leash stayed on and I started off on a walk around the loop. I felt a little sorry for myself as I started walking, and then I got to thinking.

About a year and half ago I was still regularly walking with a cane. Last spring I was thrilled to walk three miles at all, as part of a fundraiser for the Arthritis Foundation. Yesterday, I was walking over four miles, as the easy version of my workout, due to a completely temporary situation. So I told myself to get a grip. This cheered me up and let me fully enjoy the immeasurable, ineffable beauty of the morning. There were a lot of great moments, but one of my favorites? When I came around the last bend of the park, walking past the little lake, and realized that I had no idea if any children had been abducted anywhere in the country, or how many people had been killed in Iraq today. No CNN in Prospect Park!

This morning was a bit more of a test of my committment to walking in the park; it was not only cold and damp outside, it was actively raining. That was fine with me. As my mother often reminded me when I was little, I'm not made of sugar and I'm not about to melt. I did get a bit squishy, though. I loved being out with the other diehards; like the Velveteen Rabbit, I felt as though I was somehow being made Real. On my way to the park I already felt invincible. People were going to work, mincing around puddles, slightly crouched, holding up umbrellas to cover themselves, and there I was, striding along upright, with just a baseball cap to keep the water out of my eyes. I know who was happier.

My shins are still sore, but I'm keeping at stretching them, and I know they'll be okay soon. Now my thighs are sore in an entirely new way, but I'm really enjoying that. You know all those place names in Brooklyn? Prospect Heights? Park Slope? Boerum Hill? Well, let's just say that now I understand how they got those names. Hills. Brooklyn is full of hills. And I love every damned one of them. As Walt Whitman said in "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry"

Brooklyn of ample hills was mine

Posted by Rose at May 20, 2005 03:48 PM


I hate the gym. If I can be outside instead, I'm there. I was thinking about you because I've taken up walking/jogging/running again (running being the end goal), and I came to see how you were doing in your marathon quest. Warning- Hallmark moment pending- You really are inspiring, I can only hope to aim for your level of commitment.

Are you going to Columbus again this year? Gotta go, I have to teach a tank top class this morning at the shop. Keep up the awesome work!

Posted by: Mercedes at May 21, 2005 09:16 AM

I am feeling quite smug, don't you know?

Or maybe that feeling is really just bittersweet - my favorite, I'm beginning to think - as the running that was my pride and my joy is now so far in the past.

But maybe I still count as a runner who blogs? (Though who does not knit. Sorry, cannot give up the needlework and writing long enough to do anything else!)

In any case, wishing you the best with the running - it is a lovely thing, and I hope it treats you well.

Posted by: U A A at May 24, 2005 03:21 AM

Sounds like a lovely walk! Keep your head up, Rose!

Posted by: vj at June 11, 2005 12:04 AM