As you read in my last post, I was to have arthroscopic surgery to repair a cartilage tear and flap in my right knee.
My doctor had stated,”We’ll know more once we get a look inside.” Even though a MRI offers great diagnostic ability, it’s not the same as seeing the real thing.
A few days ago I wrote, “I may not, however, ever run the same again.” That was then. This is now.
Surgery was quick; I woke up just about an hour after I’d been put under. Still woozy from the medicine, I don’t recall if my wife told me first, but I will never forget what my doctor had to say.
“Other than running around with your kids, you should never run again.”
There it was.
Something that has been part of my life for a decade. Something that is part of my identity. Something that kept my physically healthy and mentally sane (at times). Something filled with such sweet memories. Something I enjoy just for the simple pleasure of propelling myself over space through time. Something I could never imagine not being. Is now something I will no longer be: a runner.
A friend wrote something like, “Once a runner, always a runner. No one can take that away.” Although the sentiment is kind, I think the best I can do now is “former runner” or “retired marathoner.” It’s a simple syllogism: Runners run. I can no longer run. Therefore, I am no longer a runner.
My doctor was surprised by what he found: forty plus pieces of floating cartilage in my joint; deterioration of every cartilage surface in my joint; even the flap that was to repaired had totally ripped off leaving a gapping finger nail sized hole to my femur. He cleaned it up. I’ll only have four weeks on crutches instead of eight; that’s good. But I’ll never run again.
Friends are kind with suggestions. Elliptical. No offense, but gag me. That’s fine for others, but it’s never been my thing; I love the outdoors. Swimming. Alright. Involves other muscle groups, nonimpact. But in Nebraska it’s mostly still indoors. Cycling. Yes. That’s where I’ll probably turn. I’ll enjoy learning new things, the distances, the training, the people, and the speed. All good, but still not running.
Again, as in my last post, Ever, I’m not whining. I’m a healthy guy who can no longer do what so many despise. It’s just running! But I’m a healthy guy who can no longer do one thing I love no matter what anyone else thinks. It’s running. I’m not whining. I’m coping.
Part of maturity is sacrifice. Part of maturity is transition. Part of maturity is change. Nothing lasts forever. Everything has a season. You deal with it. You suck it up. You adapt and overcome. You find a new normal. Doesn’t mean you have to like it. At least not a first.
Four marathons, each with their unique memories. Seven Market to Market Relays with a varied cast of characters making up my teammates. Adventure runs in travels to Colorado, Pennsylvania, Texas, San Francisco and Western Nebraska. A year’s worth of fun in running my neighbor’s spirited English Pointer. Countless daily runs around my part of town all alone and loving it; passing miles and thoughts and prayers.
Over 6000 miles. Over 900 hours. I am thankful. Most thankful.
I will never run again. Yet I will never regret that I did run. All that running gave me. All that running made me. Never.