Saturday, August 31, 2013


The moral of the story is to stay out of your garden. At least when in training for a marathon. Or any race for that matter. So for many runners, that means never, ever step foot in your garden.

Unless you are one of those people who can stroll happily through your garden, notice the weeds and imperfections with an indifferent shrug, and just focus in on the beautiful and verdant. After which you head back inside and sip some iced tea, and mention to your partner that maybe somebody oughta' weed the garden.

I started to realize at about 5pm yesterday that I might not be able to do my planned 20 mile run today. I mentioned this to my oldest child, who said "that's OK, you can just do 19."

This morning, I can barely move. Literally, every inch of my body is screaming at me. I feel as if I have been beaten by an angry mob with those old fashioned cast iron frying pans.

This leaves me with some questions:
Will I be able to do my upcoming trail marathon as planned?
Is it normal to work in your garden for a few hours and be subsequently devastated?
Am I old? Or just soft from not enough manual labor?

Other questions I have had in recent weeks, months, years:
Is it possible to be married, raise kids, do laundry, keep the neighbors from gagging at the sight of your garden, cook an occasional meal, be a physician, maintain some elementary skills as a pianist and run (very) long distances, or is running (very) long distances the equivalent of what the Zen Master would counsel as something to be done only when your duties of life are complete?

Or is running (very) long distances a form of rebellion in an otherwise highly responsible and structured life?

The first rebellion, according to the bible, occurred in a garden. Specifically, asking questions in a garden that was supposed to be a place of pure bliss: no questions asked.

As a parent of teenagers, I am surrounded by rebellion. As a gardener, I am surrounded by imperfection and beauty. As a musician I am plagued by my decision to leave that profession for one that I also love but which eats me alive. Being eaten alive by my professions was an actual, true prediction from one of my residency attendings, who sensed from my personality and perhaps my Lutheran, midwestern work ethic that I was in for it. "You will be eaten alive," said he. This really pissed my off at the time.

Some days, I wish I could still play piano like a pro. Some days, I wish I could wear a straw bonnet and garden for hours without a care in the world. Most days, I just get up with the hope of a new day. I greet my kids, in all their grumpy morning glory. I drink coffee and I head to work. I treat the meth abusers and the kind elders and the chain-smoking, hard drinkers. I get advice, like: you should not be running those long distances. Or, you should work less. Or: you should work more. Or: you should spend more time with your kids. Or: Your kids are fine, go on a vacation.

I like to do what I am told, but  there are so many conflicting opinions!

Running hard and long, with abandon. This is my rebellion. Probably not today though. I should not have stepped into that garden.

1 comment:

  1. And this, my dear friend, is why I do not go outside. I would be the one to fall down with some near fatal rash or allergic reaction to the weeds. Did I mention that I am everything outside. :-) I hope that you feel well soon and that you will be fully recovered by the time of your race.

    My guess, is that running very long distances is like most things in life. It has no definitive black or white but a lot of gray. At times your running is probably rebellion, and a necessary one. It can be the run you take when life becomes too much and you need a brief respite and some well deserved solitude despite the growing to do list. But other times it's the balm on a busy day and a way to regroup. I know that it sounds like the same thing. But it's one of those things that runners know has a subtle difference. But sometimes, a run is just a run. Something that needs to be done because not doing it may mean more pain and discomfort down the round at the time of a race or a long week with no other form of exercise. And maybe I'm just projecting. *wink* Either way, if you are able to run and your family can throw out a " that's ok, you can just do 19," then I say enjoy the run, the view and the journey. It is part of what makes you wonderful. And the folks that know you realize that running is sometimes a necessary part of you.