It was one of those runs. One of those runs where your body reminds you that you are, lo, very far from being a teenager. Where every ache manifests itself, just out of harmony with all the others. Where you ask yourself why exactly you are out doing this, and wouldn't it be nicer just to go home and put on sweats, and hang out with the dog.
I could lie to myself, and say that I am running because I am a writer who does not wish to be writer-shaped. I could lie and say I am doing this for my health, and because I rather like chocolate and triple cream brie, and something must be done to counteract their effects. Those things wouldn't even fully be lies. But they wouldn't be the important truth, the truth that keeps me running, even though the real reason may well be the biggest lie of all.
I didn't realize it at the time, but my competitive fencing career ending in an ice-slicked parking lot in Edina, Minnesota in December of 2002. A woman in a black Ford Explorer pulled out of a parking spot without looking, hit me, and sent me flying. I landed on my right hip, cracking, as I discovered later, the cartilage. Surgery wasn't an option. I had already qualified for Nationals, so I trained through it, with the help of an orthopedic surgeon used to dealing with high-level athletes.
Nationals was a disaster, but my hip held up. Unfortunately, once I got back, and we stopped spending all that energy fighting entropy, entropy won, and the rest of me fell apart. My next two tournaments, I brought home a dislocated shoulder and a torn hamstring. It was time, we all agreed, to be done.
Except I didn't want to be. I fenced again as a refuge from the horrid end of my marriage and as I was writing the first draft of my first book and the final draft of my dissertation, and training kept life and soul together through all of those things. I still don't want to be done. I've found a club here to train with. It's the shoulder, even though that was the least of the injuries at the time, that gives me the most problems. (And please, I love you guys, and you are awesome people, but trust that I have good doctors, good physical therapists - including a sister who is one - and that I have tried just about everything to put it back together again, and please do not give me helpful suggestions about what might work.)
But I'm not ready to say never. I'm not ready to put away my equipment, and say I'll never compete again. So I run, not just to get into less-writer-shaped shape, but to help get back into competitive shape. I run, and then I come home, and put on sweats, and hang out with the dog. And pick up my pen, and sometimes my sword.