I ran a mile today. I took one of the dogs and we ran a mile out, then walked the mile back.
I thought back to the days–not that long ago–when I would zip past these half-mile markers, marker after marker after marker. Two years ago this month, I ran a half marathon on this very route. I let myself think about that, and then I let it go. Today, I had a mile in me. That is so pathet…. Wait. When people tell me to be gentle with myself, this must be what they are talking about.
I wondered how I could fit this into my schedule. Should I knock out a mile a day, everyday, as exercise for the dog? Should I work up to 3 miles 3x a week? I thought about that and let it go. Today, I was running a mile.
A few kind friends have offered to accompany me on a run. My active, vivacious retiree-age therapist really wants me to get out there. In my self-deprecating moments, I assume they are all politely urging me to lose weight. When I’m less petulant, I know that they know that this would be good for me. I am dutifully trying to do the things good for a woman my age–taking my fish oil pills, doing my yoga poses, eating my weeds, dicing ginger and garlic and pausing to appreciate their aromas.
I’ve had trouble explaining why I can’t run. In the early days of grief, I was so closed in that I couldn’t handle the enthusiasm. The first time I hiked up a hill and didn’t fall apart, I knew I was over that. But, still, I couldn’t run. Truth be told, I couldn’t handle the disappointment. What if I get into running and then I have to skip my runs because the kids need to go somewhere, or I had a sleepless night? Why get my hopes up?
I’ve been so down lately, though, that it’s time to get my hopes up. It’s time to claim some time and space in this world for me. After hitting my recent rough patch, I don’t really have much of a choice. Less wine, more running. That’s the formula before me now.
As the dog and I walked the mile back, I thought about our little running group in Fall 2011. A few of us women would meet at 6am and knock out a few miles before our busy days. We’d watch the sun rise over the river. Gosh, I felt like I owned this town, carrying the secret of its early-morning beauty.
After those affirming runs, I’d arrive home, full of life, and open the door to husband and son yelling at each other. My heart would plummet. I stopped those morning runs so that I could stay home and intervene or just take over and get my son out the door in peace. That’s when I stopped running–November 2011 or thereabouts. Husband hit his nadir in December 2011, then it was a slog until May 2012. I didn’t know he was dying inside, I just felt the life force leaving me, leaving this home, this family.
Today, the worst I could expect upon arriving home is that dog’s brother, distressed from being left behind, may have pooped on the L.L. Bean rug. Not so bad, in the scheme of things. (Note: he did not poop, anywhere in the house. Good dog.)
Our lives are worse, and yet our days not as bad as they used to be. That’s a hard thing to explain. Our days were horrible, but there was hope that it would get better. Now our day-to-day life is less fraught, but it is lived out on a plane of indelible pain of loss and regret and questions that will never be answered. There is no going back, to the half marathon or to him.
Today I went for a run. I ran a mile today. And that was that.