Writing and Running

This is my 140th post.  I began in early December, so that’s 140 posts in four months.  Prolific by any standard.  The funny thing is, I feel that I am just starting.  I have a lot more to say.  It’s not uncharacteristic for me to look forward to writing.  If a high school English teacher had requested an essay a day for an entire semester, I would have enjoyed planning out my writing.  I was one of the nerdy kids who would have said (very quietly, because I didn’t want to get my ass kicked) that it was a great challenge.   


I loved challenges as a child, and I’m not averse to them now.  I like nothing better than for someone to put a difficult Sudoku in front of me, or to open a Scrabble board and give that look that says “I’m gonna whip you right here and now.”  Once the arena opened up for me, I put myself to physical challenges, too.  I couldn’t do that in childhood, because my mom thought exercise caused polio.  She was also worried about the exposure to “bad elements” and boys that might occur if we were allowed to participate in after-school sports activities.  I didn’t take a walk for relaxation or exercise until I was in college.  I’m not lying, folks, you can’t make this up!  Walking was strictly for getting from here to there, preferably in the company of a protective ring of girlfriends or family members.  I can remember asking to go for a walk (in my family you asked if you wanted to leave the house) and being told “no”. 


In college, I began to run.  No, wait, that wasn’t the first thing.  First was walking, because Vanderbilt University had a lovely campus with beautiful footpaths that invited walking.  The plants and trees were all labeled with their scientific names, and the meticulous landscaping made any walk pleasant.  Second was registering for physical education classes that weren’t required, like swimming and dance.  I had taken beginning swimming classes at least four summers as a child, but my mom generally prohibited swimming after class was over.  In college I became a swimmer and discovered how much I loved being in the water.  I continued my fun with modern dance, an interest kindled by a brief exposure in senior high gym class.  I went roller skating in a nearby church gym with my freshman roommate.  As a junior and senior in college I played tennis with my husband, a former tennis pro who taught me only because I won a bet and beat him at chess.


But running…running became my heart.  I started by putting on tennis shoes and running laps in a gym.  It wasn’t popular (1977-ish), no magazines, no clubs, no one to teach me form.  But it was intensely satisfying.  I continued to run in medical school, strapping on my sneakers and running through the streets of Philadelphia.  I continued during my residency in Baltimore, noting at one point that I could run from my apartment to Johns Hopkins Hospital faster than I could drive in the rush hour traffic.  I brought the running home with me to Chattanooga, where there were virtually no women running in public.  Sadly, my inability to run was part of my realization that something terrible was happening to my body, prior to the lupus diagnosis.  First I couldn’t run, then I couldn’t play tennis, then a walk was too strenuous, and then I was on crutches. 


I came to this discussion of challenges because I noticed that the 140th post and the five thousandth hit for the blog were approaching.  I didn’t start because I wanted to build numbers, but it is gratifying to see them, because they are evidence of a particular kind of accomplishment.  I am still happy to be able to rise to a challenge, to exercise a certain discipline that goes beyond what is comfortable and easy. 




2 Responses

  1. I’m happy you’re writing, too – because I get to read it.

    Are you able to do any exercises in the water? I go to a deep water exercise class at the North River Y, and I’m sure they have them at the Hamilton Y, too. After his shoulder surgery, DH started getting his strength back by just walking in the warmer therapy pool. He thought it would be woossy stuff, but said it gave him more than he thought it would.

  2. Congratulations on your post progress and hit count…I love reading your blog and I am glad you enjoy writing…you are really a great writer!

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