Today is the big day. I am sitting in my doctor’s office waiting to see if he will tell me that I can run again. It’s been a long road; one that began nearly seven years ago. I’m now almost three months post-op from the most recent of four knee surgeries, all have been geared towards running. As I wait, fleeting questions dart through my brain as fast as, say, I used to run. What will the doctor’s verdict be? Will he tell me I can run? And, if I can run, how will my knee react to the pounding of the pavement? How long will it take to regain my fitness? How much will I get back?
Actually…these aren’t really the questions I’m asking myself today. After four surgeries, numerous months spent in post-surgery rehab, and years of waiting in anticipation, let’s just say I’ve grown a bit cynical these days. Or, better yet, perhaps I’ve just learned to be patient. Truthfully, maybe I’ve finally grown to accept the fact I no longer need running. Let me explain. From 1980 thru 2007, I enjoyed a competitive and, might I add, a very rewarding career in road racing. But, during those final years leading up to the knee injury, running was growing increasingly difficult. No doubt about it, recovery after races was taking longer than it had in the “old days” and something was always hurting. Still, there were those occasional races that would make it all worthwhile; the one’s where my finishing time transcended the years. And, then there was the training. Winning, combined with the need to retain my identity as a competitive runner, stoked the fire far beyond that of a sane person.
I’ve just been called into the examination room. I enter and I sit down wondering what the next few minutes have in store. Unlike the numerous heart-wrenching episodes of appointments past, there’s an air of calmness within me. Indeed, I do want to run. But no longer will life seem incomplete if I can’t push my body to the breaking point. I think, “Maybe, I’ll be content with the outcome, regardless of what the doctor says.”
The doctor has entered the room and he begins a cursory examination. He remarks at my progress. Yes, I have indeed done well, especially if you consider I didn’t go to traditional physical therapy. I figured if I didn’t know what exercises to do by this point, I am probably a lost cause. During the exam, I ask the doctor if I can run. I promise I’ll take it easy. That’s when the doctor says he’d like me to wait another month. A brief moment of introspection, and I find I am, indeed, ok with his suggestion. And, really, what better way to begin the New Year than with a satisfying jog? Maybe there’ll be a bit of snow on the ground. I’ve always found the crunching sound it makes as my feet crush it into the pavement somehow soothing to the senses. Yes, I’m ok with that. At least, I think I’m ok.