I was reading another blog tonight (shout-out to Walking TheJourney/ Dawn_ByTheCreek), and she was talking about her visits to Gettysburg, and it basically being her happy place.
Her description of how she can think there and how she can breathe there, made me realize that my running is my happy place.
First a little back story. I’ve been plagued with lower back issues in my past, to the point of emergency room visits, missed work, and walking with a cane for a short time. It runs in my family and it’s no fun. My mornings were started with being careful getting out of bed, and the rest of the day was pretty much the same. I had been running for many years but I have a physical job so when my back kept going out, I had to choose either to work or run, but I couldn’t do both as my back just couldn’t take the pounding. Of course I had a family to support so the running stopped. My back continued to go out and I was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease, otherwise known as old age, and I also have arthritis in my lower lumbar.
I had not run for a few years and put on some weight that I was not proud of but just decided that it was something that was unavoidable (wrong).
When D-Day happened, it was about a week later when I realized that I was waking up without back pain. It made no sense but I took it as a sign to get off my ass and get running again. I felt I had nothing to lose except the weight but I’m not going to lie, I was scared. Scared of my back going out and literally relying on my sixteen year old son to help me in and out of bed or the car since his mother had left.
I started on the treadmill as it was January and I live in the upper Midwest. As most of those who have been betrayed can attest, the weight loss came quickly. I lost forty pounds in about three months. Between loss of appetite and anxiety brought on by the betrayal, it was not the healthiest way to lose the weight but it worked. I got down under my High School weight. I started to force myself to eat and I changed to a healthier diet also. As soon as the weather got a tad warmer, I took to the roads. And that is where I found my happy place.
I live in the country so I have the advantage of not having to deal with traffic or the stops and starts of traffic lights and intersections. With that being said, I searched out a place to run that was unfamiliar and perhaps I could meet someone who also loved to run but wanted a running buddy.
Seven miles from my house was a greenway that I had run on in the past, but it was new so it was very short and disappointing. I revisited it one day hoping for improvements, and was thrilled to find out it was very much improved and was now a five mile loop once I became familiar with it.
I now know it like the back of my hand and it has been my retreat from the demons of anxiety when they come to visit. It seems like they can’t keep up with me when I’m out there, and their voices become drowned out by my steady breaths and footfalls. They don’t visit as much anymore. I think they’re getting the hint that they’ve worn out their welcome.
I like to look back on that day, damn near a year ago, when my back pain went away and think that just maybe God looked down and saw my anguish and how lost I was and said “He’s got a lot going on right now, I need to lighten his load a little bit”. Either way, I thank him every day for giving me another chance at running and at life.
I hope you all find your happy place. That place where you feel most at peace. I have been fortunate enough to have found a couple of them this year. My new church and my running trail and of course the time I spend with my children and family. I have found new friends at church, but I’m still searching for that running buddy.
Maybe one of these days.