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Archive for November, 2010

I ran today for the first time in sixteen years…

If you’ve seen me in real life, you that know I walk with an ugly limp. I walk fast, but I don’t walk pretty. I was in a car accident in October of 1994, and one of my injuries was the severing of the nerves that control my left foot. Looks normal, works okay, but I can’t push off with that foot, nor curl my toes toward my nose, nor elevate that foot when it’s hanging in mid-air.

I have nothing to complain about. I had truly great doctors, including eight hours under the lights with orthopedic surgeon Dr. Stuart Kozinn, a consistent favorite in Phoenix magazine’s “Best Doctors” feature.

And, since then, my legs have always been very strong. Dr. Kozinn and I were both determined that I wasn’t going to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair, so I did everything I could to get my legs back under me. I can ride my bike for miles and miles at top speed in the desert heat, because that’s how I got my stride back.

But: I could not run. You have to be able to push off to run, because your toes can’t be dragging on the ground as you are swinging your leg forward. That would hurt — even before you tripped and fell on your face.

I loved to run before the accident. I never cared about exercise when I was young, but I never needed to: I was a high-D in a red-hot hurry. I ran everywhere. I loped everywhere, sailing through the air in nine-yard strides.

So when I couldn’t run any longer, I really missed it. I dream about running, and I love to go to the supermarket so I can run through the aisles, supporting my upper body on the shopping cart.

And all that changed today. Cathleen has been on my case for a while to buy Skechers Shape-Ups shoes. The marketing promise is better fitness, a workout while you walk, but the reality is pretty dramatic. There is so much up-thrust from the heels of those shoes that they replicate the effect of a strong push-off from the toes.

Walking the dogs this morning, I took off running, and it was easy, no problems at all. I was running like a toddler, mind you, always one foot on the ground. But that’s a lot more running than I’ve been able to do since Bill Clinton was courting chubby teenagers.

I’m dying to lope, but I can stand to take my time to make sure I won’t hurt myself. But I can jog. Odysseus doesn’t hate it, Shyly purely loves it, and I’m eager to find out how far I can go.

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