This afternoon a strong wind exhaled across the path as I tried to reel in the dogs on our daily trek by Tyler’s spot. The terriers steadily pulled, their harnesses firm against their chests, the leashes taut as they extended five feet ahead. They furiously sniffed for trickles of urine sprung from the bladders of bitches unknown.
It was a quick two miles, not nearly enough to satisfy my pressing need to suddenly break into an open sprint beneath the sun. But I couldn’t, and I found myself fighting back tears as I walked faster and faster, a speed that some “runners” call “running.” For me, it is not.
Ever since I decided to follow my doctor’s orders, I have felt overwhelmingly frustrated with the idea of not running for six weeks. Right now, I’m at Day 23. That’s a mere 3.5 weeks in.
So how to sate my need to run?
Bike until my knees hurt. Walk the dogs until they protest. Do P90x even though I’m no longer in love with Tony Horton. So I bike 30 miles in a sitting. I walk 9 miles in a day. I do the plyometrics and the squats and the lunges.
Still, the underlying desire remains, like a stain-seeking terrier restrained by a leather harness. I feel as though I want to pull, pull away from this fast walking pace and find a stride that leaves me breathing hard, makes my heart race, gives me a reality check that life is too precious to not extend myself.
People who don’t run cannot truly imagine the frustration of hearing a doctor tell you that you are sidelined. It’s as if a part of you has been removed, a vital part that largely defines who you are and what you do. And so as I bike and as I walk, I close my eyes and envision that I am running along the path, past Tyler’s spot, beneath the clouds and the azure backdrop. I think of the young man who died too young, a boy who now runs wild only in spirit, in memory.
And so I am like the unknown bitch that runs free, without harness, without leash, without my owner holding me back as I pull steadily away in the fields of bull thistle and dandelion. Free, I run, like a dog who knows no limits. Lucky dog.