Humans are remarkably resilient. We have the ability to adapt to changing conditions in our lives in ways we never thought imaginable.
If you haven't yet read the book, "Unbroken," I would suggest adding it to your summer reading list. It is the story of Louis Zamperini, and it is a tale of survival and unbelievable forgiveness. Zamperini is 96-years old. His is a life of extraordinary adaptability, and his perspective on life is truly inspiring.
As runners, we, too, must adapt. We adapt to major life-changing events, and we adapt to smaller situations things like changing weather conditions, running in the dark, discourteous drivers, and snarling dogs.
Running is a roller coaster ride, complete with ups and downs, twists and turns. It is always challenging. It is rarely boring.
2013 began by providing me with a magnificent ride. Invited as a guest speaker at several major marathons, I was able to sidestep some of the bitter Pennsylvania winter season by running the half marathon, on a beautiful January morning in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The next weekend, I ran another half in Miami, cruising next to the cruise ships, and along Miami Beach. At the Yuengling Shamrock Marathon, in Virginia Beach, I decided to run about 20-miles of the race, as a training run for Boston, but the supportive crowds and the well-organized, fast course inspired me to run the entire race.
My 3:04:13 effort at Boston left me euphoric, for about an hour, but then the roller coaster took an ominous turn, and my perspective changed. I suspect my perspective will be altered for the rest of my life.
A trip to speak at the Salt Lake City Marathon expo the following week was therapeutic. The outpouring of sympathy, respect, and determination from the running community was incredible. We laughed, we cried, and we reaffirmed that this American running family, 40 million strong, was, like Louis Zamperini, determined to remain, "Unbroken."
In a couple of weeks, a routine training run reduced me to a writhing heap, on a front lawn, less than a half mile from my home. An uncoordinated fall to the sidewalk ripped two hamstring tendons from their moorings.
Oh, how perspectives change.
From regaining the ability to simply bend my leg from its frozen, 45-degree angle position, to being able to walk without flapping my gimpy leg along, to the first slow, painful running steps, 32 long days after the hamstring tear.
My goals for the rest of 2013 have been altered, my perspective has changed. It was as if I had been peering through the lens of a telescope, and the objects remained blurred. This time last summer, as the heat and humidity boiled, I whined about conducting my daily runs. Today I slogged through a driving rainstorm at an 8:45 pace for 3 miles. Far slower than my 7:03 pace for 26 miles in Boston, less than three months ago. But, today, I savored each and every step. I am able to run again. I am on the long road to recovery.
Trails seem to be more lush and tranquil. The pungent, oily-rubbery smell of the track surface on a hot summer day is magnificent.
On Facebook and Twitter, folks I've never met offer their support. A Facebook page called, "Running for the Health of It," brings runners together from all over the country. I feel like they are truly 'family.' Their support and encouragement has been marvelous.
Last Friday, Eric Anchorstar, a member of the 'Cast of Characters' from my book, www.runningshortsbook.com, stopped by to say hello. We checked out the vegetables in my garden, and he offered words of encouragement. Since his visit, my running miles have increased; while the pain in the bum leg has decreased.
A competent orthopedic surgeon, an aggressive physical therapy program, and a very good chiropractor have put me back together again.
Finally, there is one perspective that has not changed. On April 15, my best friend, my soulmate, stood at my side as the world was turned upside down before our very eyes. She has stood beside me through my depression and frustration of the past few weeks. The low ebb may have been about two weeks ago when, in a fit of rage, I flung the weed whacker, javelin-style.
My wife, Crissy, has enabled me to refine my perspective, to appreciate every moment of every day this great life has to offer. Last Sunday, with our dogs, we ran together on our favorite mountain trail.
The lens is clear. I am refocused. Goals are redefined. Every runner takes each difficult step on his own, but your perspective is shaped by your life experiences and, most importantly, by the ones you love.