Whereas previously during the few weeks before a marathon I'd be well fit and about to taper, looking forward to the short runs to prove the fitness I worked so hard to build up, here I am clock watching for my 1 pm physio appointment, wearing my fake Uggs for the third week on the trot because shoes with a form fitting heel are still a nemesis. Once I publish this I'm looking for mules because F'Uggs don't look nice with a dress.
And that's just the heel. There's still that mean old hip to contend with, a hip which was getting better until last weekend when I needed to shift some furniture around so that I have a bed when my mum visits us for three weeks. (Yay!) No issues going up and down the stairs, I was slide-tipping things like a boss, nothing tugged, nothing strained. Until I went to put a load of laundry in the tumble dryer, of all things. It's stacked on top of a short chest of three drawers and had been weighted down with a tub full of toys indefinitely, but in all that rearranging I moved some of the weight. So when I went to tug the door open it shifted, albeit only slightly, and me thinking it was about to come falling on my bare feet flinched and twisted slightly. As it happens, I have now identified how I injured the hip to begin with because I'd just done it again, so there's that. I'd twisted the leg with the foot planted, and it caught what I'm pretty sure is the insertion point of my sartorius. It may well be called the fricken fracken muscle if the blue air was anything to go by. So here we are, six days later counting the minutes til I can have my next good throttling from a sharp elbow.
Still entirely believing that I will go finish my fourth marathon in three weeks' time. The runner's life. It's only a flesh wound! I can run / walk! It always hurts! There aren't any bones hanging out of my leg, so...
Indeed this is nowhere near where I was meant to be going in to Brighton, in this YEAR-OF-THE-GREAT-CHALLENGES! yet this is the reality. My longest run this training cycle? The 14 miles when the peroneals first twinged. Even that wasn't pristine. The entire journey has been full of holes like the roads around here after this exceptionally cold winter. Swiss Cheese Training I will call it.
(But there aren't any bones hanging out of my leg, so...)
This week is Down Syndrome Awareness Week. As I've not been able to run and all training is limited to whatever I can do at home plus twice weekly stints on the crosstrainer (which I'm sure haven't helped the hip now I'm thinking about it) followed by an organised strength session (which I'm sure HAS helped the hip), I've been reading and writing and thinking an awful lot.
It is a blessing to have been gifted with my Rukai, despite all his delays and struggles which take a distant second place to his magnificent nature. What he brings to the world is exactly what the world is lacking and what the world needs more of. But the real gift he's given me is that by living life to the tempo of his pace and his struggles and accepting the necessity of total patience, it has made it easier for me to manage my own issues (despite how it may feel overwhelming at times). Yes, sure I want to be a faster runner, I want to be uninjured, I want to be strong, but I accept that I have to work even harder than most at it. And as I watch my son work staggeringly hard at everything he does, and I watch him sometimes fall, and I see that every time he falls he gets back up with a fierce shout and goes again and again until he gets his desired result, well...
With that I am stronger. I am more resilient. I am more able to pick myself back up when I fall.
There is a group of mums of children with Down Syndrome in the US who created something called The Lucky Few Tattoo, which consists of three arrows and symbolizes three copies of the 21st chromosome which is what causes the condition. The premise of the arrows is that "we can only launch forward after we have been pulled back and stretched". And honestly, doesn't that apply to everything in life?
Ever since I ran London I'd been wanting to get a new tattoo to commemorate my running achievements but couldn't decide what it should be. When I read about the lucky few, it was a pretty easy decision. And I had the perfect way to help those arrows fly.
For the past six years, my bow has been stretched so hard. The fibers round the edges are worn and frayed. Stained with mud and sweat and tears and effort and pain and grit and fire and fury. I've fired the arrows and crafted still more and fired those too. I keep my quiver full because there is a target that will one day be hit and will set the precedent 'from that day forward'. Until then, I'm not through flying.
Three weeks from Sunday I will draw the bow once again. With only a fourteen miler in the bank. And what will get me round is not at the bottom of my body but the very top of it. The mind will own this one. I maybe knew that from the start.
I haven't a clue where the next arrow will land but I sure know it's going to fly.
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