Hurt

I ran on trails this morning for the first time since I fell and broke my wrist a month ago. Since I was already registered for a race happening today, I figured I would give it a try and do my best to be careful. I took off my splint as it’s not very comfortable to wear while running and the metal brackets would also likely injure my arm if I happened to wipe out with them on.

The first 8K loop went OK but I spent most of my time concentrating on the ground, watching for every rock and root along the way. On the second 8K loop I stumbled twice, but managed to stay on my feet without falling both times. However, the two stumbles led to a state of hyper vigilance. By the time I started the third loop, I was exhausted mentally from focusing so much on not falling. My wrist was also starting to ache a bit. At that point, I decided (read: finally accepted) that running this race wasn’t a smart idea at this stage of my recovery so I slowed right down and jogged the rest of the loop, finishing at the halfway mark of the race at 25K.

Going into this trail run, I knew that if I fell and hurt my wrist, I would likely need to have surgery. This was made clear to me two weeks ago at the hospital, which is why I wasn’t even sure last night that I would go to the race. What I didn’t know is how tiring it would be to spend so much time watching for tripping hazards and constantly worrying about falling.

The fact is that my wrist will be fully healed in a matter of weeks. I will need to learn how to feel safe again running on the trails, but there’s no reason I can’t resume trail running again soon.

As I jogged back to the start/finish area, I thought about people who have experienced more significant hurt, such as emotional and physical abuse. These are hurts that don’t heal as readily or easily as a simple broken bone, if at all. It must be incredibly exhausting for people who have been harmed in these ways to be constantly looking around for potential hazards that might lead to further hurt and pain.

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Pros and Cons

Tonight I took off my arm sling and went outside for a run. I felt so free without the heavy weight on my arm and it was nice not to get hot and sweaty under all the metal and padding. I’m not supposed to take it off yet as my broken wrist is still healing, but I’m tired of wearing the sling all the time. I definitely still need it for everyday activities, as it’s painful when I pick up things or bend my wrist.

As I ran, I thought about how the sling is a hindrance to running, but an essential tool for using my right hand to carry, grab or push things. It’s interesting how something can benefit in one area but detract in another. It’s like my phone, which helps me professionally to access my email, schedule and resources while I’m out of the office or in meetings, but is a significant hindrance to family life when used in the evenings and weekends.

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Two Things and One to Come

With R away in Uganda, I’m doing my best to keep the household from falling apart. I’ve managed to keep the boys clean and well fed and they haven’t been late for school or missed any of their soccer, swimming or martial arts lessons. I’m remaining diligent with all the daily tasks at home, even with my broken wrist, and so far I’m not feeling overwhelmed by the extra work. I’m happy that R is able to have this experience in Uganda, so it’s all worth it.

On Day 5 of 15, however, I’ve noticed two challenges. First, it’s quite difficult to run outside unless I do this before picking up the kids from school. Second, I get lonely when I’m not able to talk with R. The first challenge isn’t a huge deal, especially for a two-week period. I don’t feel safe running on our treadmill with my broken wrist (I often have to grab onto the rails when I need to adjust the speed or stop), so I’ve just accepted that I will be running much less than usual during this time (even taking days off completely). The latter challenge is becoming more significant as the days go on. I was surprised by the number of times I automatically tried to phone R today. She’s the first person I reach out to when I have news to share and need to either vent or cheer about something happening in my life. I also miss her physical presence around the house, particularly in the evenings, which is when we usually take a break from the busyness of our day to sit and chat and spend time together.

Within the next few days, a third challenge will emerge that will trump the other two. This will come when the boys get tired of counting down the nights that remain until their mother returns and decide that she needs to be home now. I got a glimpse of that this evening, so I know it’s coming soon. Thankfully she left us some video messages on my phone, so I can use those to allay their sadness.

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Fragility 

I’m typing this with my left thumb while sitting in the emergency department of my local hospital. I tripped on a tree root this afternoon while running down a hill and managed to fracture my wrist. I made it 44 years without breaking any bones, so it was a good run while it lasted (ooh, that cliche is so perfect).

It’s amazing how fast one can go from feeling strong and healthy to fragile and broken. I’m grateful to live in a country where I can access medical attention so quickly and efficiently.

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Tears of Joy

Today I ran with R as she completed her first full marathon. It was rainy and cold at the beginning, but she kept to a steady pace and ran strong from beginning to end. There were a few rough patches in the middle, but she remained focused on meeting the challenge before her throughout the race. I did my best to keep her motivated and moving and it was a precious gift to share in this experience.

I was excited to see how happy she became in the final few kilometres of the race as she got closer to completing her goal. We crossed the finish line together holding hands and then separated briefly as we received our finishing medals from the volunteers. When I looked over at her again I saw that she was crying and then she hugged me tightly. When I asked her what was wrong, she said, “Nothing. I’m just so happy that I actually did it after training so hard for this race.”

In addition to filling me with immense pride for R, today’s race has also left me wondering whether there is a goal in my life audacious enough that accomplishing it would elicit tears of joy. Perhaps I need some bigger dreams.

 

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Accompaniment 

I just arrived at a hotel where R and I are staying the night before her first marathon. Since I forgot my computer at home, I’m typing out today’s post on my phone (and starting to regret my decision to blog every day for a year). 

Anyway, I’m reflecting on how proud I will be tomorrow as I witness R running just over 42 kilometres. A marathon is no easy feat, so completing this race will be a significant accomplishment which required many months of preparation. 

It’s a privilege to journey with others as they take on challenges or face adversity. Whether supporting a spouse, child, family member, co-worker, neighbour, or someone needing assistance in the community, it’s a humbling and precious experience to accompany people in the midst of their victories and losses and on the paths they take to get there. 

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Smash

In Grade 9, I went on a class trip to a camp located near Thunder Bay, Ont. I have many vivid memories from this adventure, such as canoeing across a lake to see a beautiful waterfall, going on my first solo trail run in the woods, and attending a scary séance led by a strange girl who had recently transferred to our school.

On the final night of our stay, we were treated to a raging bonfire that was surrounded by a circle of old cars and trucks. I’m not sure if we were given permission to do this, but at some point in the evening many of us started jumping up and down on the cars and trucks and smashing in the windows and metal frames with large tree branches that been cut down for the fire. This night remains the wildest and most reckless experience of my life.

Now that I’m old and boring, I spend my days focused on protecting and repairing my employer’s brand and reputation. Sometimes I wish I could regain the freedom to simply smash and destroy something large and breakable with complete abandon. Perhaps I should consider changing my hobby from running to home renovation.

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