Tracie Skarbo was motivated to write by her father, who was her biggest
supporter. “He was always behind me, rallying me on with my writing. I would
always see him with a book in hand. He gave me a great appreciation for the
written word, and the power and responsibility that writers have to shape those
who read their words. He also taught me to respect nature and to value the
beauty within it; my reflections on my environment are just an extension of
this.” Skarbo was raised on Vancouver Island and is working on her next two
On Monday, our running clinic had a guest speaker; a physiotherapist and chiropractor who works for a sports clinic.This is the same clinic I went to last year, (but not the same doctor) for my hip problems.
I think they are amazing people that work there because they are athletes which means they understand about training schedules and they will try to keep you out on the trail running rather than on the couch putting your feet up whenever possible.To a runner this is great news, because any time on the couch means loss of muscle mass and lost time out there training for upcoming runs, which in turn can mean slower race times and missed races all together.
The doctor I saw last year was one of the few who went to Vancouver to help out with the athletes that came for the Olympics.So I knew I was in great hands.The doctor who worked on me was young and good looking and there was a joke amongst the women in the group that we should call him “Abe the babe”, seeing as he wanted to be called by his first name rather than his position title.
So back to Monday night.This guy, like the previous doctor before him, was young and good looking as well and he was a long distance runner having a number of Marathons under his belt.He started out telling us about the benefits of icing after a run and how the worst thing you can do is immerse yourself in a hot bath afterwards because it causes inflammation of any injuries and will cause more pain then wanted.Ice, he said, is an athlete’s best friend.Then it was on to information about stretching, the pros and cons and when they should be performed.There is controversy in the running world about whether they should be done at all.But the good looking doctor boys think that is a good thing to do IF you do it after a run and not before.This they say is because the muscles are like rubber bands and you want to stretch a warm muscle not snap a cold one.He went on to demonstrate some stretches and pre-run moves to warm up before we head out.He had some great ones for shin splints that I found useful
When his half an hour was up our coach took over and we all bundled up and headed out into the parking lot to try out his new moves.(I never knew that some men have such grace while skipping, and then there were others who nearly killed themselves in the attempt!)I am sure we looked hilarious out there flinging our legs this way and that and then to and fro to get our glutes tight.Then with most of us laughing at our attempts to reproduce the doctor’s orders, we headed out for the run start.
I found my running partner and noticed that she was limping a bit.I asked her what was wrong and she told me that when she did one of the moves she felt some sharp pains going from above her buttock down the back of her leg.I immediately thought that it sounded like a sciatica problem, I asked her if she still wanted to continue and like a trooper she replied yes, thinking that it might make it settle down with use.I told her that we should take it easy and not to push things and that if it got worse along the way we could walk it instead of run, and by the end she seemed better.So we parted ways, re-enforcing our plans to meet up for Wednesday at 6pm.
So Wednesday comes along and I am having one of those low energy days, it is cloudy and rainy outside and at 2:30pm I am thinking it would be a really great idea to take a nap, especially if I have to go for a run later.So I cuddle up and I am off to dreamland lickety split.I wake up two hours later with a doze induced hangover.
I am snug beneath the blankets and thinking about how it’s a run night and I had better get my rear in gear if I am going to get to my pre-arranged run meeting with my run partner.I am cursing the fact that I didn’t get her phone number to cancel, then I think it is a really good idea that I don’t have her number so I can’t cancel our run date.But never the less my brain and body are fighting against my will.In loud shrill voices they are crying out to me to stop the insanity that I should do anything but lace up and meet up with my running partner in the cold wind.I should just roll over and continue my hibernating journey.I should just give in to all the pleasure that the warm bed provides.
Eventually it is the thought of my promise to be there that finally rouses me from under the comforter, because I have given my word and if a woman doesn’t have her word, then ultimately what does she have?
So I get out of the warm cocoon I am so fond of, change into hot pink microfiber, lace up my shoes, don my reflective gear, hat and keys and I am on my way.
As I am driving through town with the grey skies and rain coming down I am thinking –no praying—that she shows up for the run, on days like this it is much better to have someone to share in the misery.
I get to the store where the clinics are held and I see that there are not many runners tonight.There is also no sign of my running partner, but I am still early and being so I am also still hopeful that she will show.I browse the shop for the latest shoes and electrolyte jelly beans and then I spy her coming in through the front door.But there is a catch, she is limping.Turns out that stretching session really did her in and for the past two days she has been in some serious pain so she said that should would forgo the run tonight and only came down to let me know of her situation.I was floored that she would come all the way across town to do so.Not many people would have.Her likability went up tenfold.
I thanked her and told her that I thought she should go and see “Abe the Babe” right away.I said that if she told him how much pain she was in I was sure he would see her right away, and might even stay late for her, it is just the way he is.I told her I couldn’t promise that the process wouldn’t be painful, because it probably would be, but I also said that the process would help her out in the long run, (Pardon the pun) and that the sciatica problem she has had trouble with all her life might even disappear.She promised she would give him a call and wished me luck on my run.
I headed out with the others in the rain and greyness, wishing I had taken my MP3 player to combat the howling wind.
~Why do all fitness Guru’s think it is a good idea to make new runners run past fast food and local restaurants?On my way out and back I have to go past Dairy Queen and smell their burgers!I want to know why an ice cream giant such as themselves have not come up with a fat free frozen yogurt blizzard.Someone is definitely slow on the uptake!
Excuses.When it’s time to lace up I have a million of them looking up at me like eager dogs; tails wagging and tongues lolling.Each of them competing loudly in my head telling me why I should listen to them and not that “wimpy” lone will power.
What is a runner to do?Some runners go to sleep in their running attire and then run as soon as they wake.Attempting to trick the dozy dogs into submission.I am not that disciplined.I fight back with thoughts of how good I will feel once the run is over, then there are skinny denim promises and other progressive treats when I hit my goals.I post these on the fridge, the back of my bedroom door, the bathroom mirror and anywhere else I am likely to see them and get a positive charge from them.Running affirmations if you will.
Is this self-brain washing?Damn straight!Anyone who has undertaken such a mammoth task knows that every little tidbit you can use to fight against your body and mind wrestling with you to stop this ridiculous and foolish journey knows it is worth it.Your mind, your body will be doing everything in its power to push back.It will try to goad you into arguments about how bad the weather is, why you should stay in the nice warm house cuddled in your housecoat.It will inflame joints, fire up sore muscles.If you don’t pay attention, it will face a little friction with glee and give you blistered feet for your troubles. Anything to make you slowdown, stop, or better yet give up on it all together.
In the beginning I know I need help. I am a human after all and what are we humans good at?I mean really good at?Laziness.I would love to listen to my mind and just curl up in front of my laptop and read my friends latest postings, rather then gear up and face the horizontal rain!I would like to tell you that I am some stoic runner who never misses a beat when the scheduled run shows itself and I have a smile on my face while doing it.That is just not the case.I grunt, I growl and I talk to my demons, mostly to tell them to shut up.Why?Because these first few weeks are the most important; they make or break a person.
I know this; I have been through this before.I learnt as I went along my first couple of clinics.I know my strengths and weaknesses.I know I have to be signed into a clinic, that if I am held accountable for something I am more likely to do it.If I know my running partner is waiting for me and will be disappointed by my not showing I am more likely to get out there.I am more responsible to a complete stranger then to myself.Why?Because I have given my word, because I have traded tender for the experience, and because I know all those other people are putting themselves in the same amount of pain that I am.If they can do it, I can do it.There is strength in numbers, just like there is strength in my writing about the experience.It just re-enforces my commitment.So thanks for reading, because your comments are just one more thing helping me lace up and get out there on the asphalt.
As I was driving to the place where I would meet my new running group I had a lot going through my mind.I remembered back to my first running clinic ever and the fears I encountered on the same drive I was making now.Would I know anyone there? Would I be tossed in with a crowd of muscle bound endorphin junkies all decked out in the latest running threads?Would I be the most out of shape person there?But most of all my biggest fear was being the slowest person in the group.
Now, as I drive on to my third trip around these clinics, I know that it doesn’t matter if I know anyone or not, running is a sport done mostly alone.Oh sure you can run with a group, or one or two others who are going the same pace as you, but that will, that determination to go back, and to keep going back despite the pain, that is yours to claim alone.
Not all of these determined souls running alongside me will be decked out in the latest apparel, but let it be known that all runners are endorphin junkies, and if they tell you different, they are either lying to themselves or to you.There has to be a kickback, otherwise we wouldn’t do it.Believe me, the warmth of my rocking chair and the excuses screaming in my head, are enough to make me turn this car around ever more so now because I, and my body, know what lies before us in the near future.
This time I won’t be runningblind.
I know what shin splints feel like; I know the torture of having a physiotherapist push the heel of his hand into the core of your muscle to loosen the seized up ligaments and joints, just so you can lay on your hips in bed without mind numbing pain.I have firsthand knowledge of what it is like to run in horizontal icy rain, the wind so fierce that it feels as though it is sandpaper stripping your skin.I know what it is like to slog in the rain through puddles that reach around your laces or on brilliant white snowy nights when it seems like it’s just you, your running partner, and the glittering gems that fall from the sky, against the rest of the world.And you can’t help but smile and laugh at the experience of it all, because these are one of the only times when you are here and now and truly alive.You are not past nor future, but present in breath, body and mind.It is in times like these, with eyes wide open, that I find the ah-ha moments of discovery come and sit with me a while.At times I enjoy what they have to say, but there are others where I wish I had not looked so deeply into myself, because the smudges show through.Those areas where I need more work.
All in all we started out with twenty-nine runners this time, but I know that number will whittle down to half the numbers by the end of the clinic.Those lucky determined ones will experience the rush of what it is like to be runners, and hopefully stick with it.I am happy to report that I quickly bonded with two women in my group and one of them is a copywriter.Wonders never cease…
I have been inspired by another who writes journal entries about his thoughts while riding the subway.His words are raw, sharp, and will not pull punches just for the sake of it.Every time I read one of his entries I think I have grown, and become more substantial.
I usually write poetry, short stories, fiction and non-fiction, but I have never been as candid as he is, pouring the inner most of his thoughts upon the screen.Why not?I don’t know.Is it because I am afraid of what I will find under the layers of introspection?Is it because I am worried what others will think of those layers revealed?That I am afraid of letting my tarnished edges belie my illusions of projected perfectionism?
I am about to embark on an experiment; a series of journal entries, which will sometimes be more like confessions.I will be honest, both with myself and with my readers, no matter if it pains me to do so.I am doing this for growth, and when are growing pains ever painless?
I am engaging in this experiment on the same day that I start my new running regime.In the past I have used my time running as meditations for prose, and I will be doing this again.Only this time I will be sharing all that comes to mind, the good, the bad and the ugly.I hope that they, the running, subjects of meditations and the writing will entwine and become something worthy of reading, or if nothing more will keep me on the asphalt.
Sometimes I see society as a huge herd of cattle in front of TV's, sitting in lazy boys with hooves up and udders pointed to the sky, transfixed by the latest advertising frenzical hypnotism.
Drooling and mindless and sitting in a pool of depression because their bodies are rebelling against the unusual lack of movement. Eyes gobbling up digital depictions of what will make them happy in mind and body if only they have enough money or balls to receive the debt required.
The big boys laugh as they program their armies of chattel with channels of junk food for the mind into more and more blind consumerism, that in turn lines their pockets with more golden thread.
Will we wake up from this self induced slumber? Or will we only be usurped by legions of veal, each individual connected to the next with umbilical cords tattooed with Twitter?