Run to the Silver Linings

It’s been a long time since my last post and for the 10 of you who follow my blog, I sincerely hope you haven’t lost any sleep in anticipation….  My last entry was just before the Savannah Marathon LAST NOVEMBER.  Needless to say, this is long overdue.  There’s plenty of reasons why I haven’t blogged since then, I simply haven’t had much positive news to report…

After a terrible showing at the Savannah Marathon {Side Note: I went out way too fast and hit a wall around mile 14 and never recovered..the last 12 miles was the most physically painful lesson I’ve ever learned.} Where was I? Oh yeah, After a terrible showing at the Savannah Marathon, I came down with a bad case of ITBS (not to be confused with IBS).  I’ve experienced ITBS before, but never this severe.  Imagine someone driving a nail through the outside of your knee every time you try to run.  It SUCKS.

After a variety of treatments, it seemed like nothing would work.  Not Ice, not heat, not rest, not rolling, not stretching, NOTHING.  Not even a week long holiday vacation to the most beautiful island in Hawaii (Kauai) could ease the pain.  Hopeless, right?

I had to do something, I was already scheduled for my for the Charleston Marathon on January 19th only 2 weeks from my return.  I decided to downsize to the Half Marathon and knew that even running 13.1 miles would be a challenge.

Four days before the marathon I received a phone call from my mom.  It was the phone call I’d been dreading for over a year.  My Uncle Jack had lost his battle with cancer.  Uncle Jack was my Rock-n-roll mentor who always encouraged me to pursue my own musical talents.  An inspiring man, never without a smile on his face or a guitar in his hand.  It was impossible to imagine the pain he’d been through for over a year and in those final moments, but I tried to.  That thought alone gave me a new perspective on pain and suffering.  I popped some Aleve and was able to finish the Half in just under 1hr 45min and I know he was right there with me all the way to the finish. Just like his Father (my maternal Grandfather) was during the Chicago Marathon the previous year. His suffering was finally over.

The following week, I was determined to cure myself of this ITBS.  Two weeks of no running was the first prescription I’d prescribed to myself, little did I know I’d need running more than ever.

It was a phone call from my dad this time.  His father (my paternal Grandfather, Aka Papaw Wayne) was involved in a serious car accident.  It was a foggy morning and he pulled on to the road in front of an 18 wheeler.  He was in critical condition and remained in the ICU for a few days. The following week I received an e-mail from my best friend/girlfriend of over 2 years explaining that she wanted to continue on her journey without me.

My Universe was quickly falling apart and the center of it had just disappeared.

Unable to run I had to do something, a week went by and I was wasting away.  Stuck in a pitiful, “life sucks” state of mind, self medication only worsened my condition.  I thought about my Uncle Jack and his passion for country music.  He was an emotional man with the biggest heart.  This made him a wonderful country music songwriter and musician and I remembered how he used the power of music to heal.  I picked up my guitar and began to write and play again, just as he did his entire life.

The healing of my heart had begun.

A few more days went by and I called my father to check on the status of my Papaw Wayne.  “He’s leaving the hospital today.” he said.  It’s a miracle, I thought to myself.  Not many people in their 70’s could go through an accident as bad as that one and survive.  He’d had a hip replacement the week before the accident and although he was finally out of the hospital his new challenge now was to be able to walk again.  He became my physical inspiration.

The healing of my body had begun.

During my intense physical rehabilitation, I’ve had plenty of time  to reflect on my relationship with Diana. I realized how much I’d learned from her.  A woman with a wild and adventurous spirit that strives to truly experience and explore the world, to live.  A real traveler.  Wanting to understand her more, I FINALLY finished reading a book she’d left me before her trip to Micronesia.  It’s titled, “The Sex Lives of Cannibals; Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific“.  After reading the book, it was easy for me to see how the author’s perception of the world was changed and how a new perspective  was born.  A perspective that no one could truly understand without living it. She was living it.

The healing of my mind and soul had begun.

Today, a week after my 28th birthday and the eve of the 2013 Cooper River Bridge Run, I’ve never felt more at ease. After a 2 month routine combining Hip and Glute exercises, plyometrics, rest, easy running, and ALOT of reading, my ITBS is finally under control.  My legs feel fresh and my mind feels strong and although its unlikely, there’s still a tiny chance I could beat last year’s 10K PR of 41:28.  There’s a part of me that doesn’t even want to run this year’s race for time though.  I want to take in every moment.  Every smile from the crowd.  Every breath of precious air.  These past few months have been one of the most influential learning experiences of my life and I will be grateful to simply cross the finish line tomorrow.

There’s an old Gatha that reads:

If you do not cross the meadow thickly covered in weeds, You will never reach the village dusted with falling blossoms.

The center of my Universe never disappeared, it’s always been there,  I’m just learning to find it again.

-Michael

Uncle Jack

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3 responses to “Run to the Silver Linings

  • Cyndy Rudd

    Wow! I am so proud of you! It is never enough to train you body without your ‘inner man’ following suit. You are training both with a discipline that is beyond your years. Keep running! Keep writing! ….and never, never lose this perspective! Cyndy 🙂

  • Janet F Owings

    Gifted with words…just like Uncle Jack. He and Papaw are with you and proud as ever of the man you have become, as am I.

  • Bear Owings

    Adversity is the mother of invention. Or in the words of your Grandfather “This is great training for a young man”.

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