I am decommissioning this blog. This is the end of the road. I am officially no longer a runner, no longer a zombie turtle.
Though I had fallen out of love with running over the pandemic summer, I had started to find my cadence again, my float, my joy at the end of it. I did not know that yesterday would be my last run. Or maybe I did, and that is why I laced up my shoes even when I did not want to go.
I started running after I had my daughter. I had never been into it before, even when I (half-assed) played soccer in high school. My first run was in the heat in Tennessee, not terribly long post partum, in shoes a size too small for me. It was a sweaty, panting disaster, and yet the addiction started.
Like all things, I could not indulge just a little. The addiction took deep root. And I found accomplices. We found therapy and sanity along the riverwalk, slowly counting fishes every half mile in the dark hours before dawn.
Running led to running buddies led to run clubs led to races led to more races. An addiction sprouted into a community. Some were tourists; some became residents. Confessions were made on the trail. Therapy sessions conducted over sweaty miles. Comradery and commiseration filled the space between each panting breath.
Running came home with me when I moved back to Colorado, when I exchanged humidity for altitude, when I had to retrain to attain even my meager pace.
Every week, there were miles. While pregnant, after babies, when I was sick, in the subzero snow, up the worst hills. Before I had my son, it seemed the only thing I did was run nearly every morning.
Running brought a sanity and consistency to my mind that I was told would take medication. The blend of a routine and a physical outlet balanced me out. As long as I ran (slowly) until my legs were exhausted, I felt mentally prepared to climb the daily obstacles. Draining my body charged my mind.
I ran everywhere. I traveled to run, and I ran when I traveled. When I arrived in a new city, I would see running route options before I noticed gas stations or restaurants. I pried myself out of bed before dawn countless mornings to ensure I had the time to run before I started my day. I spent many evenings dawning a headlamp to navigate with run club before margaritas and chips.
Like every addiction, it came with withdrawals. I could feel when I had not had the endorphin rush of a good run within a week. When I fell out of love with running and when I locked down during the pandemic, I felt it. When I was recovering from birth and from hip surgery, I felt it. My brain always felt like an egg timer, needing to be reset by one more good run.
Now, the timer is going to run out.
My hip surgery failed. Or it didn’t fail, and my labrum is just too damaged and weak. It does not really matter why, but my hip is torn again. Just like before. And my hip is full of arthritis. Worse than before.
The pain resurfaced over the summer, oddly when I had lost my taste for running. Nothing happened. No dislocation like the injury that initiated this journey. I did not try a new activity or pick up a new addiction. Nothing changed. Yet a small ache started to nag in the root of my joint.
Then it blossomed in such a familiar pattern. When simple movements produced a painful flinch again, I returned to the orthopedic to check. My orthopedic was potentially more surprised than I was to see a large new tear on the MRI results.
The options are limited, as I am too young for a hip replacement. I cannot repeat my hip arthroscopy with the labrum ripping so easily. I can get a zombie tendon to replace my labrum and some mixture of donor cartilage and plasma to pacify my arthritis. However, with any other option decades in the future, I am going to try to forestall that as long as possible. I am going to attempt to manage things without the knife until I am as miserable as I was last time.
I would say I am halfway there. Two years later.
I started physical therapy with the same person at the same place. And that is where my running journey ended. Impact in my damaged joint will only accelerate my arthritis, if not increase my tear. So, I can run, but it will cost me. If I am trying to make it 30 years without needing a new hip, it might not be a cost I can pay.
So I have to let running go. I have to abandon something that has been utterly foundational in my life for the past nine years. As a self-destructive person, I have to relinquish my first healthy and productive vice in the interest of my physical health. I do not know how to do this. I do not know how to balance without it, but I will have to learn.
This blog was always about running. Later, it harbored my other fitness flirtations and my self-loathing weight obsession, but ultimately, it was always about running. As that chapter of my life is forced to close, so too does this site.