Michigan

7/19/16

Why I Love The Questions

There was very little question that I’d fall in love with Michigan. Because Michigan–although adjacent to my home state of Wisconsin–was difficult to get to, I hadn’t had the opportunity to visit. Instead I’d been lured into Michigan landscapes by following the selectivepotential.com blog for years, wistfully leaning in to my computer screen as I scrolled through road trips. And she wore coordinating outfits! Could I ever be in such beautiful places? Could I stand in front of a lighthouse in a perfectly nautical dress as the waves crashed behind? It was the same sort of dreamy travel fantasy I had before visiting the jungles of Bali or the marble temples of India and yet it was Michigan.

I awoke in Holland, Michigan with the intention of another dune run. My friend Rachel and I had picked another state park with a lighthouse but, just as in Indiana, selecting the best location to run a mix of dunes and beach was tough. Rachel and I first drove to Tunnel Park which offered a unique photo opportunity in that I could emerge from the tunnel right onto the beach. But I didn’t want to run on just sand again. So we drove to the nearby Holland State Park. As we pulled into the parking lot I knew that it was the right place to run, no questions asked. The red lighthouse at the end of a long, skinny pier beckoned. Miles of beach stretched north. Best of all, several metal boardwalks reached from the park to the shoreline providing me with route options between the beach and sidewalks.

I queued up my Michigan playlist. First I ran out to the lighthouse but the pier was so narrow and filled with fisherman that I didn’t have enough room to run all the way to the end. Then, I ran through sidewalks in the park and looped back to the lighthouse. Then along the sandy beach. At the end of the beach I took a sharp right and pounded across the boardwalk to the beginning of grassy dunes. At the dunes, amazingly, the metal boardwalk turned into a curving wooden boardwalk. I was just over a mile in. If I could run the boardwalk for a mile and a half, I would have only a half mile to finish close to the lighthouse. The wooden boardwalk was just the happy surprise I was hoping for. I couldn’t believe my good luck in musical timing: Rogue Wave’s “Lake Michigan,” which I’d amazingly heard live just a week before, started to play. Hearing that song at that moment celebrated a concert, date, friends and running location. It was a serendipitous intersection of life and music. When “Lake Michigan” was followed by Stevie Wonder’s “For Once in My Life,” it was as if years of questions, doubts and waiting were affirmed in two minutes and fifty seconds of complete soul satisfaction. The boardwalk thundered below. I flew past families walking to the beach. For once in my life my questions were answered.

I was so glad to not be wondering anymore. And maybe I should have been wondering more than I was. But I didn’t wonder if there was a better job for me because I was happy. At work time flew by writing about food just as it flies by when running, or writing about running. I didn’t wonder, or at least only wondered to a reasonable degree, about my new relationship. Instead of dreamily wandering around town listening to sad indie songs, I was simply spending time with someone I liked. My day to day questions weren’t huge gaps only to be filled in with a stream of informational interviews and first dates (which are actually remarkably similar). The questions were instead in the moment, such as that moment of running. “How long will this boardwalk go?” “What would it be like to live in this house with a pink trimmed porch?” “What do these homeowners do for the 4th of July?” “What could be better than this run?”

Why do I love the questions? Because I love the answers.

Questions are important. The big ones are important because they’ve helped get me to places where I only have to ask the little ones. And yet it’s just as important to ask the little questions. In fact, it seems the more little questions I offer, the fewer big questions I have to ask:

For example,

Instead of, “What is the perfect job for me?”: “What tasks do I most like doing at my job? Let’s find a way to do more of those things.”

Instead of, “Who will I spend the rest of my life with?”: “What people in my life annoy me the least? Let’s find someone with those qualities.”

And instead of, “What am I doing with my life?”: “What state will I run in next? Let’s plan.”

See you next month in Wyoming.

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Indiana

July 8, 2016

I’d been looking forward to Indiana. I’d planned to run Indiana the day after my birthday on a Lake Michigan road trip with one of my best friends. I was finally in shape physically, emotionally, socially, romantically and in career. All at the same time. There had been no other instance of running in 31 states in which that had been true. What would it mean to run in a new state now that I was finally happy?

My friend Rachel and I had already decided that the run would take place at Indiana Dunes State Park, a place I’d read about and took up a lot of space on a map, which I considered a good sign. We started the morning with a filling breakfast in a Victorian B and B in Valparaiso, spent an hour in a gourmet popcorn shop, and visited Michael Jackson’s boyhood home in Gary. It was pretty much the perfect day.

On the state park map there were lots of options of places to run. I’d picked a park adjacent to the main dunes area thinking that it would have more running options than just beach. It also seemed quicker and easier to get to. I didn’t want Rachel to have to spend any more time on my mission than necessary. But, even as we drove into the lot near the park, I sensed this may not be the dynamic dune run I was hoping for.  Then a man carrying a camera and tripod approach our car which, I should point out, was a white Mustang convertible with red leather seats. He asked what sort of hike we were looking for. I explained that I was running a 5K in every state. I said I wanted a run that had some dunes. He suggested the adjacent state park and then hesitated, “There’s a fee. Are you limited on funds?” We said no, in hopes that on the off-chance he planned rob us in the wilderness we could still present ourselves as modest spenders who just happened to be driving a fancy car. He emphasized that the dunes were really the best place to run, if we weren’t limited on funds, which turned out to be nine dollars. That settled it: we headed to dunes. As soon as the man was out of earshot Rachel laughed and asked why he kept asking if we were limited on funds. “I know!” I said. “We’re driving a Mustang, you’re wearing Michael Kors sunglasses, and I’m holding a hot pink Kate Spade wallet.” I blasted “Free Bird,” laughing as the wind blew through our hair on the way to the beach.

The man in the parking lot was right. This was the spot to run. On that partly sunny Friday before the 4th of July the parking lot, dunes and beach were already getting full. A large brick shelter housed bathrooms, changing rooms, showers and a snack bar. Although the shelter looked like it had been built in the past few years, I felt the presence of generations of families on summer vacations. Some of whom were my own family and friends. I was excited to become a part of vacation history.

After my 32nd state documentation photo I quickly determined that this run wouldn’t be the mix of dunes, trails and beach I had hoped for. The dunes, while absolutely stunning, were not anything I could run up and down for three miles. It would be a beach 5K as in Rhode Island and Alabama. I don’t necessarily mind running on sand, but it is a challenge. In Indiana, the beach was so narrow that I barely had enough wet, runnable sand. The run was less of a run and more of game to escape the ever-approaching waves. At 12-minute miles, the pace was also two minutes slower than my average easy pace, making the endeavor even less like a run and more like some sort of boot camp challenge. I ran 1.6 miles down the beach and then turned around. As I leaped over waves I thought about how close I came to getting soaked. Was it luck or skill? How much of this success was in my control? And then I stepped in the water. Half of my supportive, stability Brooks running shoe sunk in the cool water of Lake Michigan. And it wasn’t so bad. The thing I’d been avoiding had happened. It was a small relief to know what it felt like to momentarily fail. After it happened the first time I was less worried about it happening again. So, perhaps more casually dodging the waves, I did get wet, just a little bit, over and over. It was kind of fun to not have things go exactly the way I wanted. I had already done that for 31 states and I had come out ok. I finished that run with a wet foot but the rest of me sun-kissed and happy. The waves hadn’t won.

After I’d used the changing rooms to get back into my navy polo dress I thought about pushing for success. Rachel and I had pushed high speeds roaring up the coast in our Mustang. I’d pushed my luck by running as close as I could to the waves without getting completely soaked. But someday I would be soaked. Someday my running, health, friends, guy, job wouldn’t be perfect. I’d been there before. In fact, all those things might be highly imperfect all at the same time. I’d been there before too. And when that day comes again I hope I’ll be better prepared.

But today was not that day. So I’ll just remember dancing among the waves feeling lucky as ever.

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Iowa

I’ve been intentionally pursuing running a 5k in 50 states for two and a half years. For 18 states, running a 5k in new state was a way to feel the success I couldn’t find in career and love. That changed in Iowa.

The Iowa plan was much like other states. It would be a “cross the border run” as in Georgia, Idaho, Delaware,Louisiana, and Illinois.  I was also driving to Iowa with my high school friends Heather and Rachel as in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, DC, and Louisiana. The difference was that a few days prior I’d accepted an offer for a new job I was over the moon about. I had given notice to my current job at the newspaper but hadn’t yet started my new job so it was all champagne, smiles, and congratulatory messages. I hadn’t told Heather and Rachel anything about the job opportunity either so I was looking forward to sharing the good news and catching up. We rolled out of Fitchburg, Wisconsin a gray, drizzly day after Christmas. It was depressing, challenging weather to both drive and run in and if I hadn’t lured them out of bed to join me, I’m sure we would have each been cozied up in our respective holiday hangovers.

For the hour plus drive to the Wisconsin-Iowa border I rattled off the amazing perks of the new job (“wine Fridays!!) while they listened and congratulated me. Eventually the conversation turned, as it always does, to old boyfriends: the ones we met in AOL chatrooms, supported through their gastric-bypass, and were “50 shades of crazy.” For me, the passenger about to conquer another state, the drive was a giddy mix of telling ridiculous past trysts and acknowledgement of professional success. The blend of joys was both surprising and comforting.

Rachel and Heather dropped me off at Riverview Park, a tiny island in the Mississippi River withing the Iowa state line. They drove off to investigate lunch options in Dubuque while I walked along the Mississippi feeling cold and sluggish. I snapped a few pictures at the end of a pier and the end of the park with signposts for the direction of Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois. The run would be an intersection of states and emotions.

While I ran those chilly 3.1 miles along the Mississippi I thought about the joy in coming back to running after spraining my ankle. I also acknowledged that for the first time in eight years, running was no longer the only area in which I felt successful. I’d been running across the country and diligently in Seattle, sometimes fast, sometimes far, but mostly doing it to feel good about myself. Though each had had their ups and downs, neither my career nor my love life had been what I had hoped they would be. So I ran. I ran without a supped up LinkedIn profile or an engagement ring because it is what I could do. No matter how fast or far I ran, every time I ran was a victory or sorts. That day in Iowa, because I had gotten the job I had dreamed of but was never sure I could get, felt different. Running was no longer the best part of me. My career had finally trumped running. It was what I had wanted but the tiniest bit bittersweet. I recognized both the loss and the triumph, wrapped up that final point one of a mile, and met my girlfriends at the car.

On the way back to Madison conversation inevitably floated back to boyfriends. As we approached the spot where one of us used to make out with our boyfriend parked along a country road, I decided to take the crazy up a notch and play some Richard Marx. I shared that my first slow dance had been to “Right Here Waiting for You.”  We laughed over that memory our other respective memories to “Endless Summer Nights” and “Hold on to The Nights.” That’s the thing about visiting your girlfriends, you can revisit the vulnerable and ridiculous one minute and celebrate the professional achievements the next.

That’s also the thing about running. Running is what I do when I am feeling better than best. It’s also what I do when I don’t know what else to do, when I am so broken in spirit that I swear my legs are the only things that work. With a new year and a new job there a sure to be many more ups and downs. This 2016 my wish for you is wherever you go, whatever you do, running will be right there waiting for you.

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North Carolina

November 26, 2015

North Carolina was set for Thanksgiving Day. After successfully and painlessly completing 5ks in Georgia and South Carolina earlier in the week, I was confident that this run would go off without a hitch. To make the run even easier, I wouldn’t have to drive out of state and look for a destination. My host Rebecca had suggested a nearby trail along the French Broad River.  The trail was just a five minute drive from the house. After a lazy morning of Thanksgiving prep chopping onions and bread cubes, the sun came out. I made the short trip to the trailhead.

Rebecca was right: it was a perfect setup. Families strolled along the river, fitting in a bit of exercise before the big feast. I smiled thinking about the run and feasting ahead, and then I looked down at my left ankle. I had forgotten the stabilizer. I had been instructed by my doctor to wear the stabilizer during every waking moment of the day for six months but my doctor friend Rebecca said I didn’t need to wear it. I felt that the best answer for me was somewhere in between: I would wear it exercising and ween myself off it during the other waking hours. So, what made the most sense was to drive five minutes to pick it up a home. But I just didn’t want to. It wouldn’t have been a far drive but something in me wanted to go without. Be a rogue warrior. Run “Footloose,” if you will. And so I decided to try. I had been cautious in the month since the sprain but in that moment I wanted to be bold. I wanted to see what my body could do. I found one of my most upbeat indie playlists from a time when I was running, travelling, going out, meeting people, and seeing shows a lot—basically feeling like an escalated, awesome version of myself. I chose that person to run.

The run was beautiful. I hugged the river passing cyclists resting on the banks, a trailer park and Mellowdrome cycle track. The sunshine and warm weather paired with the rusted Appalachian scenery took me back to another trip to Asheviile. The first time I visited Asheville was with Rebecca 10 years ago. It was significant because it was a joyful trip of new places, fall weather, movie location scouting and delicious food and drink, but more so, it was one of the first vacations I took not just to visit family or friends. It was a trip to be, see and experience a new place. In a sense it laid the foundation for 5kin50states. It revealed how much I enjoy planning, dreaming, and fantasizing about a place and then making it happen.

As Asheville memories skated along and the indie hits kept on coming, I thought of my ankle: it didn’t hurt. If anyone saw me running I would be just another runner, not someone wearing a stabilizer coming back from injury. I was slowly, with each step and diligence, coming back from injury. As Rebecca would liberally quote Amy Winehouse the following day: “They tried to make you go to rehab and you said, ‘yes, yes, yes.’” In fact I felt victorious. I realized that the very thing I love about running was the very thing which had brought me back to it when I couldn’t run: hard work, diligence and sticking to a plan yields results. If you want something bad enough you can have it. Sheer will and perseverance do not always pay off in major areas of life such as career and love but they do pay off in fitness. If you do the work you will see results. All of those mobility circles, writing the alphabet with my big toe, balancing with my eyes closed, swimming when all I wanted to do was run and riding the stationary bike watching “Waiting to Exhale” had actually worked. I had willed my way back to running by doing.

I think a lot about what running has given me. It has given me both control and freedom, peace and energy. How is that possible? Because I love it enough. Just the opposite of the Patti Smyth and Don Henley song—which is dead on about romantic love—“Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough,” in running, love is enough. Simple love of the movement had brought me back to it when I couldn’t run. It brought me back to beautiful Asheville on Thanksgiving 10 years later to visit my friends to experience that same freedom of travel, will, and joy-seeking escapades that are now a defining part of who I am.

Sometimes love is enough. And on that first day back, running freely, I believed it always would be.

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South Carolina

November 24, 2015

Even though “The Keystone State” is technically Pennsylvania, for me it is South Carolina. Geographically, South Carolina looks somewhat like a keystone, an inverted triangle wedged between Appalachia and the Atlantic. Figuratively, it locks my other states into position, bridging the gap between states I’d run in and those to come.

South Carolina as the 29th state marked just over the halfway point of this project. On the bases of both sides of the keystone are the first 28 states. The firmly stacked stones on the left are the unintentional running achievements in states I had lived in or visited multiple times: Wisconsin, New Jersey, Ohio, Washington, Arizona, Oregon and California. On the base of the right are the clusters of states I had visited with the purpose of running: New England, the Mid-Atlantic, The South and now Appalachia. The experience of running in South Carolina was both challenging and easy, planned yet surprising, sluggish and triumphant.

My friend Rebecca and I had to pick up our friends at the Greenville airport around 4. We’d sketched an itinerary that began with a hearty Asheville breakfast and would finish with a 5k run on a greenway in Greenville. That morning, right on target, we paced ourselves through biscuits, bacon, and breakfast burritos with fresh avocado. Our charmingly-Asheville waiter, clad in requisite flannel and knit cap, flirted with us in the southern hipster style. The check-ins were warm and lingering. The coffee flowed. When Rebecca showed him my Spotify playlist “Breaking Badass,” he was genuinely impressed at the inclusion of both Creedence Clearwater Revival and Gnarls Barkley. As Rebecca took her final sip of coffee, sharing that we were off to run in my 29th state, our waiter leaned back in surprise, revealing a wedding ring. Alas, some goals cannot be attained. Others, like running in South Carolina, were just over an hour away.

Once in Greenville we caught glimpses of the greenway outside the passenger window. So we opted to park the car and venture on foot to locate the trail. Rebecca in hipster cap, puffy vest and cowboy boots and I in a mint-green running top and black pants we must have been a sight as we walked passed an arts center, the office of the Greenville News, and a few construction sites. We found a park where city workers were repairing a stone bridge.  Rebecca asked directions to the greenway. The workers replied and told us to have a good day. Rebecca thanked them with a drawling, “ya’ll do the same.” We were in South Carolina now.

We connected with the trail at a small bridge, two benches and sculpture of an airplane. Even though North Carolina is the home of “first in flight,” I sensed that the photo documenting South Carolina’s run should be with this plane. Rebecca stood back and helped me set up the shot. First beneath a wing, hands pressed to the bottom as if I was supporting it. Then I gripped the wing and balanced on one foot as if I were holding on for dear life. That was the shot. It perfectly captures the momentum of kin50states: the fearless drive paired with the jaw-clenching terror of wondering if my ankle would hold up for two 5ks, two days in a row. I let go of the plane, waved goodbye to Rebecca and started running.

The trail started out winding and flat but about half a mile in it climbed up steep, stone steps and over dusty hills. Had my ankle been stronger, I would have welcomed the diverse terrain but that day I was still tentative. I opted for a branching off flat path with an even surface. Soon that path become a narrow road leading out of the trail park into a neighborhood of colonial homes. I started to feel like myself again: there were forks in the road. I had to make choices and I was able to make those choices based on what I felt was safe and kind to my body yet in line with my goals. Soon I had to flip around and run back the way I came to get in more mileage. That was ok too. I passed Rebecca sitting on a bench still reading and panted, “a mile to go!” In that last mile I felt the sluggishness of the return to running coupled with the triumph of conquering my 29th state the day after my 28th state. I was holding on to the wing of the plane yet still flying. When I approached Rebecca on the bench for the last time I saw her standing, iPhone in hand, ready to capture my final steps.

After my run, Rebecca and I spent the next hour strolling the trail back to the car. We stopped to linger on a bridge overlooking a waterfall and those same stone steps I had cautiously avoided on the run. It was a beautiful urban park—one that I never would have found had I not needed to run in South Carolina. It’s just what I love about 5kin50states: the opportunity to connect with a friend and visit a little–known spot of the US. I smiled looking down at the families playing on the rocks beside the waterfall. We were all there together enjoying the park, but to me the moment was so much bigger.

On our way back to car we stopped in the arts center to use what I was sure to be a “really nice bathroom” (I was right). Walking out we passed a counter with a pile of nameplates. I fanned them out and uncovered, amidst names I’d never heard of, Diana Ross. The Supreme. The soloist. The diva. There she was, just tucked beneath the no-names, ready to shine. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no Diana Ross. I don’t run far or fast, but I do keep at it. I am tenacious. My running career has spanned three decades and I hope it spans three more. At the keystone of 5kin50states, just over halfway through, I had a grin on my face and my hands in the air. Ain’t no mountain high enough.

 

Georgia

November 23, 2015

Georgia was my top priority in a vacation that, throughout the planning stages, evolved from a running trip to a friends trip. When I booked the vacation months ago I had hoped to run in five states: North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky. Kentucky was always a stretch since I would be staying in Asheville, North Carolina, and, if I wanted to pair a Kentucky run with the bourbon trail I would have some trouble doing it all in one day. So, after I sprained my ankle, Kentucky was the first to go. As weeks went by between the date of the sprain and departure date and I still hadn’t run I picked another state to rule out. The next to go was Tennessee. The Tennessee-North Carolina state line is actually closer to Asheville than the Georgia and South Carolina borders but I could also easily do Tennessee on a future Kentucky bourbon trail trip. Tennessee was out. That left the Carolinas and Georgia. A week before the trip, still not having run, I picked Georgia as my number one to run in. I had already done its neighboring states of Alabama and Florida. Since my friend Rebecca lives in Ashville, North Carolina, I could always come back for the Carolinas. When I got on the plane for a week in Asheville I resolved that I would be happy if I only got Georgia—though I secretly hoped for the Carolinas too. The questions and hopes echoed my most-detested phrase of my mother’s, “you’ll just have to wait and see.”

At 9:30 p.m on Sunday, November 22nd, I arrived at Rebecca’s cozy mountain retreat a stiff, trembling bag of bones from driving two-plus hours in the pitch black, winding mountain roads in a rental car that was a cross between a go-cart and a roller skate. Its shape was almost a perfect cube. The little white marshmallow was easily swayed by the wind as I drove through the night trying to soothe my nerves with familiar 80s pop. I breathed deeply as the REO Speedwagon ballads carried me up and down hill after hill, all the while knowing I would have to drive it to Georgia the next day.

A good night’s sleep, sunlight and support from a friend can do wonders to relieve stress. The next morning Rebecca and I hopped in the go-cart/roller skate/marshmallow equipped with chocolate peanut butter pumpkin muffins and the determination to run in Georgia. In truth, I was a little bit relieved to be driving because it meant I would be worried about driving as opposed to running. In just over an hour, the roller skate rolled into the Chattahoochee National Forest in Georgia. “Cross the state line” runs can be tricky. In theory you just have to get over that line and you’re there. But, what’s on the other side of state lines is often nothing, as in Delaware. Rebecca and I drove though Dillard, Georgia, a border town of farm stands and antique strip malls. We could have pulled over but we weren’t sure where the best 5k route was. Just as the businesses grew fewer between, we came upon a gated estate of rolling green hills. I thought it was a residential development which we could safely run in: get in and get out before the Georgians knew what we were up to. Rolling down the driveway we realized it was a the Rabun Gap Nacoochee School whose expansive grounds included tennis courts, a pond, trails and track. It was 5k heaven. We knew we had hit the jackpot. We parked the roller skate in the empty parking lot, bit a hunk of muffin and stepped out into the cold, sunny air.

As we walked down a small dusty gravel hill Rebecca asked, “Are you ready?”

“Not yet. This is an uneven surface.”

I needed optimal running conditions. I was safe inside school property, next to a friend of 25 years who happened to be an MD and an elite athlete, the sun was shining and chocolate peanut butter pumpkin muffins awaited us in the car. If I was ever going to resume running, this was the time. Once on a flat gravel path, we began to run.

We talked the whole way, about what I can’t remember. The entire time I was focused on my left ankle and how my body felt after a three-week break from running. It felt heavy. I could talk but every movement was more laborious than in my former days as a runner. I felt like I had gained 20 pounds, which after the weeks of replacing running with recumbent biking while watching “Waiting to Exhale,” wasn’t a complete overstatement. Still, my ankle didn’t hurt. We looped around a pond, further into school grounds passing a farm with black cows grazing on a hillside. “Bucolic,” we said and joked how it was such an ugly word for a beautiful thing. “Bucholera,” I joked. And on and on went our jumbled, goofy exchange as we closed in on the final .1.

I made Rebecca pause the stopwatch to take a picture of the bucolic scenery just before we took our last steps of the run. The sun had never shone brighter. We hugged. I was so very happy to have completed that run, not because it was hard but because it meant I was back in the game. It meant that while it may take time to return to the pace and distances I crave, at least I was in in it.

I don’t recall much of our conversation during the run. I just keep coming back to the word “bucolic.” I think about the absolute beauty of that day, the green hills against the blue sky— the absolute beauty of any pastoral scene defined bucolic. An ugly word for a beautiful thing. I had thought taking time off from running would be the worst that could happen, and there were several emotional and physical low points which proved me right. But it was also an ugly label for an experience that turned out to be beautiful. Without rest you can’t have recovery. Without an unknown destination in Georgia we wouldn’t have stumbled into the picturesque Rabun Gap Nacoochee School. Without the space to fulfill a goal, the goal cannot be fulfilled. I thank Rebecca and Georgia for helping create that beautiful thing, a 5k in my 28th state.

Maryland

November 16, 2014

Maryland was a simpler time. Maryland was the last state I ran in during the 2014 Mid-Atlantic trip and the last state before I sprained my ankle. It was the last state before I had to adopt a consciousness about running. In Maryland I walked out the door and ran with friends–no worries about reinjury or being too slow. It was a simple finale to a week of big time travels, friends, ambitions and distances. We ran along the shores of Annapolis past the coastal homes as the wind fought our bodies. I remember my friend Rebecca firmly and kindly stating that we “wait for each other” when I paused to correct my Garmin watch. Beyond that, the run itself was not impactful.

What is impactful is that running may never be that easy again. Since I couldn’t run for almost a month I took up swimming and recumbent biking and surprised myself because I came to actually enjoy both. As much of a pain it is to drive, suit up, and pre-shower to swim, there is something simple and soothing about following that blue line to the end of the pool. No music. No stoplights. No possibility of pain. I couldn’t hurt myself swimming, which will never be true of running again. I like how hungry I feel after a swim. I like how no parts of my body are sore. I like showering and still smelling a little bit like Chorine the next day.

Riding a stationary bike is even easier than swimming and, in my case, requires even less prep than running. I can walk three doors down the hallway of my apartment building to a fitness room where I am met with a choice of two stationary bikes, two elliptical machines, two treadmills, three weight machines, free weights and an assortment of celebrity magazines. I’ve mostly stuck to the recumbent bike and US Weekly, the two simplest options. While the calories burn is far less than running, I can’t get over the fact that I can still burn calories while sitting down reading about the Kardashians. It feels like cheating. But it’s not cheating. It’s still movement, work and effort, just a different type.

Running may never be what it was and that’s ok. There are so many ways to stay in shape and feel whole without risking pain. There is beauty in this change and transition. Let go of what was to let in what will be.

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