Dear Nike

Dear Nike,

I don’t know how to break this to you gently, so I’m just going to be blunt:

Our 10-year love affair has hit a bump. I’m sorry to tell you this, but my feet have cheated on you. I have cheatin’ feet.

It started innocently enough. I needed new shoes to help with my plantar fasciitis problem and my crunchy knee. I went to the Runner’s World website, clicked on the Running Shoe Finder and took the quiz (apparently women’s magazines aren’t the only ones with compatibility quizzes).

After submitting my answers to several questions (Are you male or female? How high are your arches? What are your motion mechanics?), I got a list of suggestions, including the news that I needed stability, which you had not been providing enough of over the years. This was a bit of a surprise, but not entirely: I had been leaning a bit in the wrong direction (overpronating) for several months, possibly even years. It was inevitable that I would get hurt.

I don’t blame you entirely. It was a combination of things.

First, I hadn’t been in tune with my true needs. I was surprised to discover recently that I have high arches. I had always believed I was “normal” in that area, so I had never tried to deal with my issues. Turns out I needed better, more rigid arch support. I thought all I needed was a soft place to land (extra cushioning) with minimal support, and this is what you had given me all these years. I can’t exactly blame you for not providing what I didn’t know I needed.

Second, some of my needs have changed. When I began looking for you 10 years ago, the store clerk (or, as I prefer to call him, “the matchmaker”) suggested I try your women’s Air Pegasus model, which was for “heavier runners” (or, as I prefer to call us, “full-figured gals”). I felt the love immediately. As you gently caressed my feet, I knew this was a match made in Runners Heaven. And you weren’t bad on the eyes, either; the physical attraction was undeniable. White and black with a red swoosh. Ooh, baby!

But that was then. This is now.

I’m more mature now, and lighter. The extra cushioning is nice, but I need more from a shoe.

And there was my husband to think about. You might assume that he urged me to be faithful, but he did not. I had tried on a few models in a local store – brands I did not even want to look at, much less allow to touch my feet – but I kept longing for you. Nevertheless, he wanted me to keep an open mind, to be sure I had exhausted all local options.

I had already found a better, younger version of you online – one that offered cushioning and support. And even though the Running Shoe Finder helped me narrow my choices to one or two, that was a virtual store. I needed to try on a few real pairs before deciding, especially since this was such a big decision for my physical (and, yes, emotional) well-being, not to mention our checkbook.

You may (or may not) be surprised to learn that the one I had ultimately chosen online was … you again. A cushiony, more supportive version of the shoe you used to be. I had even virtual-chatted with a guy at the Road Runner Sports website. (Those guys are like the Dr. Ruth of athletic gear. They help you find true compatibility. True love to last a lifetime – or at least a few months, until the shoes wear out.)

I asked him the difference between the model he suggested, the Nike Zoom Equalon+ 4, and a similar model in another brand that I had been looking at, albeit reluctantly. I didn’t really want to stray from you, the one I had loved for more than a decade, but my husband/coach sometimes has to talk sense into me. I couldn’t try on the Equalon, and I had tried on some other brands that seemed to fit my needs.

But Dr. Ruth-guy had me sold on the Equalon; he said it was equivalent to the other model except that the Equalon had more cushioning. Support and extra cushioning! The total package!

But, alas, there was the third thing: a sale at the local store.

My husband, who’s also my coach (and my real true love), went with me and watched me run each time I tried a new pair. Because the store didn’t have my chosen shoe (you), he watched as the other brands corrected my overpronation. Nevertheless, he said I should think about it some more. He even urged me to ask the clerk to order last year’s model of the one that seemed to be the best fit (the older model was $40 cheaper, and I was under no obligation to buy it). A few days later, the store clerk called. My order had arrived.

I tried on the shoe. It felt good, it offered stability and … it was good looking.

I can’t say it looked better than you in every way – I’ve grown to love your happy little swoosh over the years – but it was narrower. It made my wide boats look like … well, normal girl feet. And it has stabilized my gait. Not that the online version of you wouldn’t have done the same thing. But I couldn’t be sure of that. A relationship that begins online is risky.

So, Nike, I have cheated. I’m sorry I’ve strayed. But I have a feeling our love affair isn’t over – if you’ll take me back someday. Because someday money won’t be such an issue. I will still be frugal, but I’ll be better able to make the choices I want to make when it comes to my feet. I know you will offer me a soft place to land again (and again). And the stability I need.

Thanks for the memories, but don’t think it’s over for good.

I’ll be back.

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Bless the beasts and the children

If you don’t think God cares about animals, you need to read my dog tale.

I’d been praying for and about a dog along my jog/walk route. In fact, last time I walked with our group in the evenings (after we changed back to the 4-Mile  Classic route that’s close to my neighborhood), I mentioned it to one of the ladies.

“There’s this dog up ahead that I feel so sorry for,” I said.”

“I know exactly which one you’re talking about,” she said.

Every morning when I walked by myself, and two evenings a week when I walked with the group, I’d see this dog – a large black, friendly but somewhat subdued dog – tethered to a cable that ran from a tree to the roof of the house. A very short cable in a tiny, tiny yard. In fact, it’s so small I’m not even sure it qualifies as a yard.

That sweet dog was tethered to that short piece of cable all day every day, it seemed. What a life.

My friend and I talked about this poor dog – how we couldn’t understand why someone would want a dog if they were going to keep it chained up outside all the time and never play with it. (I have no real evidence to back this up – only speculation – but, judging by the condition of the tiny, rundown house and yard, the dog sure wasn’t getting any indoor playtime when we weren’t looking.)

I had mentioned the situation to Bruce, telling him that the dog never made a sound, even when I said hello (I say hello to all the furbabies along my route); she would just run back and forth along that short little cable every time I walked by, seemingly excited to see someone – anyone – any sign of life amid a dreary existence. I told him I wished I could gather her up and bring her home with me. (I’m a bit of a sucker for a needy animal.)

A week ago, I came in from my walk on Saturday morning, and Bruce was awake.

“I know we can barely afford the two dogs we have,” I told him, “but when we finally sell the North Little Rock house and have some extra cash, don’t be surprised to see me walking in the door with that dog I was telling you about.”

He kind of smiled (just like he always does when I say, “Can we take that dog? He needs a home!”).

“I’m serious!” I said. “If I ever see people at that house, I’m going to ask them if they really want that dog, and if they don’t I’m going to ask if I can have her. And when we sell the house, if she’s still there and I don’t see anyone outside I might just walk up to the door and knock on it!” (I get a little riled up sometimes.) “I’ll tell them we have a big yard and plenty of room.” I figured we could be foster parents until we found someone else to take her.

So I started praying for a decent home for my sweet little (big) poochy friend.

Tuesday or Wednesday morning as I approached her house, she was looking toward the back yard and barking a little – not mad barking, but friendly, excited barking, like, “Hey, let me back there to play with you!” Someone may have been back there, but I didn’t see anyone. When she saw me she ran up to the little 2-foot wall at the edge of the yard and put her front paws on it. I went over and rubbed her ears. She laid her head over on me, just eating up the attention. I talked to her for a couple of minutes, scratching and rubbing her head and neck, telling her what a good dog she was – and wishing I could untether her and take her with me. But I went home, leaving her there, alone in her tiny yard. Again. Praying for her all the way, wishing she could have a better life, with a big yard to run around in. Knowing that right now we could not provide that for her but hoping she would be at least a little happy until we could.

Toward the end of the week, I noticed I hadn’t seen her in a few days. I thought, “Well, maybe they finally took pity on her and let her go inside out of the heat.” Friday morning I realized the cable had been gone for a couple of days but the small doghouse was still there. I looked around in the street – no signs of a dog having been hit by a car, unless they cleaned it up really well (not likely).

Saturday as I approached the house, I noticed a man and a woman in the yard. He was just getting settled in a chair, and she was going back into the house. I said, “Hey, what happened to your dog?”

Him: “We gave it away to a good home.”

Her: “Where she could run around – and be free.”

Me: “Aww, that’s nice.” (That’s what I said on the outside. On the inside I was shouting, “Praise God! Yippee! Halleluiah! God, You are awesome! Thank you!”)

I kept walking. And smiling.

Sometimes all you gotta do is ask.

“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.” – Ephesians 3:20-21 (New Living Translation)

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You say torn meniscus; I say crunchy knee

It’s official: My crunchy knee requires surgery. It will be minor, outpatient and supposedly quick. I’ll be off work Thursday and Friday (Aug. 11-12) and should be back to my routine by Monday. The doc said I’d need crutches for a few days, and I’ll have to undergo some post-surgery physical therapy, but I should be back to normal (and running!) within a few weeks.

People, I wanted to do the Dance of Joy right there in the doctor’s office! (I didn’t, mainly because I didn’t want to embarrass Bruce. Like it would faze him.)

This means my training for the 2012 Olympic trials won’t be on hold for much longer.* And those running-shoe deals they’ve been after me to sign? Well, the shoe companies will just have to duke it out for my much-sought-after endorsement. There have been so many calls, I’ve had to change my phone number. 🙂

Yes, this is very good news. Penciling in my new training schedule now …

Oh, yeah, you may be wondering about the surgeon’s diagnosis. Of course the official diagnosis by my primary-care physician is Crunchy Knee, but the surgeon came up with his fancy new term from some medical book or something: torn meniscus. Sounds like a made-up term, doesn’t it? I bet he got it off some quack website.

Nevertheless, that’s the term we’re going with, unofficially (I’m humoring him by going along with it). So in three weeks he’ll go in with an arthroscope and clean out the area around the injury. He’ll trim off the torn part of the “meniscus” and take out any floating pieces, if there are any. The surgery is called a “meniscectomy.” Supposedly. According to the surgeon’s alleged medical research.

Apparently this diagnosis and the resulting surgery have gained popularity. You can even read about them on reputable websites such as WebMD. So, rather than trying to ’splain, I’ll just let you click here and read about it for yourself. Some clever person was even commissioned to draw pictures of what the “meniscus” looks like.

So the weeks and months of wondering and fretting are over. My crunchy knee can be fixed, and I will run again (Lord willin’).

Woo hoo!

*Lest you think I’m already under the influence of anesthesia and thus delusional, please be assured that I am merely giddy with excitement that my orthopedic surgeon did not give my burgeoning running career the same death sentence my primary-care doc pronounced two weeks ago. Yes, I am over the top (don’t worry; I’ll come back down to earth tomorrow). I like my orthopedic surgeon! Even if he does make up medical terminology.

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It’s up to me now

Friday I went to weigh in at work, and the person in charge of the Biggest Loser competition handed me back my $5 entry fee. She said I and one other person were the only two contestants left, so she was returning everyone’s money (and with only two more weigh-ins to go).

I’m very disappointed about the contest, and I won’t go into detail about all the reasons, but the bottom line for me is that I’ll have to compete with myself now.

It’s kind of funny – I was recently pondering how I would do once the contest was over, especially if the other contestants didn’t want to re-up for a third go-round. But I didn’t dream I would be thrown to the wolves two weeks early! I thought I would have more time to shore up my resolve and come up with a game plan. I guess you’ve always got to be prepared for what life throws at you.

I’ve gotten a lot out of the competition (since I finally got serious about it). It has helped keep me accountable. Now I will have to be creative in making myself stick to my fitness program.

If Monday morning’s MRI reveals that I need a course of treatment (or surgery) on my knee that will end my illustrious running career, losing weight is going to be even more of a challenge. I really burn a lot of calories when I run, and the competition at work has helped me stay motivated to keep moving.

I’m going to e-mail a handful of thin women in my department at work to see if they would mind getting a weekly Friday morning update reporting my weight. I think they will be fine with it. (For the record, my current weight is 185; that’s a 21.4-pound loss since early February. Woohoo!)

So the game has changed, and we’ll see how things go when I don’t have a weekly contest to keep me motivated. It’s up to me now.

And, really, it was always up to me.

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Hope springs eternal

The orthopedic surgeon scheduled an MRI for Monday morning (the X-rays this morning didn’t tell him what he needed to know).

He said I may not have to give up running, depending on what the specific problem is. It may be a tear in the meniscus, or it may be this or that, blah, blah, blah. (The only part I heard was that I might be able to run again after the problem is treated.)

I’ll update you again after Monday’s MRI: 8 a.m. – first thing in the morning!

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Just a misunderstanding

I’ve been thinking about this knee thing. (You knew I wouldn’t be able to let it go, right?)

Since the doc told me a week ago that I should stop running, and to walk only on non-hilly surfaces, I’ve been sticking to walking, mostly (only about 1 percent running – really).

But … after a frustrating few days of trying to stay in the flattish parts of my neighborhood, I started doing the 4-Mile Class route again – walking (mostly).

And it really hasn’t bothered my knee (much).

So this morning as I was on my way home, trudging down the overpass over the bayou, a realization hit me: I totally misunderstood my doctor the other day.

She didn’t tell me not to run in hills. She said not to run in heels!

Well, every smart girl knows that! So, really, I’m ahead of the game. I never run in heels. In fact, I haven’t even worn heels in more than a decade, since the last time I had a bout with plantar fasciitis, was diagnosed with bone spurs and spent $200 on a pair of custom orthotics that got tossed out with my old running shoes last year (they didn’t help much, anyway). So I can keep walking in hills. Why didn’t I realize this before?

I’m so relieved.

It was all just a misunderstanding.

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I’m back

I’m back.

I mean that in an I’m-over-my-pity-party kind of way.

Last week, after my doc told me I should stop running (she didn’t say I had to stop, merely that I should stop), I had a meltdown.

My appointment was Tuesday afternoon – my lunch break. After leaving her office, instead of heading to Subway – my usual lunchtime haunt – I headed to Wendy’s. Not good.

Not good because I went for the wrong reason: I felt sorry for myself. I took on a so-what attitude after getting the news. I ate a cheeseburger and fries, and I didn’t even enjoy it that much, partly because the burger was dry and partly because I felt guilty. An occasional indulgence is fine, but only if you’ve planned it and decided it’s an okay fraction of an otherwise healthy diet. Not because you’re trying to drown your sorrows.

Thank God the doctor didn’t tell me I had cancer. I mean, let’s put this in perspective for a minute. She didn’t give me a death sentence, but that’s how I acted for three or four days. Like someone had stolen my best friend and demanded a ransom too high to pay.

What she said to me wasn’t unreasonable, but my response was surprisingly unreasonable. It probably didn’t help that I had started off my week tired (after a three-day holiday weekend). I am a completely different person when I’ve had a good night’s sleep. I can be unreasonable when I haven’t.

She told me not to run, and not to walk on hills. Wednesday morning I tried to walk a modified version of my typical route (the racecourse of the White River 4-Mile Classic). It has hills. (We love hills. Normally.)

Do you have any idea how stressful it is to carve a new course that’s flat out of a familiar one that has hills? I can’t even tell you what exact route I created; I just wandered around the flattish parts of the route, avoiding the steepest section of North Heights, the entire “Craig Mountain” (Craig Street) and the hilly part of Hill Street. I didn’t even look at the overpass (well, yes, I did, but I didn’t approach it). I retraveled some areas of the route because I still wanted to get my 4.5 miles in (that includes the trek from my house to the racecourse and back again).

By the time I was finished, I was exhausted – mentally, if not physically.

I had started the day physically tired, probably because of my mental state. I just felt as though I had no energy. I felt like I used to feel when I was depressed 15 years ago. Ick.

Because of my pity party, and the fact that our group was still training on the Lyon College route (the Army National Guard 5K was Saturday, and we won’t even go into how I felt for not participating), I didn’t work out with the group Tuesday or Thursday nights and I didn’t walk Thursday morning by myself. But because I knew my weigh-in was Friday morning and I had indulged in ice cream Wednesday night, I walked Friday morning. Those times I did walk last week, I just didn’t feel like doing it, but I did it anyway. I felt like someone had taken the wind out of my sails. Each workout was an effort, so unlike the other times when I actually enjoyed being out there.

But I knew I had to keep truckin’ because it is so easy to get out of the habit, and I don’t want to end up right back where I was – overweight and feeling heavy in body and spirit.

So Friday’s weigh-in was a bit of a relief because I found out that I hadn’t gained weight. I lost 0.4 pounds for a total of 21. (I deserve to have gained after the self-centered week I had.) The happy part of it is that it means I maintained my 20-pound loss for a week and could have a reward. But instead of the $18 chin-up bar or the Runner’s World subscription that I had planned to get, I went to Hastings and browsed the books. I found one by a favorite author and psychologist who was key to my overcoming that long-ago depression I mentioned. (And it cost less than $10.) It’s called God’s Love Letters To You: A 40-Day Devotional Experience by Larry Crabb.

I needed a good spiritual boost.

Saturday morning I decided to do my typical route, hills and all. It didn’t hurt anything. Much.

When I was finished, I felt better. Then Bruce and I went to the Army National Guard race, and I watched several of my friends take trophies or medals. I was bummed, but I didn’t dwell on it all day (only part of the day).

This morning I did my typical route again, and not only did I start off feeling great (physically and mentally), I was happy again as I walked. The hills didn’t even seem that bad.

When I was finished, I had that same feeling of accomplishment that I’ve experienced over and over for the past few months. I was back.

Feelings are so untrustworthy. I’m glad to know that God doesn’t abandon us when we take our focus off Him. He doesn’t let us hang in the wind; He’s always there. Sometimes we just don’t recognize it because we’re too busy focusing on ourselves.

I think He’s allowing me to experience these feelings, though, so I’ll understand that He is the only One I can truly count on. I can’t count on my feelings. I can’t count on my body. I can’t count on the weather. I can just count on Him.

I’m back, but He never left.

Thank God.

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Book review: ‘How Shall We Feed Them?’

I have been told by more than one person that I’m “very practical.” I take it as a compliment (although sometimes it’s not intended as such).

Being so practical, I was pleased to spend 90 minutes this evening reading Marty Girardier’s How Shall We Feed Them? A Practical Guide for Organizing a Food Pantry.

Not only did it touch the practical side of my brain, it spoke to my spirit.

Girardier, who reorganized her church’s food pantry before moving to a smaller church and partnering with the larger church’s pantry, has learned by experience and dedication what it takes to make a success out of feeding the hungry, the poor, the disabled, the unemployed and the down-and-out – one bag of groceries at a time.

She knows it takes a hands-on approach to the practical matters of stocking the pantry, distributing bags of food, organizing volunteers and the 101 other things involved in such an undertaking. But there’s another hands-on task we’re called to. It starts by realizing that we, the church body, are the hands and arms of Jesus in the world. We have been called to take a very hands-on approach to ministering to a person’s spirit as well as his stomach.

An effective and spirit-filled food pantry volunteer is not merely someone who fills a bag with canned goods and ramen noodles; it is someone who isn’t afraid to stop what he’s doing and ask the unemployed dad or the woman with crying babies if she can pray with them. It’s someone who not only prays with that desperate person on the spot but remembers to pray for him long after the brief encounter is over. We are Jesus to a hurting world. Jesus didn’t just fill stomachs with food – he served as the Bread of Life so that we would never hunger again, and Living Water so that we would never thirst. In fact, He’s still doing that – to us and through us.

But back to the “practical” stuff (as if Bread and Water aren’t the most practical things in the world!).

Girardier offers all kinds of tips on organizing and maintaining a food pantry. I was minimally involved years ago with the food pantry at my previous church, and I hadn’t heard of some of these great ideas – ones that take the ministry to another level of caring. They even caused me to come up with a few of my own ideas.

  • The ministry included encouraging cards in the bags of food that were prepared ahead of time. Sometimes the bags also included Christian magazines or other materials.
  • At holiday time, the Sunday school children made Christmas, Easter or Valentine’s cards to include in the bags.

Each chapter ends with a “Stop and Pray!” section, followed by a segment called “A Storehouse Blessing” – a story shared by someone who was blessed by receiving from and/or giving to the food pantry.

The back of the book includes checklists, forms, a sample reminder postcard and other aids to getting and staying organized.

Scripture and biblical principals are abundant in this book, thus the part that “spoke to my spirit.” My two main spiritual gifts are giving and serving, and it seems that Girardier may share those God-bestowed gifts. This book blesses the giving and serving parts of my brain, not to mention my heart.

“Organizing the food pantry, distributing food, collecting food, writing encouraging cards, and stocking the shelves are pieces of a bigger plan God will use to show His love to those in need. Meeting a food recipient’s physical need is just the first step to showing God’s love.”

It’s not the government’s job to feed the needy. That job belongs to the body of Christ. He calls us to feed His sheep. Let’s do it.

If your church is thinking about starting or revitalizing a food pantry, please get a copy of How Shall We Feed Them? You might even want to buy a copy for every member of your team. It is available from the publisher, Pleasant Word (a division of WinePress), for $8.75.

Girardier also has a blog called Pantry of Praise. Check it out. You’ll be blessed.

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Book review: ‘Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me’

I don’t know where to start.

I just finished reading Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me: A Memoir … of Sorts by Ian Morgan Cron.

Maybe the jacket blurb from the archbishop of Canterbury (!) will help: “This is neither a simple memoir of hurt endured, nor a tidy story of reconciliation and resolution. It is – rather like Augustine’s Confessions – a testimony to the unfinished business of grace.”

Ian Cron grew up with an alcoholic father, a reality that shapes his life to this day. At age 16, he discovered the surreal truth that his father was a member of the CIA. When he wasn’t unemployed.

This is not a typical memoir.

Having grown up in a family of teetotalers, I can’t exactly relate to Cron’s harrowing, sometimes bizarre tales, but he has a way of telling the story that puts the reader in his shoes. Each sentence puts us closer to understanding – and feeling – his pain.

Ever since I began reading the book, I’ve been trying to figure out how to describe his writing style. Understated hilarity. Reverently irreverent. Dry witted. Brutally honest, no doubt, but in a gentle way. (Can you be brutal and gentle in the same breath?)

Cron is Anne Lamott for the clean-mouthed crowd. No F-bombs, no I-hate-Republicans rants. Just honest – and real.

Cron finds grace in the simple yet profound truths of life and makes them, yes, hilarious in an understated way (maybe that’s the definition of a dry wit). At times I laughed out loud, many times I chuckled, sometimes I merely smiled.

“The music at St. Paul’s [Episcopal Church] won me over as well. I’d never been in a church where people sang with so much enthusiasm. Catholics don’t sing – we murmur, then look surprised if a melody emerges.”

The simple. And the profound:

“I can see the couch from the kitchen. I stop cutting parsley and remember that [my mother] taught me how to ride the Dragon Coaster and what to do when you’re flung into the mouth of whatever it is you think will kill you. Throw up your arms and laugh until you come out the other side. That lesson has saved my life once or twice.”

I’m no good at writing book reviews. I just know when I like a book, or when I love a book – this one, for example – and I enthusiastically tell my friends they should read it. Some books fit into a niche, useful for a particular segment of the population; this one doesn’t fit into a neat category. It is for everyone looking for grace.

Aren’t we all?

This review is part of my agreement with BookSneeze. The publisher sends me a free book, and I agree to post a review of it on my blog and one other online publication. No pressure is put on me to write a positive review – just an honest one. (Click here to learn how you can get in on this sweet deal.)

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Diagnosis: Crunchy Knee

I am not normal.

(You knew that already.)

This afternoon I went to my primary-care physician to have her take a look at my right knee, which has been bothering me for two to three years but has gotten worse since I began running again in November. It has had noticeable swelling for several months, and it “crunches” when I bend it, especially when I climb stairs (this has been true since before I started running). I had been waiting until after July 1 to see a doctor about it so that my insurer couldn’t accuse me of having a pre-existing condition before my one-year waiting period was up. (It happened to Bruce last year, and we’re still paying the denied claims.)

The doctor had me move my knee back and forth while she held onto it, and she said she felt it “crunch.” Her diagnosis: Crunchy Knee. I don’t know what she wrote in my chart, but Crunchy Knee is what she told her staff.

I like her.

Except for this: She told me I should stop running. I told her I’m registered for a 5K this Saturday. She said maybe I could walk it. Then, dad-gum it, as an afterthought she asked, “Is the course flat?” Uh … that would be NO. In fact, it’s quite hilly (we love hills, remember?).

She would forgo the race, she said, not even walk it. And, in fact, she would find a less jarring type of exercise. Permanently. At “our age,” we should find something that’s easier on our aged joints and bones. (This is hard for a 48-year-old woman to hear, especially when she finally has gotten serious about fitness and weight loss. And is in a Biggest Loser competition at work.)

The doc made me an appointment with a local orthopedist, who will probably order an MRI before possibly going in with a scope to “clean it out,” if that course of action is indicated. (We’ll wait for him to determine what’s necessary, but she was just sayin’.)

My emotions when I left her office were varied. Nothing too strong – I think I was in a state of shock, or denial. I’m still in a mild state of shock.

Here’s why I’m pretty sure I’m not normal:

Any normal person – after writing the $30 check for the office visit copay, having her vital signs recorded and telling her doctor that her knee “crunches” when she bends it – would have expected her physician to reply, in essence, “Stop doing bouncy exercises that make your knee worse.” Even temporarily.

Any physician worth her expensive medical-school degree would have said that, and she would have been correct in doing so. Any normal person would have thought this was sensible advice. After all, the expectation of sensible advice and treatment is why we make appointments with our physicians in the first place. (That, and unnecessary antibiotics.)

And when I called Bruce to break the disturbing news, he was not surprised. My mother was not surprised.

Why am I the only one who was surprised?

I am not normal. I live in my own little fantasy world. A world in which pounding on the pavement every day and causing an injured knee to get worse (not to mention the foot with plantar fasciitis) makes perfect sense, because the runner has come to love the sport in a way she never expected. At age 48.

I don’t want to stop running.

In the little scenario I had fantasized about in the weeks leading to today’s exam, the doctor was going to send me to a specialist, who would take some images of my knee, possibly slice it open and fix the problem. (I was even going to ask if I could watch. My brother watched his knee surgery.) Then (not before the specialist visit, but after; not before Saturday’s 5K, but after) I would forgo running for a few weeks (six at the most) and be better and faster than ever when the knee had healed. Super Suzy in stability shoes.

My doctor had a different scenario.

But, hey, maybe there’s hope. Maybe my aging doctor (she’s probably in her 50s), who had to give up tennis and has aches and pains she didn’t have in her 20s, is the one who’s not normal. Maybe she’s just bitter and doesn’t want me to have any fun. Or lose any more weight. Or win the Biggest Loser.

Maybe the orthopedist is more realistic. And not bitter because he had to give up his favorite sport. And understands how I have come to love running.

Yes. He’ll be more reasonable.

He’s going to take one look at my 20.6-pounds-smaller self, smile at me and say, “We’ll fix you right up, and by the weekend you can go back to your running schedule! Here, have some heavy narcotics!”

I’m not normal.

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