Angela has always been a big supporter of Letters For Lucas and I have always admired her writing, especially her contributions to Write on Edge, where she serves as Managing Editor.
We have a lot in common, apart from both being moms and bloggers, we both enjoy running and LOVE to read. Angela writes stellar book reviews and often for BlogHer Book Club. Her review of The Night Circus is one of my favorite and the letter she shares here today is equally insightful and clever. Please enjoy!
Dear Achilles Tendon,
I understand you might feel a bit left out; I’ve been verbalizing writing goals and talking about house projects and publicly scratched my plans to run a half marathon this month. I heard your little temper tantrum, stubbornly tightening up as I let go of my training plan and attempted to get in miles when and where I could.
Out of respect for your hurt feelings, I agreed to take a running break. So I’ve been passing time on an elliptical machine that leaves me unfulfilled—my coveted runner’s high can’t find me on those giant paddle-pedals.
I thought we’d reached a delicate understanding, dear body. I would close my eyes on running and let you heal. You would toe the line on other cardio equipment and keep the status quo.
I wasn’t expecting a rebellion.
Walking out of the gym that morning, tentatively stretching my heel all the way to the ground, the air held the unmistakable lightness of fall. No humidity hung between the street lights and the stars, and my sweat-dampened shirt felt uncomfortably cool for the first time in months.
I pulled my folded jeans out of their drawer and over my legs, unaccustomed to the feel of denim after a season of skirts and dresses and the occasional cotton pajama pants. Fastening the button was simple and they zipped with ease. As they had months before, within minutes the too-stretchy fabric would need to be yanked up time and again throughout the day.
They still fit—as they should have, since my running hiatus was only counting days. Yet the seams pressed uncomfortably into my legs. I slid my hands over the faded thighs, trying to remember if they’d looked exactly like this in April.
I resisted the urge to stride to the bathroom and jump on the scale. I wanted to scrutinize the numbers the way I missed studying the treadmill screen as I gauged my pace during faster intervals. Instead I bent to the floor, cringing a bit at the way the waistband felt against my waist. Touching you, my poor, sore Achilles, reminded me I still need time to heal.
But now I’m left wondering how much of my self-image is tied to my identity as a runner. Feeling strong and fit shouldn’t be connected to the sole act of pounding my feet into pavement or a moving rubber belt over and over again. But it might.
So dear Achilles . . . please heal. Accept my offer of rest, ease your soreness, and allow me to run again. If not, please call a truce with my brain and with my body image. Because fall and winter in Michigan are chilly and long and call for many more days of jeans.
P.S. I’ll buy you new shoes this week.