An Allegory for Running

This is the post I’ve been dreading to write and needing to write.

I haven’t written, truly written, in quite some time on this blog and that’s because the reality of my situation was not too fun to share. I’m not running. There! I said it! That can be the end of this post, right? No, it can’t.  So, here’s the story.

Catholic school kids love allegory.

Now that’s a statement for the ages, huh? Seriously though, we grow up on Bible tales, we study metaphor. We read C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, Hawthorne & Poe. We are immersed in it. No big surprise that I have an allegory for running, an extended metaphor at best, but stick with me for a minute.

December 2011 found me hunting humane society websites for the perfect dog. This is a problem hobby of mine, much like perusing lake shore real estate. It leads to fantastical thinking and can consume any free time I have. Dangerous. Any-who, that snowy winter month, I found a brindle-coated Chihuahua on a local humane society website and begged Phil to take me there to meet him. Phil begrudgingly agreed and we found, and adopted, Cheeko the Chihuahua. Now, we have a perfectly wonderful, well-adjusted dog at home, but I always had the feeling she was lonely and wanted a friend. Projection much?

Cheeko & Reese
Cheeko & Reese Christmas 2011

Cheeko was 9 years old, a surrender from an older man who could not take care of him. Reese, at 7, was no spring chicken, but they got along OK. Cheeko enjoyed blankets, curling up on the couch near your feet and other adorable things like biting and pooping by the back door. Oh, wait, I guess only some of those things were adorable. I loved this dog. I loved the way he looked, the way he snuggled, the way he panted. I walked him, cajoled him out of bed to go outside, rewarded him, praised him, cherished him. And the little pisser still bit me in the face. Literally. Bit. Me. In. The. Face. And, religiously, he pooped by the back door at night. 17 trips outside, 2 long walks and he waited until my back was turned and took a gigantic you-know-what by the back door. Every night. He was consistent, if nothing else.

After an exhausting 7 months of trying to get him to love us, we relented and admitted that the relationship was one-sided. This dog needed a home with a single, loving human that could handle his cantankerous personality. I drove him back to the shelter and sobbed as I handed over the leash to the humane society employee. She comforted me, promising me that I was doing the right thing.

See where this is going yet?

Running is Cheeko and Cheeko is running.  I have nurtured myself as a runner for the 6 years that I have been all-in with this sport. I’ve bought good shoes, cajoled myself out of bed at 4am – ON WEEKENDS – rewarded myself with good food for miles run. I’ve cross-trained, timed, recorded, studied mileage logs. I’ve studied books, magazines, websites. I’ve joined Twitter chats, found experts online. You get the picture. Yet, I am chronically injured. That’s a tough set of words to write. I didn’t come to this sport at 12 or 13 years old, with fresh legs and adolescent energy. I came to it at 27, overweight and with my body bearing the scars of two pregnancies and a lifetime of inactivity. So, some injury was to be expected. But, for now at least, this sport is biting me in the face.

The problem is, I love it as much as I loved that little pisser of a Chihuahua. I love the effort this sport takes, the mental freedom it gives me, the sense of accomplishment. I love the summer nights I spent running through sunset and turning my head lamp on with the light of the moon. I love the thrill of a start line and the heartbreaking joy of the finish. But I can’t keep ignoring the fact that, at least for now, the sport is not loving me back.

I’m done with physical therapy, I canceled my last visit to my sports med doc. I know that one, tiny band of pissed off tissue is my problem. I can keep doing my exercises, keep massaging it and keep cross-training, but long distance running is only going to make it worse right now. So, deep breath, I dropped out of the Rite Aid Cleveland 10K. I’m not ready for it. And walking it, even with a little running, will only make me more lonesome for racing than I am now.

You’re asking yourself “But, did she ever get another dog?”


Why, yes! Yes, I did! A few weeks ago, we found another rescue and I’m thrilled to say that she’s the perfect fit for our family. Sweet, smart and does all of her business outside in the yard. Sleeps with her head on my should and never bites my face. Now, I could extend the allegory and tell you all about how this dog represents my yoga practice, but I’m sure you’d be ready to throw me on the crazy train if I did.

I’m enjoying long walks with this wonderful dog, plenty of kettle bell training and yoga. Lots of yoga. Will I run? Yes. I have my first Olympic triathlon in August and that will take some running. Hopefully, by then, my legs and my heart will be ready for it.

The question is – what do I do with a blog that was built on my running? A personal re-branding of sorts? Have you considered a blog name change? Something that better represents who you are now? I’d love to hear about it.