28 February 2012


 This is mostly for my own entertainment. Mocking myself is one of my specialties. If you dislike self-centered commentary, I have to ask, why are you even reading my blog?

To say that Problematic has a hard time running would be an understatement. I have always sympathized with Gimli, but in this area especially. There are less than fond memories residing in the dark recesses of my mind of the time my youth soccer coaches tried to move me from the right forward position to a center midfielder. I generally lasted for three laps up and down the field before getting horrible cramps and pondering Seppuku on the ball.

Now, despite those ill-fated interactions with midfield defense, my inability to run has never really bothered me all that much. I was an antisocial little tweenling, and once I discovered speech and debate, it seemed to me like I would never have to run again.

Well, I'm pretty sure you all know how this turns out. You see, Ultimate Frisbee and Capture the Flag were, and are, rather closely-held rituals among the forensors of my region. Got twenty five minutes before the next round? Pull out the ol' discus and let's get cracking.

I tend to avoid such events. I mean, no use embarrassing myself by curling up in the middle of the pitch in the fetal position, gasping for breath like an asphyxiating fish, right? Then my speech club started planning Capture the Flag, Ultimate Frisbee, Freeze Tag, and Water Fight events in the middle of summer, and since I was starting to outgrow most of my antisocialness, I would attend. And get soaked. One particular summer, I can clearly recall this:

I'm jogging along in the park, watching the toddlers trip past me, feeling pretty good about this fight. I've got a styrofoam cup and a water bottle, all ready to defend myself against any would-be attackers. The Professor and Cassandra and Mrs. Incredible and Calvin and all the other heavy-hitters at these things are busy playing catch-me-if-you-can over on the other side of the wide grassy space. Maybe I'll escape this time with minimum wetness. The world is good. I've been jogging for over five minutes, and I think my stamina might really be improving. 

That's when I hear the rumbling of the distant water fight grow louder. I turn, and see the Professor barreling towards me with a two gallon jug (which used to contain ice tea) brandished aloft. I can see the now-depleted tea bags sloshing inside with the water. There is no mistaking the Prof's intent. I break into a sprint. I sustain it for a minute. And then, my legs give notice. They refuse to run any more. As I slow back into my snail-racing jog, I turn to meet my fate. Time seems to go into slow motion as the Professor slowly upturns the two gallons over my head. To add insult to injury, he's smiling maniacally the entire time. 

Granted, I got my revenge after the fight by pouring styrofoam cups full of water on top of his head and giggling as his hair gel dripped out, but that was small comfort in light of the streams of water falling from the hem of my shorts.

Before continuing this scintillating conversation about physical limits, I should probably explain precisely why I cannot run. There is a reason, and it's not because I'm too lazy to try. When I was younger (see 7-12) I attended a ballet studio. This was not your little community ballet school that's all about inspiring little girls and letting big girls get out their itch to dance. It was run by a former Principal Ballerina from the Kirov, and it's purpose was to prepare young dancers for a career in classical ballet. I loved it - at my peak, I was attending classes every night of the week, usually for four or more hours. By the end, I had gone en pointe, was performing in ballets and basically living my dream.

About six months after I first went en pointe, my teacher had me come to her office. She told my mother and I that the pain I was experiencing from this new style was not normal, and if I was to continue attending her studio, I would be required to visit a podiatrist to ensure that I didn't give myself permanent injury.

To make a long story short, I was out of the program within nine months of discovering that, in addition to the additional bones and bonespurs within my ankles and the balls of my feet, I had five different acute inflammations. Surgery was too expensive to correct my feet, and the podiatrist gave me a list of prohibited activities. I cannot tap dance, do jazz and modern, or any activity that involves repetitive pressure stress to feet. And in case you didn't catch it, running is repetitive stress to my feet.

I have found over the years that most of my friends subscribe to the "granola" theory of exercise: If you can't do it without machines, you shouldn't do it for exercise. Need to get that blood pumping? Go for an invigorating run in the early hours and be green.

Being myself, I have invariably felt pressured to go with on one of those nice, easy, "it's just two miles" cross-country jogs in the wee hours with my friends. Why lounge around their house for thirty minutes, feeling like a lazy slob when I could spend the next thirty minutes in exquisite agony, making up more and more ridiculous excuses for why I'm falling behind?

Well, suffice it to say, I have recently come to grips with the fact that I will probably never be able to run. I'll just have to comfort myself with Gimli and maybe enjoy a nice cold ginger ale.


  1. Ach... I feel your pain. Almost literally. I have a similar story to yours, minus the ballet (my parents never invested in that particular fantasy of mine.)
    We discovered when I was 15ish that I have scoliosis, and holes in my ankle bones. Therefore, no repetitive pressure stress, no impact-heavy activity... etc.
    My church group is absolutely manic about their Ultimate Frisbee, and they always bother me about not playing. I tell them my reasons, but it seems they don't take it as seriously as I have to. Ah well... it seems I'll spend my life on the sidelines, watching my friends trip over each other, and keep score. =P