It was not my longest run.
Not even close to my fastest.
I didn’t hear any cheering
or have any great epiphanies.
I remember being scared.
But I was excited too.
Scared it was going to hurt.
Excited that it might not.
I was a junior in HS.
I ran a 1/2 mile from my front door.
My most important run
was only 800 meters long.
Five months earlier, in September,
I opened my XC season with the
fastest time at the meet by a NJ runner.
That was followed by an invitation
to the 5th Avenue Mile in NYC.
Then my foot started to hurt.
Then it hurt worse.
Taping it alone, icing it alone,
screaming at it alone, throwing things
around my room alone – it only hurt more.
October. Misdiagnosed – again & again.
Told to take a few days off.
Told to run on it again.
Told it would get better. It didn’t.
November. I got mono.
I got over the mono.
My foot still hurt.
December. The bone scan said 4 cracks in the foot.
Explains the pain. Explains why I couldn’t run through it.
And it explains the knee high plaster cast I was put in.
For five months I knew that every time
I put my right foot on the ground it
would hurt. I would flinch even before
I put my foot down.
Every. Other. Step.
I anticipated the pain.
The cast came off in late January.
I put on my running shoes again.
I even wore the team jacket.
I wanted to feel like I had a purpose again.
I wasn’t afraid of hurting.
I was just afraid of still being hurt.
Please don’t hurt.
I knew that I was going to start & finish
this run at the same place.
I knew I wouldn’t be gone long.
And I knew one way or another
I wouldn’t be the same when I got back.
I want to run again.
Please. Give me this.
I started down my front lawn.
It was the only time my Mom
took a picture of a run.
I didn’t even know it existed
until she showed it to me after
graduation 15 months later.
Hundreds & hundreds of miles later.
Miles without a flinch.
State Championship miles.
All American miles.
So many miles.
But none of the miles that followed
were as special to me as this.
And it was only half of one.