16 December 2008


I can’t make this stuff up. While my foot is still sheathed in bandages, resembling, as my co-workers put it, a huge wrapped up meatball grinder, while I still hobble on crutches, while I consciously yearn to run, my subconscious is at it as well. I ran a marathon last night in 2:61. Yeah, 2:61. Dreams are like that.

Yesterday I’d told myself that I’d unwrap the meatball sub today and have a look at the work in progress. Perhaps that spawned the nocturnal mind warp. In that nether world, I’d taken off the bandages and, despite orders not to move a thing associated with this appendage, gone for a walk. Next thing you know, I was jogging, then running in pure joy, then had joined up with a bunch of other runners, entirely exhilarated, then we’d been running so long we realized we’d almost covered a marathon and might as well finish it. We hammered the finish, which was, oddly enough, officially marked, measured, and timed, and that’s where I clocked the 2:61. Even in my dream I was rational enough to wonder why it wasn’t a 3:01, but sure enough, it was a 2:61. It was so real, I’ll bet it’s out there on CoolRunning somewhere, if I only knew the name of the race.

Amidst the pleasure of my accomplishment and the elation over the fact that my foot felt fine while running, the shame of having broken Doc’s orders quickly took over, and as a schoolboy in trouble – because somehow I was back in school – I tried to find an excuse for why I’d been gone for three hours. Somehow, “I was at Phys Ed class” didn’t cut it with the teacher.

I swear, I can’t make this stuff up.

When I was 18, back in my First Lap days, and contracted meningitis (see It’s August and I’m Still Alive), I came out of the coma only to be asked by the doctor if I was British. I found that odd, being firmly Italian and Polish, but it seems that I’d been mumbling in a British accent while I was out. At the time I was a die-hard Monty Python fan (who am I kidding? still am…), and it was pretty clear that the mind takes you to your comfort zone in your subconscious.

Which is why I was really quite pleased to wake up this morning and recall this dream. In my conscious life (I think it’s conscious, or to paraphrase René Descartes, “I wonder if I think, therefore I am”), I tell people – especially non-runners who don’t understand our obsession – that running is a part of me. Yet I wonder how much of that is truth and how much is wishful thinking of one’s ideal self-image. But when it pervades the subconscious, it gives you reason to believe the former, and I find comfort in that. It is indeed ingrained.

Comfort is a good thing at present, since my foot has been rather swollen and quite uncomfortable the past few days. Doctor Foot Doctor told me to expect that approaching the two week mark, as my body starts to really kick into overdrive on healing. I’m hoping the last couple days are just an early onset of the process and not a harbinger of worse to come.

Yet I have to believe I’m over the hump. While the last few days have been uncomfortable, the day is creeping closer to getting off the crutches, moving back to the air cast phase, then getting back to normal. And running. And just to make it really feel like getting over the hump, God threw us a heck of a hump last week. For those of you who live outside of New England, we’re still crawling out from under the arboreal and associated infrastructure wreckage of our worst ice storm in decades. Timed perfectly for me, arriving at the peak of my Gimpdom. Saying to me, in a way, “If you can get through this while you’re hobbled, you can get through a lot.”

My city was on the edge of the frozen zone and took relatively light damage compared to others to our west (check out some amazing pictures from my friend Kelly), yet still our entire city was knocked offline with unprecedented chaos. I lost power for a mere 33 hours, while colleagues of mine are still out 5 days later. Mind you, my home was out for longer than anyone else on the street because of my brilliant thought to pull the main breaker to protect things various and electric when the power was fluctuating wildly on its way to extinction. And it did just as its name implies. It broke. Advice: Don’t do that. As I learned, because you never ever pull your main breaker, it sits there, humming, warm, for five, ten, twenty years, baking the plastic to a fine state of brittleness. Guess what happens when you finally do pull it?

Fortunately we were able to land a fine electrician (recommendation gladly provided on request) on short notice, even during a regional crisis, and were back online rapidly thereafter. So we got off light. But dealing with lack of power, lack of heat, wrecked trees, and so on while on Official Gimp Status, well, let’s just say the timing could have been better.

After that, I’ve got to be over the hump. And my mind is telling me, even late at night, that it’s time to mend and get back on the roads. But hey, an ice storm is a crappy time to run anyway, so I guess if you have to be on crutches, do it then, and run your marathons at night. Sweet dreams to you.

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