Yesterday, I ran 10 miles. More than seven years have passed since I last ran that far. More than five years since an orthopedic surgeon implanted a donor ACL and repaired a torn meniscus. Before that, running was a staple meditation. Two sub four hour marathons, more 5ks and 10ks than I can remember and the better part of 16 years of runs through neighborhood street and local parks with my always ready, always willing lab/shepherd mix.
Then I had the surgery, and my dog died, and I gained weight. And the memory of 20 minute 5ks and 42 minute 10ks and seemingly effortless easy 10 milers became an anchor I dragged through every post-surgery jog/walk. I avoided mile markers and watches and timing and tried to just jog or even walk for exercise.
But I could still ride a bike. So I rode. Then I started randonneuring. In the last seven months, I have ridden more miles, more hours and more hills, than, perhaps, the seven years before. A year ago, we got an energetic new dog, a lab/beagle mix. She is always ready and willing to run. So, in between, I ran with my dog. Not daily. Not training. Just dog runs. Over time, we ran a little longer and more often.
Along the way, my legs grew stronger. Today, I am about 35 pounds lighter than I was in August '09. My knee no longer hurts after runs. Yesterday, I ran 10 miles on a rolling path along side a bubbling creek on a cool fall. And, for the most part, it felt effortless and easy.