This afternoon, I had a wonderful run through Brooklyn—from the Heights through Red Hook and back. I ran with my cousin, Katie, who’s recently picked up running after an extended hiatus. Dodging downed trees, cars, and pedestrians brought back another shared run. In the summer of 2011 on Grand Manan Island, I had just started running regularly. My friend Rick asked if I’d like to head out for the trails. I promptly replied, “No way, I could never run with anyone else!” He made the case that runners love to run, and that getting out there and sharing the experience is more important than running fast. Truthfully, I was shy. I felt slow–self-conscious about running with a runner. After some coaxing, I conceded, and we had a great run from Southwest Head to the stunning Hay Point and back. Today, as Katie and I ran through the streets, chatting and raving about our running obsessions, I got it; I just wanted to share the experience with her—moving through the streets, taking it all in, and sharing tales.
My toes have been through a lot in this life, and my last PT appointment underlined this fact. I learned that my toes have limited flexibility (60% relative to the 75% that’s beneficial to a runner). I was a field hockey player in high school, and I remember numerous trips to the infirmary after having my toes smashed by someone’s stick. As I recall, I was given an aspirin and sent on my way. The story of my un-bendy toes goes further back, and I share it with hesitation as the story is a bit backwoods odd. I lived in northern Vermont as a child. My mother was a back-to-the-land Vermonter of the 60s. She was a struggling writer at the time. Her hard work paid off, and she’s now an extremely successful writer (Alison H. Deming), but back then, making ends meet was rough going. For several years, I went to public school in Bakersfield. I carry forward values of individual freedom, community living, working the land, and eating local meat and vegetables, but for the kids growing up in the “alternative” environment of the time, there was a difficult cultural divide between home life and social life. For many years (decades, actually), I found it hard to place myself…to figure out where I fit. I met my middle school best friend in Bakersfield, and for a few years we were inseparable. During sleepovers at her house, for some reason I will never understand, her father would pin us down and tickle us and then pull our toes out of their sockets. Since then, I’ve hated having my toes messed with. After my PT consult this week, I wondered whether my toes went into self-protected retreat mode, compounded by the hockey sticks a few years later. I now have a set of toe exercises and stretches, and perhaps my toes will forget their woes, and I’ll take a minute of my 5K time. Magical thinking?