Friday, January 1, 2016

"What a life."

January 1st. The perfect day for a shift in perspective.

While walking my dog in Balboa Park this morning - a blue skied and perfect 63-degree morning - the old girl quit on me. Norma is an eleven year old terrier mix that we adopted from a shelter a decade ago, and while she's gotten old and gray, she's still got some pretty good energy. She walks several miles a day, chases a ball or a stick or anything you throw for her, and can do a mean "sit pretty" for anyone that she thinks might have a treat. But she's definitely slowing down and, like me, her aging joints give her occasional moments of grief. 

Today, a mile or two into our slower-than-it-used-to-be stroll through the park, she stopped. I felt the tug of the leash and looked back to find her sitting with one paw lifted, clearly in some discomfort. I gave her a quick check to see if something was stuck in her paw, and finding nothing, moved us off of the walking path and into a soft, sunny patch of grass to just give her a few minutes of rest (which usually does the trick). She limped over to me, laid down, and we sat together and watched the walkers, runners, families, and dogs go by. No one walking by would have known that she was in pain. I love dogs, and their infinite toughness.

The old girl, in her happy place
Almost everyone who passed us gave us a wave or a hello, moods surely elevated by the sunshine and all of the promise of the first day of a new year. One woman took a long, smiling look at Norma, reclining in the grass and soaking up the ear scratches, and then looked over to me and said: "What a life: sunshine and love." She certainly didn't know that we were taking our moment of pause because Norma has a bum leg. And frankly, in that moment, Norma probably didn't know that either. Sunshine and love were the name of the game. After we'd rested for a while, she was back up and walking normally, and trotted happily home.

I saw my doctor this week, and got a sports medicine consult to check out that calf muscle I damaged two weeks ago during the 3 Bridges Marathon. I received the best possible news: no tendon damage, and a moderate tear that will likely require 6-8 weeks of rest, but that is already healing nicely. The pain and swelling are nearly gone, and in another few days I can start stretching and strengthening my leg, gently. Come February, I should be able to start running again. It will be slow, and I'll need to avoid hills and speed work for quite some time. I'm not sure when I'll be able to start training again, but I know that I will start training again, and I'll keep that happy thought on my horizon. I can choose to be frustrated by my bum leg and the setback. Or I can just enjoy the opportunity to soak up some sunshine and the love, and call it good.

Happy new year, friends! May you find yourself invigorated and ready for whatever it is you're looking to tackle in the 366 days ahead. And may you also get a break and a good scratch on the ears whenever you need it.

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