Like a Tiny Little Rock in My Shoe
A couple of years ago I ran/walked the Cooper River Bridge Run in Charleston, SC. It is a 10K run – a little over 6 miles. (Don’t be impressed. I mostly walked it!!) Anyway, somewhere around mile 4 I began feeling just a little discomfort in the ball of one foot. I couldn’t tell if a had a little rock in my shoe or if my sock was rubbing or what. It didn’t help that it rained buckets on us right before the race began and we started the trek soaked to the bone. It really wasn’t so bad, I reasoned. I just could tell that something was there. By the time I hit mile 5 I was more uncomfortable. Still, because I was so close to the end I didn’t want to make my way to the side to stop and fix things. I kept going. At mile 6, I was in pain. I limped along the last 2/10 of a mile to the finish line. Once I crossed the finish line, I finally sat down, pulled off my shoe and sock, and discovered the biggest, sorest blister I’ve ever had. Ever. Because I did not take care of it in the beginning, it rubbed bigger and deeper. It hurt for days.
I remembered that lesson when I walked the 3 day MS Challenge Walk last spring. Anytime I felt the slightest discomfort in my feet I stopped. Immediately. I didn’t care how silly I might look sitting in the grass on the side of a highway pulling off my shoes and socks and shaking them clean of any tiny little rock or twig (real or imagined) that had made its way into my shoe. I didn’t care how many people passed me. (“Remember, it’s not a race. It’s not a competition.” I had to chant this over and over to calm my competitive spirit!) I knew that if I did not take care of even the smallest irritation from the beginning, I would soon suffer even greater pain.
I’ve always lived my life in more of the Cooper River Bridge Run style: trying to ignore the warning signs of discomfort or pain, trying to believe that everything will be okay and that the irritation will go away on its own, trying to stay in the race and save face, trying to make it to the finish line without admitting to a struggle. I have to say, it hasn’t worked out any better for me in life than it did in that 10K run/walk. On more than one occasion, I’ve ended up with an injury that ran bigger and deeper than necessary because I failed to face the problem head-on in the beginning.
I now try to tackle life a little more in the MS Challenge Walk style: trying to pay attention to myself, my body, and my emotions so I can more quickly identify where I need to make adjustments; trying to act early and decisively so that a minor discomfort doesn’t become a major irritation; trying to remember that there are a number of things more important that saving face or looking strong; trying to remember that life isn’t a race but a journey.
Right now I’m taking a sit-down break and I’m shaking a rock out of my shoe. I may not have acted soon enough. Or maybe the injury from my previous experience with the rock has not completely healed. All I know is that I need to get back up and get back on the journey. I’m tired of being waylaid by life’s little irritations. I just can’t figure out how to keep the damn rock out of my shoe.