Every time I go for a long walk or a run, I wonder briefly if today is the day my hip will break. Literally.
I have been waiting for this moment as long as I can remember. Born with multiple bone abnormalities, I didn’t just see a pediatrician every year. I saw an orthopedic surgeon also. God bless my parents for never letting on that this was odd. I was practically an adult before I realized the implications. Before the catastrophic acute angle of my femur on the X-ray clicked enough to ask - “is that going to break?”
Yes. Eventually. Probably by the time your thirty. Earlier if you run or keep playing basketball and other high impact sports. Honestly, I’m surprised you’ve done everything you have without breaking it. In many ways, you already beat the odds.
I never wanted to be a runner. I HATED running. It’s one of the reasons I got cut from volleyball in high school, although now that I think about it, if I refused to train for a known running time requirement, I suppose I passively quit. My love of volleyball didn’t outweigh my disdain for running.
That all changed in college, over a love of French roast and chicken Caesar salad wraps with enough garlic to ward off vampires for life. It changed because one of my best friends had a dream to run a marathon and I jumped in to support her. To do it with her. Because sometimes, we need a friend to push and pull us through our goal.
The deal was that I wouldn’t start running until the day she felt ready to sign-up for a race. Because seriously people, I still hated running.
I was home on Christmas break a few years later when I got the call. We were running the Gary Bjorkland half-marathon in June and the Twin Cities full marathon in October. I stopped breathing for a minute in disbelief. Then I laced up my shoes and promptly got on the treadmill at my parents house to test the waters. How far could I go? How fast can I run?
I made it a quarter mile and thought I would die. And then I thought of my friend and I laced up those shoes over and over again. Day after day, throwing all caution to the wind of that hip.
Turns out, I LOVE running, as long as it’s over 3-4 miles in distance. The first few miles, my brain endlessly reminds me of how much this sucks. How much I hate it. Then, by simply continuing to put one foot in front of the other, the miles drown out the negativity and it’s almost like meditation. It’s a euphoric state of peace and clarity of mind. It’s fantastic. Until somewhere around mile 15, then it starts to go downhill again. That’s how I discovered my love of half-marathons.
It’s been over a decade since that first race. We have run more races together than I can count or remember. What I do remember is the amazing sense of pride and accomplishment of each of us pulling and pushing the other up hills, through rain, cold, snow, injuries and pain. Sometimes the race that day was her dream, sometimes it was mine. It didn’t matter because we always knew the other was there to make sure we crossed the finish line.
My hip is a ticking time bomb. I know it. I should be afraid. I should hesitate to lace up the shoes again. But, my hip, the races, the friendship have all taught me a critical lesson. We can each defy the odds. We can do more than we expect. We can achieve more than others dream possible. But, not if we live in a place of fear. Fear of what could go wrong, what could happen, how we could fail or fall apart. And when the whisper of fear grows louder through the strength of doubt, we need that trusted & loyal friend who knows our dreams. Who knows our heart, our strengths, our weaknesses and the risks we take, and who is willing to lace up their shoes and run with us.