Of Time and the Trail

Posted in: Featured | By: | May 13, 2009

Center of Known Universe

Center of Known Universe

A friend of mine is constantly reminding me that “time is the rider that breaks us all.” Generally, I ignore him on this and most other matters. But reality keeps clawing back at my attempts to defy the natural order of things.

Six months ago I had surgery on my left foot for a condition called tarsal tunnel. This is similar to carpal tunnel in the hand, which is a repetitive motion injury. Inflamed nerves become entrapped in the tunnel of tissue that carries them to the hand or the foot. The resultant symptoms are severe cramping. In my case, the tarsal tunnel syndrome caused fall-on-the-ground-and-cry-like-a-baby Charlie horses throughout my entire foot.

My repetitive motion was the slamming of my size 13 arch-less feet onto the ground over thousands and thousands of miles of running. I have always, almost inexplicably, loved to run. My success as a distance runner was relatively modest; I was what was often referred to as a “mug runner.” This is a guy who can win a lot of regional races and turn in some fast times and win a few “mugs” or trophies but lacks the genetics to reach the grand stages of track and field. I took no offense. I just ran. In the years when my feet had wings, I consistently ran 80 – 100 miles weekly. While living on the Texas-Mexico border, I often got up on Sunday mornings, put some cash into a sandwich bag and tucked it into my running shorts, and took off on exploratory runs that often lasted almost an entire day. I ran but was not weary.

The years and the miles accumulated until my tarsal tunnel nerve required a surgical release. Slowly, I am assimilating back to the trail around our beloved Town (nee Lady Bird) Lake in Austin. (I always thought Lake Lady Bird was more resonant language for a town of writers and musicians but the name choice was probably a consequence of political forces.) I’m running mostly without pain again but to call it “running” is to torture the language like the politicians who renamed our lake. Mostly, I am jogging, often slogging a three mile loop. A few times my knees have felt light and lifted easily and my feet were soft on the trail and I thought I might run once again with joy. I still do. But first I have some other suffering to endure.

My conditioning at this point only allows me to run about a mile before taking a brief rest and then knocking out the next two miles. On this 90 degree plus and humid day in the Texas capital city, I had run a mile and was sitting on a bench for a brief recovery. My elbows were resting on my knees and I was staring blankly at the grass, no doubt contemplating some issue of great import. Or not. I heard a voice.

“Every thing okay over there?”

I looked up and a man walking the trail had a quizzical look on his face and was apparently concerned that I might be in physical duress. Pushing a rounded belly around the along the river course, he was in his sixties. I am not.

“Yeah, yeah, sure,” I offered, quickly. “I’m good. I used to be better but I’m still good.”

He laughed. “Okay. Just checkin’.”

Less than a minute passed. I was about to get up and run the last mile just as I noticed a shadow next to me. Before I was able to get up or speak, I heard a female voice ask, “Are you okay, sir?”

I looked up. She was young and lovely and interpreted my look of befuddlement to be cardio distress. Or something. She didn’t give me chance to answer or I took too long to formulate a smart-ass response.

“Would you like me to call someone?” she asked.

“No,” I said, curtly. “I wouldn’t.”

And I ran off. Very fast. Maybe a 5 minute per mile pace until I was out of her line of sight.

The last mile, with the endorphins in full flower and my mind slightly aflame, I found myself thinking about hair coloring for men.

11 Comments for this entry

  • Jack Holt

    God I’m glad I’m not you. Yet.

  • Nick

    My podiatrist tells me that if I don’t wear my corrective orthopedic inserts, I’ll be crippled by the time I’m 60… maybe I’ll go put them in now.

    I’d hate to have a bunch of uppity youngsters nosing into my business when I’m a more… experienced runner.

  • Jim

    put ’em in, pal. put ’em in……..

  • Trey

    Doood, if you just stayed home and played xbox like me, you wouldn’t be havin’ any foot problems!

  • Mike Jasper

    If you had only let the woman finish her statement, I’m sure she would have said, “Sir, you don’t understand. Your skin is so translucent… sir, I can see right through you.”

    Yeah, that’s right. I’m not even at the halfway point of the “Jim Moore is so white, he…” jokes.

  • Potter

    Yes, I remember when you could fly. I used to run behind you and Preston and the Pine River CC just to try to get into shape for baseball. You guys looked as though you had springs in your legs (while I seemed to be wearing concrete boots). How does it feel to be mortal?

  • Kirk

    Many miles and beers and years ago, you said you would have brought a calendar instead of a watch if you had thought I was going to run so slowly. Oh well. Just say no the the Grecians. Glad to hear you are recovering.

  • Skywalker

    So, perhaps now is about time that I should challenge you to a long distance foot race! Hang in there ObWan.

  • Brenhon

    Bro, haircolor alone wont cut it!! Fact is, hair is a requirement for haircolor. You may be the official “old guy” but keep fighting it.

  • Sarah Rasmussen

    Hello Mr. Moore,

    Could you tell me who performed your surgery? I live in Austin, TX and have been diagnosed with Tarsal Tunnel. Did you have any other symptoms, like burning pain at night or shooting pain? Also, how long after the surgery was it before you could walk again without pain? I sincerely appreciate any information you could give me. I’ve never known anyone with this condition. Thank you so much.
    Sarah Rasmussen

Leave a Reply