This morning I decided my knee felt good enough to try one of my 5K jogs. I was in the mood for a steady run around the one kilometre Como Lake trail.
Since my unsuccessful second knee surgery last January, I haven’t run more than 5K at a time. For quite a while I was able to run 5K about twice a week, and my times were gradually getting faster, but after an August Chase Run with my Phoenix club, my knee’s arthritic deterioration became worse. I tried to jog a couple of times in September, and each time my knee felt so fragile that I thought I might never run again. But after a few weeks’ break, I’ve been able to resume my 5K jogs, albeit only once a week or so.
I arrived at Como Lake at 8 a.m., right around sunrise. It wasn’t sunny, but it was one of those peaceful gray Sunday mornings that I love so much. There are usually quite a few joggers and people walking their dogs there at that time, but maybe because it had just become light out, I was the only person there at first. The lake was perfectly smooth. The ducks were still sleeping on the water. It was quite mild with just a hint of misty moisture in the air.
I started very slowly, as I always do, with what I think of as my “old-lady shuffle.” My knee doesn’t actually hurt but it doesn’t feel normal. I have to plant my foot very carefully with each step. As usual, I very gradually increase my pace.
I don’t want to mention times (though I still look at my stopwatch obsessively), because they are so pitiful now. Better to focus on the positive, and say that today’s run was a good one! After my first couple of 1K laps, I felt like I was actually running rather than shuffling. My stride was long and relaxed. My leg felt more stable than usual, so I didn’t have to look at my feet every second. I could look ahead to the trail in front of me, enjoying the rhythm of my body and its strong, easy breathing. As I came around the south end of the lake and turned northwards, I looked up at my favourite Como Lake view; the North Shore mountains, partially shrounded in clouds and mist. Sometimes, early in the morning, I get to see the brilliance of the rising sun on those mountaintops, but not today. Still, there were gorgeous chinks of blue contrasting with the grays of mountains and sky.
By the time I was on my third lap, I was crossing paths with several joggers and walkers going in the other direction. I wondered where the disabled man was. Usually when I’m jogging at Como Lake in the morning, I see a middle-aged man with a walker. He goes so slowly that I figure it takes him an hour to complete the 1K tour of the lake trail. I admire him for getting out there, and I always smile and say “Good morning,” or “Hi,” when I see him. He always replies with a very loud “Hi!” that sounds happy though speech is obviously very difficult for him too.
He reminds me to keep my knee problem in perspective.
I am very thankful for today’s run. It was the best run I’ve had in a long time. I was able to run fast enough to work a bit, to breathe deeply, to feel the pure joy and freedom of movement that running brings better than anything else. Although I know that even my final lap, my fastest one, was in reality done at a pace that I would have called a “jog” before my knee injury, it was fast enough to bring back my body-memory of sprinting, sprinting for the finish line and victory.