Thursday the sun came up and my right knee informed me that walking would be interesting and running would be out of the question. Period. There would be no 5K Saturday morning. There would be no escaping the Zombie Apocalypse. At this point I would look towards Saturday morning as a time of gentle reflection with my laptop on top of the blankets, the dogs snoozing at my side, and all thoughts of the multi-colored and poofy tutu pushed back until next year. I checked the site where the money was announced and we were still off by $175.00. We had set a goal too high it seems and we would just have to wait until next year.
Friday morning the money had not moved a bit so I assumed interest in seeing a grown man run in a multi colored poofy tutu had dwindled to nothing. I sent an email to the woman who was running the show to tell her since the money had not been raised I would be sleeping in Saturday, but we gave it a good effort right? And things just didn’t work out and besides it was going to be the coldest day of the year so far. Sleeping in was a really great idea. Writing as the sun rose and under blanket with dogs snoozing peacefully at my side…yes.
We made the money, Firesmith, get your ass up and into that damn tutu.
Okay, so she was a little bit more polite than that but we are talking about a rescue organization strapped for cash and overrun with abandoned dogs. A little of ten puppies have just been rescued. It’s Dog Abandonment Season, also known as The Holidays where people who cannot afford cheap plastic shit from Wal-Mart that breaks in a week throw their dogs away and people give puppies as gifts not realizing the animals are lifelong commitments.
So I have a choice; I can nurse my knee and deny some dogs out there a good home with loving families or I can suck it up and get my ass out of bed and on the road.
It is seriously cold for South Georgia. When I get up it’s 34 degrees and I need coffee. My knee tells me it’s staying in bed. I tell my knee that for once in its life it is expendable. We’re getting up. We’re strapping on our running shoes. We’re going to wear a pair of shorts and show some leg! I walk outside and realize that I am not showing any leg in this kind of weather, no, I am not. Sweats will do. Sweats are the only way I can talk the rest of my body into this. My right knee says no. It gets kidnapped.
I have a simple plan. Run as slowly as I can and still call it a run. Run as far as I can until the pain stops me. Then walk as fast and as far as I can until I can’t. The plan includes the idea that it might take an hour to go three point one miles. The idea also includes the idea that if it gets bad enough I might not finish, but that will also include me dragging myself along on my damn elbows before I give up. The attitude is right. The knee is coming along for the ride.
The beginning feels good. It’s cold so the running loosens up the body and warms the blood. The knee protests bit it can. I don’t have a watch, and there are no markers. I have no idea what my pace might be. But that’s not the point. The point is to keep going. Keep moving forward. Keep moving as fast as possible. The knee says no. The attitude says the knee is coming along for the ride.
I have to keep pushing the knee the right way. I can’t start favoring the left knee too much or I might injure it as well. I have to run slow. Every slight incline slows me down more. I keep pace with another runner for a very long time but he slowly pulls away. I can’t keep up with him. At my heels is someone else who seems to be trying to close the gap. He finally passes me but I can keep him within sight, at least.
There are no markers. There is no timer. There is nothing there but the road. The pain isn’t building but it reminds me that I’m not 100%. There is no reason to push it. I could walk the rest of the way and still get the donations. I’m wearing the tutu and my time will be miserable anyway. Walk, Mike, walk the rest of the race and it will be okay. No one is keeping up with anything except that you ran it, no one says you have to run it well. The knee is tired of the attitude.
At the final turn I am tired of the knee. I am tired of the idea that my worse time ever has to be worse than it already is. At the final turn I remember that there are ten puppies, ten, who someone took in, and all I have to do is run a race as miserably as I can. In the distance I can see the finish line. I pick up the pace. The guy that passed me is closer. The knee protests but I push it. Come on dammit, it’s not like you have ten puppies to take care of, move your ass! Then it’s there, the second wind, the will to do better than the worst time ever which I’ve already accomplished. There are people out there taking in foster dogs, sick dogs, wounded and damaged dogs, and all I have to do is this, this one thing, and I can help them. The knee screams as I run flat out, wobbly, wearing a tutu, a man whose limitations are clearly defined by age, by the cold, by the lack of training, but whose will to save dogs cannot be denied. I do not have ten puppies to care for. I cannot foster another dog yet. But I can run with the worst of them, and I can do it wearing a tutu!
If you really want to help rescue dogs, find a way, create a way, get in touch with your inner tutu, and no matter your time or your knees, it is a race you will win.