I hate running.

This morning I went for the third run I’ve been on since my surgery 15 months ago.  (averaging once every 5 months..  that’ll keep anyone in shape!!  Though actually all three runs were perpetrated in the last month and a half).  Each of the three runs has been horrifying in its own special way.  The first one started out fine.. but after those first fine ten paces I felt horrible and kept feeling horrible for the short two miles that I managed to complete.  It was about half a mile in that I heard some triathlon fitness freak padding up behind me and thought, “christ..  just what I need.”  When the padding turned out to be a chubby little coed from Columbia in a pastel tee listening with oblivion to pop music on her ipod while passing me like I was a potted plant, I almost stopped and walked back home.

The second run was with my wife.  On a whim.  To keep her company.  My wife is awfully fit for an academic.  We went 4 miles, which was rather longer than I should have gone.  At some point I had to ask her to walk for a while.  A little after that, I asked if she would terribly mind carrying me.

This morning’s run was a more manageable 3 miles during which I experienced nausea and could feel my heart beating in my eyeballs.

So why the hell do it!?  Well. 4 years ago, just before all this cancer horse shit started to go down, I looked like this.

(stop blushing..  you’ve ALL seen me naked).

To be, just 4 years later, a skinny-fat, incontinent, impotent mess with sciatica and a bad attitude, is a real kick in the teeth (make no mistake..  I will still WRECK you at handball).  And it’s not just vanity.  I mean at this point, with a shit bag hanging from me, I’m not likely to be doing a lot of shirtless hanging about in public.  It just always FELT pretty good to be strong, flexible, energetic, and etc.  I currently feel none of those, and I’m not sure I want to put up with it.

It was right around this time of year, the last time that I was in remission, that I finally had enough energy to feel the urge to get moving again.  I ran.  Within about three weeks I had gotten up to 9 miles, at which point my joints all revolted and I had to stop. But the damage was already done.. I was more or less back in shape.  SO, right on schedule I’m feeling that same urge again, and happily, I know from past experience that it does come back.

The bad news is that everything hurts.  Docs aren’t willing to acknowledge it, but I’ve heard the same from others who have endured chemotherapy too:  the stuff makes your connective tissue hurt.  It’s as though it ceviche-ed all my ligaments, tendons and cartilage.  We’ll see how it goes.

In all honesty, I think that my physical state, and a general lack of activity are contributing to a level of listlessness and depression that I’ve been feeling for months now.  It’s clearly not a silver bullet.  I mean, there’s also the existential crisis I’m having around being a bike builder who doesn’t ride bikes, chronic discomfort that I’ve been experiencing since all this started, AND the creeping fear of recurrence and DEATH.  But.  Being a little proactive about getting in shape might help.  I figure that if I write about it here I might feel just accountable enough to all of you, that I’ll actually get out and go even when I’m really not feeling like it.

A pair of running shoes might be a good idea too.

23 Responses to “I hate running.”

  1. Seth Vidal

    I know it’s not as fun – but have you thought about low-impact cardio? Maybe an ellipitical running machine or going swimming? Maybe the swimming is tricky with the colostomy bag – I’m not sure.

    Or something like a rowing machine. Good for the whole body but doesn’t have as much heavy impact on the joints, etc.

    Running will tear some stuff up over the long term and running on concrete can be brutal to your knees in particular.

    Your life kinda went sideways for a while and maybe it is worth thinking about sideways options for getting exercise. The conventional stuff might not work for you.

  2. Allison

    There is nothing more motivating than new running shoes.
    Splurge.

  3. John C

    Go, go, go… You have been through the ringer, this is just another part of the process. Keep running. I never like running, unless I am running. It’s primitive. Dirt or grass to run on is also nice.

  4. addie

    “Your life kinda went sideways for a while and maybe it is worth thinking about sideways options for getting exercise. The conventional stuff might not work for you.”

    true that. …

    true true true.

    when I was super pregnant (not the same, I know) I basically could swim or walk.. and so I did just those things for months and months and months..

  5. Elle

    I know what you need, in addition to this running nonsense… a good, kick in the pants, Ezra Caldwell style, “dance” class. Wait, what does one do when the one in need of an Ezra Caldwell class is Ezra Caldwell? Figure it out, let me know. x

  6. megan

    you are so awesome.

  7. kris

    I think this is a great idea! Keep moving, keep yourself motivated, but move slowly…you’ve been through a lot!

    We love you out here. :)

  8. Marta

    Aww… I did blush!! ;)

    Ezra, why do you need to run? There are so many other ways to exercise ones body. How do you feel about yoga? Did you try the astanga yoga – the energetic variation, with deep breathing which makes you sweat? It tones the body and cleans the mind just as well as running, plus you do it barefoot and save the money on these fancy running shoes.

  9. Juniper Jones

    Wow…sciatica…you never wrote about that…

    No one in my real or virtual life is half as inspiring as you are (or half as endowed, frankly). Do you know how far and deep your words reach?

  10. ashley

    I used to coach a swim team in the summer. A high schooler on the team had an ileostomy. She could swim for about an hour, no problem, but a big problem was that the water degraded the wax on the bags, meaning she needed a new bag after every swim and those bags are freaking expensive.

    I’m gonna give a qualified vote for yoga as well. I’ve never had the patience for it, but I’ve always aspired to have the patience for it if that makes any sense? I just think you should Really Really shop around for an instructor you like and can communicate with. I’ve had friends tell me they feel high after a good class and they are not inverted pose acrobat yogis at all, just weekend warriors. Although did any of y’all read ny times this weekend? That super long article said yoga can wreck body as well. Who the hell knows anymore. But it would be nice to get your energy up without pounding all that pavement.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – you are a bike builder, but really you’re a sculptor. An artist. You build a work of art and send it away like all artists do. Thank you for writing about your listlessness, depression, fear. I don’t ever want you feel alone in it, so thank you for writing it down. Until you’ve done it yourself, it’s hard to know how much bravery it takes to write it all down, because writing it down makes it real. Please keep at it. There are a lot of us out here. As a best friend of a young, vibrant, scarred, pissed cancer survivor – we love hearing about you more than we can say.

    Much love from Texas:)

  11. Rebecca Knill

    I agree. Your words resonate. Thanks for writing and sharing.

  12. Valancy Jane

    I’ll run with you. We can talk about how much we hate it as we run.

  13. jrobtp (bob)

    dude. yer a hero. all’s said and done? a hero. that’s all i got right now for ya. hero…keep on, mang!

  14. Laurie

    When my mom was dealing with her brain cancer we thought it would be a great idea to take her to an art therapy group that met every week. I dropped her off thinking she’d enjoy meeting new people and have fun cutting and pasting and making stuff (she was an artist in her soul, if not her career). A few weeks in, she decided she didn’t want to go back. Bitch that cancer is, it took away her ability to execute her ideas and use simple tools like scissors. It was no fun to do an art project that could easily be done by a fourth-grader. It was frustrating to her, and it pissed me off FOR her.

    You have the right idea – get back to it… you’re no potted plant! But maybe start with ONE mile? And if you haven’t done it yet, take a look at some support groups for “young adults”. http://stupidcancer.com/index.shtml has good stuff on it. Even if you don’t engage, it might be a boost to know it’s there.

  15. christo

    yes, you’re a terror on the handball courts. kicked my ass more than once. and if you’re feeling up to it next time i’m in town, i might let you kick my ass again.

  16. julie

    9 mi? That’s a hefty run. Most runners don’t do that unless training for a half or full marathon. Try to stick around 3-5. You’ll get the benefits and hopefully not injure yourself. (The rule is to never increase your weekly mileage by more than 10% a week, fwiw.)

  17. Blue-eyed Devil

    Ez, if you continue with the running and are looking at new shoes, check out the New Balance Minimus for a more “natural” running style.

    Rally, man. What choice do you have? RALLY!

  18. lauren

    So good to hear you, Ez. Running is definitely a love hate relationship, as I’m sure you have discovered… but I’m proud of you for getting out there and striving to build your strength back up. I know Hill appreciates your company on runs, so keep accompanying if you can. I love you both and am thinking of you always. <3 your sis in Cali

  19. Nobody

    Ez,
    You don’t know me, but after free-basing your blog, I have the irreconcilable feeling that I know you. Nothing like the interwebs for stalking.
    A favorite from KV: “…I believe that reading and writing are the most nourishing forms of meditation anyone has so far found. By reading the writings of the most interesting minds in history, we meditate with our own minds and theirs as well. ”
    What keeps me stuck on your blog is probably that I identify with you. More exactly, I see the best parts of myself, things I wish I were more wholly composed of. I was shocked to read the words “depression” and “death” here. They are totally incongruous with the character that reads your blog entries in my head, who my imagination did not design in three dimensions.
    Ez, I can’t explain why a stranger like me values your words. But I know that I do. And I know that they make life easier when it’s a slog. Be well, brother – even strangers are thinking of you.

  20. Patrick

    Have you tried a small home trampoline? I know it sounds silly, but it gets your lymph nodes all shakin’-n-shit and might help. It still might be painful though. The other is to not push yourself into running. Walk. Get some barefoot shoes (unless it’s just too effin’ cold) and just take along some small weights in your hands. Do that for a while. Don’t kick yourself for not running!

  21. Silvino González M

    As usual your stubborn courage is inspirational, keep fighting my friend, you will win.

  22. Michelle S

    Ezra,
    I too have just been “free-basin’ your blog” for the past 2 hours…since the very first post. My shemo (that’s what i call chemo) mate at the infusion clinic pointed me in your direction. Why? Colon cancer and bikes. After reading I see we are into different types of bikes, but who cares. We share the passion for riding. Which I have not done in two years since “IT ALL STARTED”.

    I’m also blogging about my situation and posting all the drips. I get the big drips (Oxali, Irinotecan) and the little drip – 5FU. The “FU” part is never lost on me. I have 17 cycles of FolFox. I’m a stud if I do say so myself. It worked too. Tumor in liver shrank 76%! Then the allergy – much like your allergic seizure-type reactions.

    Like you I was walking down the street and fell into the rabbit hole, landed on a mushroom and everything got weird. 18months into diagnosis, I’m just now open to connecting with other survivors. I think that’s why Lori gave my your link.

    I know your medical journey all too well. Like you, It doesn’t feel like a boxing fight, but more of a triumph of love, gratitude and optimism over the fucker. I call it the “blue meanies” because just thinking the word cancer is so loaded. I’m all about making it YOUR journey – because it is. we hear everything under the sun, thank you very much. then do what you know to be right.

    Right now i’m in a place of being bummed out by the downward spiral of physical fitness. I have cycled thousands of miles in California. I did the “Deathride” in 2008 and climbed five 9,000ft mountains in a single bound. WTF? now i’m relishing in just climbing the 200 steps in my n’hood. because that takes it out of me. I know how important those runs are for you. More than doing them everyday they are mini triumphs for you and also serve as a gauge to your state of being.

    Now that i found a kindred spirit in the triumph over CRC, i’ll tune back in again.
    Work the miracle!

  23. Burnt Umber

    Do not dwell on what you once were. Think about who you are and who you want to be. What you were is not who you are now, and there is no way of regaining that which is lost.Look forward for your goals and don’t dwell on the past.

Leave a Reply