Chelle Summer


The Hobbler

Michelle Rusk

No one ever could have predicted that I would become a runner. While I was all legs growing up, I wasn't fast (and in those days it was more important to be fast than to have any endurance) and I was always picked near the end for any sort of team game.

But by high school, running took over my life and during my freshman year I paid a price for it with a stress fracture in my right foot. It was a challenging time of my life for many reasons but I bring this up because in January I once again hurt my knee and something from thirty years ago kept coming back to me. 

A year and a half ago, Lilly and I had an accident on the landing of the stairwell in the house. She was flying down the stairs, I was heading up the stairs and we collided– her head to my knee. While nothing hurt immediately the next day I couldn't run. And I didn't run for about two months.  But somehow I survived and all was well. 

Until January. 

I have no idea what happened but somehow I hurt my knee again, this time with no collision. My Chinese doctor cupped it and said it appear to be an old injury because there was no energy to pull out of it. 

Back to walking I went.

This was where my fifteen year old memory returned. With the foot injury, I wasn't walking really well (which led to a compensation injury in my hip) and I remember someone saying to me, "You shouldn't be running if you can't walk."

And it was my friend Art who told me of some advice he found in a magazine a long time ago: that if we aren't professional athletes, we'll have a lot more days of exercising ahead of us. Because of that, we should take the time to let ourselves heal.

So I did. I walked and iced and walked and iced. Finally I wasn't hobbling around anymore, back to walking like my normal self. I started to run a bit. And slowly but surely I'm amping it back up.

I often talk about how one of my biggest challenges is realizing that the world won't end tomorrow, that there will be enough time to do everything. And the same goes for running– I worry that one day I won't be able to run anymore so it's like I want to get as much in now as I can.

However, I have to slow down and remind myself. All is well. I'm right where I'm supposed to be. And once I do that, I can relax. Which probably also helps me heal quicker, too.


Taking My Steps

Michelle Rusk

My alarm goes off at 4:25 during the week and I'm generally up by 4:40. Contrary to popular belief, I don't hop out of bed. Roll is probably a better word. While part of the reason is related to my dogs, I also do it because there is something about the silence of the morning before most people are up (I have found a surprising amount of people up at that time, particularly in their cars, although I have yet to figure out where they are all going). I am not a fan of darkness but there's something to be said for the time before the sun starts its ascent over the Sandia Mountains when all is still dark, yet there is a new day, a new opportunity at life, coming.

A Navajo man once told me that they run in the dawn hours because they believe they should greet the day by "taking our steps." When I learned this, it started to make sense why– as much as I hated to drag myself out of bed at 4:40– I always feel so good- ready to face the day– by the time I'm done running and run-walking the dogs. 

It's important to greet our day with more than a roll out of bed and into the shower or to the coffee pot. We should immerse ourselves in the world around us, the outdoors, and give ourselves a chance to reflect on what opportunities are ahead with the new day, a clean slate. After all, it's all about our perspective.

Learning to Run Again

Michelle Rusk

I couldn't blame Lilly. I'm sure she didn't see me coming when she bounded down the stairs– probably because she heard the door or Hattie stir. But when she ran her head right into the inside of my right knee as I trekked up the stairs, well, as I said to Greg, "That didn't sound good." But was it Lilly's head or my knee that incurred the damage?

For a week I felt something a little weird but nothing that kept me from running, or running and walking the dogs.

Until the next week when I couldn't run at all.

I've gone through phases where I hurt, I ache. I'm getting old, I'm trying to accept that. But this, this was different. I went for acupuncture and besides the usual moxa and needles, she cupped my knee, trying to pull the pain out. Then there was the day where I stepped on uneven ground trying to pick up a zucchini and could barely walk at all.

"It looks like you're dancing," My Chinese doctor's husband said when I showed up hobbling for acupuncture an hour later.

I could barely walk, I tore into my stash of heavy duty ibuprofen so I could walk. I took two days off from walking the dogs but I couldn't stand being away from my community in the early morning hours at the park. 

I walked, I swam, I was cupped and needled to stop the pain and help the injury heal. Weeks went by and suddenly I realized I hadn't gone that long without running since I was in high school. I missed my route, seeing my friend Jennifer and giving her the morning temperature as I do every day when we pass each other.

I kept busy with work, writing, making bags, dreaming about where I'm going to take Chelle Summer.

I won't deny it, it was a big challenge for me. I begged God to let me learn whatever lesson I needed so I could go forward and get back to my routine. 

It was a severe bone bruise, easily possible from the force of a strong German Shepherd on her way down the stairs. And slowly it would heal. I worried I might never run again, and when  did run I felt as if my body were all over the place. And then I rammed my knee into the metal bleachers at a soccer game, Lilly hit her head on my knee again. It felt never ending.

But two weeks ago, slowly it really began to get back. Finally I could run-walk my nearly three-mile route. 

Patience. Patience. All is well. Everything is passing.