Death is never easy, especially if is a dear and loyal companion. To say goodbye to a friend who has so enriched your life is devastating. Yes, life will go on. Time will continue to march forward, but I will never be the same and I will miss my friend every day of the life I have left.  No, I am not talking about the death of a person, but the death of an activity. I have had to lay to rest my running. My heart is broken and my spirit is crushed.  I have been running since I was 13 years old, and I am presently 71 years old.  That is 58 years I have been running. Running has been as much a part of my life as my heart beating in my chest. During all these years, I have had only a few injuries that have prevented me from running for more than a week or two! I have been blessed beyond measure.

Since 2013 I have battled prostate cancer. Taking forty-three radiation treatments in the fall of 2013, I did remarkably well until the summer of 2021. My PSA numbers begin to rise which gave cause for concern. After a body scan, it was discovered that the invading cells had returned. In August of 2021, twenty-five more radiation treatments were endured. Thankfully, my PSA numbers began to spiral downward. I recovered so well that in November of 2021, I ran and completed a half-marathon as a way to show those intruding cells were not going to defeat me. The doctor suggested in 2021 I begin hormonal shots to help starve those foreign cells. Talking with others who had taken the dreaded shots, I refused to do so because of the myriad of negative side effects. I seemed to get along fine and in 2022 I returned to the racing circuit and raced 16 times in twelve months. Now in the 70 years old plus age group, I won my age group fourteen of the 16 times I raced. I was looking forward to more racing in 2023.

Then the New Year dawned. The year 2023 didn’t bring good news. A routine check-up in January revealed an elevated PSA once again.  Another scan revealed the “c” cells had returned. This time radiation was not an option. I was informed I was going to have to go on the dreaded hormonal shots. When I asked my doctor what my options were, he looked at me and said, “You don’t have any other options.” Since I had a 10K race planned toward the end of March 2023, I postponed my first shot until after the race, fearing it would probably be my last race. I took my first hormonal shot on March 27, 2023. For a few weeks after the shot, I ran ok, but I noticed I was slower as the shot reduced my testosterone level rather quickly. About the end of the third week of the first shot, I noticed my joints begin to ache and my hips hurt especially my right one. My last run, which was not without pain, was on Friday, April 21, 2023. I have not been able to run since without unbearable pain. I am not able to run more than a couple of minutes before I have to stop.

Since that day I have attempted to run a couple of times but it is too painful and I have to stop. I have come to grips that my running days are probably over. Now I can ride a stationary bike and even do an elliptical without pain, but it is not the same. I assume it is the joint pain and loss of muscle mass and the pounding of running that causes the pain.  Thankfully, I can ride my stationary bike for at least an hour a day to stay fit.

I don’t mind telling you it has been difficult to stop running. My body is chopping at the bits for a run, but I can’t fulfill its request. I would be less than honest to tell you this has been most difficult to stop running. It has been like a death. I have found myself going through the stages of the grief process: Shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.  Though I am not sure I am at the acceptance stage yet, I miss running. I miss it more than I can express in words. Someone who is not a runner doesn’t understand.

I miss running physically. Running has kept me healthy through all these years. The doctors have told me one reason I have done so well over the last ten years of battling prostate cancer is my health from running. I miss that inward cleansing I sensed after a run. I miss the refreshing and invigorating feeling after a brisk run on a cool morning. I miss feeling my heart beating in my chest and the blood coursing through my veins. I miss my endorphins doing somersaults. I miss the personal satisfaction that is felt after another run has been completed.

I miss running mentally. Running was my therapy. Running was a time I could think things through and clear my mind. Running has always uncluttered my mind quicker than anything. I have solved many a problem after a good run. Running made all seem right with the world. I will be honest with you, not being able to run is depressing as my body and mind adjust to life without its daily “fix.”  Everyone needs a mental outlet, mine was running. 

I miss running emotionally. We are emotional beings. Running enhanced my emotional makeup. Running evoked thanksgiving from my heart. Running made my creative juices flow. Running “straightened out” my rotten moods. Running intensified one’s love of self and in return that love flowed toward others. Running kept my emotions in check and from being polluted and made me easier to live with. 

I miss running spiritually. Running was a time when I could commune with the Lord. I and the Lord had some good conversations while I was running. Running was a time when it seemed the Creator and His creation were one and I was one with both. While running it was as if it was just me and the Lord and for a brief time, all the confusion and chaos of the world had been temporarily put on hold. When I ran I could hear the Voice of the Lord in the chirping of the birds, the water flowing over the dam, in the trickling of a stream, and in the brush of the gentle breeze. While running the words of Robert Browning rang true in my soul, “God’s in His heaven — All’s right with the world!”

I miss running with my friends.  I miss running with those of like nature. I miss the camaraderie that is enjoyed among fellow runners. I miss the jocularity, the nonsensical chatter, and the serious conversations.   There is an invisible thread that runs through the soul of runners that binds each one together. The unity that exists among fellow runners can’t be explained in words only experienced in practicality and enjoyed. Running with companions lifts the spirit and enriches one’s life beyond measure.

I miss running races. Having run races off and on since junior high school, I love the competition. I love the fellowship at road races, the bonds of friendships that are developed are lasting. You and your competitors respect each other and root for each other, because in a race you both understand the struggle the other is going through to reach a personal goal. I miss the race atmosphere; there is nothing else like it.  My racing days are now over, but thankfully I have some wonderful memories.

Yes, I miss my running more than I can ever express in words. My body, mind, and emotions are having a hard time adjusting to life without running. Will I ever be able to run again? I am hopeful but I realize it is highly unlikely….at least not as I once did.

Yes, I know I am more than running. I am more than a one-dimensional person. There are so many more aspects to my life. I understand that, yet knowing that doesn’t diminish my longing to run again. I understand that I have probably traded my running in order to add more years to my life. However, I pray the cure is not worse than the curse!  Nonetheless, I miss my friend.

I am trying to learn to live without my daily “fix.” It has not been easy, but each day it becomes easier. I realize in time my body will decondition from running and I will become like that of a non-runner. Life will go on, it always does, but I will always miss my friend. I will miss him on those cool, refreshing mornings. I will miss him when my mind is cluttered and I need to think things through. I will miss him in the early morning when I hear the birds cheerfully chirping. I will miss him when I see my running buddies pounding out the miles with smiles on their faces.  I will miss him when I remember what close-knit companions we were for 58 years.  I will miss him when I think about how he has enriched my life. I will forever remember him because I realize through the years our hearts have beat as one.


Dr. Dan

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