Ruin hath taught me thus to ruminate

Blog entry posted by nisto, Apr 20, 2012.

So. This must be how mid-life crisis sets in. I mean, I have always been asthmatic, ever since I was 7 or 8, I've grown used to the wheezing and it didn't really bother me that much. Nothing a trip to the local hospital couldn't fix. (Stealing away from my girl-friend and our host in the middle of the night when we visited her in Venice, wheezing through old, narrow streets and over renovated bridges, feeling the dampness everywhere, hearing my asthma bouncing back off the moist walls, scaring the few night wanderers, finding the hospital, getting not one but two injections, leaving two hours later still with an asthmatic engine powering my breathing down in my lungs. Coming back just in time, minutes before my girl-friend wakes up: Oh, you sound much better, it isn't so bad here in Venice after all?) I train. I cannot succumb to this disease, it's just my normality, It's just the way my lungs go about their job.

And then seeing a doctor here in Prague, horrifying a doctor here, My God, you breathe like a 80-year old, why haven't you come to me before? 30% of what you should have! Here, takes these medicines, come back for hay fever injections every week, some back for re-evaluation of your asthma in two months.

Two months was yesterday. And the doctor was even more horrified: STILL 30%! My God, I feel like an idiot now, treating you without any effect. Nurse, are you sure of these numbers? Yes? My God. You must see a lung specialist.

So this must be how mid-life crisis feels like. Suddenly you realize that you are fighting a losing battle. That your diseases are gaining ground, that you must fight hard just to stand still. Getting better feels like an utopia.

But I am not middle-aged, I'm 35. That's not middle-aged, is it? And I am still agile and in, well, good shape. You should have seen me flying up the stairs to the doctor, three and three at a time, the nurse was impressed. See? I can still run, even with 1/3 of normal lung capacity. Hm, she said. Yesterday, I continued, yesterday I even ran 7 kilometers! Barefoot!

The nurse didn't reply, just showed me into the doctor's office with an almost apologetic expression.

Look at me, I am a barefoot runner! I am not a 80 year old wheezing, coughing couch potato! I run 7 kilometers twice a week, sometimes three, sometimes even more, some weeks I run close to 30 kilometers, and only barefoot! Or 20. But still! How many of you nurses can even walk hundred meters barefoot without being reduced to the hobbling 80 year old you surely will end up as after just as many ears in tight shoes with high heels? And you, doctor, dare to compare BMIs? Huh?

Huh?

And I am not 80, I am middle-aged, and perhaps not even that. I function perfectly well in everyday life, I play with my kids and carry the oldest upside down to the bathroom to brush his teeth every evening. Without even being close to being out of breath! I am healthy, this is just the way I breathe, my lungs work just fine for my use, I don't smoke, I make smoothies with lots of blueberries and strawberries, I...

I am apparently caught in a losing battle unless I do something. You can't fight a doctor with numbers: see, here you are 35% of normal, here only 29%, and it has not improved since the last time, we have to do something.

Buying a fancy sports car is out of the question. So is revisiting the disco and nightlife scene, I always abhorred such places anyway. So. What do you do?

You run barefoot. You feel the earth with each step, you re-learn how to run properly after 20 years in the biggest, clunkiest basketball shoes imaginable. You re-discover the joy of running for its own sake, without a pulse watch, without a watch at all, just feeling yourself glide through the forest. You set yourself goals, of course, one cannot get by without them sometimes, you want a half marathon in September and then, in spring, weeks before you have to move to a different country, you run Prague Marathon, the full distance, 42195 meters, barefoot over the cobblestones, and feel the wheezing subside and... My God. Do all plans have to be so ambitious?

But what is the alternative? What is better for the asthma than training outdoors, in the forest? And running with big shoes has always been a nightmare, and is becoming more and more so after I have realized how much more enjoyment there is in bare feet. It might be slower in the short run, but in the long run... You know.

You all know. Hence these ramblings, hence rambling here. I don't know exactly why my asthma hasn't improved like it should have, it can be our house, the environment, hay fever during the second test, many different things -- but it still somehow boils down to this: I need to train. I know of no other training as enjoyable as barefoot running. I know no other barefoot runners here. I must have goals to make my training a training towards something, not just a reminder about my poor health. And I need support.

So this is my version of the mid-life crisis. Beating a disease, at least making it more bearable, by running without shoes, and then go to a web page to see others doing the same thing. See their thoughts. Trying to comprehend their in-jokes. Understanding their thinking behind their own barefoot running. And then go out and run again to remain part of the clan.

And you ask the elders of the clan to nod approvingly. Aye. You want marathon barefoot? You will do marathon barefoot. Next April. It has been decided and there is nothing you can do about it. Now just go and prepare.

So you just run. And without you even noticing, the mid-life crisis withdraws into the shadows and lurks there many more years, waiting perhaps in vain for your next bout.

Right?
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