STEP AHEAD


BY DONNA SPRINGER - MISSOURI, UNITED STATES


When I crossed the finish line of The Macklind Mile, carrying a cane, I felt victorious. I raised my right hand, and made a “V.” The time on the overhead clock read 27:20.


People lined both sides of the finish chute, and cheered, as I was the last “runner.” Alison, one of my “running friends,” came to the finish and congratulated me. She had run a marathon last month. Her eight-minute mile had placed her second in our seventy to seventy-four age group. She e-mailed me a picture of my finish.


Since hip surgery, I had been increasing my treadmill time and distance. Six years before, I ran The Macklind Mile in around thirteen minutes, and carried home an award as the third-place age group finisher. At the peak of my running, my time had been 6:15 in a one-mile race. My running resume included several marathons.


As I stepped back toward my car, I savored my completing a mile. I knew that my own declines in function faded in comparison to my father’s, who had become paraplegic in his fifties--at age seventy, I could move all my extremities. I saw Ted, the co-director of The Macklind Mile loading timing equipment into a truck. We had both directed races several years before, as track club officers.


“I enjoyed this race, Ted,” I said.


When we were running club officers, he had expressed disgust with constant complainers, and said he’d like it if once in a while, people would say that they had liked races. He peered up and down my body and at my cane but did not comment.


As I was getting ready to teach my Aquacise class a few days later. I saw Nancy, one of Ted’s friends, in the locker room


“Ted wanted to know what had happened to you,” she said.


I felt a stab, although I reminded myself that she was expressing concern. I struggled to think of a way to explain my un-exotic situation.


“I guess it’s just arthritis. I’ve had hip surgery. I work out over here at the Y, and have ordered some orthotics,” I told her.


As I plodded into the pool area. I analyzed my steps. I knew that I was much “smoother” since my right hip replacement seven months ago, but a 27:10-minute mile was not like Alison’s eight-minute mile, or my 13:20 time at The Macklind Mile in the past.


When I arrived at the pool, I saw Jan, a class member I had not seen for several weeks, on the deck with a walker. After her husband leaned her walker against the wall, she grasped the railings and entered the pool.


“It’s good to see you back,” I told her after class.


“Yes, I’m glad to be back, “Jan said.


Our next Aquacise class was in two days. If Jan cared to elaborate about her physical condition, I would listen. I would not question her, remembering my feelings about Tom and Nancy’s calling attention to my using a cane to complete the mile. I would acknowledge Jan’s presence, as evidence of steps toward progress. Maybe my understandings garnered from my own experiences would form steps, towards my being a more effective Aquacise instructor.

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