|Blueberry bushes in the foreground, Mt. Baker in the distance|
As I lay in bed, I massaged my sore Achilles tendon and wondered when, or even if, it will get better. It's been a couple of months since it started to bother me, and although it's changed a little in its nature, it still hurts for a few days after my Thursday hike. I went so far as to purchase another pair of boots, thinking that maybe it is caused by my footwear. It's not bad enough to keep me from exercising, but it's worrisome. I would go to the doctor, but the treatment for non-acute tendinitis is fairly straightforward. I'm doing it all.
That picture: last Thursday, when the sun was shining through the bushes, which have turned red as they do in the fall, I wanted to get Mt. Baker behind. It meant laying down on the ground to get low enough to capture this shot, and I managed to struggle down onto the path and take it, but the sun was so bright that I couldn't be sure about what I captured until I got home and took a look. I'm pleased with it, and it was worth the effort. I didn't see that one stray stalk on the left at all, or I would have removed it. It doesn't bother me; in fact, I kind of like it. Although those bushes look like they're on fire, it's only because the sun is shining through them; if I were to stand with the sun behind me, they just look brown and uninteresting. Loaded with ripe blueberries, but certainly not pretty.
Many of my blogging friends have commented on how active I am, and it got me to thinking about it. Am I more active than most people? If I were to look at a bell curve and figure where my activity level might be placed on it, I'm certainly not the most active, but I would be past the top of the curve going in that direction. Three times a week I get on the treadmill at the gym in order to warm up before my aerobics class. I look out the window at the streets below on a busy corner, and I almost always see, like clockwork, an old man go running by. He's not going fast, not more than a fast shuffle, but he's out there. I was amazed the other day when I saw him trotting in the same manner in an entirely different part of town. Does he run all day, every day? He looks to be about my age, I think. If I ever get a chance to ask him, I'll find the answer to my little mystery.
I have been exercising regularly for so long that it's become a habit. Not just a small habit, but one I feel compelled to continue for as long as I can. As I mentioned when I wrote about Olga Kotelko back in July, I would love to be able to carry on like she did until I am in my nineties. But frankly, my genetic background doesn't make me optimistic. Neither of my parents even made it out of their sixties, and only one first-order blood relative has lived to be ninety. Several of my friends have parents who are still alive or recently died, but it's been more than twenty years now since my mom died. I read a wonderful book about Olga (it's linked in that post), and I was struck by something she said in the book: that she really didn't know what she would do with herself when she became too ill to compete in track and field any more. She said nothing else would stop her. I knew just what she meant: you must find something to take the place of those activities that give you a reason to live, to stay in shape, to feel good about yourself.
Thinking back, I realize that exercising has not actually been a lifelong habit. When I was young, back in the sixties and seventies, most people didn't do much physical exercise, other than a few outliers. Then in the 1980s, the fitness craze hit. I well remember the first time I laced my feet into a pair of running shoes. Thinking that all I needed to do was go out there and run around the block a few times. Hah! In a few days I had shin splints and could barely walk. I went to a sports podiatrist and began wearing orthotics, and it did the trick. I had moved to Boulder, Colorado in the early 1980s, and several of my friends convinced me to go into the wilderness with them and climb 14,000-foot peaks. It was painful and sublime: I struggled to the top but could not believe the wonderful 360-degree views I was treated to in that rarified atmosphere. Not much air up there, but it sure was beautiful. And addicting. I climbed 26 of the 52 peaks over the years.
When I was working, I would often exercise during my lunch hour, grabbing a quick salad and eating it afterwards, rather than socializing in the lunchroom. And then, of course, there was skydiving for a quarter century that helped to keep me in shape. I still remember jogging first thing in the morning when I would travel to various places to skydive. But I no longer run, and soon I will no longer be an active skydiver. I'll always feel that those years of running and skydiving are part of me. That will never go away.
And in my retirement years, I continue to find ways to enjoy the outdoors. My Senior Trailblazer friends are all around my age, so we commiserate about our various aches and pains, but we keep each other going, even if we sometimes don't go on the hardest hikes, we still get out there. My Saturday walking group has also become a staple of my exercise routines, and I do love many of those wonderful women. I have decided to take my own advice and hope that if I take care of today, tomorrow will take care of itself.
I want to leave you with a funny dream I had two nights ago. In my dream, I am getting ready to attend my hundredth birthday party. As I was talking with my friends, someone asked me when I was born. I told him, and he said, "you're not a hundred! You are only ninety!" I remember looking at him, bemused, and said, "well, I did wonder why my nineties zipped by so fast!"