TITLE: Another Shovel Of Dirt AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: January 08, 2012 9:57 AM DESC: ----- BODY: This morning, I did something I hadn't done since Sunday, February 27. I did a long workout. That day, it was a 12-mile run in single-digit temperatures, a bright, sunny morning. This day, it was a 1-hour ride on an exercise bike in my basement. It is again a bright, sunny morning, but I was shielded from the winter old. It felt good. I've been riding an exercise bike daily since mid-November or so, working my way up from the 10-15 minute I rode occasionally in earlier therapy physical sessions first to 30 minutes, and now to 45 minutes at a time. Today for some reason, my mind said, just keep riding. Over the last couple of months, I have begun exercising my knee more often and for longer, as I rehab from knee surgery last summer. In addition to the exercise bike, I have been walking a lot. Most days now, I walk 4-5 miles, usually in the evening with my family. It's not running, but it's moving, and it feels good to move -- and burn a few calories. After seven months of inactivity, I had gained twenty pounds and lost my lovely figure. I'm working on both those problems now. The last two months of 2011 offered an experience that turned my memory inside out: my therapist had me run in our athletic department's Hydroworx pool. Put simply, this is a treadmill on the floor of a pool, which can be lowered to any level. Air jets blow water at the runner to create more resistance. Running in the water blunts impact on all the joints, including the knee, so my surgeon recommended it as part of my therapy. The first time we speeded the treadmill from walk to gentle run, I was in ecstasy. My body fell into that comfortable rhythm that runners know and love. My heart raced. At first, my mind was empty, but soon it flooded with memories of runs past. I had not felt like a runner since last March. Yet there I was, a runner again. That feeling was bittersweet, though. I knew that I could run in the pool only for a couple of months, as part of my therapy. Once my knee regained a certain level of strength and balance, pool sessions for therapy would end. And so they did. When I make my first Internet million, perhaps I'll build such a pool at my house, but for now I am back to walking and biking. I haven't been writing about my knee, or about not running, for a lot of small reasons. This isn't a confessional blog, and I doubt many readers are interested in hearing me go on and on about my feelings. I also haven't find myself making connections between my rehab and my teaching or my software development, as I did when I was running. My experiences have been nothing unique, mostly what musical artist John Mellencamp calls "ditch digging": just doing what little I have to do each day. There is certainly something to be learned in this experience, but at this point I have nothing special to say. Still, after riding for a full hour today, feeling a little like I did on all those Sunday long runs, reminded me of something worth remembering. When we do the little work day to day, we build something bigger. It takes patience. Another shovel of dirt. -----