Almost a year

SantiagoIt’s been almost a year. And though much has come and gone in the course of that year. I’ll keep the news update down to just two highlights.

First, the good news. I realized my longtime dream of walking the Camino de Santiago de Compostela. I began in one of the most popular starting points, St. Jean Pied-de-Port, France, and over the next month, made my way to Santiago, mostly by foot (I rented a bike for about 125 km, and took a train for another 80 km when I was behind schedule.) The Camino was an adventure of hiking across the Pyrenees, the long Meseta plateau, the Cantabrian mountains, of crossing dozens of rivers and streams and roads, of passing through more than a hundred cities, towns, villages, and hamlets, and of meeting some of the most wonderful people in the world. As many pilgrims do, after resting an extra day in Santiago, I went to Fisterra (Spanish Finisterra “World’s End”) to complete my Camino at edge of the Atlantic Ocean.
Much more can be said about it, but for now, I’ll leave the subject with the admonition that if you have a chance to do the Camino yourself, do it!

Now, the bad news. I have a broken foot. That’s putting it dramatically, but it’s technically true. I still have a bone chip from the broken toe that I mentioned in the “metatarsalgia” bit in my last post. (The doctor who informed me that I had broken a toe neglected to mention that I still had a bone chip trapped between my metatarsals.) He suggested rest as therapy.

Indeed, resting it was actually was helpful at first, and when I began Camino training, I discovered that toe socks seemed to be just what the doctor ordered for me to be able to hike well. Yep, I walked the Camino with a bone chip in my foot.injinji

When I returned, all seemed well. I was in the fittest condition I’d been in since my late twenties. I starting training for another marathon, but trouble started showing up with toes in my left foot cramping towards the end of 13-, 10-, 8-, then even 5-kilometer runs. The trouble was undeniable when on a Labor Day 5k, I was on pace to PR (make a personal record) but had to walk (and limp) the entire last kilometer.

That led me to see a podiatrist. The first one I found was not very helpful, but now I am working with a different podiatrist, in whom I have much more confidence. However, neither have been keen on operating as ligament damage might not be as simple to repair as merely removing the chip.

So, not running for the last eight months has been a difficult challenge for me. I only started running for five years ago, and when I began, it was like I had been given a new lease on life. But during the winter, I found myself eating comfort food and gaining thirty pounds.

But things are changing. My diet is back on track, I’m losing weight slowly and carefully, and with my podiatrist, I’m exploring how best to rehabilitate my foot. (This weekend, I was able to walk fourteen kilometers.)

As I return to blogging, I’m reading and taking my own advice on the most essential skill: returning”

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5 thoughts on “Almost a year

  1. Hope you keep blogging. I enjoy reading the frimmin site. Do you still practice meditation or update that site?

    • Hi, Ryan, I haven’t updated it in a long time, but who knows? Anything’s possible. I’ll confess that I need to get back into the habit of meditation. I still practice with my Zen teacher.

  2. Hi Jon!

    That´s a long time ago. Last time was during/after the soccer world cup final 2010 Spain-Holland, if I remember correctly. Shorlty after that, I went back to university to take a bachelors degree in cultural history, and I got caught up in online discussions on the uni´s website. By now, I´ve earned my degree. Not sure if I´m going to continue for a master degree. A second master degree has become very expensive in Holland. Perhaps abroad; university fees for a master’s in Belgium are still doable.

    Great that you walked the Camino! I never did, but I do like long distance walking a lot and have walked the Four Days Marches Nijmegen several times. Before I had a dog, that is. Oddly enough, I bought the dog to have a companion on my walks and an excuse/incentive to walk more. That worked well the first few years, but then the dog developed a heart murmur (mitral valve not closing properly). I didn’t want to risk him getting heart failure, so I took it easy on the walks. Moreover, doggy’s got seperation anxiety and barks a lot when I’m not home, and not wanting to annoy my neighbours, I stayed home much more than I used to. I’m afraid it didn’t do my condition much good. Over the years, I gained weight slowly, frankly because I didn’t adjust my diet to a less active lifestyle.

    Doggy is 15 years old now and had acute heart failure last February. He fortunately survived (my vet lives 15 meters away) and has new medication that has improved his condition, but he is in the last stage of his life, I’m afraid. Meanwhile, I not only have a worse condition, but also osteoarthritis in my lower back. I do occassionally go out to have a brisk walk for 10/15 km or so, but then my sciatic nerve gets pinched after a while. Very painfull.

    Still, this can be overcome, according to my physiotherapist, by gradually building up the distance again and with good supportive shoes that absorb the shock. But for the moment I’m a bit stuck with my sick dog. Those old doggies are so endearing and I want to be the best companion for him for the rest of his short life. When he’s gone (which I dread, I hope he’ll have a few more years that have enough quality), I have plans to go back to long distance walking, and yes, do the Camino someday!

    I hope your foot heals well. What is the prognosis? Can you go back to running with the splinter or does it have to be removed?

  3. Hi, Margreet!
    So sorry to hear about your dog and your back. Sounds like you’ve got a good PT.

    I’ll probably be getting surgery on my foot soon. None of the halfway measures have helped it. I can hardly walk 800 meters without problems now.

    Good to hear from you!

  4. Hello, Jon! Mike Morrell asked me to contact you because he really appreciates your blog and thinks you’d be an excellent candidate for his Speakeasy Blogger Network. Do you like to review off-the-beaten path faith, spirituality, and culture books? Speakeasy puts interesting books in your hands at no charge to you. You only get books when you request them, and it’s free to join. Sign up here, if you’d like: http://thespeakeasy.info

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