Dr.J. on Running


Life Cycles

On the Road Again

Published May 27, 2002 in The Syracuse Post-Standard.

By Dr Kamal Jabbour, Contributing Writer

Thirteen years ago, I started running. I ran to rejuvenate myself after surviving tenure. I ran to unchain my creativity from the grinds of academic research. I ran to fight gravity when my weight and shape ran out of my control. I ran to combat time as my children grew out of diapers into adolescence.

Last week, I passed another milestone - besides 13 years as a runner,

I celebrated 20 years as a teacher. The memories of my early running days faded, yet the longing for the road remained. Twenty years of teaching students, who never aged, wore me down. This year's crop was not even born when I taught my first class.

A freak winter injury sidelined me much of the past three months. My fitness level returned to its resting place. My weight regained the heights of yesteryear. The morning energy to jump out of bed eluded me. I felt chronically fatigued. My clothes felt tight. My disposition turned grim.

Life goes in cycles. Thirteen years since running saved my life, I find myself again at the starting line. My personal records and age group awards seem like a distant dream. My legs feel heavy. My tank rings empty.

My racing singlet collects dust in my drawer. A training log full of zeros remains the only constant part of my life. My wake up call came with the first May snowfall, as I watched the blossoms bend under the wet flurries. I could only blossom from my own winter by shaking off my flurries. The time had come to save myself again.

Decisively over the mid-life hill and accelerating with every sunset, my depression called for drastic measures. I sought to battle the melancholy of teaching with a sabbatical to replenish my creative tank away from the routine of classes and homework.

On the running front, I went full cycle as well. My new desk job permitted a steady running routine. I returned to my first running log with a novice schedule. I ran and walked a couple of miles at lunchtime, and felt stronger every day. On the roads and in the lab, I searched for a new partner.

My hunger to race returned with the season's first training run. Snug in my soccer shorts, I ran my fastest 5K of the season. My finishing time mattered little, as long as it was less than my age. The post-race celebratory hot dog tasted heavenly. The call of the road sounded as sweet as ever.

© 2002 The Post-Standard.

Kamal Jabbour runs and writes on the hills of Pompey, New York. His RUNNING Column appears in The Syracuse Post-Standard on Mondays. Dr.J. created TrackMeets.com, webcasting live Every Lap of Every Race. He receives email at jabbour@i2sports.com.