Monday, May 16, 2011

The Eight-Mile Loop

Drizzle splashed on my cheeks and eyelashes as I jogged along the far side of an eight-mile loop behind our cabin in Madison, New Hampshire. A quickly thickening canopy of deciduous forest grew over the Class VI dirt road. I smiled, realizing that I felt no pain. That, and because I’d caught a glimpse of a shiny wet leather couch off to the side. It belonged there, an erratic, as if a glacier had played a practical joke.

My run-ins with chronic pain began in 2004, with an ankle injury from bouldering that I avoided proper treatment for. Nearly two years after the accident I finally had surgery, followed by a long recovery, and then promptly re-injured the same ankle when a hold broke while sport climbing in 2008. As I finally regained health in 2010, I came down with severe elbow tendonitis for 13 months (read my post from the throes of it here and if you are suffering from it go here for the guaranteed cure).

Now, in May 2011, encouraged by the security (and thus freedom) of marriage and the luxury of intentional underemployment, I am feeling especially lucky to have, and be able to take advantage of, full body health.

I know my ankle will not always be this way. My orthopedic surgeon, as he customized a pair of orthotics to help preserve the newly grown bone and what little cartilage is left in my right ankle, warned that I should carefully choose my running miles and long walks with heavy backpacks. He said his fix could last 1 year or 10 years, depending on how I treated it, and that I should keep my fingers crossed for better full ankle replacement technology in the meantime. So every mile I get to run without pain is a blessing, and every approach or descent with a 50+ pound pack is intentionally chosen.

I was on the 8-mile loop to prepare my body for the coming ‘Indian Summer’. I’ll meet my friends Emilie Drinkwater and Kirsten Kremer in Delhi, India, on July 3 and we’ll head north to the Eastern Indian Karakoram. Our main objective is an unnamed unclimbed 6,000 meter rock peak in the Saser Muztagh. Our secondary objective is to be nuisances to our trip leader Mark Richey (who will attempt a nearby peak with Steve Swenson and my husband Freddie), who says he hasn’t shared an expedition with women in more than 20 years because they ‘are trouble’.

My windshirt, now soaked with rain, stuck to my arms as I turned up Glines Hill Road, our local version of Heartbreak Hill, with a mile straight of steep climbing. Don’t Stop Believing by Journey came up in the workout mix, as if on cue. I’d never wandered beyond a 5-mile loop in our neighborhood, and even on this cruelly steep homestretch, I felt light, energized and thankful for health’s simple gift of an allowance to push one’s limits.

We are thrilled and honored to have received a Polartec Challenge Grant for the upcoming summer of fun and adventure. Thanks also to Mountain Hardwear, Petzl, Sterling Rope Company and La Sportiva for helping to make this dream a reality.


kc said...

beautiful pictures, Janet! poetic descriptions! I will be watching for MANY posts during your upcoming journey! best of luck to you girls and your apparently skeptical male leader (cheers to Mark!) - who will undoubtedly find that that group gals adds a whole lot more than just trouble to the mix!!

Kelly Rose said...

you are a talented writer, delightfully skillful at describing and informing! nice! remain well and grateful!