July 4, 2013 by Nathaniel Tower
I was supposed to joggle my first race today.
I’ve joggled plenty of times in my life. I’ve gone for 10-mile joggles and done joggling track workouts. I’ve even done joggling hurdles and backwards joggles (for a world record that has since been broken).
So what went wrong today?
During the moving process from St. Louis to Minneapolis, I was often too busy to joggle. Between teaching, coaching, writing, packing, and everything else, there was no time to run around the neighborhood catching balls like an escaped jester. But that wasn’t the problem. That was something easy to overcome.
Once I arrived in the new city, I was a bit apprehensive about joggling at first. What would the new neighbors think of the guy who wasn’t just weird enough to wear short shorts and go for long runs at 6 in the morning? No, on top of that, he had to juggle.
After a week or so, I got over myself, mostly because I never really saw anyone out at 6 in the morning. Of course, the first time I went joggling, I was incredibly rusty and must have dropped the balls every five minutes. On the second joggle, I got my groove back and made it the full five-mile run without a drop, the exact distance of the race I was to run today. On that run, multiple witnesses offered admiring phrases. I was confident and ready to race.
I even called the race director to make sure it was okay. She sounded excited and said a photographer would be there. Of course, she was a bit concerned at first and wanted to know what exactly I would be juggling. I assured her I used soft balls and nothing like knives or chainsaws. She accepted this and the buzz started.
In reality, she probably forgot about it within five minutes, but I’d like to think that the idea of someone running and juggling is a bit more memorable than that. Joggling is actually how I met my first neighbor here in Minneapolis. We ended up having a long conversation that all started because he had seen me joggling. And I didn’t think anyone had been watching.
Then the first disaster struck. Tonsillitis and uvilitis. Ten days of excruciating mouth pain and difficulty swallowing. Three visits to the doctor. Three different prescriptions. In the midst of this pain and illness, I started my new job, two days late. What a way to begin a new chapter in my life.
On the eleventh day, with the painful ulcers in my mouth finally disappearing, I walked around like a healthy man, new life breathed into me. I would have gone for a joggle if it hadn’t been pouring for most of the day. I settled for a morning weight workout and went about the rest of the day as a normal person for the first time in over a week. It didn’t matter that I didn’t get the run in. I would still be ready for the race.
A little after midnight, I woke up with a sudden and unbearable pain in my foot. I hobbled out of bed and crawled to the couch. The tiny pressure of the sheet was too much for my foot to take. Painful sleeplessness ensued until the sun rose.
In the morning light, I discovered a left foot that was about twice the size of the right. It felt like the bones had been crushed and lit on fire. I elevated it, iced it, took painkillers, and went back to the routine of being a couch bum, a routine I had grown quite tired of.
The pain, swelling, and redness had not subsided at all the next day. I limped around at work and collapsed in agony when I got home. I called a doctor friend and asked what was going on. Post-infection arthritis, he figured. Could last up to two weeks, he said. No real cure other than letting it pass. Just lots of anti-inflammatories and rest. I followed his orders and even used crutches for the first time in my life.
Today, the fifth day of the fat, red foot, I can finally walk a bit like a normal person. It almost doesn’t look like a fake foot anymore. But I can’t wear a shoe, and I certainly couldn’t run a race, juggling or not.
Of course, this is all a minor setback. The foot will go back to normal. I will run again. I will joggle. I’ll find another race. It seems I’ve fallen far behind on everything in my life. Now I’m ready to catch up.
When catching up, it’s always an advantage to be able to catch three things at once.