This Running Life – Tornado Days

Gordon Cherr, 

I found myself reflecting yesterday, during my daily run. The year gone by was a miserable one insofar as my running went. I pulled something in my ITB on January 31, 2018, and when it healed two months later, I tore it again while running the Greenways near Edenfield Road. In fact in late March I encountered good buddy Gary Griffin coming the other way on the trail, we stopped to chat and when I turned away to continue the uphill run to the Fleischmann Road parking area, something tore or ripped again and I found myself walking back the last mile plus. The running year hardly progressed much after that. Time off, short runs, days so painful I stopped a time or two off the trail to curse God, to scream, to cry. It was just that bad. Massage therapy, TENS units, numerous trips to the chiropractor, physical therapy, NSAIDS, it took its own sweet time as injuries are want to do, eventually getting mostly better but twinging every now and then to remind me of my mortality. 

Still, we run on. Do we have a choice? So, 1730 miles for 2018, the lowest in decades, but still moving.

Things brightened up considerably, then a week ago, running on Carr Lane near Lake Iamonia, again. Something tore in the left glute. Or hammy. Or I don’t know, but another week down the drain. The tincture of time as doctors like to say, so I found myself running, painfully, but running yesterday in the afternoon. It was a wild, windy day and night. In my family we call these tornado days, for obvious reasons.

Tornado days are terribly evocative for me. In 1972, during one such day, while driving a truck for the Florida State University, to St. Petersburg, I crashed the truck horribly outside of Cross City, Florida. The truck rolled and careened over four lanes of highway and the center median, and ended up in a water filled ditch on the other side of the road. It was completely destroyed. The truck had flipped from upright and cartwheeled onto the roof directly over the driver’s head, and in looking at the truck afterwards I did not at all understand why my head was not completely crushed. Seat belts I guess, I used them even back then and still do. Somehow I walked away physically unscathed, not so psychologically. The State Police eventually drove me back to Tallahassee that afternoon, and I had a 6:00 PM class at Fisher Hall, so still in a daze, I went to class. But I did not go inside, instead I sat outside and watched the dark clouds race each other across the sky, and the sky start to brighten. The setting sun came out, and on the opposite horizon, a brilliant full rainbow. Religious implications aside, I started to cry and cried for a long time outside of Fisher Hall. 

Tornado Day. I remember every time there is a tornado day. I give thanks.

So, I am running yesterday and thinking about how awful I feel, the last lousy year of injuries and hurts and pains and a very large tree branch comes crashing down not 5′ away. Wow, I suddenly feel fortunate. Very fortunate. Again. Tornado Days…how lucky and charmed my life has been. Had I not survived the horrible crash, my children, Corey and Dara, would not exist. Nor the grandchildren Nalina and Leon and Kyran, and Auden, and Orin and Hannah and Finnegan and Noa. Our simple existences are mind boggling if we take the time to consider them.

The run, my run, takes on a new hue entirely. I love the wind through the trees, the swaying branches, the leaves blowing across the roadway, I can hear wind chimes in the distance, those joyful sounds, they are coming from my home.

Thank you, my friends. Keep on trucking.