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Pain, my old friend, have you now double-crossed me?

David Yon, April 2016

Have you become my enemy's friend?
Once you guided me, teaching me where the boundaries began,
Now you seem to delight in setting limits and conquering the will.

My old friend, we met when I first entered this world.
Unable to breathe, I felt the sharp sting across my rear.
You surged through my body toward my lungs;
And then you deftly escaped in the form of a breath – the breath of life.

You taught me so much – fire burns, a sore throat means get help,
You can't knock down walls with your fists.
The pain of those lost, taught the value of those still here.
You made me search my soul for answers that taught me to care.

From the day I first began to run,
You became my constant companion.
You taught me to pace, to push when I could;
Knowing that to ignore the pain was disaster.

But to manage pain, until the finish line was in sight, and
I could push for more as I pushed you out of my mind.
As long as I listened carefully to you,
You, my friend, would lead me to my perfect race.

And you led me to that place of achievement and contentment,
Where you gladly stepped aside as I celebrated a race well run.
That quiet celebration that arises only because you made it possible.
Because when my body and soul were challenged, they persevered.

You took me on many runs that tested my will,
But also made me stronger and faster and left me wanting more.
And sure enough the next time we would meet,
I would run faster and stronger while you smiled knowingly.

So what is this new feeling that grabs my chest so quickly?
Why now do you crush my confidence and strength?
So often now, you push back so hard I look for a place to hide.
More than once you have left me broken on the track or on the road.

A comeback used to be 800's in 3:00, then 2:55, 2:50 and 2:40.
Each workout a painful reminder that I could go faster still.
Now 3:00 is followed by 3:05, 3:10 and 3:20.
Each set back creating a new limitation, not a learning experience.

So Pain, why leave me for this unholy alliance you have joined?
Instead of taking me to higher ground, you seek to break my will.
Is the devil simply age? Almost 33 years of running? Parkinson's?
Why Pain would you join forces with any of those enemies?

Some days you smack me around on the slowest of runs,
Leaving me unable to talk and run at the same time,
As if you want every single run to be the test that breaks me.
As if, rather than teach, now you want to conquer.

Pain, by no means am I ready to give in.
There are too many days left and too much to experience.
With or without you,
I can still find that special trail where only a runner can go.

So pain, let us be friends again. Teach me, don't destroy me.
When I push down the backstretch of the track
Tell me I can make it; that you will back off at some point.
I want nothing more than to celebrate together a race well run.