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aching drudgery

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He shrugged. “You can keep running, but you’ll be ,” he said, giving a littleting with his fingernail to the giant needle full of cortisone he was about to push into the bottom ofmy foot. I’d also need custom-made orthotics ($400) to slip inside my motion-control runningshoes ($150 and climbing, and since I’d need to rotate two pairs, make it $300). But that wouldjust postpone the real big-ticket item: my inevitable next visit to his waiting room.
“Know what I’d recommend?” Dr. Torg concluded. “Buy a bike.”
I thanked him, promised I’d take his advice, then immediately went behind his back to someoneelse. Doc Torg was getting up in years, I realized; maybe he’d gotten a little too conservative withhis advice and a little too quick with his cortisone. A physician friend recommended a sportspodiatrist who was also a marathoner, so I made an appointment for the following week.
The podiatrist took another X-ray, then probed my foot with his thumbs. “Looks like you’ve gotcuboid syndrome,” he concluded. “I can blast the inflammation out with some cortisone, but thenyou’re going to need orthotics.”
“Damn,” I muttered. “That’s just what Torg said.”
He’d started to leave the room for the needle, but then he stopped short. “You already saw JoeTorg?”
“Yes.”
“You already got a cortisone shot?”
“Uh, yeah.”
“So what are you doing here?” he asked, suddenly looking impatient and a little suspicious, as if hethought I really enjoyed having needles shoved into the tenderest part of my foot. Maybe hesuspected I was a sadomasochistic junkie who was addicted to both pain and painkillers.
“You realize Dr. Torg is the godfather of sports medicine, right? His diagnoses are usually wellrespected.”
“I know. I just wanted to double-check”
“I’m not going to give you another shot, but we can schedule a fitting for the orthotics. And youshould really think about finding some other activity besides running.”
“Sounds good,” I said. He was a better runner than I’d ever be, and he’d just confirmed the verdictof a doctor he readily admitted was the sensei of sports physicians. There was absolutely noarguing with his diagnosis. So I started looking for someone else.
It’s not that I’m all that stubborn. It’s not that I’m even all that crazy about running. If I totaled allthe miles I’d ever run, half were. But it does say something that even though Ihaven’t read The World According to Garp in twenty years, I’ve never forgotten one minor scene,and it ain’t the one you’re thinking of: I keep thinking back to the way Garp used to burst out hisdoor in the middle of the workday for a five-mile run. There’s something so universal about thatsensation, the way running unites our two most primal impulses: fear and pleasure. We run whenwe’re scared, we run when we’re ecstatic, we run away from our problems and run around for agood time.

 



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