Monday, March 23, 2009

Fifty-Seven Days Until My Release From Taft Federal Prison Camp

A few weeks ago I wrote that my running career at Taft Camp had come to an end.  I had suffered from a pain that likely came from pushing myself too hard.  Rather than risk injuring myself worse, I decided to suspend my running and limit my cardio exercise to the stationary bike.

As I pedaled away, I envied other runners who were exercising effortlessly.  Watching them run while I was on the bike felt more painful than the aches in my body.  But I didn’t feel any aches as long as I was on the bike.  Riding the bike was probably the smart move.

Even in prison, though, I don’t always make the smart move and ventured out to the track again a few days ago.  The time I had taken off certainly seemed to help.  Also, I didn’t push myself to the limit.  I ran much shorter distances, and I ran at a much slower pace.  The running felt good, and now I’m back to running more regularly.

Yesterday was a challenging run.  We had a wind storm here in Taft.  As I made my way up one side of the track, I felt the force of heavy winds pushing against me.  It felt as if the wind was trying to block me and I had to power through.  Once I made my way around the top of the oval, the wind blew in the  opposite direction, almost pushing me or lifting me off my feet.  I enjoyed the feeling. Exercise has been a part of  my prison adjustment from the beginning. Earlier in my term, the exercise had a greater significance.  I felt the need to sweat the anxiety of confinement out of my system.  Then I went through the long middle stage, where I began devoting  much more of my time to writing.  Each day I invested several hours to put my story out on paper.  That project is now nearly complete, and I’m into these final 57 days.  Exercise is helping me through.

I read a lot. I think a lot.  Some real therapy comes from moving the body.  Besides my morning two-hour ritual, I’m now returning to the track for a walk in the early evening.  It’s not really exercise, just body movement.   I think a bit more clearly as I’m walking alone. Other men are on the track too, but I keep to myself for that evening stroll.  I think about the events behind that led me here and I think of all awaiting me.  There is a calmness within me, an ease of spirit.  As I wrote yesterday, I think that comes from having nothing left to lose.  I’m in federal prison, and the only direction I have to travel when this ends in 57 days is up.  That’s liberating.

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