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.