Attitude Alignment Algorithm (or, Sour Neon Worms)

What’s worse than runner’s knee? Knunner’s ree. But that’s another story for another time.

Yesterday my wife and I were training for our half-marathon—one month away in Cleveland. It was a ten mile run. The weather was a surprising 80 degrees; other people were outside. I waved. Mile 2 my knee became stiff, and I ran through it. Mile 5 my knee seized and my body dug into the asphalt like Iron Man falling from the sky. “Ah poop,” I said.


The great thing about living in Rochester is that I’m constantly given opportunities to have a bad attitude a great attitude. It’s been a tough winter (as I’ve said and said and said) but we’re finally out of it! (Tomorrow a snow storm is expected). And though I’m limping like a sailor, I’m happy to say—


I can’t do it.


I’ve reached my max here.

This knee thing is the pits. I’m well aware that I signed up for 23 credits with a part-time job and, well, what should I have expected? But this marathon? It was going to be everything. It would represent my ascension into post-Spring semester heaven. I would be running. Those cheering on the sidelines would be yelling, “Kevin, you made the right choice moving to Rochester. Way to go!” Or, “Keep up the good work, Kevin! Never mind the opportunity costs associated with uprooting and college. You’re almost there!” And finally, as I’m given a small cup of water, with extra, because I deserve it: “You can do it! Your wife’s career is mildly suffering but it is worth it for you to study at a private school! Woo!”

Megan and I would run it together, too; crossing the finish line, holding hands, we become a symbol of achievement. Everything her and I have gone through in the last year as a couple would melt away. All the loss. All the adjustment and readjustment. There would be cheers and pictures and it wouldn’t be snowing. We would pause and cue music.

A Little Hempel From My Friends

Yesterday, during the walk back to the car (because I couldn’t run, remember?), my wife and I talked about our attitudes, about how we’re going to survive one more year here, and how we need to live in the present moment instead of always wishing to live in the future.

We walked along the Genesee River and I looked at the muddy brown water. It’s beautiful in an ugly sort of way, I thought, though really, I was just happy to be outside. Megan shared some great insight from a book she’s been reading, and, I too, thought about lessons from recent literature. In class, I had read “In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson is Buried” by Amy Hempel. She has this line that stuck with me, it says:  “I don’t know why looking back should show us
more than looking at.”

I guess I need an attitude alignment. Even if my knee is bum. Even if the snow dumps (in April). Even if the opportunity cost to live here is high. I need to remember to look at instead of back. I need to enjoy the moment and every day, because I believe God exists, and as outrageous as that can sound, look, and feel sometimes, I understand that He gives hope worth living for.

Because living in the future is a fantasy and an easy way out of commitment. Also, sour neon worms make me feel better. Maybe with God, my wife, and the worms, I can try a little harder to enjoy where I live. The algorithm starts there.

Any advice for attitude realignment? Runner’s Knee fixing? Sour Neon Worm fan society entrance?

Thanks for reading!

(Picture at the top: Taken during yesterday’s run)



  1. Hi friend, I am so sorry to hear how you have been downtrodden. I know that the runner’s knee is just the icing on the cake. I will be keeping you in my prayers. I have experienced a similar situation…when I was 19 (3 years ago), I found out that I have osteoarthritis in both of my knees. What that means is that I don’t have any cartilage in either of my knees, and it hurts! Typically, a condition like this occurs in people in their 40’s or older. It’s very rare for someone my age to get it. But, I’m a runner and dancer. Not so nice on the knees. My advice is to do a lot of knee strengthening exercises (I can send you a link, if you would like). Try to strengthen the muscles around the knee to give it extra support, as well as strengthening your hips. That will help too. And pray. God can do amazing things! I was so frustrated with my knee condition. I had to take off two years from dance! But, I decided to take two dance classes this semester, back to back (that’s three hours of nonstop dance!)! It sounds crazy, but I put it in God’s hands. And guess what! I haven’t experienced any pain at all in my knees! I feel so blessed! I asked God to heal me so that I could praise Him with my body. That’s why I dance. In terms of an attitude adjustment, I think that’s something everyone in the world needs. We are all such selfish creatures! But, I think reading the Psalms is always helpful. There are so many human emotions in there. I often read them as a prayer to God. He will listen! Take heart, dear friend. This is just a trial. James 1:12 says, “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” Praying for you!

    1. Shannon,

      Thank you for the wonderful comment. This was a great source of inspiration. I’m glad you’ve been able to run again. I have a doctor’s appointment soon, and I’m looking forward to her advice. Hopefully some physical therapy will set me straight. Thanks again!

  2. Hi Kevin…..First, I’d love your writing even if we weren’t related. Second, I’m sorry about your knee, the snow, where you are and the challenges it brings. But third, you nailed it with all the right answers. The Lord will and is using all these things to mold you. (When he’s done molding, you’ll probably still have red hair). Shannon gave some great knee advice. I’m just here for moral and prayer support. Know you two are loved and prayed for and keep those posts coming!

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