I’m on my way to meds this morning. It means getting on the 6.50a train – which is now the norm because of the issues with Septa’s car fleet that was taken off the rails over 4th July weekend. The parking lot was nearly empty this morning – I guess a lot of Thorndalers don’t work on Fridays.
Yesterday, over 70 people were killed in Nice during a Bastille Day celebration. Our world is sliding slowly toward chaos. I wonder about my friends who have small children — I wonder if they think of the world their children will inherit one day. It hasn’t — as yet — seemed to inspire much action amongst my generation except memes on Facebook and angry rants without actual thought. Saying we need change is like saying I’m going to be the next President. Empty without any action.
I’ve felt like writing a lot recently. Not because of Nice, or Orlando, or Paris before that. I feel as though my thoughts -on all of the violence and hate that seems just under the surface of our world- are muddy and confused. I want to understand – I really do. But I don’t understand and I don’t know what the best thing to do is.
This morning, all I want to write about is my bicycle. Somewhat trivial and insignificant in the face of the tragedy our world is dealing with. But meds week is exhausting for me — more so in the summer, when the heat is debilitating. So this week, along with my bi-annual meeting with Dr. M, has been excruciating.
(P.S. Loud people on the train at 7am irritate me. They shouldn’t. But they do. Shhh people!)
Yesterday I made my way home through a fog of fatigue, kissed my Lucy Lou, took her on a walk, and then shuffled down to the garage and my bicycle. We also have two real bikes in the garage — we have gone on a long ride since buying them. But I am much more consistent about jumping on the stationary Schwinn, picking a course and time goal, putting my head down, and falling into the story of ‘Hamilton.’ (Yes, folks. I work out to ‘Hamilton.’ At this point in my life I do just about everything to ‘Hamilton’.).
And here’s the crazy thing — after 45 minutes, a lot of sweat, and 15.6 miles (my best time/distance combo so far) I felt infinitely better. My mind felt clear. I felt energized. I realized, as I wiped the bike down and began shutting off the lights and the overhead fan, that I am probably addicted to the bicycle. I’ve joked about this before, but yesterday it felt real.
Before M.S. I began running. I did Broad Street — i had the Nike app on my phone. Lucy and I did between four and five miles most mornings.
And then I broke my foot. And M.S. began to consume me. My legs got weak, we got Lydia — walking became harder than running ever was. And time slipped by. I was sad, and angry. I felt trapped. I tried going to the gym and swimming. It felt great — but the amount of time it took — get there, get changed, get wet, get out, get dry, drive home. I was rarely motivated to go.
Last October, during a routine scan, John’s doctor’s saw a shadow. And then surgery became necessary immediately. And so, he bought a stationary bike. For himself. To help with recovery. It sat in our house from November until about mid-January. It became what most home exercise equipment becomes — a collector of dust and occasionally laundry.
I don’t remember what got me on the first time. Maybe our upcoming trip to Italy. Possibly not wanting to stare at a lot of wasted money. Not sure. But when we got home from Italy, I decided to make some changes. So on March 1st, I started riding the bike. Every day.
I didn’t like it a whole lot at first. It was a drag, it took too much time, I got all sweaty. I didn’t have work out clothing. I had EVERY excuse in the book. So I signed up for Fabletics (online advertisement = works). I’d read that having nice clothing helps with motivation to work out. So I ordered my first outfit — orange leggings and a white tank.
I wore those leggings ALL.THE.TIME. I love them. I wore them grocery shopping and to Va La Vineyards. And I wore them to ride my bicycle. Every day. When April rolled around and I ordered my second outfit, I couldn’t wait to not have to do laundry every day. I’d committed to at least 66 days of working out (something I’d heard about having to do something for 66 days for it to become a habit). I began actually using my “My Finess Pal” app for the first time in about four years.
It’s halfway through July now. I have four or five workout outfits, padded bicycle shorts, body butter, riding gloves …. The list (surprisingly!) goes on. Now, my bike isn’t a daily purgatory. It’s where I go when I’m sad, when I’m mad, when I’m tired. It is 45 minutes a day (give or take — sometimes I max out at 30 and sometimes I push to 60… it really depends) that is just my time. It makes me feel good. Really good. Healthy and as though I’m taking care of myself. I want to give this gift to everyone. I understand why fitness people hype it up so much. But you can’t actually give it to anyone who isn’t willing to push through.
Because it’s not super fun at first. And I have a feeling that if you slip, and miss a couple of weeks — it isn’t easy to go back. But it feels like a precious gift, a little secret weapon that I hold closely in the palm of my hand. That no matter what, I can get on my bike, and get sweaty, and feel better.