Ode to Running

I have posts about wool and knitting coming up, I swear. But today I wanted to mention the end of bike to work week.

There are a million things I don’t know about myself, a fact which confounds me. But by the time I’m 29, I am starting to realize a few things. I like to be around people but don’t like to be on teams. I am all about fairness and goals. I like to push myself physically for reasons that make little sense to others but somehow make sense to me. I like communities. I like technicalities. I don’t like things that are all about gadgets. I like history. I like feeling like I’m part of history. I am astounded by the subtleties of history and how it continues old things in new ways. I like science and math, especially in the experimental sense. I love spreadsheets. I don’t like stupid fiddling. I like things that serve there purpose specifically and the intricacies of why you’d pick that thing over another. I like things that are unique, in the ‘that suits you/fits you/works for you’ way, not in the ‘oh, that’s… unique’ way. I like things that are natural. I don’t like the latest fad.

For these reasons, I was lousy on softball teams (I went to one game and two practices… I was a lousy teammate. I I hate the prospect of possibly letting the whole team down by my girly swings and inability to come close to a ball never mind catch it). I love that the work you put into a training season or a sweater is evident in a personal record or a perfect sweater. I love marathoning. I love the running and knitting communities, people who ‘get it’ when the rest of the world is like “wtf man.” I love the technical training for marathons and the fitting of knits. I don’t have a fancy knitting case, but rather one made by me for exactly my needles – or more specifically my needles and those of my great Aunt Ester, who’s knitting and embroidery things still live in the same psychedelic knitting purses-turned-bags they’ve lived in the past 30-50 years.. I love the Boston Marathon and learning about traditional knits. I love seeing traditional knits done in a new way that normal people would wear. I get a familiar feeling when weddings, deaths and births happen, like this is the way things should be, this has been happening for thousands of years and a warm cozy (and sad but realistic in the case of deaths) feeling comes over me. I like graphing my miles run and my knitting charts and have spreadsheets galore for every possible thing. I don’t like sewing because if your corners don’t match or the left side is sloppier than the right, it’s not ok, it can’t be blocked, you can’t fudge it. I love that running requires sneakers, a pair of shorts, and a sports bra, knitting requires string and sticks. Even spinning requires fluff and a stick with a disk on one end. And Give me Wool or Give me Death (none of that stupid plastic stuff).

I’ve gone through many hobbies and goals and the ones that keep me going, in my soul, are knitting and running. Knitting is still there in all it’s glory. All of a sudden, on September 3rd, 2009, I picked up a rug after a hard run, and after 2 MRI’s and 3 doctors have ascertained that I tore my adductor tendon in a way that it just.won’t.heal. 1.5 years, a total of probably 6 months of PT and 3 doctors later, I’m finally in some sort of final phase of mourning over running. I will never, very likely, run a marathon again. I will possibly be running every other day for 5 miles maybe at a time. And I will be thankful for that. Running has been my stress relief, my savior, my friend through many many things. And to say I’ve been lost without it is an understatement. I cried for a week straight when it tore for the third time last Thanksgiving. I went for a final run on my birthday, Nov, 27th, knowing it would hurt like hell after but it was my birthday and damn if I wasn’t going to run.

While most people’s lemons is their doctor saying they really should get some exercise, how about running, my lemons were my doctor saying, I’m really sorry, you can run, eventually, but not like you think of running. Most people’s lemonade upon learning of an adductor tear is aww, shucks, I better get back to the couch. Mine is my bike. I’ve tried biking but it never gave me the euphoria, the total and complete happiness that running gave me. I’ve never gotten that, but I’ve admittedly never tried that hard because, well I’d switch back to running. This time I can’t. I’ve tried weights, which helped my physique but did little for my mental sanity. I need long distances, long times, speed, distance, and rhythm. I need something to keep my body busy while my mind wanders. Running was as much or more for my mind as for my body.

So at the end of April, I decided to try the bike for real. Bike commuting. Great for environment, money, and body. But I need it to be more, I need it to be my sanity. This past week was bike to work week, and the weather was lousy. I have, however, procured a fantastic don’t-kill-me-yellow jacket which as it turns out is waterproof, and my husband has a cycling cap I am borrowing and as it turns out biking in the rain is possible and even pleasant. It leads to you looking like this when you go to bring your bike into the basement where it lives.

rainy day biking

But while wandering around a neighborhood in search of a less pot-holed road, in the rain, on Thursday, I finally got a glimmer of that pure joy that I could produce almost always by running. So I’m hopeful that this will work out, that it’s just a matter of conditioning and habit. I’m nothing if not a creature of habit. I am at the cape every weekend in the summer. I wear red pants every Wednesday for the past 6 years, I never leave the house without some knitting, we have homemade pizza every Friday, and I used to run 5 days a week rain or shine, 5 am or 6 pm. Here’s hoping biking can give me a little back. By the end of my 4th week of biking regularly, almost 400 miles later, I must admit, it’s no running, but my biking becoming more me, I’m more comfortable on it, and biking to work beats the pants off of sitting in traffic (and the extra 500 calories don’t hurt). This might just work out. I’m aiming for a century (100 mile ride in a day) by the fall, and while I have no doubts about my ability to complete it (I still maintain that anyone without a bum leg or knee is fully capable or running 26.2 miles with proper training, the question is in the desire) it will feel hella good to be back in the game again.

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