I forgot to get a photo when I arrived home today, but I’ll get one up next time. I look absurd enough to document and share this visually. I look, to my embarrassment, like an adventure racer. My wife, Michelle, scoffs at my round about insult to AR’ers as she was once one herself, or at least got close enough to them to take their photos. The look, as some of you might know, involves lycra and tech materials from top to bottom, running shoes, maybe some sunglasses, then topped off with an overly stuffed and nausea-inducing colored backpack that is heavy enough to turn your beautiful gait into what a constipated old man must look like while running. It’s just kinda sad, but still, the important thing is that I get to and from work without relying on my car, waking myself up “naturally” (with the help of my friend Joe) and get a serious does of health boosting physical activity in for the day. So who cares if I look ridiculous. Ok…I do, a little bit. But I’m working on that.
My new morning routine starts the night before, when I prepare all my belongings and roll them into my backpack properly (poor packing gives you bloody spots on your back from inadvertent rubbing…trust me) and make any sleep-deprived morning preparations unnecessary. The alarm rouses me before the sun has even thought of waking (5:45 to be exact) and I go through the motions to get me out the door by 6:15. My bike light, blinking a false distress call to equally sleep-deprived drivers, is clipped to my bag as I work out the previous days leg tightness by easing my legs into the run. I unnaturally stick to the sidewalks in the pre-dawn dark and work my way through the first mile and a half, suddenly awake, heart beating out a shocked but familiar rhythm.
The sweat begins to make its way outward as I carry my weighted pack, filled with work clothes, coffee thermos, breakfast and lunch and other necessities to the final destination 4.5 miles away. With an increased effort my legs lift the weight as if I’m running uphill the whole way, and I think about the strength I will have built in just a couple weeks time. I cross the road, work through a long section of protected park green space, through some shady areas where it isn’t uncommon to find discarded bodies and onto the “other side of the tracks” (literally over railroad tracks), where the final stretch of sidewalk brings me further into the city’s urban core. The sun still in shut-eye.
My legs now loosened enough to work away the initial tightness, but stressed enough to harbor more that will show itself sometime around lunch. I blame the weighted pack. I change clothes in secret, air out my mildly sweaty running outfit (costume?) and get ready for work like Clark Kent returning to his desk. Right now I’m clocking 7 minute miles, but with route familiarity and increased strength I have a feeling that will drop. No matter, right now I’m just enjoying the run.
After thinking this through during my runs I have some things I would like to change. First off, I need to get stronger, but I know that will come with continued effort. That will make carrying the pack easier. Speaking of the pack, I need to make some sizing adjustments that are possible in the pack design itself (Thank you Osprey for being so awesome). I think doing so will really help with the comfort of the run, aid in returning my normal gait and prevent some of the obnoxious shifting and bouncing that happens during the runmmute. Speaking of carrying items…. I’m scheming. More on that later.
To summarize, the first 2 days have been a success. I will be carrying on and looking forward to overcoming the discomforts like I had to do when first bike commuting (rain, ice, flats, hygiene, etc.). If more “epiphanies” that are worth sharing come to light, I’ll be sure to share them in case anyone else wants to try the same or at least discuss the absurdity with me.