The Year in Photo

Bear with me if you read this blog often. I’ve taken on the challenge by a local business in Indy to put up a blog post every day this month, called Think Kit, based upon prompts they supply through email. There are a significant number of us taking on this writing challenge and the ways we all interpret the prompts or apply them to the themes of our blogs should be pretty interesting. Without further ado..

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Ride to run to eat to ride to run to eat

Ride to run to eat to ride to run to eat

“The Year In Photos”

Your year in photos. Did one photo encapsulate your year? Maybe it takes a gallery. Go out and take a new one that represents your year if you need to. Let’s see those photos.

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This year has been personified by an incredible downward trajectory. I wasn’t running when the year began, I was struggling through the process of suddenly needing to find/buy a house, the consistent time spent with my biological was soon to dwindle due to school scheduling, my job became increasingly unpleasant and stressful and then my marriage dwindled. I would say I hit bottom, but that’s laughable. Bottom has a way of showing you what’s REALLY bottom, so I dare not even think it. I just keep my head down, look ahead and try and work my way out of this mess. How’s that for starting off on a downer?

Sometimes, however, these low points serve to highlight those aspects of our lives that really matter to us on a personal level, or at least magnify the small pleasures. For me, it’s running. But it’s also riding. And just moving in general. And if anything defines my year at this point, it’s that photo of me riding and eating, because sometimes it seems like all I did in a day was move, eat, move, eat, move…stuck in a feed back loop of caloric intake and expense, both actions serving the purpose of the other. And I love every second of it.

It was all this moving that helped me develop an emotional upward trajectory simultaneously next to the downward one. After moving into my new house I made the commitment to run commute to work and I did that, through freezing temperatures, in the dark, rubbing my back raw from a poorly stuffed backpack. On the days I didn’t run to work, I rode my bike, mashing the pedals as hard as I could to suck every bit of fitness available from my short 4.5 mile ride into work. Then slowly I began running again, just hear and there, on the treadmill whenever the opportunity presented itself. Not for competition, not for training, just to remember what it felt like and how it made me feel.

That running, any other runner will tell you, is a slippery slope though, and after a number of 5am running wake up calls, a week of consistent running and a few other nudges, the floodwalls could no longer hold back the pent up force to run, train and race. I broke…and started running again.

The alarm would go off and I would impossibly stumble through the house in a mental, sleep induced fog and somehow get on my bike and out the door. I’d run on the treadmill, shower, hop on my bike again and ride to work where I could devour my breakfast and get  a couple hours of relaxation before having to stumble through the halls on tired legs. Then I’d get back on my bike and ride home for family activities, which sometimes involved skateboarding or other physical games. It was awesome.

And just like that I was back to 80 & 90 mile weeks, hitting workouts I wasn’t sure were still in reach and on top of my own world of confidence and fitness. Then injury struck…and I was not running for a few months. Let’s not dwell on that though.

Slowly I worked my way out of that injury, still cycling all the time to make up for that lack of daily physical release, and still stuffing my face every time I could to keep in the necessary caloric energy. And finally…my marriage dissolved. Nice, right?

Oddly enough, as low as this took me, I count myself very fortunate that I had the foundation of running to fall back on, to give me a sense of self-worth and keep my spirits high. She took the car for months and I resorted to riding my bike for all my errands, back to living a car-free life like I used to…and again…it was awesome. There is something about that sense of self-reliance that offers far more benefits than the convenience of driving, no matter if you’re forced to ride through rain, biting cold, etc. It’s always worth it.

And so we come to that photo. Riding my bike in a running hat and a banana in my mouth, out on a beautiful day running an errand up north, that at some point had me famished from the effort and cycling to the Whole Foods for more caloric energy. And this now comprises my days. Eating to ride to eat to run to eat to ride to eat to ride some more to eat and prepare all again for the coming day of activity.

And I’m still much closer to bottom than I am to, well, not, but I know that every day I can count on moments of excitement, of accomplishment, of self-satisfaction through training, the joy of riding, the value of self-reliance and the awesome privilege of eating almost anything without concern.

This certainly isn’t how I pictured my year would unfold, and although I wish I could change a lot, there is a part of me I had forgotten that was slowly rebuilt starting in the Spring, and I’m grateful the conditions of my life have developed to this point.

That photo, devoid of all the internal struggles I’m experiencing at any time, sums up my year. Always moving, always eating, a bit weary but always focused on progressing to a better place.

At the risk of taunting the cosmos, I’m really looking forward to riding and running further from “the bottom” in the coming year, probably jamming bananas in my face the whole time.

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