on the feelings

I’ve always been a runner and can tell you without wearing a heart monitor how many calories I burn on a run based on my pace. I grew up swimming and playing team sports and laying in tanning beds and hosting parties. But cycling? Not so much. Well, the only thing I liked about cycling when I was a wee blondie was my orange “Desert Rose” with the banana seat that my dad made me save $99 to buy. When I outgrew it, I had to give it away. I can only hope that somewhere some young hipster found it in the back of a garage and is now riding it ironically.

Cycling goes beyond the calorie burn for me because I’m really FEELING things now. I’m feeling air come into my lungs and wind sting my eyes. I feel bugs hit the back of my throat. It’s different from running because a lot of the time on a distance run, I get distracted with my pace or how bad my foot/leg/ankle/hip/toe/quadricep/hamstring/calf/back hurts. When I’m running, I’m constantly fiddling with my iPod to find just the right song that can accompany said pain to transport me back into fantasy land where I imagine “this is the song they’ll play at my party when I win my Pulitzer Prize” or “this is the song they’ll be playing when I run into [insert ex-boyfriend] and I look super hot and he’s wearing old man jeans.” Yeah, I’ve got my dreams.

For a while there, I wasn’t really feeling anything at all. I stopped running. I stopped blogging. I stopped caring, really. I was living in a funk, a rut, a meth den without all that dang meth. You see, I’d lost my purpose. I pondered why I was here if not to pay my mortgage so that I don’t foreclose and ruin my credit and have to live on the streets, but what kind of a purpose is that? That kind of reason is one of the rare occasions where something can be noble and pathetic at the same time. I adopted a dog so when I come home to this cold, dark and empty house, there would be at least someone there to acknowledge my existence.

But things changed when I recognized the freedom I have now. Feeling the air on my “freedom rides” is real and purposeful. I’m here because I just am. I run because I can. Despite the pain, I just love it. I have the good fortune to get up every day and put shoes on my feet and run, and I will run as long as I am blessed to do so. But now, I will ride.