A recent challenge arose a few weeks ago which was possibly karma giving me a good lesson in retribution. Bicycle maintenance and myself have never had a great relationship. We have always struggled to understand that one has actually no intention of being involved with the other or co-exisiting in harmony whatsoever. There is no 'ZEN' in the art of my bicycle maintenance. Adjusting handlebars and even installing lights, usually results in expletives that my neighbours shriek at along with the sound of spanners being surreptitiously hurled against the backyard brick wall. The bike cops it too, being pummelled into the ground, spat at, yelled at - its a very abusive relationship.
Picture if you will the scenario - a flat tyre needed to be changed. There sits my 'fixie' staring blankly at me, broken, crippled, unable to move. There I stand, spanner in hand staring at the bike with a resigned expression and slight fear at what I know is going to be a futile exercise in patience and grubby fingers. The conversation flows something like this - "you don't like me, I don't like you, but we have to do this thing. So let's just agree that we both have our own agendas and personalities, but for the purposes of both our psychological stability, we can work on being cohesive for just the next 15mins."
And lo and behold, in 4min 24secs I stand victorious in the backyard, tyre changed, spanner held firmly in hand and my bike is upright, not scratched, relatively unscathed and ready to roll. I actually think there was a slight parting of the clouds and a golden beam of sunshine floated down over the Annandale terrace where this momentous occasion occured. Though that could have been just a freak weather pattern, I decided it was divine realisation.
I proudly posted this on Facebook to the lauded praise of friends and the occasional smattering of scoff from my 'I'm a serious road biker 240km race event winner' sister. But I had achieved the unachievable. But then - reality struck. But 2 days post, I am buckling on a hill as my chain disengages from its rutts and the back wheel grinds to an instant halt against the rim of my bike frame. "Oh fickle humour I stab at thee".
So in true humility I take this as a creative challenge. How do I turn this to my advantage? How do I create a positive from this experience as I lightly and calmly chuck the offending piece of machinery into a nearby hedge? I know - I'll start JOGGING!
I'm not a runner. Let's just start that out straight away. My years of physical activity have seen me jump, lift, hit. leap, stretch, lunge - you name it. But running - NO. As a runner I resemble a bit of a duck. My arse sits out in the air and I have this little flick thing at the end of my stride that probably looks like I am treading water from the rear. Even my upper body has this weird tenseness to it when I run, my arms are bent and pump forward and my shoulders are probably up around my neck. It's not pretty. It's not even stylish, and my inner performer is very conscious of style and poise in every activity that takes part in my day.
I also have never really 'enjoyed' running. Friends and clients wane lyrically about the 'zone' and the sheer delight of finding that rhythm and cadence of metronome precision. The mere thought of running or 'jogging' has me thinking of sweaty eyes, flushed face and ankle shattering kms of tarmac. But to the challenge I go, with fixed determination to try and conquer my fear and my resistance. It's either that or going and retrieving my 'fixie' from some persons front yard on Pyrmont Bridge Rd.
The distance from my house to our clinic as the crow flies is 2.8km. A mere brisk walk is done in 30-35mins. Thankfully there is a cut through staircase that allows you to make this journey via the tram tracks. This cut through does have an incline of monumental proportions! I would call it a vertical rise not an incline. But it sets yet another challenge for me to face.
My first run is death! I feel like my feet are glass, the sweat is in my eyes, my breathing is laboured and the backpack on my back is doing very weird things and tupperware containers are falling out all about me on the bridge towards Darling Harbour that it's slightly embarrassing. I get to the cut through and stare at it like David would at Goliath. But I breathe hard and push myself up. Gasping at the top and feeling 60years old, I finally get aloft and nearly take out an innocent shopper as I round the corner ready for my descent down to my house which is thankfully most of the way home!
The next day, the stairs at home are menacingly laughing at me. My morning descent has to be done backwards down the staircase as my ankles just won't absorb the shock of walking frontways down the stairs. Ice buckets are my new friend that day and as I sit there in the backyard with pain shooting up my shins, I swear I can hear my fixie laughing at me!
But the next day I take off again. Wednesday is rest day - but Thursday and Friday become another day. This continues for a couple of weeks. Even my espresso boys wonder at me when I front up at the cafe asking "Petie - are you jogging?" Incredulously I look at them and ask for an extra shot straight up. The next few weeks roll by and surprisingly in 3 weeks, I'm actually purchasing running shorts. I'm buying running tops at Rebel sport and in a sadistic weird way, I am actually looking forward to hitting the road on my way home. The cut through becomes like a cherished master to me - we greet each other with a knowing nod and then tackle each other and learn what each can provide. I still struggle to conquer but I am getting better and better.
Then it dawns on me - I actually choose on my Wednesday, my non running day - to JOG! Could it be that I am actually enjoying this? That in some sick way I am finding pleasure in this torture. I am arriving at work sweaty and puffing, but I skip up the stairs and prance into the clinic with my dance music playing in my earphones and start carrying on as if I was on a dance floor at ARQ.
It just goes to show that sometimes you can approach situations creatively and end up surprising yourself as to what you achieve. That exercise and physical activity is actually a great stimulant of happy hormones and can get you bouncing around like an energiser bunny. Even when it seems insurmountable.
My next mini goal is to run the 'long way home' around the Blackwattle Bay rather than taking the cut through. this will probably double my run but I think that it might actually be what I choose to do rather than dread to do. Hopefully my fixie isn't feeling too neglected!