It’s been a minute since I blogged, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been riding my bicycle. When it’s the way you get around, you always get to ride your bicycle. I’ve had some fun rides, but mostly it’s just me, pedaling to and from work, to and from the gym, to and from meeting friends here and there. It’s such a gift to be at ground level when getting around, instead of stuck inside a car, behind all the other cars. This is especially true on days like yesterday, when downtown Baltimore was in complete gridlock due to a suspicious vehicle leaking gasoline, and then yet another water main break. I took the shuttle into the city from work, hopped off at the second stop, and two blocks later was on my bike and heading home, able to walk and ride around the traffic. Suck it, cars!
The other thing I’ve been doing lately is running. Outside. I’m training for my first 5K. I’ve been here before, most recently between chemotherapy and radiation. That was a very private running time for me. It was late winter, and I’d put on my coat, a hat on my still-bald head, and do walk-run laps around the neighborhood, hoping to see my body come back to some sort of life. Then I started radiation, and had to go every single day. I got rides or drove sometimes, but mostly I tried to get there and back on my bicycle. I could do it, and it was glorious. But wow, I did not have the energy to do both. So another round of “training for a 5K” went by the wayside as I got swept up in being on my bike and myself, and then threw myself into the world of group fitness training at Orangetheory for a year.
So I’m training for a 5K again, and it’s a lot of fun. Turns out I like having a concrete goal and taking small steps daily to move toward it. It’s very relaxing. My dad would always say, “consistent effort over time,” whenever I accomplished something. It’s the tiny things you do to move toward the goal that he cared about, that he saw. I’m two and a half weeks into this current round of training and I get those words in a new way. I can’t run three miles without running two miles, or one mile, or one minute. It’s a slow build, and there are no short cuts. Consistent effort over time. It feels so concrete and uncomplicated, and it’s just what I need right now.
And it makes me miss my dad.
Grief is a thing. When my dad was first killed by that driver in the Ford F-150–these details never leave me–people told me all about grief. That it would be a rollercoaster. Like waves. That it would never go away. That it feels just as raw today as it did when my *fill-in-the-blank* died. And those things all turned out to be true, as much as I rolled my eyes at people who’d been on this road telling me what mine would feel like. Except for that last one–that last one’s not true, for me. It’s not as raw, not even close. That deep hole I couldn’t peek in those first days, weeks, months? I’ve looked straight down there. I’ve seen other stuff there, too–my own mortality, my twin sister’s mortality, peeks at the grief roads of my partner and one of my best friends. It’s universal, but the experience is also so singular. And there are no new words I can put to it. It’s waves, like a rollercoaster, but the bumps are easier now. Right now, running, I miss him, and I am glad to have a bit of him with me. Consistent effort over time.
So today’s ride took me down to my gym to do today’s interval training run on the treadmill. I ran faster than I’ve ever run. And then I lifted some weights, did some core work, stretched, hung out in the steam room, showered, and biked home. I took this picture of some old mattresses somebody leaned against a row house in Charles Village. I wonder who thought yeah, this is a great place to put them, and who will be tasked with getting rid of them. All those people who will be involved with this mattress disposal process have their own grief stories, too. I wonder how they’re surfing today. And I wish they scheduled a bulk trash pick up. Another day, another bike ride, and for now, another run.