It has taken me 36 years to figure out that exercising outside is a key ingredient to my sanity. I figured it out a few months ago, and just logged my 100th kilometer running, and kicked off bike riding at the beach last week. It has not been easy, and continues to not be easy, but somehow along the way I got addicted.
I also realized that I am competitive as hell… I seemed to have forgotten this. So I geek out with my nike+ shoes and ipod, checking times, distance and speed. Trying to beat the time before by using mind games, something I am sure everyone who is into sports like these does. Some of the mind games include running until the song ends, or running from this bridge to that bridge, or just when you feel like you are going to die, sprint.
I am slow and it is painful and it is not graceful. But running and biking have had the most amazing moments. I have seen a turtle, an otter, a rabbit, an otter hanging out with a rabbit, an entire rabbit family with several bunnies and a tons of amazing birds. At the beach last week I saw a baby shark washed up on the beach.
Then there are the amazing people.
On a bike ride, I am kind of hitting a nice stride when another rider, who has geeked out his bike (I am not quite there yet), pulls up beside me and says, “Just so you know, you’re averaging around 19 mph. That’s pretty good.”
A week or so earlier a similar thing happened on one particularly difficult run, I am playing the trick on myself where I will make it from this bridge to that bridge and I will sprint the last part of the way. It is hot and I am dying. When I am done sprinting and hit the bridge (and practically collapse), a hand hits my shoulder. “Excellent job.” And the running man passes me.
I can’t tell that last story out loud without tearing up. I am sure that this sort of thing happens a lot with outdoor exercisers, and is part of the culture, but it is kind of new to me and I do love it.