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How Debra got her groove back

Submitted by on Tuesday, 28 June 2011 2 Comments
A funny thing happened on the way down the mountain.

Maybe the cross at the top triggered a religious experience, or maybe my brain lapsed into giddy euphoria due to oxygen deprivation. Whatever the reason, exercise felt good again. Really good, as in "this is the most incredible buzz in my life."

It hadn't been that way for years. Not since right after I graduate from college, really, when running four miles a day was the ultimate high. I'd get antsy if I missed a day. I'd tried running many times since, but it always was a drudge, something I had to do to stay in a smaller dress size. And calling it "running" was being charitable. More like plodding. Snails and turtles would pass me.

That day on the mountain, though, was an epiphany. A little premature, as it turned out, but still life-changing.

Fired up later that week when I wasn't in as much agony afterward as I'd expected, I remembered my bike and ordered a tire pump to replace one the guys had trashed.  I aired up the tires and told the guys we'd ride to the stable to see the horses the next morning. It's about a mile and a half one way, but it looked to be an easy ride.

Foolish, foolish girl.

What looked to be easy from the car turned out to be anything but on a bike. The route is a serious climb - not a steep one, but unrelentingly uphill for about a half mile during the middle third. Big Guy and two friends jetted on ahead. Boots lagged behind even me and cried. Had I not been panicked because the older kids were out of sight, I would have wept along with him.

The next day, I tried it with Big Guy only. I did a little better, but not much. I still had to stop three times for oxygen as Big Guy insisted on chattering away. "Just hush!" I panted. "I can't talk and breathe at the same time right now."

"Aw, Mom! You can make it farther than this," Big Guy scolded. "Come on! Keep trying!" I did, but we still were a good quarter-mile short of the stable. My lungs screamed as loudly as Big Guy when I told him we were turning back.

The next morning, Big Guy and I set out again. We made it a little farther, but the horses still were a distant mirage. Big Guy protested along with my thighs. "This is it," I insisted. "I'm going to go a little farther each day until I can get there."

He guffawed. "Yeah, right."

After that, I rode on my own, gloriously alone in both my suffering and my thoughts. It was like when I was a kid and used to ride for hours around, first, the neighborhood and, later, the hills and hollows. Except it was windy. Godawful windy. Enough to almost knock the bike sideways on the way home.

Last night, Big Guy deigned to join me again - not on the path toward the stables, because the wind gets a straight shot at you in the evenings on that route, but on an easier three-mile trip with a gentle uphill, a slight downhill and then another easy climb before you coast back home.

I knew he wasn't expecting much. He knows how I hate physical activity, and memories of my recent glorious failure were fresh in his mind. Was he ever in for a surprise.

We talked the whole way, and Big Guy was amazed."Wow. You couldn't do this before!"

This time, he was the one who had to stop for oxygen. He also learned how a 10 mph breeze can make even the downhill stretch a battle. "Curse you, wind!" he roared. "I say that almost every day," I replied.

We both emerged victorious on the other side, and just as we parked our bikes in the garage, he was ready for more.

"Can we go again tomorrow, Mommy? Can we?"

Yes, we can, Big Guy. This stuff is kind of cool again.

Copyright 2011 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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