Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Spider vs. Speed

photo by Cynthia's photos on flickr

Last summer, as my vehicle took me through the intricacies of my world, I had a traveling passenger everywhere I went. I'd drop the kids off at school and he'd be riding right along with me. I'd drive to work and there he would be, keeping me company as I cruised the 30K towards the office. He never took up much room and his presence didn't hinder the space needed to tote six kids alongside me for band practice.

This little stow-away was a spider who lived in my side mirror. Every morning when I'd throw the truck into gear, he would crawl off his web and find security within the framework of the mirror's casing. As his webbed home clung desperately to what it hoped would secure a day's residence, I felt guilty as its grip would become victim to the wind force caused by my lead foot; its threads catching a ride on the force that would carry it off.

Lo and behold, the next morning a new home would be constructed in its place and each morning for the entire summer. At day's end, its home would be in ruins as I parked in the driveway and, every morning, a new one would be in its place. I had to admire this eight-legged creature's dedication and commitment. "I can definiltey learn something from him," I thought to myself.

I thought of my little passenger at the car wash, on the highway and in thunderstorms. And every morning, a reconstructed web would glisten in the sunshine hoping for the meal it promised to bring. It made me want to borrow some of this determination for an obstacle I've come across ever since I started biking.

Even though I enjoy running, I find the warmer months the most challenging to stay the course. After all, summer is bike season, and I'm having a hell of a time staying focused on my runs. Man, it takes much longer to cover the same pavement when you don't have two wheels propelling you forward.

Last summer, I completely bailed and traded all my running time for me and my bike. But the guilt of not sustaining my running regiment took its toll and I vowed this summer to commit to a balanced routine. Guilt is a powerful force.

So the other day, I went for an 8K run - nothing too extreme. I surveyed the long country road that lay before me and it seemed to go on forever. Knowing I usually cover the same distance within minutes when I trade in my runners for bike clips, the task was feeling too arduous.

Then I remembered my little buddy, the spider. Every day he creates something and every day it's destroyed. Yet, he perseveres and holds his ground. So I plowed ahead and tried to make the best of this run that I just didn't have the heart for this one particular morning.

As I reached the half-way mark, I cursed the road that still spanned before me. If I had my bike, this patch of asphalt would be completely behind me, I muttered. I kept treading forward as a new song escaped through my headphones. A song that once held empowerment but, due to repeated plays, has metamorphosed into a droning bore. I tried to skip to the next one but my fingers fumbled with my i-pod and it fell to the ground - the wire dangling from my water belt. Damn. I never have to worry about i-pods when on my bike.

A faint (and familiar) twinge of pain shoots through my left knee and my left hip (running is brutal on the joints). A pain I never feel when on my bike, I realize.

The sun rises to greet the day, I feel its heat on my skin; no breeze to cool me off. I've underestimated the potential of this early morning temperature and realize I've dressed in too many layers.

I'm now hot. Tired. My knee is aching and my hip is flaring up. None of the elements I experience when on my bike, I curse.

I finally assemble my music again and keep thinking of my eight legged friend. How he never gives up. In his honour, I forge ahead.

I reach for my water bottle and try to quench my dry throat. None left. I hate carrying a lot of water when I run so I always use 6 oz. bottles. Not like my bike bottle that carries well over what I would drink on an 8K route such as this.

I finally plod home; thirsty and aching. I eye my bike sitting in the garage. Its sight invites me over and I place my hands on its bars; my feet moving the pedals as they ask to go for a spin. I remember the long, dry road I had just come from and I decide to tackle it in the way it's meant to be tackled. After all, my poor bike has been sitting in storage for a good few months; the only action its seen is on the wind trainer or in an indoor riding arena. In fact, how dare I turn my back on it when the weather calls him out to play?

I do a quick shoe swap and wheel my bike out of the garage. I glance over at my truck and spot my little spider working away at his web that, in about 2 hours, will be laying on the highway somewhere as it gives way for the millionth time on the drive to work.

As I see him working diligently at his task, I think: Why the heck would a spider pick a moving vehicle to make a home? Maybe this spider aint' too bright. Maybe he's a little bit challenged when compared to his other spider friends. In fact, maybe they all laugh at him when he consistently builds his web on moving structures. We're in the country, after all. What's wrong with the hedge? The bushes? Look around, spider! You're in a rut with this whole mirror-obsessed carnage!

I jump on my bike and leave the spider to his business. I immediately enjoy the freedom of speed. The easy motion of my joints as the ache subsides. Its tires eat up the pavement my feet just pounded. No i-pod needed for distraction; biking is just too much fun to need one. I spend an hour and a half on my bike and glide back into the driveway content and at peace.

Now, I'm not saying I'm giving up running. And I'm not saying I don't appreciate the spider's perseverance. I'm just saying, "Spider. Maybe you want to look around and appreciate your surroundings while you got 'em."

And, spider, if you do change it up, if only for a few months, there's nothing to feel guilty about.

shoe photo by ingridesign
bike photo by eric magnuson

No comments:

Post a Comment

More to Chew On...

Along For the Ride

Search This Blog