My husband bought me a new bike for my birthday a couple of months back. It was a serious, manly looking bike and he dressed it up with the most aesthetic saddle and handle grip!
I was pretty stoked to still receive a birthday present from him after more than 2 decades of being together. Well, there was nothing romantic about a bike, but it was something that still makes my heart skip, something that I have been ogling at and would motivate me to get outdoor. I was just thankful he didn’t get me some household appliance.
I started a more active lifestyle a couple of years back. I took up cycling and signed up for running events regularly. Before that I tried to run regularly but usually nothing more than 5km. I still dread running. On days when I am too lazy to run, I cycle and it kind of help to keep me going. I usually felt ill prepared for a run but my husband has more faith in me completing a run than I have in myself.
I can’t say that I have set grand goals, nothing like completing a 21 km in 2 hours. My daily stress revolves around decisions such as whether to slack off, cycle or run. I know it sounds insane and this stress kind of climaxed the last couple of weeks when I caught some infection and was too sick to head outdoors yet well enough to still move around in the house. I still cook, wash and clean and it kind of drives me crazy.
It all started during the June holiday, when I ate too much during our Japan trip. I gained a couple of kilos after the trip and I wasn’t diligent enough to resume my exercise regime. Didn’t help when I thought my husband’s suggestion of eating kimchi, fried egg and rice was a good idea for breakfast. (Geez, what was I thinking!)
It almost felt I was carbo loading when I wasn’t even burning calories! I felt horrible. Not so much because of the weight gain but because of how ill-disciplined I was and how I chose to let go. This kind of guilt eats me up, it devours me!
Then came the Straits Times Run 3 weeks ago. My husband had to miss the run because something cropped up at work. It was unfortunate but I was secretly relieved that he gave me the perfect reason to miss the run. 2 days before the run, I casually brought it up to my family and guess what, my Dad thought he could take my husband’s place!
My Dad is 66, has part of his stomach removed 5 years ago due to cancer. He is cancer free now and he brisk walks and cycles everyday but he has NEVER done a mass run, definitely not a 18.45 km run. He joked that he could walk and jog and he was not wrong. So it was decided. I would run with my Dad.
On race day, it wasn’t difficult for him to arrive at start point on time because he is an early riser. He is usually out in the park by then. My Dad showed up in his simple exercise outfit. Nothing fanciful or high tech or compression. He was wearing one of those free finisher t-shirt we passed down to him. For once, I was glad I wasn’t the slower runner and was expecting a relaxing run.
At 5.15 am the race started. He started off jogging at a pretty good pace. In fact it felt more like a sprint to me but he slowed down to a walk when we hit our first uphill. It was all good and he continued his sprint and walk tactics but I realised I couldn’t do what he was doing! It worked better for me to keep to my usual slow jog. I was with him for the first 10 km and we kind of lost sight of each other after that.
At the finishing line, I waited anxiously for him and finally saw him crossed the line at an impressive 2hr 33min!
That was my Dad, who has never trained for any big run but could complete a 18.45km like any fit and abled young men. I was so proud of him!
As I sat looking at my new trusty steel bike which has neither high end carbon fibre parts nor gears that could go faster, I thought of my Dad, who had battled cancer, who didn’t set off with some grand goals nor spend a fortune on branded gear or own anything Lycra. He is probably happy to be able to wake up each morning to enjoy the sunrise.
My husband has chosen this bike mainly for its frame because he thought the old one was a tad too big for my petite size. I have to admit that I kind of miss my cheery looking yellow bike and have been neglecting my new bike.
It feels harder to peddle or maybe I am just less fit with my recent binging and hibernation. I dread thinking of doing another run and I am not too excited to jump onto my serious looking new bike.
My Dad has come a long way since the day he lay in ICU battling the demon. It wasn’t a one time goal to beat some timing or win some finisher medals but a deliberate choice to lead an active lifestyle with consistent effort and discipline.
I probably shouldn’t think too much about timing, pace and distance. Every workout counts, whether fast or slow, far or near, long or short. And I should just stop giving myself excuses and be more diligent.
It would be helluva cool if I could agree to do a half marathon without skipping a heartbeat when I am 66, just like my Dad.