I should have never left, and I had my chance to stay.
This is what I am thinking as I am projectile vomitting on the side of a god forsaken road in New Jersey, tucked between what I think is a cement or brick plant and an office building. Being sick in New Jersey is bad, being sick in New Jersey in the middle of a bike ride, 25 miles from home in lycra is even worse. Over the next 1.5 hours I drag myself over the bridge, into a cab (where we pulled over twice for me to eject some more demons) and finally into my Lower East Side apartment. And it is there that I stayed for the next 20 hours.
Night fell, the sun rose and I woke up feeling better. My eyes were sore from bulging out, my throat raw but all in all I was OK. Later that night I did the only thing I could think of to make it better, I got onto my bike.
I was still weak and certainly not strong but riding last night that didn’t bother me at all, instead I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude. Because, however small a glimpse, sickness shows us what our bodies are like when they don’t work, when they are broken. The pain of being sick doesn’t bother me too much, it is thinking about what if I didn’t get better that gets me.
Our bodies and health are fleeting and they are a gift. I hear people everyday joke that “they can’t remember the last time they ran” “or their idea of a workout is lifting a cheeseburger” and you know what it’s not funny, i’s not a joke and I am so sorry for you.
You see there is dignity and grace in pushing your body. There are lessons in thinking you can be better and learning you can’t be the best. Everyday you do the same things over and over. You become hollow, a receptacle of repetition. You meditate, you pray, you fail, you hurt, you want to quit. Do all of that and eventually you are rewarded. It likely won’t be a trophy or a win that you get but instead, the breifest glimpses of greatness. Those times when your legs don’t feel like you are attached to them, you are flying, you are lightness, you are, can I say, beautiful.
It is these moments that I ride. It’s why I ran, and this is why I will never take my health for granted. You get one body, and one chance to make it worth it. You will never be a pro athlete, but if you take care of your body it will take care of you.