Saturday, June 16, 2012

Feeling Like a Kid Again

I just got my bicycle repaired, and I finally went for a ride. Let me tell you, aside from playing in the mud (see my previous post), nothing makes me feel more like a kid again than riding a bike. Let me explain...

Growing up in a small town, I rode my bike everywhere. I would ride to my friends' houses, my cousins', the park to play basketball or tennis, my high school for practice, and sometimes I just rode to no where in particular. I loved my bike. My first bike I remember was purple and had a black and white banana seat. Then one summer, I won $100 in a contest from Captain Crunch cereal, and I bought a beautiful black and white 10- speed. Now, I never used any of the speeds; I don't believe I ever even changed gears.

Fast forward into adulthood. I bought my current bike two years ago. After not having ridden a bike in several years, I was a little intimidated. However, it really is true, you never forget how to ride a bike. Getting back on, I felt transported back in time. Feeling the breeze in my face, created by my own pedal power. It's freeing.

How I feel when riding my bike.

How I actually look when riding.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Playing in the Mud

In every real man a child is hidden that wants to play.  
~Friedrich Nietzsche

Spartan Race 2012
Some of the best memories of my childhood involve time spent in the woods, playing in "crik" (or creek, if you aren't from Indiana), catching crawdads, toads, and salamanders.  I was active, busy, with a great craving for the outdoors. I loved escaping to my grandma's house on the weekends, exploring her acres of woods, imagining all types of scenarios most of them taking me away to another time and another place. When I was trapped at home, my favorite hiding place was surrounded by trees. I had a spot tucked among the branches of two large pine trees. I would sit in there, invisible to the world, lost in a book.

And then I grew up. College and work demands consumed my time. No longer did I have a quiet place in the outdoors. No longer did I have a quiet place in the indoors. I traded the peace and solace that nature had provided for the hectic life of a newlywed working and going to school full time. Two children soon followed. My life became about being a mom and a wife. But I think that during that time in my life, that was necessary. My young family needed me. 

And then my boys grew up. Suddenly I found myself with time on my hands again. I realized that my goals and dreams had been put on hold with the care of my young children. I started to crave something that was just for me. At about that time I began running to cope with added stress from work. I began to run 5k's, then a half marathon, then another half marathon, then a full marathon and so on. I was having fun, finding the joy in competing again (I've always been ferociously competitive).  Part of the enjoyment of running came from the extended time outdoors. It was an opportunity to once again be out in nature (albeit on paved roads). Last January, my husband created a team for the Super Spartan Race in Miami and asked if I wanted to join. Through that race and the preparation for running it, I re-ignited my craving for nature. 

Some people may think that obstacle course racing is abnormal, crazy, ridiculous. I would agree, but would add extremely fun. I think we have become detrimentally complacent with a sedentary lifestyle. Once in America we worked hard, physically, to earn a living. Now we work hard mentally and are left with bodies weak from lack of movement and minds burdened with stress. An obstacle course race really is just a playground for adults; a chance to go out and be a kid again. I imagine that if you were watching the start of a race, it would not be unlike watching the doors of an elementary school when the bell rings to dismiss kids to the playground for recess. I have learned in training for these races that it's ok for an adult to climb a tree for no reason other than it's fun. I'm also learning not to take myself so seriously-- who cares if people give you funny looks while you are climbing a tree (they are probably calculating whether they could do it, too-- or debating whether to call the police). Our bodies were created to move. Nature was created to be enjoyed. And trees were created to be climbed.