I went on a bike ride tonight. All by myself, no kids behind me in the carrier, no husband riding beside me, no one asking when we would be done or how much longer we had to go.
Just me, a cool fall evening, and silent streets.
Most days, I still don’t recognize myself in the mirror. I don’t recognize my body, I don’t recognize my energy, I don’t recognize my drive and determination for health and fitness.
Those are new things to me.
I know I’m in the best shape of my life. Better than when I was playing basketball in high school, better than when I was losing weight and working out in my early 20s. Now, at almost 32, I’m in the best shape of my life.
I was made to be an athlete. I’m good at most sports if you give me a minute to figure it out, I have good hand/eye coordination, pretty good timing, and, most importantly, I’m super-competitive. I was born to play sports and did for a really long time. But I never had to work very hard at them, either. I never really practiced, never really pushed myself hard to see what I was capable of.
And so I’m learning how to do that now and it’s crazy and wonderful and weird and exhilarating and exhausting.
Maybe being naturally athletic was a curse for me. I didn’t learn lessons I should have, get to practice really hard at something and succeed, I didn’t have to struggle too much. Things came to me too easily, and when I had to start trying hard, I realized I didn’t know how and then I got cut from teams and playing sports was over. Because I didn’t really know how to work hard; I was just good until I wasn’t and I didn’t know how to do it any differently.
Now I’m learning how to go farther, to really listen to my body, to understand what my body needs to run its best, and how my choices–all my choices–affect its performance. It’s amazing what our bodies will do for us if we take care of them.
So tonight on my bike ride, I rode hard; focused, determined, and happy. I went up big, tough hills just to ride back down them fast. I took unfamiliar routes and found my way home. I took the hard way instead of the easy path and knew my body could handle it.
I know I’ll be sore tomorrow. But I’ll also be at the gym, doing my two-mile run in preparation for my first 5K. I’ll probably add some weights and maybe some stairs. Because I know I can handle it. I know my strong body, that birthed two babies, has carried middle school kids to the nurse, and injured players off the basketball court, can handle it. And I am so proud of that strength.