Yesterday I woke up around 6:30 to a beautiful day and felt about an 8.5 on my usual 1-10 wellness scale, 10 being when I feel spiffiest. I rode almost 55 miles with my new riding buddies, which is the longest I’ve ever ridden apart from a fundraising event like the MS 150. I was pretty darn proud of that accomplishment, I have to say. Today I woke up at 3:30 after not having gotten more than a couple hours of sleep together throughout the night, a 5 on the scale, at most. I felt more tired than when I’d gone to bed last night; I hurt more than I’ve hurt since the MS 150 in Ventura, California back in October. I emailed said new riding buddies to let them know that, most likely, I wouldn’t be riding with them today.
Then the sun came up. I walked Luke, then threw the ball for him in the yard while drinking a 3rd cup of coffee. Watching him makes me happy. I took Elphie for a short run alongside the trike, our twice daily ritual. Watching her makes me happy. I was still exhausted, still in pain. But the more I moved the better my head-space and heart-space began to feel. I really wanted to ride with my new friends today. I really didn’t want to exacerbate the pain & fatigue I was feeling. But I really, really wanted to ride. I’m training for my 3rd MS 150, and I take that commitment very seriously. In addition to my mission of helping to raise funds and awareness, these rides have become expressions of joy and gratitude for me. So I both wanted and needed to ride. But I *knew* it was going to hurt.
Somehow, I managed to cowgirl up. I pulled on the tights, strapped on my helmet, took long, slow breaths through the pain, and pedaled. I kept breathing and pedaling. I rode just over 28 miles.
Saying 28.09 miles is greater than 54.68 miles is bad math, I know, but it makes sense to me. I overcome a lot of things to ride on any given day, but on a day like today I had to channel all of the chutzpah I possess – plus all that I could imagine – just to get out of my driveway. Let’s call it “wonkybent arithmetic.”
I’m not telling you all this so you’ll pat me on the back. I’m sharing because I know that many of you have days like the one I had today. You conquer seemingly-insurmountable challenges on a daily basis, then fight through exponentially more adversity as its thrown at you willy-nilly. What I’m trying to say is that I see you, I get it, I know. There are a lot of days where, from the outside, it appears you’ve accomplished a little (or even a lot) less than the previous days. I understand it’s easy to judge yourself as doing or being “less than” on the rougher, thornier days. So I wanted to tell you – the exact same way I’m reminding myself right now – that numbers, like appearances, rarely tell the whole story.
As much as I love watching competitions like the Olympics and Paralympics, I hate the way our society has begun talking of anything other than 1st place and gold medals as “losing.” If today were a race, if my performance were ranked, I’m sure I would’ve come in last. Some might say I’d failed. I might even be disappointed in myself. But I’m learning to calculate differently, because that other math lies.
I know that I won today. Regardless of the usual more-is-better math, I know that the 28.09 miles I rode today were far harder to come by than the 54.68 miles pedaled yesterday, which makes them far more valuable, more dear. I hope you’re giving yourselves credit for all that you’re overcoming – illness, disability, whatever. We’re all fighting dragons by one name or another.
I invite you to wield my wonkybent arithmetic. I believe it tells the truer, better story.
Happy trails ~