By DINA ARÉVALO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
January 1, 2015
It’s that time of year again, when we put on a pot of black eyed peas to simmer on the stove, set aside 12 grapes to be eaten while making wishes at midnight, or jot down a list of resolutions on a pad of paper while sitting at the kitchen table. It’s a new year and a time for creating new goals and new beginnings.
Like many people, I made a resolution at the beginning of 2014 to get in better shape. I had a new-to-me mountain bike that a bike mechanic friend fixed up for me, converting it into a hybrid suitable for road riding. He even went so far as to get it powder coated in neon pink—one of my favorite colors. I downloaded a fitness app onto my phone, got the padded riding shorts, a fuchsia helmet, and a set of head and tail lights and started logging miles.
Now, I’ve never been the most physically accomplished person. I joke that I can’t run a mile to save my life. An athletically-inclined college roommate of mine once surmised that was due to a bad gait and improper breathing. That was news to me. I’ve been breathing my whole life, how could I be doing it wrong? Nonetheless, though I aspired to do aerobic exercise like running regularly, and have always admired people who do, it’s just not something I’ve ever been very good at. But starting out on those first tenuous miles on two wheels, things felt different. I felt different.
That old saying about never forgetting how to ride a bike? Not entirely true. I hadn’t ridden regularly since those old college days, where I was fairly merciless to my cheap, big box store bike, riding it down stairs, jumping curbs, and weaving through pedestrians as I raced from class to class.
But this was my first “real” bike. A name brand machine solidly constructed, already 20 years old but sturdy enough to last another 20, at least. As I sat in the saddle the first few times, I realized that I no longer felt as invincible as I had in my youth, nor nearly as sturdy as the bicycle which responded smoothly to my movements and pedaling. I had to give myself a refresher course on riding basics. I practiced starting and stopping, and got comfortable again with leaning into turns. And I discovered breathing matters on a bike, too. At least I was having more luck with it this time around—until mid-July.
I had been going for short rides at local parks or hike and bike paths every week, and had felt my endurance getting better. But in July I started feeling really tired at the ends of my rides; I chalked it up to still being out of shape or the mid-summer heat. Then, the day after celebrating the wedding of my brother, I awoke with a fever. What followed was two months of dealing with walking pneumonia. I have no idea where it came from. I hadn’t even had so much as a cold in about two years.
I’ve since recovered fully, but my bike has been sitting in the garage ever since. A single, red notification badge on my fitness app reminds me that I haven’t used it in far too long. But here we are, turning over a new page in our calendars. It’s the perfect time to wipe the slate clean and hop back in the saddle. And, we’re lucky to live in such a temperate climate. Like this year has been, winters here are generally mild and conducive to year-round exercising.
So, the lingering scent of popped fireworks has cleared from the air, scrubbed away by the Gulf breeze. Aided by the invigorating freshness of the morning air, renewed commitments to fitness can be kicked off at the 31st Annual Longest Causeway Run and Fitness Walk on January 10. And be sure to visit us online at www.portisabelsouthpadre.com.
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