Part Five of Five
9. The Longest Ride
A friend suggested we do Bike The Drive, the one morning every year Chicago’s Lakeshore Drive is closed and bicycles spill onto its pavement. Lakeshore Drive is one of Chicago’s most iconic ways of getting north to south in the city, and one of its most scenic, being—well—along the lake. The only things that I know of capable of closing Lakeshore Drive are massive snowstorms, international summits, the passage of a 693-ton WWII German submarine, and apparently a bunch of bicyclists who can afford a registration fee.
Last night I had a marathon anxiety dream. Nikki and I arrived at the start up site, (which was inside some kind of dry walled warehouse place), and were brought to our starting corral. The race start lines were single file, and we were led to the way way way back. Our corral was the very last one and, in addition to Nikki and me, it consisted of about five or six white-haired grannies.
Okay, so you’re all excited about this new Ashtanga practice. Do you have any goals?
Well, yes and no. The Bhagavad Gita, an ancient Hindu text with a lot to say about the nature of yoga, defines yoga as a consistent work without any attachment to the fruits of that work. So in a sense, losing five pounds, dropping a size, growing measurably stronger or more flexible: all of these would be worldly aspirations that I’d be grasping onto, which would work against the kind of detachment, renunciation and equanimity that can be a part of the practice.
On the other hand, who am I kidding? I’m not a nun; I’d love to have the gorgeous body and the physical ability that Ashtangis sport in Instagram selfies and photo books. I can feel my ego latching at that, so I don’t want to name physical measurable goals for myself to achieve. A pitfall of Ashtanga, at least in my own fledgling practice, is that because you move through the sequence, it’s easy to become goal-oriented.
My training for the Chicago Marathon is slogging forward. After a very discouraging 16-mile run, Nikki and I actually had a pretty great 18-miler. What I did psychologically was break it up into bursts of three miles; after each three-mile run we’d take a slightly longer break and maybe stretch a little bit or just regroup. And, we did this six times. It worked remarkably well, and the happiness of this run did a lot to restore my confidence. Yay!
The following week was about as erratic as our training has been in general. This lead up to our longest planned run – twenty miles. We had it planned for a Friday when the weather was supposed to be perfect: high sixties and sunny. However, the Thursday night just prior, we couldn’t resist the temptations of our back porch.
Part Three of Three
When I was seventeen, I graduated high school a semester early and moved from the Chicago suburbs to Madison, Wisconsin. My desire to escape my problems—depression, drug-addicted and troubled friends, an emotionally abusive ex-boyfriend—was so intense I couldn’t even wait the nine months until college started. My mom and my best friend helped me move into my new apartment, I completely broke down the moment they left. As badly as I wanted to escape all of the drama I was leaving behind, I was terrified to be away from the people I was closest to.
Sixteen years later, that heartache remains a vivid memory, so before we set off on the journey to Seattle, I warned my husband, “I’ll probably cry when we get there.”