My Marathon

It's almost upon me.

I'm not athletic. I don't run—I can't run: I have severe osteoarthritis in my feet that makes it difficult to walk for any great distance. Even standing still for more than a few minutes causes me pain. So I don't do a lot of activity that puts any kind of strain on my feet.

I won't run to catch the bus.

But I can ride a bike. I'm not competitive, so I don't race. I don't have to be the fastest on wheels. I don't look for techniques to apply power in order to pass someone and cross a line first.

I ride to stay fit, to keep from getting any fatter than I already am. I enjoyed the exercise of commuting by bike to work. It was a beautiful ride, through the Gatineau Hills, along the Ottawa River Parkway. I love the 50-kilometre loop that I take around the city (I promise, I won't describe it again) and, recently, county roads that have taken me to North Gower, Merrickville, and other villages in my part of Eastern Ontario.

But now I'm going further and it's changing me. I have to train. I have to build muscle and teach myself how to handle endurance: how to eat and drink at regular intervals so that I don't run out of steam.

I'm no athlete.

But the distance for which I'm preparing calls for me to push myself, to overcome both mental and physical barriers. My body hurts after more than 100 kilometres, but I have to press on because I have another 75 to go. And then, I have to tell myself, you will do it all over again the next day.

I don't run, but the Rideau Lakes Cycle Tour is like a marathon. It is a test to show myself that I am stronger than I give myself credit for. Last year, I proved that I can make it to Kingston. And, last year, I did it with very little training.

I checked the amount of cycling I did in preparation for last year's ride: it was barely 150K. And for almost three weeks before the ride, I did no training.

This year, in this month alone, I've logged more than 380 kilometres: 116 kilometres was covered in one ride. I'm not in great shape for this ride, but I'm way ahead of last year's training.

One boost of confidence came on Tuesday evening, though it was mixed with a bit of worry. My plan was to cycle to North Gower and back, via Richmond, as I had done the previous week. Though the wind was as blustery as I've ever encountered, I believed it was good preparation, in case this weekend brought unfavourable headwinds.

As I neared North Gower, I felt a bit of pain in my left knee. I figured that it was due to the extra effort at fighting the strong breeze. But as I crossed the sign that indicated the town limits, the pain became definite, and I considered turning around and heading home by the same route from where I came, which would shorten my ride by about seven kilometres or so.

At the Marlborough Pub and Eatery, I realized that if I turned around and peddled home, I would run a serious risk of injuring my knee, which would mean that my Kingston ride would not happen. I pulled over, called my wife, and asked her to rescue me.

I'm not an athlete.

But this ride to Kingston is my marathon, and I want to do it. And finish it.

Both ways.

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