A few months after my dad died in 2008, having waged a courageous struggle with cancer, I learned that my sister-in-law and my nephew were going to be taking part in a bike ride to raise funds to fight cancer. I wasn’t a bit surprised—I knew that they had both become cycling enthusiasts in recent years, and we all had a score to settle with cancer—but I was impressed. They were going to cycle 200 kilometres (just under 125 miles). I hadn’t been on a bike for years and couldn’t really picture myself cycling 20 kilometres—12…maybe.
In the months leading up to the event, mother and son headed out on their bikes every evening and every weekend, cycling farther and farther with every passing week. I could only marvel at their commitment, their energy, their…fitness. I was a bit envious, but (I rationalized) the world is full of different types of people: they are athletic types, whereas I’m more of an academic, one more comfortable…being comfortable.
The real shock came the year my brother—a man who, as far as I knew, was also the comfortable sort—announced that he would be joining his wife and son on their ride. And they all completed it. I was humbled. I was not, however, moved to get moving.
A couple I know routinely sparks in me the same slightly guilty, slightly ashamed feeling. They walk every day—sometimes twice a day—and not just around the block. When the local library is ready to close, I head out to my car—and see my neighbours striding off in the direction of the street on which they and I both live. I’ll get there before them, I think, saving valuable time and…and then I have to admit to myself that they’re—probably—just a wee bit healthier than I am. I even spot them walking homeward in places far enough from home that I wouldn’t even be there without my car, or at least a bus pass.
I know, I know…the very magazine I edit reminds me routinely that we need to exercise regularly to stay healthy, that if you don’t use your muscles and keep them in shape, they’ll one day decide to leave you sitting in that comfortable chair, unable to get up. So…it’s time to get going.
On Sunday, May 6, I will be among the 14,000 people from more than 50 countries expected to take part in the Toronto Marathon. Participants can take part in the 42.2-kilometre marathon (26.2 miles), the 21.1-kilometre half-marathon, the 10-k run (6.2 miles), the 5-k run (3.1 miles), or the 5-k walk. I’m walking, naturally, but the important thing is that I will be there, and I intend to make it to the finish line and not to collapse by the side of the road. To which end, I shall have to start walking, and not just around the block.
I won’t be alone: we’re planning to have a Good Times team there, and you’re welcome—indeed encouraged—to join us if you’ll be in the neighbourhood. In the next two issues, we’ll provide some hints, tips, and exercises to help you (and, of course, me) prepare for the walk—or just to get moving in your own neighbourhood. I expect it’ll feel good to get active. I like my comfy chair, but I’d like to be able to get out of it when I choose.