Friday, July 25, 2008

Carbon Footprint

I did a personality inventory for a leadership institute I participated in last year. One of the insights into my INTJness was that I often set high, unrealistic goals for myself.

Unrealistic, maybe. Unattainable? Nah.

On Wednesday, after weeks of "shoulds" and "coulds", I bit the bullet. At 7:00 a.m. I got up, packed a change of clothes and a lunch, ate a nutritionally balanced breakfast sandwich and marched right past my Honda Civic to my garage. I strapped on my bike helmet and wheeled my bicycle to the edge of my driveway - ready, able, willing. "St. Paul's not so far from Minneapolis." "I've run 13 miles, I can certainly bike them."

Here's where I failed to recognize my limitations.

Limitation #1: I have no sense of direction.
Limitation #2: I ride a $75 Target mountain bike.
Limitation #3: I've spent much of the last 5 months avoiding exercise and slowly losing all muscle mass.

When I finally hit the Midtown Greenway after 30 minutes of biking around Lake Harriet and Lake Calhoun, I thought to myself, "You know, you could just turn around right now and bike back home, shower, and still get to work by 9:30 a.m." But myself would not admit defeat after just 30 minutes. I pedaled and pedaled and huffed and puffed. I saw Midtown Global Market loom above me and thought, "Seriously? I'm not closer than that?"

Then, the moment of true error, when limitation #1 became truly evident. I crossed, with some difficulty, the fabulous yet amazingly steep bike/pedestrian bridge over highway 55. At the end of it, I had one of those moments where your instincts gnaw at you, trying to tell you something that you just can't quite put your finger on. Rather than pause a moment to figure out what this might mean, us INTJs just keep going. In my particular case, at this particular bridge, I turned left rather than right. Someone with a sense of direction might say west rather than east (or north rather than south, I honestly am still not sure). In so doing, I undid a fair amount of the good, hard bicycling work I'd accomplished in the preceding hour. When I finally did stop to acknowledge my grave mistake, I was in downtown Minneapolis - a solid 7 miles from my final destination. A brief cell phone call to my bike savvy friend ended with instructions to bike south (or right) down the River Road to Franklin. Except that there's a big fallen highway bridge between the Guthrie and Franklin on the River Road. So I walked my bike up to Washington Avenue, hopped on and rode the Washington Avenue bridge through the University campus to the East River Road, and biked that back up to Franklin, to University Avenue, to work.

Precisely two hours after having left my house on a wing and a prayer, I had made it. I had not used any gas. I had not spent any money. I changed out of my sweaty clothes, brushed my hair, donned some pit paint and sat down at my desk, in an amazingly good mood. After recounting my story to some coworkers (who responded with harmonious choruses of "You know what you should have done?..."), one of them offered to drive me part of the way home. I refused, not wanting to give up that easily. The ride home was much less eventful, much prettier, and much more direct. I arrived home just over an hour after leaving my office feeling accomplished, fantastically exhausted and ravenously hungry. I kissed my husband and headed for the shower, ready to do it again next week.

1 comment:

Xtine said...

that sounds awesome. i'm glad to hear that you were undeterred after your eventful ride to work. i look forward to hearing how it goes next week!