Today I felt pain. But not, for once, the dark dog-tired pain of despair, that chronic viral pounding that seems to emerge every Monday morning, and feeds voraciously on the grey cadaver of crushed hope and promise right through to Friday. No, not this. It was something cleaner, something unsullied and uncorrupted. Something pure & physical… the sharp, sentient pain of intervals.
This is a pain that takes you by the scruff of the neck and bangs your face repeatedly into a wall of hurt to let you know you are ALIVE ! It started as my usual Sunday morning ride out to the Tamako lakes and back along the Irumagawa and Arakawa rivers, a perfect 100k loop that sees me back in Tokyo by mid-morning. I’d perfected this route over the winter; the desire to spend time with my nine month old son compelling me to apply a moratorium on my usual long distance mountain rides. It was usually a pedestrian affair.
But today something snapped from deep inside; I accelerated up the hills, time-trialled the straights, and chased other cyclists down, urging my heart rate higher than any time in the last six months, grunting and bellowing obscenities as the pain hit me in waves. The winter colours around me were more luminous than the summer; the birds more musical and the tarmac smoother than I’d ever remembered it to be. My lungs were burning, spasms of pain pinched my lower back and my legs felt they had been sliced open and the veins ripped out.
A systematic punishment of the body… but a panacea for the soul.