Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Post-Chemo Commute

I tend to walk fast.

I like to think it's the New Yorker in me, but the truth is, I'd probably walk fast if I was in Savannah or Key West which are about the strolliest place I can imagine. When I'm taking the train to work, as I do most days, the walk from the Back Bay station in Boston to the Copley Square T stop is about 4-5 minutes. After a two-stop T-ride, the walk on the other side is a little bit longer, about a half mile from Kenmore to my office. That's 7-8 minutes on a good day.

Up until the other day, about my only commuting concerns were whether the train would be on time, and if the wifi would work. On the Tuesday after chemo, though, I remember coming up the escalator at Back Bay and walking slowly out of the station and pausing. 

I could see my destination, but the thought of walking there was daunting.
The walk from Back Bay Station
 (at very top  left of image) to Copley T
 Station (behind the camera). The Boston
Public Library is the building at right.

I sighed and began my slow trek. Speed walking commuters passed me on either side. Small children passed. People on crutches breezed by me. Tortoises, snails...  you get the idea.  I eventually made it to the T and to Kenmore where the prospect of a half-mile walk was nearly overwhelming. 

It was more mentally taxing than physically challenging. Two and a half years ago, I ran the Boston Marathon in 4:09 (take that Paul Ryan) but  now the thought of a slow half-mile walk was making me pause. Literally. That's a bit demoralizing. 

Stacy suggested I take a cab in those situations. But of course, I couldn't do that. Why not? Well, you know why,  So I trudged to the office slowly and settled in. That was Tuesday. Wednesday, I worked from home. Thursday and Friday I drove.

Part of the Hubway bike station
across from Back Bay. They ride
like trucks but beats riding the T.
It's now two weeks since that challenging commute and I've been back to both the train, and for the past week and-a-half, my brisk walk commute.  I've even ventured back onto my Hubway bike on several days. And this past Sunday, I returned to my favorite routine, a morning run and chat. (Thanks Mr. B.)  I may not be ready to tackle a marathon (maybe there's a half marathon race in the future), but being able to go out for a 3.5 mile run at my normal pace was important.

Beyond the joy that I get in running, it helped me reestablish my routine. We all know kids crave routines, but I think they're equally as important for adults. They help define normal. And when your normal is turned upside down with the new routine of cancer treatment, the return to the old normal is something to appreciate. Knowing too that I'm able to bounce back to this will help me deal with the malaise of the first week post chemo. I'll have the wonderful boredom of a normal routine to look forward to.

p.s. - I have no interest in running for office....ever. But in the interest of full disclosure, I believe my official BAA time in 2010 was 4:11. I stopped for about 2 minutes to wait to use a port-a-potty and don't include that in my personal time recording. I ran a 4:09 and I'm sticking to it.