Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I Wonder, Will We Die?

Exercise was over.
“Great work” she said, “I am going to have to really step it up to kill you guys”.
“You all are hanging in there and doing great work, thanks”.
I think to myself as I try to get up, did my heart stop for a second or two on that last circuit?
I am sure it did, I felt the chest go empty and my stomach trying to get out of dodge.
I am not talking about throwing up; I am talking about my stomach actually trying to leave.
I bent over and swallowed a few times and was then I reassured by the return of a heartbeat.
Steady, is it steady, I wondered?
Seems to be, I guess I will go ahead and finish the run.
She gives us a compliment of sorts but is already planning the next outing.
She isn’t going to have to step it up too much to kill me, partly because I am too “stupid” to say uncle and partly because I don’t yet know a limit.
I will go on and push ahead; it is just the thing to do.
So far all the joints, muscles and tendons are hanging together.
The lungs seem to be working OK.
The heart is the only organ I wonder about, is it rebelling?
Or is it just shutting down for a second, like an overheated engine?
I am sure the rate was approaching 225 beats per minute when it seemed to slip out of “gear”.
I have had a high performance car do that on occasion.
You are moving down the highway at a respectable 80 miles an hour and suddenly push the accelerator to the floor.
Everything seems suspended in time, the motor seems to pause and then suddenly you are thrown back in the seat as everything catches up.
Maybe I am becoming high performance.
That is a more comforting than the other thought I had, one beat away from the end.
The trouble I am having with this explanation; if I am such “a High Performance Machine”, why is my gas tank trying to come out of my intake port?

Monday, September 21, 2009

No Quarter Given And Don’t Ask For It

“Get moving”, ole man, I add in my mind, “its bust it time”.
This was the command that was shouted out.
I was into my second hour of exercise and like the “ole Man River” of song I was moving slow.
The only hurt was my pride.
I knew I was coasting on the jump rope, my calves told me I had to.
Sometimes your old body just says, “stop and smell the roses”.
Since no roses were in evidence I guess Sparta took precedence over body.
Somehow I did up-tempo the jump rope.
I flashed her a quick glance.
Did she see the “malevolence” in that look?
She must have as a mischievous grin spread across her face and she said ever so lightly, ”come on now you know I still love you”.
I thought, sure just like a snake loves a mouse.
But then the “Wise Man” inside stepped up, “you know we do it to ourselves”.
She is just the “jab” that keeps the ball rolling.
That was truth.
Sparta calls out the drills, she throws down the challenges.
It is up to us to either try them and gain or walk away and lose.
She is the skilled and adept teacher.
She gives us the methods to advance.
The task, figure out how to complete the lessons or go to the sidelines and only watch as life speeds by.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Food, Exercise and Demosthenes

I missed Boot Camp last night.
I wasn’t out of town.
I was only eight miles from the action, attending a dinner.
The dinner was work associated.
I went from the office to a sit down dinner.
The food, beverages and lack of exercise were not good for body or soul.
There was not a Brussels Sprout within miles of the entrée.
There was no green leafy vegetable adorning the plate other than a wisp of over-steamed spinach.
I assumed the spinach lent an artistic touch.
The main ingredient was beef, so raw and tender; it crawled onto the fork by itself.
The shrimp were seared in a sea of butter.
The starch was a Risotto held together with heavy cream and long strands of pure cholesterol.
A desert of pears lying in sugar based confectioners icing rounded out the menu.
I was “slumping” by the time we left the evening behind.
My metabolism was in an uproar in spite of leaving a significant portion uneaten.
I woke up feeling out of sorts, tired, achy and still digesting the previous nights fare.
I was stiff and had a new back pain that had not existed the day before.
These are all of the symptoms of the wrong food and too little exercise.
I had eaten not from the recommended dietary triangle but from the dietary funnel.
I had both physical and mental symptoms including guilt.
I had missed Boot Camp.
I had missed my exercise.
“You are just a fanatic”, I can already hear some saying, but even sane people need to exercise to maintain balance.
The same has to be said for eating.
Everyone needs to eat.
But as my brother once told me, it’s not so much about taste or presentation, its more about feeling full.
“That’s why I chew on rocks”, I always feel full with a mouthful of warm rocks and therefore I eat less and I don’t need to worry about my weight”.
This same brother would do 500 sit-ups every day.
He knew early in life the need for dietary restriction and exercise.
But life had other plans for him.
His good intentions along with his good habits soon dissipated after marrying a lady that knew nothing about sit-ups, chin-ups or any other form of exercise and even less about cooking rocks.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Who Wants To Push The Car?

I will say one thing about Boot Camp; it is multi-faceted.
Every so many days toward the end of the session, when everyone is gasping for air, comes the comment, “grab a mat and let’s head outside”.
We all head through the side door to the parking lot.
Sparta drives a Honda Civic, curb weight-2831 pounds.
A tractor tire also sits outside, curb weight ~200 pounds.
“OK, start flipping the tire, 15 flips down and then 15 flips back, two pushing the car, one running laps and the rest on mats doing crunches”.
“When the first two are finished the next two should be ready to either flip the tire, push the car or run a lap”.
“Let’s go, we are wasting valuable exercise time”.
We start.
First we push the car, around a little track, we get it up to six miles an hour.
Hamstrings are screaming.
Where did all the oxygen go?
Fall on the mat, while trying not to pass out.
Crunch, crunch, crunch, “who hasn’t flipped the tire”?
Up to the tire, get it right are you won’t be walking without a lot of back pain for a week.
Squat, grab the lower side and rise up flipping the flipping tire; do that 15 times.
Your partner flips it back.
On to the run, one lap around the large parking lot, fast, you need to get back to do the crunches.
"Someone needs to push the car again, who is ready to push the car”, comes the acid laced question.
“Uh, I guess we can do it again”.
Around the track: “get off the brake”, my mind yells at the trainer, “turn up the music, get some air-conditioning out to us”.
Legs are beyond screaming, I am sure they have died.
“Come on get it up to seven miles an hour”, another challenge tossed carelessly out the window.
Now I am back flipping the tire.
Now I am down trying to do something that looks like crunches.
Then it is over, maybe.
“Has everyone gotten to do everything at least two times”?
“I haven’t run a second time yet”, says a "sheepish" Elmo.
“Then you go run and everyone else, hold a squat”.
“Thanks a lot Elmo”, I think to myself, “I hope your wife doesn’t tickle you tonight.
Now surely it is over.
My legs say its over, my oxygen debt says its over, but has Sparta said its over?
“Nice work”, she says as she walks back into the gym.
“Lets go finish it up with a few more serious crunches and the 100 shoulders”.
My Brain is missing something here.
I am thinking, I am Finnish, what I really need is a Sauna and next time maybe we can push the sled across frozen Tundra.
I am sure it would be easier than this.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Only Real Constant Is Change

Ambassador is in pain and hasn’t been in boot camp or boots for some time now.
Cheshire Cat has an injury and has been told she needs to stay away two more weeks and so like the Cheshire of old has disappeared.
They need to return as soon as health permits. The “pack” awaits.
Sparta, Ammo, Transformer along with Elmo and spouse persist but even the steadiest stalwarts have responsibilities that push in on occasion.
New people fill the holes but not the voids.
It is a fact of life that relationships develop on many different levels and these become the touchstones of daily life.
When they change, a disruption occurs that unbalances thought and place.
I had gotten comfortable in “pack” and knew my place.
Now the “pack” is evolving and shifting on a fairly regular basis.
It is hard to find the rhythm of group.
The challenges seem to have intensified.
Sparta seems to be pushing the group to more extreme levels of performance in spite of heat, humidity and ragweed.
There is a lot more talk of “nearly losing it”, a lot more people mouthing,” I am dying”.
Everyone is leaving large pools of sweat at each station.
I had decided I was losing ground.
From my own internal vantage, the pace of measurable improvement seemed to have slowed to a crawl but I finally decided it is just harder to measure ones self against so many new “pack” members.
Each brings a different level of performance and endurance.
Each brings a set of internal goals different from ones previously formulated for self.
Even my own goals seem to be working against me.
I had planned to wield the 100’s by January.
I had planned to do twenty five chin ups by January.
I have finally decided to be happy where I am and just hope by the New Year to do the eighties with relative ease.
The 100’s will have to wait.
The twenty five chin ups will also have to wait.
In January another year will slide away so I do have some urgency in my plans but at the very least, I should be satisfied as I am still able to “play” every day in spite of the continuous change.
One would think though, being surrounded “buy” this sea of change, I could at least afford some new wraps.
One should strive to look their best when meeting a "cheerleader".

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Here’s One For The G-Man

The G-man stopped by the office the other day.
“I am not going to read your Blog anymore”, he stated matter-of-factly.
“All you write about is exercise”.
“Where is the stuff you used to write about?”
I suggested that I write about exercise because the Blog is kind of devoted to exercise.
"I don't care", he said, "give us something similar to your past efforts".
So here it is G-man, a piece that seems appropriate at this time, especially in view of the Farmer’s Almanac calling for an early Fall and a “frigid” winter

I smelled Fall
As a yellow leaf
To the ground
Just in the periphery
The marrow
For just a second
But then
The heat reclaimed
My thoughts

It is true.
Fall is waiting around the corner.
I had just commented to a friend a few days ago that there were signs of an early fall and I was surprised I had not yet smelled it or felt the chill in the marrow.
It doesn’t last long.
It is like the whisper of a “lover” having just passed away and exiting the room with the hushed “goodbye”.
You have to be waiting to hear it or feel it or you will completely miss it and wake up one day wondering where the sweet corn and peaches have gone or be surprised when your “lover” no longer makes coffee.
Now I know they are soon to be gone.
I have smelled the fall.
As I drove home down highway 135 through Amish country I was struck by the beauty of the approaching evening and the fields that had already been harvested the, carts filled with melons and the Honey Vendors along the road.
It is so easy to forget the trials of the world on drives like that.
I even considered parking the car in the deep weeds and staying forever.

But then I remembered, it was Tuesday night and Boot Camp was waiting.