Friday, November 28, 2014

Rowing On "The Endless River"

Even with a bad knee I felt like I could have done a hell of a lot better in my last 5K. But my schedule has sucked lately and…no more excuses. I’m back hitting the treadmill every other day, at least, and I have missed it. To cut down on the amount of knee stress I’ve been trying out the rowing machine. I think I have found something I can wear out.

This is a bad time to be in a gym. There are three times a year you really do not want to join a gym and this is one of them. Thanksgiving and the holidays cause people to think they want to work out but they’re too busy to even so much as think about it. They’ll show up a few times, punt, and then come back in January, when is the second worst time to join a gym. January brings those people who have just made a Resolution to get in better shape. Women are bad about pairing at this time, and you’ll see two determined looking females side by side, not hurting their treadmills at all, but they’ll be too sore to walk the next day and never return.

But just about the first of May is the very worst of times. Bikini bodies that will never be arrive and desperately attempt to find that magic solution to a year of sloth. Men and women alike have visions of being tanned and toned while all the while eating the same stuff that got them where they are today. All the running and weight lifting in the world cannot solve a bad diet.

I promised myself I would not go out on Black Friday but I really felt like some exercise this morning. The path to the gym leads directly past The Maul and right by Mal-Wart. The parking lot of Mal-Wart was jammed to the gills but traffic was not as bad as I feared. The Maul was brimming with the cars and trucks of people who, on their best days, cannot navigate traffic but I had one right turn to make to get into the parking lot of the gym. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I had feared and the gym was nearly empty.

Whether it was a satellite radio thing or maybe it was someone’s playlist, but they played about five Michael Jackson songs in a row. I always wondered if he listened to his own music when he was molesting children. What sort of soundtrack does a monster have? I have Pink Floyd. I turn it up as loud as my ears can handled it and I row.

My sister and I had a conversation about the people in my hometown getting out and walking. They’ll walk around the courthouse square in the afternoons before hitting the fast food places for dinner. She knows people who walk a quarter, maybe even half a mile a week and they are mystified that they still can’t fit into the clothes they wore last month. They come in and complain to her that they are still sore after walking and they’ve been doing it, off and on, for nearly a month.
Rowing is mindless exercise. It requires a repeated effort and very little else. I set the machine for 10,000 meters, or about six point two miles. Row, listen to Pink Floyd, row, think about writing, row, think about writing, row, listen to Pink Floyd, holy mother of Nick Mason, just how much does that guy weigh? He’s a giant. Not tall or merely big, but he’s pushing four hundred pounds if he’s got an ounce on him. He looks desperate. He looks like he’s been given a death sentence and maybe he has. He’s doing weights and not much of them. If he’s new he’s smart; never overdo it the first time in. Work your way up. He keeps look at me as if he would really like to try rowing. There’s no way he can run carrying that much mass. His knees would die.

Row. I can feel the muscles in my arms and shoulders beginning their protest. My legs are also beginning to feel as if they’ve been worked. That isn’t enough if I want to run a 5K in a time that will really make me feel good. I have to sweat. I have to push myself into a state of near exhaustion. This has to hurt to feel good. Row. More Pink Floyd. Row. A woman I knew a long time ago works here now. She looks really unhappy. I think she is a lot like a cat; she isn’t ever truly happy when there are strange people around, but cats don’t need jobs as long as they have slaves.

The man with too much weight is sitting on a machine and checking his stats with one of those watches that give you a variety of things to think about; heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugar, and grandmother’s blood type. He looks worried every time he checks it. I wonder if that’s part of what drives him, like my time in a 5K, the numbers on the watch? Row. He pulls a tiny notebook out and looks over a list of some sort. He then wanders off to check something off the list. Row.

I hit 10,000 meters in just over fifty-four minutes. If I was running I would be impressed, but no so much on a row. I need to walk for a while now, to get my muscles loosened up, and sure enough, Mass Man comes over and wants to learn how to row. He also wants to explain himself. His doctor says work out, eat right, or die. Rowing was suggested. It’s easy but it does take some coordination to get it right. He tries too hard, goes too fast, but settles down after a few minutes. Row. I tell him to get some Pink Floyd and he looks askance at me. Okay, maybe not.

I walk with some incline for another half hour. Mass Man is on a mission. Maybe he’ll stick with it, maybe he won’t, but I’m here for the long haul. I’ll see if he is.

Take Care,


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