Thursday, January 14, 2010

Bend and Break

A few weeks ago, I was at the Roseville gym, dutifully doing my plank exercises on G. the Trainer's orders. I was to try for one whole minute of balancing on my elbows and toes, something I was still struggling with. Thirty seconds is doable; sixty is pushing it.

Quite by chance, my iPod playlist turned to "Bend and Break" (link embedded, give it a listen, as it's a great tune!) just as I pushed myself off the ground and into the dreaded plank position. I giggled quietly to myself (so as not to scare my fellow gym rats) because the first line of the chorus so cleverly summed up my own thoughts as I struggled to hold the plank: "If only I don't bend and break..."

Since then, whenever I've had to start an exercise I'm not particularly fond of, I play "Bend and Break" and smile to myself. It's come a little bit of a workout theme song for me.

This week, obviously, I have hit a hurdle in my training regime. Running is not coming easily to me, but I know that I have to do it if I want to be successful in losing weight. But God, it's so painful!

After Monday's adventure with G. the Meanie, I dutifully showed up at the gym on Tuesday to do another mile-and-a-half. There were no treadmills, so I ended up on the stairclimber. But Wednesday, there was no putting it off: I had to get on the treadmill and give it a go. Minimum speed: 4.0 miles per hour.

I tuned my iPod to "Bend and Break" and got going. G. was working with another client, and I'm still wondering how I wasn't able to burn holes in his back with my patented Teacher Death Glare (renamed, for the occasion, the Disgruntled Runner's Death Glare).

It wasn't pleasant, and it was not pretty, either. I gasped, I choked. Sweat ran in rivers down my face, neck, back and arms. But I made it that entire mile-and-a-half, with minimal holding on to the bar (a no-no).

My legs were screaming. My whole body was complaining. I wanted to cry. And worst of all, the tickle that had started in my throat earlier in the day was rapidly progressing into "uh-oh" territory. Turns out I can't avoid getting a cold this winter.

I wanted, desperately, to go home, but I had my assignment. I climbed on board the Stairmaster and did 20 minutes. Over the last few weeks, this machine has become easier for me. Not without pain, mind you, but normally I'm not hanging on for dear life and struggling not to fall off the damned thing.

I made it my full time and wearily plodded back to the women's locker room to retrieve my bag. As I left a few minutes later, a voice came from a nearby weight machine.

"Hey, Megan! What'd you do today?"

I swear this guy has a radar. He can find his clients in a crowded gym. Then he checks up on them.

I gave him the details, followed by a whiny (I admit it!), "I think I'm getting a cold."

"Work through it."


"Seriously, you have to work through it. What's happening is that your body is working really hard to recover from Monday's run, and it compromises your immune system." He suggested a multivitamin and an anti-oxidant.

Today, I stayed home from work, because my throat was still irritated, and I was coughing this morning. A day on the couch made me feel marginally better, and I had an appointment with G. today. Not wanting to lose the hour I've already paid for, I strapped on my fancy cardio shoes and walked to the gym. By the time I got there, I felt a little bit winded--just from walking! This did not bode well.

After some stretching, I jumped on a treadmill and got going. A mile-and-a-half. Put on "Bend and Break." You can do this! You are fabulous! You are a runner!

You are so deluding yourself.

I made it one mile. It was incredibly difficult, but I made it that one mile. My legs hurt, my breath was labored. I was near tears from frustration and a sudden, irrational anger at G. He's pushing me too hard! I'm not ready for this!

Into the locker room I went, telling myself, "I gotta pee." That would be my excuse when G. asked, "Why only a mile today?!" at our appointment. I locked myself in a stall and immediately the tears started leaking out of my eyes.

I hate crying in public. HATE IT. I can't stand that vulnerability, that public display of my anxiety and inability to handle stress.

But then the most amazing thing happened. From somewhere, deep inside, Hot Girl came up screaming. Quitting just isn't allowed, according to Hot Girl. There was half a mile to go, and by God, Fat Girl was going to get off her lazy butt, dry her eyes, put on her big girl panties, and deal with it!

As I walked back out into the gym, I felt calm. I got back on the treadmill and started going. Half a mile isn't that much. I started off at a confident trot. It lasted about two minutes. I slowed. I gasped. I grabbed the bar, then quickly let go. Sweat dripped. My legs begged for mercy. Fat Girl eyed the STOP button, but Hot Girl swatted her hand away and said a resounding, "NO!"

I reached four-tenths of a mile--only one-tenth to go. I was so very tired, but instead of quitting, I did something amazing.

I sped up.

Running at 4.3 miles per hour, I pushed myself that last tenth.

With the chorus of "Bend and Break" playing on a loop in my head, I crossed the finish line in a blaze of...if not glory, at least pride.

Tomorrow, I'll run again. It will hurt. I will hate every minute of it. But I will do it. And someday, I'll leap over this hurdle for the last time.

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