Saturday, January 15, 2011

Spinning for Jesus

My running days are over. A recap: Back in September, right at the time when I was just starting grad school, I suddenly had excruciating pain in my right leg. Actually, there were about three kinds of excruciating pains, along with numbness and weakness in my right leg. To make matters worse, sometimes the pain took turns and sometimes they came all at once. The clincher came on about the third night in Harvard Square T stop where I had to hang onto the wall to walk a couple of steps, then stop because the pain was so intense. People steered around me, the look on their faces wondering what brand of urban crazy person I represented. Worse, some didn't even see me.

Then came a month of dealing with today's health care industry at Milton Hospital (quickie diagnosis said it was a slipped disk, cortisone shots were scheduled before an MRI, then an MRI was scheduled when I'm claustrophobic, then the inevitable CYA antics of the doctor who tried to blame me for being claustrophobic, medications were prescribed that didn't even touch the pain, making me live with it for a month, my personal physician had to step in and prescribe more meds so I could take the MRI.) The MRI showed that my disks are in beautiful condition, just like bricks stacked on top of one another with just the right amount of mortar in between. What I have is spinal stenosis, which I've had my entire life. It explains why I can only run a certain amount of miles then I'm bed-ridden. It explains why I never got  to run the Boston Marathon before my fiftieth birthday, because every time I trained I'd get up to running fifteen milers and my body would retaliate. I've been dealing with this my entire life, and as the doctors said I have a very high threshold of pain, so I just always dealt with it. I'm also very stubborn. Or stupid. Pick one.

Which is the reason why this morning I found myself in a spin class at the gym, spinning and pumping to music I'd never otherwise in my life listen to. Dum thumpa thumpa dum dum dum. Well, except the one Pearl Jam and the one Psychedelic Furs songs. It's all to get in shape for cycling this summer. And it's part of Sue's and my commitment to stay in shape as we grow old gracefully, and to stay active. We're both going to be very busy for the next couple of months, but we're determined not to let our health go. Maybe we're a bit vain, but it's more that we don't like to sit around around our keesters and it ain't easy staying in shape in New England when the temps are in the single digits like they were this morning.

When I was selling bikes at REI, I would groan when all the good suburban women from Framinghan, Wayland, Sudbury, and Weston would come in looking for biking shorts, shoes, and tops for their spin classes. Oh, and their gel seats. And now here I am. Sans gel seat, though.

After my first class, I can say a few things. First, it's not easy. There's were a few crazies in there, but I took it easy and did my own pace though, and got a heckuva workout. I've reached the point in my life where slow and steady makes me very happy.  But it's also not cycling. They're not called stationary bikes for nothing. They not only don't go forward, they don't go side to side like a bike does, nor do they flex. So it's kind of like ride a log. It took me about three-quarters of the class to figure this out, but by the end of the class I could sustain standing on the pedals for the whole time of the drill.

I feel great right now, but something tells me my quads are going to be screaming tomorrow. Still, there's plenty of time to heal for the next class Saturday. And the instructor promised me he'd play some stuff off American Idiot.

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