One of the things that helped me through my recent cataract surgery was the thought of jumping out of a swimming pool and onto a bike, with no need to worry about the implications for my contact lenses. Climb out of a pool, able to see? Haven’t been able to do that since I was in single digits.
This post’s headline probably gives you a clue as to why I might want to leap from pool to bike: yep, I’m registered for a couple of 2012 Ramblin’ Rose triathlons. These are (relatively) little bitty triathlons: 225 yard swim, 9 mile ride and 2 mile run. I figured it was a good challenge to the running base I’ve built up, and that the cross-training could only do me good. I think I can handle the level of effort; my biggest questions — now that I know I’ll be able to see — have been what am I supposed to wear and how do I get from pool to bike to run? (Earthshaking concerns, I know.)
And then, in the last couple of weeks, something went “ouch” in my right shoulder; turns out I’ve torn something up a bit (SLAP tear, for those of you keeping track at home) and training is going to look more like rehab for a little while. But that’s okay. After a week of ice and ibuprofen, I went for a short run and it worked. So have several short runs since then.
So, yesterday I went for a bike ride and then a run; I meant to do an 8 mile ride and a two mile run, but it ended up being closer to a ten mile ride and a two mile run. Triathletes call this kind of dual workout a “brick” workout. I’m not sure of the origin of the term — maybe it has to do with stacking one workout onto another — although I can tell you that in my case it’s an apt term, because my legs felt like bricks when I tried to go from riding to running.
The transition was — shall we say — a little rough. My lower extremties did not take kindly to going from pushing around in circles to weight-bearing locomotion. It was more loco than motion for a while there. My ankles felt loose, my quads felt tired and worn out, and my calves were like “You want me to what?”
The first ten steps felt like a really big mistake. It wasn’t really conscious thought that kept me going — more just stubborness and “I said I was going to do this … I’m just going to try. It’s an experiment. See what happens. Keep going a little bit more and see if things loosen up and get going.”
So, I did keep going. It helped that I was on a very familiar stretch of road, and that my sweetheart was in the neighborhood with our pickup in case I bonked. I ran the stretch I meant to, a two mile segment of a run I do fairly often, that I think of as one of my “short runs.” (The two short routes out and back from my house are 3.4 and 3.6 miles respectively.)
After the first half mile or so, my body did ease into a more relaxed running rhythm; my energy level was still on the low side, but instead of feeling like a bucket of bolts rattling around, I felt more like I do in the latter stages of a long run: loose, calm, rangy. When I got to my planned stopping point, it was a good feeling to know I could have kept going.
I just want to stop here and say, “Wow. Bodies are amazing.”
I don’t know what will happen when I try to swim. It’s not time for that yet. I haven’t been okayed by my eye surgeon to get in a pool, and I haven’t done more than stretching exercises for my shoulder yet, although it is responding by getting more limber. I may not be able to swim; I may not be able to tri. That’s okay. I will try.
The thing I got hold of in yesterday’s brick workout was this: part of why we don’t like change is because the transition itself is rough. Going from what we are already good at — or that we are used to doing — to something that uses different talents, skills, and muscles is hard. We don’t like it. What we forget is that transitions are temporary. That particular pain won’t last always.
If, like me, you’re going through a rough transition, take a note from Rodney Atkins: if you’re going through hell, keep on going.*
… the good news
Is there’s angels everywhere out on the street
Holding out a hand to pull you back up on your feet
The one’s that you’ve been dragging for so long
You’re on your knees
You might as well be praying
Guess what I’m saying
If you’re going through hell
Keep on going, don’t slow down
If you’re scared don’t show it
You might get out
Before the devil even knows you’re there …
Fact is, I’m more clear on what I’m transitioning from than what I’m transitioning to, and even less clear on how I’m transitioning. So, I’m setting the goals I can, working my tail off on what’s in front of me, and taking every encouragement that comes my way, whether from creaky muscles that learn or from friends who tell me how lucky my students are to have me or from memories of times I knew all the steps by heart … or from the steady love of a God who may let me fall, but will never leave me stranded by the side of the road.
This is a brick, right here. And I’m getting through it. Thanks be to God.
* PS: I like that — in the video — Rodney’s roadside angel arrives in a pick-up truck, back end already full of his friends … I also like remembering all the times I’ve danced to this song. Thank you, to all of you in the back of the truck with me, and thank you, my Driver. Y’all know who you are. Thank you.