What does the world cost? Oh well, then we'll just take a small coke.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Lunging Toward Disability

I run track. That’s a simple way of saying I submit my body and soul to inhuman torture at the hands of a known narcissist for two and a half hours on a daily basis. It’s a summary of years spent sprinting round and round a quarter mile of rubberized asphalt trying to beat the clock and the poor souls who are cursed to join me.

But it’s also an endorphin induced activity that pushes back the barriers of reality and lends me a meta-nirvana on a daily basis. It’s Eric Liddle, Roger Bannister and Michael Johnson feeling “His” pleasure and slicing the wind on “our” own two feet.

But enough of my fecund teenybopper Hemmingway imitations.

My elevated view of track was surviving well until the glamor and excitement were rubbed off during yesterday's practice, when the macabre reality of our activity set in with the force of Marv’s fist.

In case you forgot, the weather was terrible, rainy, windy and altogether obnoxious, but our former Navy Seal head coach who claims to once have done push-ups on the ocean floor was undeterred by the meteorology.

After stretching (drenched, shivering and just starting to become sour), coach measured a distance of half a football field, 50 meters, and instructed us, his ignorant but loyal minions, to lunge the distance ten times while carrying a 35 pound weight on our shoulders.

For those of you blissfully unaware of the “lunge,” it simply a large step that pushes the knee almost to the ground before repeating the stride.

Using Al Gore’s internet, I was able to locate the following picture of a lunge which might serve to illustrate the activity:

The only difference between the young woman above and what we were doing is that we left our ballet tutus and exotic headpieces in the locker room.

By the first lap through the lunge pattern, my legs were shaking like an electronic cake batter mixer. One of the coaches, a young, sympathetic man who never served in the military, would shout encouraging slogans at us as we gyrated through the movement.

“Go! Yeah! Keep it up! Don’t stop now! Yeah! Who's the man here?” I thought I was on hands and knees doing a Dead Man’s Crawl in Facing the Giants. Maybe I was...

By the time the last step was completed, my entire body was moving involuntarily. I collapsed on the track and watched as my legs kicked to and fro periodically, seemingly without design. It would have been funny if it hadn't been so painful.

I tried to stand up, but fell hard and the texture of the track left an imprint on my nose.

Judging from the sighs and groans from my team mates, the practice ought to have been over at that moment. We could hardly crawl, much less run, and any more practice, it seemed to us, would bear little fruit toward the goal of running fast.

Our coach had a different idea. “All right! I want an 'easy' mile at 90 second lap pace. Let’s go, go, go,” he said to a chorus of groans.

90 second lap pace is a six minute mile, a feat accomplished with relative ease by us collegiate runners, but, in our current state of physical delinquency, it seemed out of the question. A mile is, by anyone's standard, a long way to go unaided by modern transit equipment. But with the rain and our terribly rended muscles, it seemed like forever.

But we moved, slowly at first and then faster, putting one foot in front of sore foot, somehow going, as a team, as we had been instructed.

As we ran, the coach shouted racing epithets at us: “You guys are running as if you just got off a horse!” “You guys are running like shot putters.” “You guys are running like Nancy Pelosi!”

We ended up going an additional three miles; each step, a nail in our collective rears which still screamed from our lunges. When we were finished, the workout was over and we left the coach and his narcissism behind for another twenty one and half hours.

The story would have been painful enough if it ended here, but there’s more. I got up this morning and tried to lift my leg, only to discover that it wouldn’t go up. It barely budged with the effort. Like so many French employees, my muscles were on strike, refusing to obey even a normal command. I had to shuffle through my morning routine (shower, shave and shine, although I think I might have skipped the shower since the step was so high) and drove to school pushing the gas and brake pedals with my hands.

Practice today was carnage. Grown men were crying like pampered babies. Conditioned athletes, some of whom are capable of running competitive times at the state level, walked on to the track rubbing their hindquarters as a child might after a spanking.

We were disabled. A bunch of invalid runners without spirit, drive or knee lift. If the college had a wheelchair service for its athletes, we would undoubtedly be rolling instead of limping. We had lost our eudaimonia and couldn't get it back until the soreness left. Worse, we were ashamed of ourselves for being unable to handle a tough workout and hid our shame with violent complaints and requests for sympathy.

On the plus side, we won't be lunging again until next week; although that's a day I think I might skip...


Christopher Yerziklewski said...

What is FCN's official position on torture? You seem to really enjoy it between track, swimming, girlfriends, etc.

Anonymous said...

I thought half a football field was 50 yards, not meters.

Anonymous said...

They aren't very good at math...

Anonymous said...

They are runners, swimmers, and (in some cases) slackers - they don't need to be good at math. =)

I think I'll leave it behind said...

You poor children...I mean, guys...