One eye cracks open. It appears to be dawn. Coulda sworn I just went to sleep. The eye closes again. I hear coffee getting started in the kitchen. I might have a chance at verticalness if only I can get both eyes open and move some part of my body. Not happening. Breathe and try again, I tell myself.
The same eye reopens. Both eyes attempt focus, fail. Need glasses, grope for glasses, find them. Odds are against me being able to get arms and legs going; they are arguing hard against the idea. They know deep in their bones what is ahead of me. That is, day four of a new semester of competitive swim workouts at the local community college, and I am far from being fit. Very far.
You'd think the idea of jumping into a pool early in the morning would put me off, but no. Somewhere inside of me is a kernel of determination. The difficulty lies in the summoning of energy, and trying to find enough of it in order to move from lying to standing. It seems like a ridiculously huge task. Oh my, am I sore and stiff. It feels like I have to reach out all over the bed, gather up energy that leaked out of me during my sleep and stuff it back into my body so I can move again. Like the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz groping around for his straw after the flying monkeys tore him to bits.
I get myself to stand up out of bed. It feels like a monumental achievement, standing up. Before standing, I have to convince myself that it's going to be a better idea to heave up out of bed than it is to lie sprawled and comfortable, horizontal to the world. This takes some real negotiation. The deal is that if I will move really slowly now in exchange for a nap later, I can remain standing and get on with what's next. Odd parts of my legs, shoulders and arms are popping, making funny little noises. I am Rice Crispies in human form. Just add milk? Coffee will be better.
I restarted swimming this week and have been working out harder than I have for a long time. As a result, muscles and joints are saying no when my mind says go. The wags say misery loves company, and I take solace in that. At the pool, I find satisfaction in hearing about my friends' sore muscles and tired bodies. At least it's not just me feeling tired and shot. Knowing that they'll be at the pool again today helps. We'll suffer together and exclaim about traffic getting to the pool, the cold weather, our knotted and tired muscles.
The theory is that you get in better shape when you work out regularly. Experience tells me it's going to be about three weeks before I feel human again. Experience is a good thing, but you really ought to learn from it right from the start. I knew that taking off a few weeks in May was going to cost me in lost fitness, aches and pains when I started back up again. I'm about as trashed as I've ever been. The coach is relentless, murderous, sick. She laughs at our struggling bodies floundering in the pool every day, doles out no pity whatsoever.
The coffee is a pleasure to sip. I kind of stare at the morning paper, read and reread a couple of paragraphs five times, instantly forgetting what I've just read. A little bit of granola; I'm trying to be good and not think about Pavel's cinnamon rolls, which on a good day I can smell from my front porch when I go outside in the morning. I feel my body sagging in the chair, hoping to return to bed, beginning to whimper, but I also feel my memory stirring up images of being fit and capable.
My gym bag is waiting for me by the door and the clock is saying go swim, go swim, go swim. All right, all right, I'll go, my mind is made up. It's more important to me to go than to stay, so I go.
Tomorrow, day five. I can do this. I just need a massage really badly. Owww.
Causes Christine Bottaro Supports
The Nature Conservancy, California State Parks, The United Way