Thursday, March 15, 2007

Just ... can't

Date: March 15
Mileage: 8.2
March mileage: 14.4
Temperature upon departure: 32
When I was 17, I wrote an editorial for my high school newspaper that I was really proud of at the time. It was our special "fitness" issue, full of exercise tips, nutritious recipes and columns about working out. And right in the middle of all that was my article, arguing - essentially - that exercising for the sake of exercising was asinine.

"We have classes to walk to and friends to visit and pickup volleyball games to join and punk shows to dance at, and you want me to wake up at 5 a.m. and go jogging? No thanks," I wrote. My point: Life was an exercise, and "exercising" was just a redundant waste of time.

I think of that article from time to time when I wonder how 17-year-old Jill would regard the fitness freak she's become. She had that idealistic slant that convinced her she would actually be able to spend her life in pursuit of intellectual and cultural enlightenment. The way she saw it, her body was basically just a vessel to carry her to the desert, the library, the basement of club DV8 ... anywhere that appealed to her academic sensibilities. I think she may have actually convinced herself that how she looked was not all that important ... good to be healthy, better to be smart. She also had a bit of a freewheeling hippy streak and listened to a lot of Phish at the time. One lyric that she scrawled across her notebook was, "Never understood what my body was for. That's why I always leave it layin' out on the floor."

I don't miss her music. But sometimes, I do miss her.

Another Thursday down, another attempt to ride the bike. New, soft snow required the use of Snaux bike, so I didn't have the pedal cages to lean on. But I decided that I was going to double pedal it today, or not at all. It became obvious pretty quickly that I just ... can't. But I wanted to. I can be so stubborn. I know it's detrimental. I can't help myself. But four miles was too far. I knew it before I even turned around. I already had some errant tears and an unwilling leg. I don't have an explanation. I don't have an excuse. I just have a reality. A physical hurdle that my mind can't beat. Or vice versa.

I spun a little and walked a little on the way home. The whole thing was a terrible idea. I was stiffening up again. Pain was increasing. I was regressing further with every mile. I was so angry ... mostly at my body, but with each step -as common sense settled back in - a little more at myself.

17-year-old Jill would be so ashamed ... Letting a small injury ruin an entire month, when it was obvious that it was just a minor setback that was taking a normal amount of time to heal (or would take a normal amount of time to heal if I gave in for a while.) Becoming so despondent over a stupid thing like a bike, when so many other pieces of life are so much more meaningful. "Limping down North Douglas Highway in a snowstorm just to prove your self worth?" she'd write in her editorial. "No thanks."

And I'm ashamed, too. When I was young and quick to rebound, I had little use for strong legs and high lung capacity. But now that I'm older and rickety, I'd gladly give up a few IQ points just to have two good knees right now. A larger part of me wonders why that's so ...