“And you, you’ve got this wild-eyed gaze, and a smile that you’ll carry through your days.” – Vance Joy
Sundays used to start in restless sloth and regrets. Now I set my alarm, like five other days each week, and am usually awake before it rings. In the car by quarter to seven, on the track, going in circles, by just after seven. then, after some warm up, pounding up the stadium stairs and gliding back down; going around, in a circuit — a new orbit, so much stronger, less eccentric, but also so far from the common circular track through this life. Doing the less common things; these are things to be proud of.
Now, nearer the solstice, all of that, still in the dark.
Still in the dark, but so clearly, finally, having seen the light.
I started this new Sunday routine just after the high heat — I can’t recall exactly when or what prompted it; perhaps a life-long assumption that this was the kind of thing that only the truly nuts choose to do. Probably a final tumbler turned a month or so before, seeing those two guys in San Diego doing this same thing, but in the peak of summer, in the middle of the heat of the day. That seemed needlessly punishing; those flights much taller and more intense than mine here. “But still, Scott — maybe needlessly punishing is the whole goddamn point?”, the baby fresh new Inner Voice whispered. Like: as long as you’re not hurting yourself, why not see what this rebuilt machine (and salvaged heart) can really do?
First time was five circuits, I think, and felt like a little too close to death. But I’ll be fucking damned if I’m not starting to like — just a wee, tiny bit — that chest-exploding, hot blood, pulse-pounding feeling of pegging the conditioning meter at the top of it’s capacity for a minute. Spoiler alert: the pain only lasts for a moment, and there’s always recovery later, and the + to confidence and self-belief is worth it, almost every time.
Why did I always see that as damage, before now?
Then, as the year started to cool, I went to ten, then pretty quickly to twenty. Now I think I could do more, but with a restful lap after every set of five, that gets pretty close to an hour, which is a good time. Then, off to Starbucks for the best soy latte you have ever had (and me) — because nothing closes out a workout more thrillingly than a blast of hot caffeine and a Powerbar. (Yes, mom, I drink a lot of water first.) After a sit to marinate in yet another challenge unlocked and batch of hard-won experience points banked, I get cocoa and coffee for the family, and head back to the ranch. Then the rest of the day begins, in a completely, wonderfully different place that it used to. No matter what, later in the long stretch of the languishing finale to the week, I did and had this. And nothing — not a single thing — in the upcoming week will be as hard and clearly conquered as lap seventeen up those stairs. Nothing. So not just experience gained, and muscle twined into core and thighs and calves and feet, but the difficulty slider recalibrated, just a skosh, in the good direction.
Yeah. Yeah yeah yeah.
Here’s the super fun part: one week, maybe a month into this new routine, standing in full workout regalia — not embarrassing when you’ve just sweated through three layers of clothing; more like Fuck You If You Think This Isn’t Awesome — I ran into my friend S. Who, it ends up, was not just a high school cheerleader but also played rugby in college. I jokingly invited her to join me, and completely unguessable by me, when I started this new habit, now I’ve got a partner in crime. Which makes all the difference, because I also get to run my mouth when I’m not hauling my ass up those steps, with someone I’ve been working hard to create more time for anyways. Connections, MM — it’s all about connections.
So now that Winter Is Here, we’re calculating just how cold is too cold, and just how dark is too dark, to indulge in this perhaps-excessively motivating excuse to get up and out on a Sunday. Alternate plans may need to fire up, in the depths of February. Then again… this all seemed fucking crazy in August and here we are.
This post was originally called “Exercise”, but that’s dull and I can write about the other four weekly workouts, when the routine holds, another time. More important is Sundays; pattern breaking, re-patterning, smashing the hell out of the mental machinery of my provisional life, one step at a time.
It’s Sunday morning. 5:07. Full moon minus one. I can’t wait to get out there.
“And the things that I thought would last, oh they’re fading, they’re fading. And the feelings I used to have, they’re changing, they’re changing now.”