The Seeker

A Meta-Cognitive Journal About Writing… Plus Other Stuff

Still At It – pt. 2

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This all went down three weeks ago.  They did another EKG on me, then had me get on the treadmill with about 8 different wires stuck to my chest, along with a strap velcroed around my torso that kept all the wires attached and another monitoring device attached to me.  They wanted to max me out at my target heart rate (22o beats per minutes, minus my age, times 70%–for me, that meant 152 beats per minute).  The doctor said the test would take anywhere from nine to twenty minutes, probably closer to nine, and her assistant pushed “start.”  It was easy enough at the beginning; we passed time talking about what books we like to read, and what the doctor can do about her middle school-aged son who refuses to read.

They cranked the speed up a little bit until I was walking quickly, and our conversation continued.  We were at 10 minutes, and I was still in the 110s.  They increased the incline on the treadmill and said I could run if I needed to.  I began to jog, and we started to talk about college football.  They gave me a towel when I started to sweat.  I commented that I was glad I had brought my running shoes and a pair of running shorts.  The clock ticked past 13 minutes, and I was still in the 120s.  They cranked the treadmill up to a 20 degree incline.  I stopped talking and focused on breathing.  Pretty soon, it was all I could do to keep up. I was at the 14 minute mark and wheezing.  The doctor asked if I could go another minute, and I said I had thirty seconds in me maximum, and wasn’t even sure I could last that much longer.

She shut down the treadmill, and I jumped off before I fell off.  Normally, I’d grab some water and pace around at this point until I caught my breath, and even bend at the waste with my hands on my knees. Not this time–they made me lie down on a table immediately so they could take more measurements.  I thought I was going to freak out.  My heart was pounding out of my chest, sweat was gushing out of me, and I couldn’t catch my breath.  Add to that the constriction I felt from the velcroed strap and sundry devices, and I thought I was in full anxiety-attack mode.  I wanted to jump off the table and rip everything off, and fought the temptation to do so for what felt like several minutes.  The readings they were getting were crucial, though, and since I didn’t want to screw things up, all I could do was endure.

Things settled down eventually, and I was allowed to sit up on the exam table.  They handed me another towel, unstrapped and unstuck everything, and told me that in a few minutes I could look at the results.  I finally stood up and paced the room a little bit to work off the lingering feeling of panic.

When I sat back down, we looked at the results.  The first thing the doctor said was that she didn’t need to look at the results too closely (though she would) because lasting 14:30 told her about 95% of what we needed to know.  Regardless, I got a quick education on what a healthy, strong, happy heart looks like when it’s under a lot of stress.

So I can rest at ease with my heart.  I worked harder on that treadmill than I do during a race, though it would be easy enough to use some monitoring device when I run so I can keep track of my heart rate.  That, in turn, means I could probably run harder and faster and beat more people and win a few more age-division awards.  Sounds like I’d love that, huh?  But I won’t do it.  I prefer to run more by feel.  I prefer to take in the natural environment while I’m at it.  I don’t listen to music, and don’t want to hear the beep of a watch while I’m running.  I run as hard as I feel like, and if that means I run hard and try to outdo myself, then that’s what happens.

But that doesn’t happen all the time.  I few weeks ago I ran into my school’s librarian at a race, and decided to run with her.  I have no idea what our time was, and didn’t care.  I knew it was a lot slower than I usually run, but so what?  She’s an emerging runner, and I decided that I would run with her and provide some moral support.  She was thankful afterward, and I felt pretty good about just running along at a relaxed pace with no particular designs to beat a time or any people around me.  I also discovered that if I ran at that particular pace more often, I could probably run 10Ks instead of exclusively 5Ks.

The race last Thursday was pretty much a return to the scene of the crime from 2007 when I hurt my Achilles.  Same course, same day, similar weather conditions.  I tried not to think about it too much, and knew there would be no repeat of the episode because that mindset and that physical condition are far behind me.  I showed up, warmed up, stretched, and took off at the gun.  I felt great throughout the race, and when I made the final turn, I just kept at it.  A young guy who is on the Carthage College football team passed me, as did a few shirtless clowns from the local high school cross country team, but I didn’t do much about it.  I was already working at a pretty brisk pace, and knew with a half-mile left that I didn’t have enough left in me to reel in everybody.  Besides, I knew I’d be better off waiting until the quarter-mile mark if I wanted to leave anybody in my dust.  By that point, though, there was nobody near me.

I coasted through the finish line, gangstered as much water and as many bananas as I could, and went home.  I hope I’m writing the same thing next year at this time.


Written by seeker70

December 1, 2011 at 7:33 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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