So last week the sidewalks reappeared. This coincided with my annual post-Valentine’s Day waistband tummy dig alert. (Elbow chocolates — look ’em up.) It was time to go outside and put on some self-propelled mileage.
I walked. And as I walked, I hopscotched around melting snow-dirt mounds along with my own excuses. I took inventory of the old exercise “routine.” It pretty much freezes up in the winter. Been that way for a few years, and it may remain so. Odd, because the first time both of my sons were in school full-time, I became the Diane Nyad of slicing through the elements, no matter what. I was determined. I was fearless. I was stupid.
That last part, that’s what I tell myself now. Who wants to slip on ice patches and break bones or twist body parts?
Here’s the deal: What works for me is outdoor stuff. Walking or running. That’s it. I don’t gravitate to indoor “equipment.” I consider these things the kinetic sculptures of future garage sales. I do well through spring, summer, fall and early winter, but once the super cold and/or slippery surfaces stick around for more than a week, I’m off the wagon. My muscles go on sabbatical. Simple as that.
I could be an enthusiastic trooper and pounce on the many winter days that go above 20 degrees, as I used to, but now I ignore every opportunity. When I’m driving around and I see people out there all geared up and braving the blowing stuff of Robert Frost poems, I think, “Yeah, well.” I block out how I used to be not very long ago. I change the radio station, and the topic in my head. “Oh, look, they built a new QuikTrip!”
My husband doesn’t help matters. He’s a die-hard running machine. Remember earlier this month when it was dangerous, snowy, zero, icy, bitter? You know, the state-of-emergency days? He was out there, running. What a cyborg.
I’m sure, somewhere, there’s a government satellite photo of that week. It’s filed as the “Kansas City Metropolitan Area/February.” The image shows endless frozen tundra with empty, snow-packed roads on both sides of the state line. But zoom in and there’s just one human dot on an otherwise deserted grid of glacial streets. That dot is my better half, in his moisture-wicking high-tech gear, most likely grinning beneath his frozen eyebrow-burg. Indeed, that’s him in the NASA photo, gracefully crystal-hydroplaning at a disgustingly fast pace.
I’m at the age where I’m starting to say, “I’m at the age.” I’ve convinced myself I can’t do what my literal NordicTrack husband does, even though he’s a smidge older than I am. He’s what you call a natural athlete, immune to things like weather. I, on the other hand, am a natural disaster. I can hurt myself even on a summer morning if a nearby butterfly flaps its wings. For instance, the nail I lost last August due to an over-zealous running binge is not completely grown in. My left big toe looks like Bryan Cranston in
“Breaking Bad.” Rough, bald and stressed.
So it seems my new cutoff for outdoor exercise is 50 degrees, and maybe these “warmer” days will be upon us with more frequency. Gotta get with the program, because already that box of artisanal chocolates is more than half-empty.
At least I’ve been doing something with gusto.