Haul This

It’s going to be hard to keep FitNotes up to date now that I’m working again. Last week, my first week on the job, showed me what an efficiency challenge it’s going to be to get to the gym at all, let alone four nights a week as I like to do. The bus from downtown is slow; biking home and jumping in the car is slow. I have a regular carpool set up on Fridays, when I can leave work at 4:30 and ride to the gym with my coworker/gym friend, who referred me to the job in the first place. I may have some chances to carpool from downtown with another gym acquaintance on some of the other nights. Getting to the gym is a major priority and I’ll do it one way or another. The struggle is going to be in aligning my desires with reality without stressing out too much. I need to keep my focus on ways to solve this problem and try not to either resent the job or judge myself as somehow defective if I chafe against the schedule.
Outside the time constraints caused by work, going to the gym, and my other big priority—yard work—I’ll do the best I can to at least log the more interesting workouts, such as today’s.
Tom and I biked to the gym and found a May Day workout posted on the white board: “It’s May Day. Have you hugged a boulder yet? Run to the public garden area; put a boulder on a sledge; drag the boulder to the flowerbed that needs to be edged with boulders. Do 30 push-ups. Get another boulder. Do as many rounds as possible in 30 minutes.” The gym is in a hangar in a huge park that used to be a naval base. Other areas and former Navy buildings in the park are used for things like beaches, kite-flying areas, offleash dog parks, a sculpture garden, a sailing school, a kayak rental, and a public garden called a P-Patch. Anyone can sign up for a plot in the P-Patch to grow edibles and flowers. I’m not sure how big the plots are, maybe 100 square feet, and there are lots of them. In the middle there’s a sundial and some benches; around the perimeter are a nursery area and a staging area for bulk-delivered materials like bark, compost, and boulders.
Our coach today, Thomas, is one of the gardeners, and he’s been working on getting the boulders moved up the hill to where they’re needed. The rocks were bigger than your head but smaller than your torso—maybe about the size of the human hips—and just about too heavy to lift any higher than the little lip of the sledges. The sledges were small pieces of plywood, edged with 2X4’s and with long loops of rope attached. The rope went around the hips and you towed the thing behind you, one plodding step at a time like an ox. We had to resist the urge to reach back and use the arms for added pulling power, because the legs are so much stronger and because we needed the arms for the push-ups in between boulder-hauls. Tom and I hauled five rocks each in the 30 minutes and did 30 push-ups on the grass after we dropped off each rock.
It was really fun to work outside, something I’d have been doing at home anyway (although I unfortunately don’t have any boulders at our house), and fun also to get the crazy looks from the few gardeners on the scene. The looks got even crazier when I said we pay by the month to do this kind of thing. Thomas gave us a bag of fresh herbs to take home in return for our help, so we felt like good P-Patch volunteers in spite of the fact that this was actually our gym workout.
After this craziness was over with, we biked to the north end of the park, on the lake shore, and rented kayaks spontaneously. It was such a beautiful day and I’m so glad we took advantage of the chance to rent kayaks in such a nice convenient spot—no fuss, no logistics required—choose your kayak, fill out a form, leave the shoulder bag in the shop, and carry the boats to the water. When the kayak shop guy asked us how we found out about the shop, we told him about the gym that’s close by and what we do there, and his eyes bugged out.
We paddled along the shoreline of the large park, and a bald eagle observed us from the top of a small cottonwood right over the water. I imagine he wanted to be low like that because of the murkiness of the water—but come to think of it, there weren’t many really tall trees around there. Tom has a great eye for spotting birds.
On the way home on our bikes, we stopped at a Thai restaurant for lunch. I definitely wasn’t presentable after all the sweaty activity, but we were hungry enough not to care.