Sunday, December 30, 2012

Oh My Aching Back!

Dec. 30, 2012

Today I'm 193 pounds of rolling thunder.

Actually, today I was more like 193 pounds of aching, limping thunder.

About two or three times a year I feel a twinge, and then the gremlins inside my lower back reach up and remind me that I'm not immortal. Not that I need such a painful reminder, I think those little guys just enjoy watching me do the old-man walk and listen to me groan when I twist the wrong way.

I've always admired those athletes that can put their mind in a place that pain doesn't matter. They seem to have a super-human tolerance for pain, and most of them do so by taking their mind to a special place where the desire to achieve eliminates the feeling of pain.

Me, I feel the pain. There's no masking when I'm at my physical limit. I generally have to shut down the engine, or at least dial it back a gear or two.

Now there have been times I've muscled through some difficult times out on the road on my bike, but they're nothing compared to what it takes to climb Alps or push the big gear at 35 mph. That's just a place I can't go.

But I also have a little voice in my head that seldom lets me skip a day of some sort of physical activity. It's the one that pokes you when you're driving around and you see bikers or runners out on the street, and you feel that pang of guilt since you haven't worked out.

So when I saw the sun shining this morning, I set my back pain aside and went for a run. My little voice was winning. My body, which probably would have benefited from a day off, pushed ahead fearing that snow or cold might curtail any further outdoor runs for the near future.

I started at a walk -- a little-old-man in a jogging suit walk. Then I tested the twinges with a little jog. Finally I set out on the familiar climb that normally serves as the beginning of my daily run.

While I knew my back would squawk, I totally underestimated the weather. It had been relatively warm when I stuck my head out hours earlier, but since then the wind had kicked up, and the sun had ducked behind the clouds.

So it was more the cold than the back that discouraged a longer run. While I never really caught my stride, I was glad to get out on the road and pound out some miles. 

Now with the help of an ice pack and some pain killers I'll limp through the evening with a chance to hear that little voice inside my head again tomorrow. 

Who knows which one will win this time?


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