This weekend I had to face the dark and scary truth: I was an amateur fencer. I wasn’t putting in extra practice anymore, I wasn’t building endurance, and I wasn’t getting better. Indeed, due to my special ability to not retain any skill which isn’t reinforced daily, I was getting worse. They say admitting the problem is the largest battle; that’s why I got up and said it out loud: “I am an amateur fencer, but I don’t have to just be that!” The two people across the table looked at me. The woman spoke, “We’re selling timeshare vacations.” They looked at each other and me again, “But we have a strict no drug policy.”
I needed drastic action, so I got up Monday morning, suited up and went for a run on the short course (the short course is 3.5 to 4 miles). My legs hurt, my lungs hurt, my body had flabby bits. I showered and worked the ping pong ball. Later that night at fencing, I was sad and angry. Waking up to how awful you’ve become, then trying to get better but realizing that what you did 8 hours ago isn’t really going to help you now isn’t pretty. I lined up my attacks, I tried my lunges, I worked on second targets and I missed everything. I gave into the ugly side.
When I was in school, they used to show films on how drugs were bad. Central to the film was the “teen high on LSD.” As the serious narrator said, “Angel Dust; destroyer of teen lives!” there would be scenes of a guy or girl screaming and flailing away while five or six police officers where being tossed around. Know that image? Put an epee in their hand and that was my ugly fencing on Monday. Frenzied stabbing is too kind, as it implies some sort of control. At one point I actually released my fencing grip and threw the epee the last four inches to hit William.
After practice I dumped my gear in self-disgust and immediately suited up for another run. And off I went, after 10:00 pm, my keys through my fingers for effective defensive stabbing. In retrospect, this last run might have been a bit much. My body thought so. On Tuesday, I wasn’t moving too well. I got through the day with pain killers and holding on to walls when I walked. I did NOT go running but I did go biking and then later walk a few miles.
This morning I am up again looking at my running suit. I can walk in a straight line again. Do I really want to do this? No. I put on the running suit.
Originally I had some idea that I could jog 4 miles while thinking about how to improve my novel. This is not what happens. Instead I have two voices in my head that shout at each other the entire time. One I call “Drill Sergeant” and other I call “Normal Sane Beth”. Drill Sergeant demands that I keep running, no matter how many people pass me, or how much I feel like falling down:
DS: “Come on, knees higher, no, no, no, don’t even think about slowing down!”
Me: “What difference will it make if we walk, I mean, that guy walking with a cane passed me; if people are walking faster than me, then how does that count as running?”
DS: “You want to passed less, run faster! Look, William and Gerald are laughing at you.”
Me: “No they aren’t. They can’t see me, no one cares if I walk, I don’t care if I walk.”
DS: “That guy over there is laughing at you.”
Me: “No, actually, he might be flirting we me, except I can’t see too well through the haze of sweat”
DS: “Shut up and run!”
With the city marathon a month away, all the super fast, super tanned and super fit runners are out on the paths. This does not cheer me up. The first week of a new exercise program SUCKS! My running course is mostly uphill for the first half and downhill for the second, which is good because otherwise I wouldn’t make it home. Drill Sergeant gets pretty snarky about it, “Oh, you can’t even run DOWNHILL now?” But I finish with two blocks that go straight up. This lets me end with the “fish out of water” gasping air and trying to stay upright look. It’s soooo sexy! I was half way up the first block and looking pretty bad when a woman my age on the sidewalk suddenly yelled, “You’re a star! You’re a superstar!” as I passed her. I hope it wasn’t sarcastic, because it got me smiling and up that darn hill.
So I am not a killer fencer, not the cold assassin with jaw dropping skills and a body so taut that you can’t decide if you are filled with desire or just fear that I will snap you in half. But I’m working on it.
4 hours ago