Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Stay-Put Triathlon

I don't do the whole "staying put" thing very well. Those people who can sit merrily on a beach for hours and work on their suntans while on vacation and return home feeling well-rested? I am not one of those. I do not do "well rested." I do "run myself into the ground and then collapse in a heap and sleep for hours." I am one of those people who annoys the hell out of anyone else on vacation with constant, "I'm going to go for a walk! I'm going to go for a swim! I'm going to do some form of physical activity in the hot sun, which will result in mild-to-moderate sun stroke and hip pain that will confine me to bed for the rest of the day!" This time last year, I was getting up at 5:30 a.m., training full time for wheelchair basketball, teaching two courses, finishing my thesis, working for the literary magazine Ninth Letter, weight-training, socializing with friends, traveling on a bus throughout the country, all the while dragging my hip kicking and screaming behind me.

Fast forward to now. Am I working? Well, yes, but not for pay. Am I training for anything? Only if "trying not to walk like a drunken zombie" counts as a sport. Am I enjoying a busy and active social life? Only if hanging out with the good people of reality television counts as a social life. Am I writing anything new and exciting? No, since my last novel is done and I can't begin writing about my hip replacement until I know how this whole "will I walk again?" thing turns out. So what's a hyper-motivated, relentlessly frustrated, Type-A gal to do? Train for a triathlon!

When I first started considering having a hip replacement, one of my post-replacement goals was to do a triathlon, until my surgeon told me that I could do one but I would find myself on the operating table again roughly a year after surgery. (Despite all the photos of ruggedly handsome 40-something guys on hip replacement websites jogging in the woods, running is apparently the one thing you have to kiss goodbye post-surgery). Then he wondered aloud if I fit the "psychological profile" of someone who thrives with a hip replacement. So, fine, I put that particular dream on the shelf and soon I was wrapped up with all the melodrama of the surgery and the recovery.

There are a couple of things standing in the way of me doing a triathlon:
  • I can't run.
  • I can't ride a bike.
  • Walking...yeah, not so good.
  • Dislike of wearing spandex.
I wasn't, however, about to let a little thing like "inability to perform 2/3 of the events involved in a triathlon" stand in the way of glory. What, I thought, if instead of running, I used the elliptical machine? And what if I rode the stationary bike instead of riding a real bike? It would be just like a real triathlon...except I would be in one place. And I wouldn't be surrounded by hundreds of people with 1% bodyfat while wearing spandex. And I would do it indoors, so I wouldn't have to stuff my workout clothes with dozens of those little "foot warmer" packets. And I wouldn't have to struggle out of a wet swimsuit in public without the help of my grabber. And no one would kick me in the head during the swimming portion.

In fact, my "stay-in-one-place triathlon" seems like the perfect triathlon. It's all the glamour of doing a real triathlon, without the chance of permenantly ruining my artificial hip or getting hypothermia. Plus, now whenever anyone asks, "So, Arley, how did the hip replacement go?" Instead of having to say, "Yeah, not the greatest. Quadriplegics laugh at me whenever I walk unassisted." I can say, "Oh, you know, it's had its ups and downs, but now I'm training for a triathlon."

So, that's it. I've downloaded some triathlon training plans from the internets and I'm ready to go! Today's plan: 24 minute swim, 48-minute bike. We'll see how my hip tolerates this one.

1 comment:

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