I was feeling pretty strong after returning from our 140-mile cycle around Alabama’s Mobile Bay. I kept up my daily rides and decided to tackle a route that I had been avoiding for the last few years- as it is a serious grunt up a 1+ mile long hill with short steep sprints mixed in. That’s at the end of a substantial ride. I had been scared of it the last few years. So I rode it the other day and all was fine- a little winded, but I took my time. Two days later, I did it again- no heaving chest, no sweat even, but as I began to climb the steepest part, I began to feel a separation from my body. I had no feeling in my legs as they pumped, my heart was not pounding, I experienced no discomfort or strain. It felt peaceful and completely disconnected. I was digging it. Then I realized it was not normal and I probably wasn’t really having some transcending Buddhist moment. I suddenly wondered if I was having a heart attack and tried to think back to that billboard I recently saw on the interstate with the 6-8 little windows of the varying ways a heart attack feels to a woman. After all, my uncles died at 34 and 42 of heart attacks (slim & trim) and also my mom at 56 (chubby and allergic to exercise). It didn’t feel like a heart attack, however. It disappeared after the steep section was over and although I had a mile climb remaining, it didn’t return.
When I go out for a hike with an acquaintance, they tend to marvel that I am in “such good shape.” I’m really not. I am in “maintenance shape.” spending one hour a day, every day, exercising. Just enough to allow me to pick up and climb Mount Washington in a weekend trip or ride around the Mobile Bay without dying. Did you ever notice that the people who say “you are in such good shape!” are the ones that are in sucky shape? Overweight, barely ever exercise. I’ve never had a real athlete say that to me.
I suppose there is something to be said for mere “:maintenance shape.” We can’t prevent the skin from falling off our bodies as we age but God, I want to continue to make my body move the way I want it to.
So when I returned from my ride and told Todd about my cool out-of-body experience, he asked, “Were you hungry?” I was starving! Fuckin’ starving!. I had fantasized about what I would eat most of the ride- and no, I wasn’t starving when I left- I BECAME starving on my ride. I was just experiencing low blood sugar.
So next ride, I’ll chow down on a piece of toast before I leave and rest assured that I am not going to have a heart attack anytime soon. But maybe I will decide to UP my performance and move closer to that “great shape” I’ve been accused of being in. Or not.