Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Rebuilding the Back: Session 2

Today's session was tough - the body was sore coming into it. After back-to-back 80 plus milers and then Monday's initial workout session I was really feeling it - especially the legs. But there are no excuses with Phil - so I barely slip in the door and he slides out of his animated (a word I will use often in connection to Phil) conversation to tell me "four laps when you are ready" which meant now.

Despite being sore as hell, especially hamstrings that felt like a twist-tie on a bread bag after an NFL lineman had made a sandwich, I actually felt mentally more connected to the warm-up routine than I thought I would. Now, that doesn't mean that I didn't need Phil, with a smile and an intro mime routine, reminding me of each of the exercises, but still, a few new synapses were firing in that proprioceptor part of my brain.

Today I also discovered my new friend - well, I hope we will be soon - the wobble board, or balance board (photo above). Trying to balance on this thing is a sobering experience under normal conditions - probably not improved by the number of pints I had at Alex's birthday fest last night. The idea is you stand, at first with both feet spread and try to maintain a balanced position so the platform remains parallel to the floor. Oh, so much easier said than done. But after a few tries I got the basic hang of it.

Now comes the fun part, something new. Phil hands me to sword-looking things - flexible metal blades about five feet long with a centrally placed rubber handle. They looked less like a battle instrument and more like a strange musical one. Okay ready, squat, balance, and start gyrating these sword blades up-n-down - YES - while continuing to maintain balance on the wobble board. Quickly I was wobbling out of control and Phil says, "relax" and I try, "relax" again he says, now I'm trying to be a jellyfish of relaxation while holding on to two gyrating blades on this tipsy little board... "RELAX... get off the board", he says. OH, I get it! relax equals - get off the board. Ya, I guess I was more tensely focused than I realized. So we start again only with the sword blades vertical - not any easier trust me.

Finally we try the "dragonfly" version. This one has me standing on the WB, squatting with one leg while extending the other leg out behind me (ala the dragonfly's tail) and then gyrating the sword blades to imitate the beating wings. Mostly I got it, except for my dragonfly's tail has trouble remaining aerial. Of course I have watched plenty of dragonflies over the years and females depositing eggs on a pond do exactly what I was doing, although after several reminders to keep my "tail" up I assumed Phil wasn't interested in my natural history acumen.

All this gyrating is about stregthening my core - and anything else in the neighborhood of my L5 vertebrae. If that fails maybe I take my egg-laying dragonfly routine onto some reality talent show.

During the cool down with the roller it was clear the soreness from the weekend and Session 1 had not flown the coup - maybe it was that grimacing expression while doing little more than lying on my side that gave me away? That's when Phil breaks his animated monologue of cycling in the early '90s in Europe and says, without missing a breath, "that's good [the pain part] Gerry, we're going to rebuild you from head to toe" and then he tosses this in, "we're tak'n it down to basics, peanut-butter and jelly stuff". Well, basics like crying for your mother might be another version!

Then it was off to icing down the back and ten more minutes of colorful life at the back of the pack pro racing in northern Europe stories; Phil has forgotten infinitely more about what I like to call the "beasty boys days of cycling", those pre-1993 times, than I will ever discover - but my anecdotal archive keeps growing with every session - hopefully so will my core strength and proprioception.

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