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dreaming in the shadows of the Sleeping Maiden

Mt. Tamalpais, July 23, 2012

Mt. Tam with morning fog

The bank of fog, bailed out from summer’s earlier run on it, was dispensing plenty of wind through the night and day today as it moved its massive layers ever so slowly, but with plenty of force, from offshore.

I kept waking up through the night to sounds I usually hear in the fall or winter. Trees, as if bumping into each other, driven by the wind. Electrical lines, lashes in the wind’s grip, hitting the sides and roof of the house. Walls creaking and groaning and floorboards sighing as the house itself seemed to shift around. It was not a restful night.

In the morning, spin class took me to more unsettled territory. I saddled up, started spinning, then noticed that I needed to adjust my seat some more. But I couldn’t dismount because the left pedal wouldn’t relent its grip on the left cleat. Had to slide my foot out of the shoe to finally get off the bike. Meanwhile, the class was just warming up. I got out the tools I carry with me (yes, I carry a few wrenches), tried to pry the shoe free of the pedal, but no luck. I fiddled some more, until the shoe came away, but with the cleat firmly stuck in the teeth of the mount on the pedal.

The rest of the class was heading “uphill” already by the time I went to the club’s front desk asking for help and getting none, so when I returned to the spin room I started to pack up my gear. At this point, the instructor came over and said “just get on another bike and strap your feet in,” and off she went to talk to the desk people herself. A couple of other people in class immediately got off their bikes to help me set up on a new bike, and within minutes we were all “rolling” again. But the feeling of helplessness was  still stuck in me, as was my left shoe in the pedal of the bike on which the teacher-summoned mechanic was working away. I felt close to crying for some silly reason. I swallowed hard and kept my eyes on the bike’s computer, only to notice that my usually reliable heart rate monitor started to act erratically, showing heartbeats of 226 per minute. Sure, I was working hard, but hardly so far at the edge of possibility.

So then, there was only one thing left to do: take off the monitor, fling it behind the bike, and then keep on pedaling. The only beat of concern from then on was to be the beat of the music. And pedal away I did to that beat, without the support of cleats or the feedback of displays reassuring me that I was getting “somewhere” while staying in the proper range. And by the end of the class, the lump in my throat had dislodged and I felt that the workout hasn’t worked me out by sweating demanding stats at me. That is, I did not know what my average or maximum heart rate was, or how many miles I covered, or how hard I pushed….

The whole quantified self thing, my recording of foods, activities and measurements related to those activities has been getting out of hand a little lately. As if the act of measuring had become more important than the ‘acts’ being measured… I am so grateful to the spin instructor who wouldn’t let me leave the class because I had a dysfunctional shoe. A consummate coach, she recognized that the screw that got stuck wasn’t just in the sole of the shoe but also in the soul of the person wearing it.

Sometimes you do have to make molehills out of mountains. Especially the ones that loom ever so large only in the outline of their shadows.