Sunday, May 07, 2017

Ramping Up

The movie started at 10:40 so I arranged for WheelTrans to get us there at 9:00. That would give me time to do some laps of the mall, at that time in the morning there are few people there and I can get a good speed up. This particular mall run also includes two ramps up on the run and one large ramp down. Getting over to the place where I run requires going done one long ramp and up another long ramp. It's fun because I let myself fly down one and then the speed takes me about half way up the other, the last half I do by grabbing the handrails on either side and pulling myself up. I enjoy that. This particular day involves three ramp stories, all of which I want to remember, so I'm putting them here for me, and you can read along if you choose.

We arrived in the bus to find that there is construction going on at the mall and the bus had to drop us a fair way from the entrance. The driver offered to push me to the building and up the ramp and was relieved, I think, when I told her that I didn't need assistance. I am very big, she was not. It continually pleases me that my strength is such that I can push, even on sidewalks, enough to be pretty independent, even though I haven't conquered long sidewalk treks. I got into the building and rolled over to 'the ramp.'

It's a long, steep, ramp that I've only managed once. That time I rolled close to the handrail and used both the handrail to pull myself and my arms to push myself. It was really hard, but I made it. I tried to go handrail free a couple of times and made it barely a quarter the way up before letting myself roll back. My arms were already tired because I'd done my weights earlier in the morning but I thought to myself, the point of weight is strength and I wanted to test it yet again against, 'the ramp' the only one I couldn't do in the whole mall.

I positioned myself in the middle of the ramp, such that I couldn't reach the rail, I wanted to do this just using my pushing strength. I imagined myself making it, a strangely successful cognitive procedure for me, and then started. The urge to stop, to roll back, was almost harder to push back than it was to push forward. By midway my muscles were screaming, but then determination set it and I inched my way up. My front wheels went over the top and then, I stopped, I'd used everything. I took seven breaths, like I do when I have to stop doing my shoulder presses because of fatigue and then gave a final push. I'd made it. I was jubilant. That stands as the biggest victory I've had in a while.

Then it was off to do the run. I pushed over to the elevators and Joe and I chatted about beating 'the ramp' and finally we were at the two long ones. It was early so I didn't have to wait. I positioned myself, I do this with care because I fly down that ramp and I depend on the speed to assist me with the ridiculously long ramp on the other side. Down I went, it's hard not to yell out in glee because it is exhilarating. I hit the start of the ramp up and made it a good distance, I then grabbed the rails and began pulling myself up. This is actually fairly easy, but I know it look impressive. It was here, doing this, that I'd figured out the difference between watching and staring. People tend to stop and look at my arm, chair and the pull, the mechanics of getting up the ramp. I don't mind it here, I don't like being watched get into or out of a car because that seems much more private to me. I'm a man of contradictions, and I've learned, that's allowed.

I'd only managed two pushes around this particular track before but I was moving on to my fourth when I decided to change the pathway. I usually just go around the track, up a ramp, round to the long stretch, down the big ramp and then round the bottom and up a short but steep ramp that takes a lot of energy and then a short push to the start and do it over. There is a ramp I'd never tried, in the middle of the mall which I decided to try. Never done it before. It's located, I'd not noticed before, right beside a Tim's coffee shop.

I got to the bottom of it, positioned myself off to the side leaving lots of room for walkers to get by. I then noticed that the ramp didn't have those little ridges that all the other ramps have. The help me mark my way up and they help with stopping the chair sliding backwards. Okay, I knew I'd need to focus on keeping a constant forward movement. I was on my fourth lap, when I'd never done more than 2, I'd already done a lot of ramps, and my shoulders and arms were tired, my back was wet with sweat, but what the hell.

Pushing was hard, but I knew immediately I had it in me. Slowly and with constant motion, which can be hard to manage when you have to let go of the wheels, on a slope and grab them quickly again to push forward. Just before the top I glanced over to see that I had the whole of Tim Hortons watching me push my way up. The saw me see them and I got probably thirty thumbs up. When I made the top, I heard a cheer rise from the store. I decided, and this isn't typical of me, not to think about it in any other way than enthusiasm and encouragement and then I finished the fourth lap.

We had time for a tea before the movie and when we go to the theatre I had almost nothing left to manage the carpets there, which are really wheel resistant but I got to cinema 5 and then let Joe help me up the carpeted ramp, which I can do on a normal day but not after the weights and then the four laps and the nine ramps. I was cooked.

It felt good to have a strenuous work out, to feel stronger and more powerful.

To take the control that I have and give it a bit more oomph.

I was completely ready to watch the movie.


CapriUni said...

Hey, Dave -- you may be interested in this YouTube video by John Green* (yes, the author of The Fault in our Stars): The Life Changing Magic of Thumbs Up, where he talks about the same phenomenon as happened to you.

(Oh, and congratulations!)

*He and his younger brother, Hank, have been holding video conversations with each other for over ten years, years, now, and over that time, they've built up a community of mostly young adult viewers (and a few oldsters, like me), whom they engage in discussions of life, community engagement, and philosophy. There's a rule on their channel that non-educational videos have to be 4 minutes or less. So that's why they talk so fast.

Unknown said...

Huzza!! quite an active day. that feeling of accomplishment and physical competence seems so far away to me...but your story reminds me that no change will come without effort on my part...and that the benefits of success will outweigh the risks and fears that seem so large to me now. I guess I better start working on the cognitive part first..

Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt said...

It is great to hear your enthusiasm for overcoming the obstacles - and flying down the ramps when you can.

Getting muscles, and not using them, would be silly. Go, Dave!

All those people at Tim Horton's cheered an athlete. At our age, that's no small achievement. So there.

Belinda Burston said...

I think you're getting "runners high," not that I've ever experienced it! Lol! Seriously--applause and admiration for your focus on fitness and increased capacity, which is a big factor in health and wellness. As we age isn't it worthy of celebration whenever we outstrip our younger selves in any way!?