Monday, December 08, 2008

Training - Back on the Wagon

You know, these antibiotics are pretty amazing. The cat scratches I got from the glue trap kitty, a poke I got from a yet another feral cat (a black one, currently in a foster/permanent home), and a variety of our own kitten's enthusiastic claw marks are all disappearing fast. I feel like I'm healing inside out, which, when I think about it, I guess I am. The cool thing is that I feel like I don't need to protect the would from infection because the protection is oozing out from within. In fact, by letting blood flow from the black cat poke (it was getting pretty inflamed for a 2 mm wide, 2 mm deep "biopsy") made it heal almost overnight.

It's gotten pretty cold here recently - this morning it was in the high single digits (like 8 or 10 degrees, but it "feels like 1" according to weather.com). With my hardware store job taking me into either unheated grain storage or outdoor propane tank storage areas, it's easy to tell when, say, my hand is hot and inflamed. Saturday it was pretty inflamed, pink and warm even after an outing in the cold. Today the pinkness is only a few millimeters wide.

I guess now I know why folks like taking antibiotics when they really shouldn't. And why, therefore, there are more instances of various superbugs that shrug off this and other miracle drugs.

Along with recovering nicely with the aid of antibiotics, I've also seen some immediate results with my return to doing some core type exercises. In the middle of the night, when I needed to sit up, I just... sat up.

I actually felt like a Frankenstein person ("It's alive!") sitting up on the table - it was that smooth, that effortless. I didn't have to twist and turn like normal to leverage my body upright, and I know this because nowadays sleeping on the bed is really tricky, like trying to park an eighteen wheeler between a bunch of cones with only a few inches clearance on each side.

See, the kittens we've been fostering, the ones we've been trying place in homes, well, they sleep on our bed. So when I wake up, I have three tiny bundles of fuzzy fur (Bella, Hal, Riley) curled up into little balls placed randomly around me, a slightly larger and softer bundle of fur (Mike), the ever present and Optimus Prime like Tiger, and Lilly, the matron of them all. The latter two have learned to avoid sleeping next to potentially rolling humans, but the little ones think sleeping against the small of my back is perfectly acceptable.

So when I need to sit up, I have to do it without tilting in any direction, lest I accidentally crush a kitten.

I know, I know, why haven't we given the majority of them away?

We tried. We tried for a long time, pretty much from the middle of October, when we caught them. And, frankly, no one really wanted them.

So we decided to keep them.

It was sadly predictable, and I even told people at work that I thought we were going to become a six cat household. The whole thing sort of happened by accident really. On the way to an internet-less (by choice), bike-less (by choice), workout-less (by choice) "Dad and Brother's House", I had one of those random thoughts that I shared with the missus. I thought about how, in the last few days, I went from thinking of Hal and Riley and Mike as "well, I'll miss them when they leave" to "well, it wouldn't be too bad to watch them grow up to be big healthy cats". I wasn't thinking that this would necessarily happen, I just observed that I'd grown attached to them.

So I said something like this to the missus.

"You know, in the last few days I went from feeling like 'oh, when are the cats going to be adopted' to 'oh, maybe it wouldn't be so bad if we couldn't find homes for them'"

"Me too!"

Then, at my dad's place, the missus blurted out, "He made the decision to keep them, so we're keeping them."

What?

I must have had a shocked look on my face, but, when I think of it, it was inevitable, from the moment we made the kittens feel so miserable when we spent hours bathing them, trying to get rid of their fleas.

As I told the missus then, we were getting the best part of the deal with them. We suffered to help them, investing time, emotion, and even money into them. We spent hours bathing them, wet, cold, miserable, holding confused, scared, and cold kittens, water turning brown with their blood (from the fleas trying to hold onto their skin). We (or, in this case, the missus) tiredly cleaned up their poop that they scattered everywhere while they had digestive problems. We washed their bowls three times a day, making sure we could feed them three square meals (of an anti-flingy-poop prescription food) a day. I started trimming their claws regularly, teaching them that the "cradle" position is one that is not threatening but that they have no choice but to accept being held like that. I also pet them afterwards and gently put them down each time so that they know that such cradling never hurts them. And so on and so forth.

In return we watched them in their cutest stage, toppling over when they shook their heads, awkwardly chased each other around, did all sorts of wiggly cute things while learning how to "hunt". They gradually learned how to go to the bathroom more neatly, started bathing each other, and did all sorts of fun things that would make me go scrambling to get the camera just one more time. When, on my 4 megapixel camera, I had 350 megabytes of pictures in ONE DAY, you know that, well, we like the little ones.

So what's all this got to do with training?

The kittens are a metaphor, if you will. They required an inordinate amount of time and energy at the beginning. There were miserable times, the poop cleaning, the bum-wiping (they were too young to clean themselves), the food messes, everything. We learned how to deal with things and started to streamline operations.

It's kind of like learning how to race a bike, to train, to become a cyclist.

Now, with the "base work" out of the way, the kittens are much more enjoyable. Instead of worrying about the most basic problems (like wiping their butts), we worry about other things. For example, we need to think of a way to keep them from falling from the second floor walkway, especially the somewhat clumsy Mike, and we have about two weeks to make it happen. But this is a good problem, kind of like trying to decide which carbon aero wheel is best for doing a particular race.

In the kitten example we're seeing a reward within weeks of starting the whole process. Hopefully the training goes as quickly.

There are other things too.

My back problems forced me to focus on my core strengths (and weaknesses), and since I used to do a lot of core exercises, the strength came back pretty quickly. My "sit up without putting a hand down on a kitten or toppling to one side on top of another kitten" illustrated that vividly.

The attempt to help the glue trap cat led me to get a tetanus shot and take antibiotics, something that conveniently got rid of some lingering wounds and enabled me to both heal and to relax about potential future injuries.

And I couldn't ride while I was laid up for those various injuries, building motivation even more. Now all this pent up energy has motivated me to get on the bike. So, with a stutter start, my season started going.

Today, at work, I checked the calender, and tried to pinpoint when I could make it to California for my now-traditional February California training camp. With the Tour of California hitting Palomar Mountain this year, I want to be there for the race, and this will be the first time that I'll actually get to be around at the same time as all the pros.

I also started thinking of all the things I'd been doing in the previous few years to try and get in shape over the winter. I tried to remember what I ate, how I lifted, things I did.

Then I made some lists of things I need or want to do. Of course.

Tonight, after a meal of some pasta and coffee, I played a bit with the cats and then did something on that list.

I went downstairs and got on my bike.

For a nice, solid, two hour ride.

1 comment:

Charles Cushman said...

You should try to get an early season race in while you visit. The new calendar is up and our season is starting January 31.

http://scnca.com/2006calendar.asp