Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Lug nuts

Walking through a popular dog park with eight pounds of raw meat isn’t even the dumbest thing I’ve done for the sake of expediency. I had to get lamb burgers to a barbecue and I was parked three blocks away from my apartment. As I cut through the park and up the hill, however, my arms started to wilt and my gym bag threatened to slide off my shoulder and knock the tray of burgers right out of my hands. I started to limbo under the load and calculate various scenarios to throw myself between the sidewalk and falling patties. In retrospect lying on the ground unconscious and covered in raw meat would seem all the more harrowing. The lesser-of-evils calculation took less than, um, five seconds – Prime grass-fed livestock going to waste as road kill vs. an unsuspecting burger-eater exposed to billions of bacteria thanks to the 5-second rule (since it was discussed in an earlier article I needn’t mention that, based on square footage, there’s an extraordinary ‘park to poop’ ratio here ). Sure, the squat protocol gives you a foundation of strength but it doesn’t develop the very specialized skills of meat relay. In fact, I find most lugging chores way more demanding then they should be.

Most of my mom clients are involved in their own sport of meat relay but of a more lively variety. They’ve become the beasts of burden for babies and they’ve developed very specialized lugging skills. They would inch up the stairs at PRO Club dramatically leaning to one side to herd one meandering child while another sits perched on a hip prepared to take flight the moment mom is distracted. There were gym bags, diaper bags and purses swinging and a collection of discarded shoes, unruly socks and sticky things that stain to mark the parade route to the kiddies’ pool. There were also straining muscles and very tired looking faces.

I was always exasperated because, after being thoroughly impressed by their heroic feats of lugging, I’d see them in the gym flapping around pink dumbbells in illogical ways. I wanted to shake them and yell, “Get real, sister! You’re life is WAY harder than this! Your child has probably grown an inch in the last hour and you’ll never get that amount of napping weight into a car seat doing this infernal flappy thing you do! Oh, and here’s the shoe you lost or left for dead.”

Sally knows a thing or two about that. Regarding her daughter, she says, “worth noting, this is 24 opinionated lbs that likes to express her own freewill over her entire 2+ foot length. Movements while carrying include: squats, lunges, dancing, cooking, laundry.” And I’ll bet there’s a good amount of the mommy’s-having-a-conversation squirm control that requires honed reflexes and a liquid spine.

Monica understands the art of multitasking, a standard chore she said, “Carry my 35 lb sleeping 2 year old for 20 min while trying to drop of a deposit at the bank.” As her son Archer gets larger, the lugging duration gets shorter. Monica said, “I try to not carry Archer. He’s a moose. But when I do, it’s usually because he’s two and throwing a real fit so it’s restraining and holding and usually only for five minutes or less. If he’s awake, he usually walks.”

On the occasions when Wendy lugs her way from ‘Point A’ to ‘Point B’, she’s got to wonder why B can’t be closer. When she carries her 15 pound gym bag with her 3.5 pound purse along with her 42 pound child she’s in for a workout. That’s a 60.5 pounds ‘Farmer’s Walk’ just to get to the gym’s front door.

As Jill discovered, it’s easy to turn an endurance sport into crosstraining when you lug your 25 pound bike everywhere you go between spurts of riding. “I hoist my bicycle around all the time and it is about 25lbs. It goes up and down stairs, into and out of the truck, etc etc etc. Then add the bag I carry on it - that's another 10 lbs or so!” Jill said. She also walks ten blocks with two full bags of groceries every week and gets yanked around by her 100 pound dog. About that shoulder injury, Jill . . . .

When I’m not transporting raw meat, I like to carry 18 pounds of gym clothes where ever I go. Because I insisted that I never wanted to be a ‘purse woman’, no offense, I carry my un-purse-like wallet in my gym bag with a collection of gym-like things and purse-like things in disguise. My father gave me that back pack eleven years ago and I’ve never considered parting with it except for the months it took me to find and eradicate the fish oil capsule that burst. I’m sure, in the end, that instead of joining the purse people, I’ll have made a more powerful impression because I lug an 11 year old portable bunker with a whiff of fish. But this is what I carry with me everywhere and it takes its toll.

Finally, I had to leave Monica’s list of chores as-is so that it reads like a CrossFit workout. Ladies, this is the WOD:

Backpack/computer bag 5 min 15 lbs
Groceries 4 bags at a time 3-15 lbs each. Plus 2 gallons of milk. 2 min
Laundry up steep stairs 8-10# 1-2 minutes depending on whether the cat is trying to trip me.
Lift, carry (40 feet) and store 10 80# bags of horse feed (3-5 min per )
Carry and lift a spool of 1000 feet of 12/2 wire (3-5 min)
Bend aluminum door back into shape after horse kicked it. 5 minutes of reefing. – yes, it worked.
Raking and moving gravel and clay to make a driveway and lawn area. 35 minutes 3x.
Dancing for 2 hours. With frequent 5 min breaks. Cleaning 3 stalls every day. Includes carrying 60# bags of stall wood pellets from storage area (45 feet). Takes about 6-8 bags every other day.