Friday, May 13, 2011

these sticks are made for walking (m)

When I was in the mountains in Italy, I noticed a lot of people walking with what looked like high-tech ski poles.   You would think walking sticks were the provenance of the frail and/or elderly, but the people I saw using them were neither.  I studied this situation during my five days there and was fascinated by it.  What could be the benefit of these poles?  Stability?  Better work-out? (They were using their upper bodies a lot while walking).  I was intrigued.

During a recent expedition to Costco, I was headed to check-out with my shopping (where else on earth can one buy shrimp, a movie, deodorant, and a tree in the same store?) when something caught my eye.

They had the poles.  Almost identical to the ones I saw in Italy.  Here.  In Costco.

I took it as a sign.  I bought myself a set.  I even double-checked that these weren't end-of-season ski poles but were really designed for walkers.  They were.

Yesterday, I dropped Harrison off at school and decided to go for a long walk before I picked him up again mid-morning to go to the rink. 

I take the poles out of the car and start out, tentatively.  I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be doing with my arms.  I start by lunging forward a bit and using the poles as leverage to propel myself forward.  Awkward.  This can't be right.

Then I decide to mimic those people who use weights while walking.  Arms extended, hands at chest level and short, quick strokes back and forth.  I felt like a dink.

I decide to let intuition guide me and settle into a rhythm that is a modified version of the dink position.  I'm not loving this.

By the end of the first mile, I decide I am deriving no benefit from these poles.

Into the second mile, I concentrate on breathing.  All I can hear is "tap..tap..tap..tap..tap."  My poles are beginning to annoy me.  I move off the pavement to the grass, but it is loaded with geese turds.  I go back to the pavement.  "Tap..tap...tap..tap."

Somewhere into the third mile, my right hand falls asleep.  I have to move the pole in my right hand to my left so that I can put my arm straight down and let the blood flow back. 

Once the blood flows back, I keep both poles in my left hand.  However, that throws off my balance.

So, I carry a pole in each hand.  I have to carry them horizontally so I won't hear the tapping noise.

After the fourth mile, I head to my car.  Almost time to pick up Harrison.  I get an iced green tea at Starbucks and go to his school.

Harrison gets in the car and gives me a look.

Me: What?
Harrison: So, there I am in history class, when something outside the window catches my eye.  I look up and see my mother, walking across the bridge, CARRYING her new "walking poles" by her side. I laughed so hard I disrupted the class.
Me: Did you tell anyone that was your mother?
Harrison: What do you think?

I can't say that I blame him. 

Pity.  Those sticks looked so stylish in the Alps.

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