Once upon a time, a sign appeared on the wall behind the rowing machine at Girly Gym. 1000 Metre Challenge! How Fast Can You Go? All you had to do was row one kilometre as fast you could, then if you beat the current fastest time you’d yodel for a staff member to verify, then they’d write your name on the sign which is conveniently covered in plastic for easy erasing.
A year later, the same name and the same time are still there. I can’t remember the name but damn if that bloody time isn’t burned on my retinas. 4 minutes 11 seconds. I don’t know if the record stands because nobody can come close to it, or they can’t be arsed, or they haven’t even noticed the sign. Whenever I’m at the gym I seem to be the only person who goes anywhere near the rower; everyone’s busy fighting over the treadmills.
So it’s just me versus this Speedy Mystery Woman. There’s no prizes involved here, just the Whiteboard Marker Scribble of Glory! But do you think you I can get anywhere near 4:11? No I bloody cannot! And I’ve been trying soooo hard for soooo long! Okay I haven’t really been trying very long or hard at all, to be honest. I was working on it last winter and then spring, but then I exercised outdoors most of summer. I’d totally forgotten about it until I ventured back into the gym recently and saw the sign still there, unaltered and mocking; and now it’s made me cranky all over again. HOW DO YOU DO IT SPEEDY WOMAN? How can I catch you?
Over and over, I sit down at the machine and shrug my shoulders then stretch my arms and then strap in my feet and do a few test rows and fire up the iPod with a furious beat. And off I go and I row and row and row… but the fastest I’ve managed is 5:10. Bloody hell. 1:01 slower!?!
So then I get into a huff and curse the Speedy Mystery Woman and her alleged record. What setting did she have the rower on? How much resistance? And who verified this record? Where’s the proof? Was there drug testing?
Instead of sulking, I need to be more strategic in my approach. First of all, schoolgirl error – I shouldn’t attempt to break the record after I’ve already done 25 minutes of stinky high intensity intervals on the Arc trainer. DERR! I need to go in fresh. I need to be well hydrated and maybe a bit carbed up. I also need to revise my technique.
I’m in the mood for relatively small challenges lately. I’ve been caught up in rather big broad long lofty goals – lard-busting, writing – so right now I fancy some smaller scale ambitions (but still satisfying with some scope for obsession). Learn to make a souffle! Revisit kickboxing! I can’t remember the others!
But somehow I think "Defeat Speedy Mystery Woman" will end up being a long-term project. GRRRR!