Friday, December 17, 2004

I am elasti-man

As promised, here is the long-awaited account of my experiences Tuesday night at the torture dungeon known as the Big Sur Marathon Training Clinic stretching workshop. Now I know the right way to stretch and it's been really helpful and good for me and all, but, that night, I was mortified.

Things started off well enough, with The Leader giving an address on the utmost importance of stretching to try and avoid what we all know is the eventual inevitability of severe and debilitating injury. Still, I had been stretching before my runs, doing some toe-touches and some neck circles, and I figured that the prescribed stretches couldn't have been much harder than that. Right?

Then the leader introduced The Chiropractor. Now, excuse my skepticism, but I was raised in the home of a doctor. A medical doctor. With an M.D. And chiropractor was a dirtier word than the one starting with F. My dread didn't decrease when T.C. got up in front of the room.

He said he was 65. He looked 50. With close-cropped white hair, he was clad in all black, with tight sweatpants that left little to the imagination. He brought a padded table with him. His biography revealed that not only was he a trained chiropractor, but he was a former soldier, a West Point graduate. He was going to whip us into shape.

The first stretch was called "The Up Dog." Imagine doing a push-up, but sticking your rear end as far up in the air as it goes, then pushing down your heels and flexing your quadraceps at the same time. When you're doing it, you look like a human bridge, or something a little more sinister. The room tried the stretch and was immediately transformed into a field of full moons.

The next stretch was "The Down Dog." It was like The Up Dog, but reversed, so you look a little like a beached seal. After trying it, I collapsed, my arms tired from supporting my massive girth. Others followed: The Pidgin, The Groin Stretch and the appropriately named Extreme Quadracep/Hip Flexor Stretch. That was the one he brought the table for.

For The Extreme stretch, he invited a volunteers up, including me, so that he could help them get into the appropriate position. The stretch involved contorting the body into a pretzel, using an elevated surface to pressure your quad. It was supposed to be a replacement for the old-pull-your-leg-behind-you stretch. So, in front of the group, he manipulated my arms, legs and torso until I was in the right position. Wow. Now that was a stretch.

Then he did something I didn't expect. He told me I had to flex RIGHT THERE, and grabbed a heaping handful of my heiny. Whew!

The Chiropractor said that eventually we would enjoy stretching. That it's an acquired taste, like Scotch. Apparently Scotch tastes like pain.

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