"And, when you want something, the entire Universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." -The Alchemist, by Paulo Coehlo

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Running with Carlos

We still had pretty fall-colored leaves prior to this weekend!
At the beginning of this year, I finally convinced Carlos to start coming consistently to the gym with me. He had pretty bad asthma and I figured it would help his lung capacity, as well as make him stronger for riding. I was right on both counts. He enjoys running on the treadmill and Spinning classes with my fave instructor, but strength training was a whole other ballgame because it was such a new and alien thing for him. The problem is that Carlos can be as stubborn as I am, so he was pretty argumentative about what he could and couldn't do and refused to push his limits or use correct form when I tried to explain why it was so important when lifting. Over the summer he strained his back and I finally told him,

"We're hiring a personal trainer for you." He groaned.

And so I dragged convinced him to come to the front counter with me one day, where I told the associate, "I'm interested in hiring a personal trainer."

The associate looked at me (I've been a regular for almost a year and a half now so they all know me) and said, "No problem! Let me get Ariel."

It is Disney's The Little Mermaid's fault that I expected Ariel to be a woman.

Instead, what came out of the gym office was probably the most gorgeous specimen of a man that I have ever laid eyes on. Jet-black hair, light blue eyes, and a body that looked like it had been carved out of marble, not unlike Michelangelo's Statue of David.

Not the Ariel I was imagining...
(Michelangelo's David and Myron's Discobolus are my fave statues from art history.)
I might have done a double-take because this was probably the last thing I was expecting when the associate said he was going to get "Ariel." Also, I had been going there for that long at all odd hours of the day and night and had never seen this guy EVER before, with clients or otherwise. I had looked over the bios of the personal trainers featured on the gym entrance wall, and this particular guy was not there, so I had no idea about his credentials as a trainer. I then realized that my double-take was probably misinterpreted and wanted to burst out laughing at the absurdity of it all but held my composure. The end result was that I was looked up-and-down by Ariel and greeted with an approving smile. Oh great.

"I heard you want a personal trainer?" he said.

"Yes," I said. "I want a personal trainer for him." And I threaded my arm through Carlos's, who had been standing silently behind me all this time.

Ariel did a comical double-take himself and said, "Ok. Let me get Tony." Huh? Why? Are you a girls-only trainer?

Out came a guy that was easily 6'4" and looked like a linebacker, with ebony skin and twinkling brown eyes that slanted upwards even when he wasn't smiling.

I grinned. Tony just so happened to be the one trainer that I had really wanted for Carlos, so it worked out perfectly. He is certified in both personal training and sports medicine, which means he can find ways to work around Carlos's old injuries and physical limitations. I had also watched him train clients: clients tended to stick with him once they started, he had a really positive but firm style of training, and his clients got results.

Gong on month #4 together, Tony has been amazing: he has given Carlos routines that show him how hard he can work without making him lose interest, has instructed him on proper form, and has actually made working out a fun thing for my husband, since the trainer shares the same messed-up sense of humor we have. On weeks when Carlos's and Tony's crazy schedules are conflicted, it means that there is an extra session to spare...which means I get to play along!

Tony took this one of the two of us during one of our joint sessions. We were doing walking lunges. I was still grinning while poor Carlos was already starting to struggle.
My shirt says "I Am Beast Mode." I got it from here.
I have been able to participate in four of Carlos's sessions so far, and Tony always laughs because, since I am so much more fit than Carlos (I have a 22-year advantage on him in terms of exercising so it is understandable) it means Tony has to ramp up the pace just enough to challenge me without overdoing it for Carlos, while Carlos works harder than he ever has before in order to keep up with me. Both Carlos and I wear heart rate monitors for working out and they are set to beep below 80 bpm and over 160 bpm. It is tremendous fun for all three of us because Carlos's heart rate monitor will start going off way before mine does.

"Where the hell is your heart rate at?" he'll ask me, panting.

I'll show him my monitor silently with a grin. It's usually 10-20 bpm below his.

"Dammit!" he'll exclaim, but we'll both laugh.

"Most couples use the gym to get away from each other, but you two are the literal opposite," Tony says, shaking his head in amazement.

We were at home getting ready to leave for our third session together, and Carlos said, "Do you need a towel?"

"Nah," I said. "Tony hasn't made me sweat yet."

Carlos rolled his eyes and laughed.

I was ready to eat my words, and I was right. Tony dished out a pretty intense plyometrics + HIIT session that had me dripping by the end of it.

Afterwards, Carlos told him about the towel and Tony threw his head back and laughed. "You know what?" he said, "I was looking at her today and thinking, 'Huh...I think this is the first time I have seen her sweat!'"

I just grinned. I might have been sweating but my heart rate had already dropped from 158 bpm to 100 within the space of 5 minutes!

Now it has become a challenge. The session after that was even more grueling and at the end Tony declared, "I did it again!"

"I suspect this is now a thing," I said to him with a raised brow.

Carlos and Tony just laughed. Oh boy.

This past Saturday, we had an appointment for another session together but our trainer had to cancel at the last minute due to a family emergency. I had not been feeling very motivated to go to the gym and had been looking forward to being directed on what to do by someone else...so I was majorly bummed.

"Do you want to do something else?" Carlos asked.

"NO," I said, "I've barely worked out this week because I couldn't sleep [endless nightmares] and I MUST go today! Plus I don't have the headspace for riding. I think I'm just going to run on the treadmill."

"Want to go run downtown?" he asked.

I thought about it. "...Only if it's warm."

It actually was warm, so we walked out as we were: me in a tank top and capris, and Carlos in a t-shirt and shorts.

This is a cell phone pic!
It was 67 degrees when we parked in downtown. I knew a cold front was supposed to come in that evening, and was expecting the wind, which had a chilly edge to it, but the sun was still out and it was a gorgeous late-fall day. I told Carlos I would most likely start out fast just to stay warm in the wind (we were going to be running into it for the first part of our run) and he said he would do his own pace and keep up when he could. If he lagged behind, I would run ahead and then turn around and run back to meet him.

Poor Carlos complained that I was hauling ass as we did our first loop around the lake at the far end of our course.

These pics are the same area, but taken on a different day when there was no wind!

"It's what happens when I'm playing Mr. Policeman!" I said, referring to the music playing through my headphones. "Also: this wind is FREEZING!" It was. And it was blowing so hard it was making my eyes tear. I just wanted to get to the other side of the lake as fast as possible so we would have the wind at our backs!

"Like I always tell Tony: you're a squirrel on crack!" Carlos said.

I laughed.

We came around the lake and back onto the main park path, where the wind was momentarily blocked.

There were barely any people in the park the day I took these pics, but the day we were on this run, there were tons of people in downtown. It was incredibly refreshing to be running outside and watch people of different races, cultures and religions interacting with one another harmoniously and at peace with one another, like it was any other day in the US of A. I grinned and revelled in the equality we still enjoy...and pushed away the thought that questioned, "How long will this last? Will things remain unchanged in our little corner, or will this feeling of safety in our neighborhood disappear entirely within the next two months, within the next year...?"

I ran harder.

This one was taken on the actual day I'm writing about.
I slowed to a walk when my heart rate was reaching 165 and let Carlos catch up. I checked Endomondo and we had covered 1.5 miles in a blazing 15 minutes: this is fast for me, let alone Carlos!

I took him on my usual route...I started a draft about my downtown runs back over the summer, and never got to publish it because the river accident happened before I could finish it, and it had taken so very long to be able to run consistently again.

We ran all the way to the end of the creek and then looped into downtown. The temperature was dropping FAST, fast enough that we were getting strange looks from passers-by: everyone in town was bundled up to the nines, and here I was running in a tank top and Carlos in a t-shirt. We got some really weird looks from people that were bundled up as if they were going for an expedition in Alaska.

Who said islanders can't adapt? ;)

I was comfortable up until the moment we hit the park path again. We were once again running into the wind. Carlos had been running for the better part of half an hour and he slowed to a walk. I told him I would run on ahead to the car, grab a jacket and walk back to meet him. I had wanted to complete 4 to 5 miles, but that was not going to happen with the rapidly dropping temperature.

There is something wrong when your heart rate is 158 bpm and you can't feel your arms because the wind is so icy!

I ran all the way to the car and snagged my jacket...just as Carlos jogged up to meet me. He ended up running the last portion of trail to stay warm.

He was exhausted.

"So. Are you going to tell Tony that you'd rather work with him than with me?" I asked Carlos with a grin.
He just laughed.

We turned the car on and blasted the heater.

It was now 47 degrees!!! The temperature had dropped 20 degrees in 35 minutes! O_o

We went home, showered, went out for dinner and talked about some pretty heavy topics...in Spanish. Because we can still do so in public without getting weird looks in our neighborhood. One of my coworkers is also Puerto Rican and it has rapidly become frowned upon over the last two weeks for us to speak in Spanish at work. Which is an enormous bummer because it is not every day that I get to speak in my language with other people that have the same Spanish accent, same slang, and same history. There aren't a lot of Puerto Ricans in this area.

Since we had exercised after all, I said to Carlos afterwards, "Let's go to Coldstone!"

We might have a screw loose: ice cream in 38-degree weather?
I don't understand what's wrong with that picture... ;)


  1. ""Most couples use the gym to get away from each other, but you two are the literal opposite," Tony says, shaking his head in amazement." Tony, dear, they're opposite of everyone in all things all the time. #itsnormal #dontworry #theyarefreakslikethat #bejealous #therestofusare

  2. This is inspirational. I've been trying to get my husband to come exercise with me. So far no luck. Not that I'm in the shape you are but I am doing pretty well.

  3. I read the Ariel story out loud to Mike and we had a really good laugh.