On Pace

December 09, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Being sidelined has its advantages, but I'm about to go crazy. About four weeks ago I decided to ignore intensifying knee pain; I'd push hard up the short, steep driveway and then take it easy at the top. The "I'm no wuss" bravado immediately became "you are such an idiot." Apparently the quad muscle takes up slack for an ailing neighbor, and gives out if it's not strong enough in the first place. The long run turned into a frustrating, long walk home that Saturday.

This is a personal fermata, I suppose. The day is drizzly and fog reigns. Running and walking is out, and conditions don't extend happy invitations for camera work. I'm on hold and antsy. "Maybe it's good. You have all this time to practice," Kevin said. I shot back, "But I don't have the stress release running offers." (Tongue, where is your rein? You could use a steep hill.) 

He was referring to a few piano gigs I have this season — middle school choir and church performances. But specifically, three pieces I'll be playing with the Thompson High School Wind Ensemble in January. I haven't seen so much syncopation and "8va" at a 126 tempo since college. There are sympathetic tones between my brain and quad right now. Maybe crazy-antsy is just panic. Who knows. 

I let my brain wander to training runs and contemplate my chirpy Garmin. "Behind Pace," it admonishes. I think that one should be banned. "Ahead of Pace," it scolds. Sometimes I know it before I look, but other times I wonder how that happened. But then there's "On Pace." I really want that sunshiny quip to cheer me up, push me on, feel like an " 'atta girl." But somehow it doesn't. It's more like, "OK, you've made some good choices to get to this point. You're making progress." And then its immediate counterpoint chimes in. "Stay attentive. Run smart to be strong. Give even effort. One step, then another. Now's the time to work out the kinks, to go slow, to build endurance not possible otherwise. This is all part of the plan."

Fermatas don't last forever. I suddenly feel an urgency to step away from ego-nursing. This could be a dreadful behind-pace time, or maybe I'm really on pace. Physical therapy is working. Weights have doubled in importance now. I am physically stronger, and among other things, my piano performance will benefit. I'm taking a professional photography course that requires reading, listening, and watching; I get a little mired in the development details of black and white film, but if I can frame it as "on pace," I see its importance: piles of silver halide crystals gather to points of light, like a magnetic draw. Peaks and valleys form. More light, taller peaks; stronger highlights. Less light and valleys result where crystals are washed away; shadows gather there. I understand the histogram better now. Next time out, with camera in hand, I'll look for the light differently. I will try to see its range — the spread of all peaks and valleys, to know how to best expose for the shot. Funny, a weak muscle set me on pace to work out the kinks in a completely unrelated area of weakness.

So, maybe this fermata is just a tenuto, a lingering in a moment for creative tension before resolution. I'll see therapy through to its end. It should be soon, but I'll continue my regimen. I'll practice like crazy, well, smart-crazy to be ready for the performance of a lifetime. And, I'll take a little while to look over this year's photos and select a few "best-of" — shots from stages of development in an on-pace plan. 



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