One of the best parts of my day is the brief interlude early in the day when I sit on the turf at the Athlete Training Centre and pull on my sneakers.
The regulars file in, in varying states of readiness – physical, sartorial, and otherwise. Richard walks through the building snapping on lights, turning on the computers and monitoring systems, and firing up the music. The gym comes alive before the gym rats. We banter about the Jays.
Occasionally someone is tired from a late work night or business event. Rarer still is the weekday hangover (but they do happen.) A unifying point of conversation — a rallying point for those of us about to feel the hurt — is the earliness of the hour, the darkness of the sky, and more and more, the coming cold of winter.
But in those few minutes we are part of something a little bigger. Almost a team. I hear people share something from their lives – a mom’s birthday party, a hockey game on the road, a weekend plan, where they were when the Jays won or lost. It’s fun and it’s light and you realize that we’re all different and we’re all the same and we’re all there at 6a.
The thing that is the most the same is that at 6a, five mornings a week, we’re all there to work. No one makes us go. And we can leave whenever we want. But I really respect those people for just showing up, let alone the things Richard makes us do.
I don’t think it has occurred to most of those people that their example is actually changing other peoples’ lives. But I know that to be true.
On Tuesday after the election – I worked very late – I didn’t go to the gym. On Wednesday I did go but I was still tired. So tired, in fact, that I forgot both the chest belt that we wear to monitor heart rate and effort, and I forgot a dress shirt to wear after my shower.
It was a pain in the ass to drive home to get a shirt but unless you have a butler in your employ, it’s a self-inflicted injury.
Today, Richard chirped me during warm ups. “Did you bring your chest belt? Did you bring a shirt? Did you bring a tie?”
Yes on all three counts, actually, but with an asterisk. First, I rarely wear a tie. But I have a board meeting today and ties are pretty much board-room mandatory.
Second, the asterisk. I actually forgot my suit. And tie. And shoes. I was halfway to the gym when I realized it. I always put out my work clothes the night before and hang them in the mud room and I did that last night, too. But for some reason I walked past them this morning and out to the garage with the blissful ignorance of the utterly unprepared, utterly unaware.
I turned around and went home. If Laura knew I returned she never said so.
I may have to start putting everything in the car – not just the mud room – the night before, to counteract my apparent creeping senility. But that won’t work well when it’s -20 – changing into frozen clothes is one of those circles-of-hell kinda things.
Eventually, I got all my clothes in the right place today. We had a good workout, including a hard, flop-sweat-inducing 30-minute spin, which if it doesn’t kill you will certainly wake you up.
And I got to pull on my sneakers with some friends, inside a sparsely populated gym where the light from the door at 5:55am pierced the darkness like an arrow and the promise of the day to come bled into the morning.
I enjoy the 6a workout. And like the strawman in Wizard of Oz, maybe I could remember my clothes if I only had a brain.
Like thousands of others in Toronto, I left work a little early Wednesday afternoon to go home and watch the game. Unlike most of them I wasn’t hurrying to see the Blue Jays and Royals, but rather I was dialled in for the Dal Tiger and Acadia Axemen.
Last night was Dal’s home opener and Acadia was sure to be a handful as the 6th ranked university team in Canada. Dal’s program is improving but is still a work in progress, although a tight 3-2 loss to #2 UNB on the weekend gave reason for optimism.
Dal went into last night’s game with four of its eight rostered defencemen injured. Two or three forwards were also on the shelf. It was hardly a portent of glory.
But glory, there would be.
Long story short, the Tigers prevailed 4-3 in an overtime shootout. Acadia scored with just four seconds left to tie the game after the Tigers carried a 3-2 lead for most of the third, with my kid picking up an assist on that goal. Yeah, I was excited for him and all of them.
In overtime, the Tigers played like giants. Patrick drew the only penalty of the frame, taking a high stick to the face. He never missed a shift and they rode him like a $2 pony at the fair.
It was such a great way to end my day and such a great moment for the Dal players. It doesn’t get any easier on Friday night when they travel to Antigonish to play St FX. That’s the thing about the Atlantic conference – every night is a tough night.
Our guy knows from hard experience that nothing worth having comes easily. I think about that all the time lately, too. Even at 6a.