I wasn’t up to it…but…yanno…the plane!

So…a tough week. Way too much work. Way too many night calls. Not near enough sleep. Lots of worries.

Add 5 days a week in the gym (WAY too early in the morning), two of ’em with a trainer…and then factor in a decided caffeine deficit…and…well…my brain does weird things.

My trainer (Hey Blaine!) has this 8/6/4/2 row machine cardio/endurance thing for me to do…get on the row machine, row as hard as you can for 8 minutes (doesn’t sound like much, yes? Heh…try it!), rest for 1 minute, row for 6, rest for 1, row for 4…yeah yeah you get it. That’s 20 minutes of maximum effort rowing…(gasp wheeze)

Then I record the final distance…been doing it twice a week…and I presume I should improve as we go along (I have been…sort of). It’s a bear of challenge, and I’ve been doing it on my “on my own at the gym” days simply because I know how to do it and don’t need coaching for that…and that makes 23 minutes more time I can spend learning new, heavy, and difficult stuff with Blaine.

But it’s a bear. And I woke late in the night (early in the morning) woozy and beat, after too little sleep, and frankly figured I simply wasn’t up to it today. Perhaps I’d treadmill…or sleep in even…

I had another couple hours before the alarm went off so I dropped back off to a fitful sleep.

And THEN…my brain, which has a long established habit of trying to kill me…went to work.



Crammed in my seat…row 273…in the nether regions of some third-world jumbo-jet…tightly wedged between a preacher and a politician…they were arguing about the best methods of liberating the people from their hard earned dollars and I couldn’t tell which one was which.

The floor at my feet is clearly marked with a dotted line and stenciled on it is, “In case of hard landing or crash, plane breaks here and you are screwed.” I resolve not to travel on discount airlines…or Delta…anymore. This definitely wasn’t worth the $29,234.11 ticket price (yeah, I was stupid and checked a bag).

Suddenly the plane shudders…and booms…and a crack appears on the dotted line. The stewardess hands me a roll of duct tape.

But then there’s a voice from up front. “Attention passengers! We need an 8/6/4/2 row! Anybody back there that can do that?”

I look around. Nobody raises their hand. Many hunch down in their seats and try not to be noticed.

“Seriously! We need an 8/6/4/2 row! Lives depend on it!”

One rather fit young lady gets a panicked look on her face and runs and hides in the restroom. Two others tried to follow but she wouldn’t let them in.

I reluctantly raise my hand. The owner of the voice comes back to my seat. “Excellent! This way!”

“Blaine? Is that you?”

“Of course! Who’d you expect? Leslie Nielsen?”

We proceeded to first class. Sure enough, nestled in amongst the dumbbells and weight trees, sat my nemesis…the rowing machine.

“Man…” I observed, “…they really do have everything in first class!”

“8/6/4/2…if you break 5000 meters we all get to live!”

“Surely you can’t be serious?”

“I am serious. And don’t call me Shirley.”

(oh come ON…you KNEW that was coming!)

“Huh…” I pondered, mostly to myself “…of all the skills I’ve acquired over a lifetime…it comes down to rowing a machine to save my life.” Louder now, “I actually AM a licensed pilot…or perhaps you need an electrician? Or a computer guy?”

He points at the machine. “Row.”

Ginger, the big brown Lab gym dog, lounging on the big black couch (man, they have everything in first class), says, “Woof.” This was actually the first time I realized I was dreaming. I’ve never heard Ginger make a sound ya see.

I shrug and commence to rowing.

There’s a point…about four minutes in…where you know you’ve had enough…and the temptation is to say, “Fuck it” and quit…or at least back off a bit…

If you push through it…well then it’s behind you. (yeah, decidedly un-poetic, but there ya go…besides…I’ve never learned how to quit.) I hit that point. Pushed beyond it. And then I was done.

“Hah! 5100 meters! Plane saved?”

“No. Now we need squats! Grab that dumbbell and have at it!”

“How many squats?”

“Well…ALL of ’em!”

Some time later…all out of squats…the plane shudders again. Somebody screams. I ask what’s next.

“Looks like we need another 8/6/4/2 row!”


I expect…as in many of my writings…if ya look deep into this story there are probably all sorts of hidden meanings, messages, and perhaps enough view into my psyche to get me locked in a little rubber room (with Leslie Nielsen no doubt)…but the resounding message I took away from this one was quite simple…

If, for some reason, TWO 8/6/4/2 rowing challenges are needed in the same hour to keep the plane full of folks safe…

Heh…well…sorry…I’m gonna hide in the restroom with the cute chick…y’all are going down in flames.

Oh, and yep…I did what I always do when I’m not up to facing the day…I got up, showered, dressed, and went and did it anyway. 5060 meters for those of you keeping track.

Did the squats too.

I’ll see you on the road!

Daniel Meyer

You can read more about my fitness journey here.

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