When winter weather delivers a glancing blow to Middle Tennessee, my kids love to get a recorded call from Carol Birdsong saying that "Williamson County Schools will be closed". Carol has become somewhat of a cult hero in our community, with a fan page on Facebook and a song that is all but a snow dance intended to evoke a call from Carol.
Carol rang our phone 4 times this week and the kids got a second winter break out of the deal.
Parents of elementary school students will tell you they like hearing from Carol Birdsong a great deal less than their children do. It means an unavoidable interruption of the natural rhythm of the family unit. So, we all are left to make the best of Carol Birdsong's snow days.
My coping strategy this week was to take the kids with me to the YMCA where they could enjoy the playroom and gym while I got in a workout. My friend had the same idea and as the week dragged on, we found ourselves on the treadmill at the Y again and again. We discussed how ironic it is that the Republicans that govern the reddest county in America are so liberal in handing out snow days.
Be that as it may, I came down with a case of Carol Birdsong fever. The only cure was to sweat it out on the treadmill and in the process I devised a treadmill workout I like to call "The Birdsong". Here's how it works:
A chief advantage of the Birdsong is that it battles the mind numbing boredom of the treadmill by requiring constant adjustment of the machine's settings. It is a 60 minute workout that doesn't give faint hearted school bus drivers any more courage to brave the roads, but on the other hand when you're done it's an hour closer to springtime.
- Start the treadmill in manual mode as you'll have to make decisions under pressure, just as Carol does.
- Adjust the speed to a comfortable walking pace. I use 4.0 MPH.
- Now I'm walking but not getting anywhere, kind of like letting the machine answer Birdsong's call.
- I watch the "Elapsed Time" readout on the treadmill control panel. At precisely 1 minute into the workout, I adjust the incline control to 1.
- I keep walking, staying in the moment, resisting the temptation to wonder when my child's education will resume. At two minutes in, I raise the incline to 2.
- At three minutes, I raise the incline to 3. Having alignment between the time and the incline helps not to confuse my simple mind, which has been stunted by two many snow days when I was a kid.
- I continue raising the incline one level as each minute ends, until the end of the 5th minute when the incline is at level (think think think!) ah yes, level 5.
- At the beginning of the 6th minute I decrease the incline level to 4. I'm headed back down.
- At the beginning of the 7th minute, I decrease to incline level 3 and so on. The numbers are slightly more confusing to me since they don't match at this stage, but they'll always add up to 10 which is conveniently the number of fingers I have to count on.
- At the beginning the 10th minute, I am back down to incline level 0.
- This 10 minute period is the warm-up, a prayer really for a warm up outside. At the beginning of the eleventh minute, I go back up to incline level 1.
- I continue as before, increasing the incline one notch at the beginning of every minute. However, the Birdsong requires me to fly higher this time. At the beginning of the sixteenth minute I increase to incline level 6.
- Minute by minute I work my way up to the twentieth minute when I spend 60 seconds in the Death Zone: Incline level 10. Sometimes I go ahead and hold on to the handles in order to avoid an embarrassing fall like Icarus did, no doubt on a snow day in Greece long ago.
- At the beginning of the twenty-first minute, I drop back down to level 9. Now on the way back down, the math adds up to twenty but I can't take off my running shoes to count on my fingers and toes. Channeling my inner "Little Engine that Could" helps as I huff "I think I can, I think I can."
- All the way back down to level zero and I'm at 30 minutes: Half way through The Birdsong Workout.
- Over the next twenty minutes I go all the way back up to 10 and all the way back down to zero. Somewhere, I imagine, Carol is booting up the robo-call machine again.
- With only 10 minutes to go, I warm down with a trip up to 5 and back down.
- At sixty minutes I'm done and feel like I could drive the damn school bus myself.
Let's say school is opening two hours late. In that case, the "Half-Birdsong" is an option in which I do 30 minutes and only do three sets up to level 5.
School was back in session today. I still went to the Y, but didn't have what it took to pull a Birdsong. But you can bet the next time Carol comes a' calling, I'll put on my snow shoes and make tracks to the Y. Thanks for all you do Carol, to keep us informed and healthy.