This evening, in between eating tofu marinaded in orange sauce and Mexican rice, and catching up on work emails, I tried searching the web for “exercise while wearing N95 mask” because if I carry on getting one run a month I’m going to go crazy. Eventually, I ended up on this page which had some handy recommendations for what to do while the air readings are all purple. (P is for purple and also for poisonous.) One recommendation was to go bowling.
Now, if you haven’t seen The Big Lebowski, please correct that failing immediately. It’s one of the greatest documentaries about bowling that the world has even seen. I regret to say that my wife wasted the first three decades of her life without seeing The Big Lebowski (ok, it was released in 1997 and to be fair, we can only say she wasted the time between its release and when I forced her to watch it in 2009). But The Big Lebowski, despite all the tragic heights and comic lows it displays of the milieu of bowling (and sex offenders, and trampolines) can never be said to be a depiction of an aerobic sport. Bowlers are built for comfort, not speed.
Although perhaps not in Singapore. Then again, I was already taking these articles with a pinch of salt large enough to inflict hypertension, because the previous one I read said it was unnecessary to wear a pollution mask while commuting. Well, I suppose that is true if you don’t mind coughing and spluttering and sneezing and feeling your eyes twitch after the ten minute walk between home and office. But still, I’m not sure that the average Singaporean is manifestly immune to high concentrations of particulate matter, like any other human, and I’m also unconvinced that the keen bowlers of Singapore are any more sprightly than those in the rest of the world.
But still, I needed some exercise.
So, after I’d put the emails to bed for the night, I put on my pollution mask and went down to the car park, and then found that the stairs from the lift lobby only went up to the 2nd floor. So then I walked outside, up the steps to the 3rd floor, and then walked up 38 flights of steps to get back to the 40th, where I live.
This was not a pleasant experience. Exercise in a pollution mask never is. You don’t realise until you can’t get rid of it, exactly how hot and wet your breathe is. As I walked up and up in seemingly never ending clockwise circles (there are 16 steps between each floor and each step is as joyous as before) I huffed and puffed some more, wishing I hadn’t come up with such a damn fool way to exercise.
I was also mindful that I was ascending less than half the height of Taipei 101 (currently second tallest building in the world) where each year they have a race. And the winning time to do 100 floors is about 10 minutes. And a ninety-six year old man did it in less than half an hour. I had to get back to my floor in less than fifteen minutes if I was going to protect my ego.
Still, my knees don’t hurt. I remember walking down 14 flights once, and that was bloody murder on my joints. Maybe if I’d had a space hopper and bounced down on that, my knees would have been ok (and I would have smashed the rest of my body in a thousand pieces and my wife could have stored my knees on our non-existent mantelpiece as a keepsake to remind her of me). And my eyes aren’t burning and I’m not wheezing now, despite soaking my shirt through with sweat somewhere between the third and fortieth floors.
It took 7 minutes and 22 seconds this time, and afterwards, my watch told me I should try to recover for 42 hours. I hope some of that is to do with the long run yesterday, and it doesn’t just think that less than ten minutes of strenuous exercise is enough to have me confined to the sofa for almost two days.
Or maybe the haze really has taken away every shred of my fitness.
Oh, and in other news, after taking about an hour to put La Serpiente to bed, I came out to the dining room and lo and behold, Toffee Puppy 1 had mysteriously reappeared! So reports of her demise were exaggerated, or else Toffee Puppy 2 is capable of teleporting out from the clutches of my daughter just to mess with my head and Toffee Puppy 1 is still MIA and not currently concealed in our wardrobe.