Aint’ Nothin’ But an EKG-Thang Baby

14 Mar

This morning I had to go to Ciudad Universitaria in Nuñez (northern edge of the city, right next to the River Plate stadium) to get an EKG and physical test on my heart. This is a mandatory test in order to join the Nike Running Team, and in reality it’s the only requirement they have. In fact, just about anyone who wants to participate in a sport in the country, whether it be playing soccer or just joining a gym, must get blood, urine and heart tests. The logic is that they want to be sure you’re physically fit and they won’t be liable if you drop dead while playing. It kind of makes sense, but growing up in the States and playing just about every sport, I can’t remember ever having a test like this. How many of us dropped like flies in the process?

While there is no official campus for the University of Buenos Aires like you’ll find in the United States, Ciudad Universitaria (University City) is as close as you’ll come to that campus feel. It consists of three ugly buildings and a sports area with a pool, soccer fields and even a basketball court. In fact, this “campus” reminded me incredibly of the UMass Amherst campus, with awful waffle architecture, drab and gray, and a spread out lost sort of feel to it. Since I have no medical insurance and the tests are kind of expensive, I was recommended to go here and see the doctor who actually tended to Manu Ginobli of the San Antonio Spurs (an Argentinian). Because it’s a state run university, it was the cheapest option I would be able to find.

The tests really began over a week ago when I went to a private lab and got blood and urine work done. I picked up those results last week and took them to the doctor today, who went over them as I got a morning workout in. First I was told to put on only my shorts and lay on a table where my heart rate was checked. This was the first time in my life I could remember having an EKG, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I’ve been to hospitals where a clasp is placed on your finger and your heart rate appears, but I don’t know if that’s the same thing. This technology, however, was slightly behind.

With my eyes towards the ceiling, my body suddenly went cold as a gel was slid over my legs, arms and chest. I was hooked up with the wires and all those things I’ve seen in the movies, and again my heart rate was checked. So far, so good. I thought I’d run on a treadmill while connected, but instead I was given the bicycle. We started with a light pedal, slowly increasing in difficulty with weights added on and speed. Soon I was using more physical strength and told to push it harder to get my heart rate up. Because I’ve been running for so long and ran a race yesterday, I had to work harder in order to get the same results. My heart had to beat fast.

The doctor checked my heart rate as an outdated machine spat out the tape and eventually he told me to slow down and rest. Everything came out normal and I was given a clean bill of health. I had to clean off the gel on my body and while doing so I was looking around the walls at all of the antique machinery. Not only that, but even the motivational posters on the wall were from the year of the flood. I saw posters from the early 90s with Michael Jordan holding Spike Lee up by the skull, Scottie Pippen and Reggie White. Some of the original Nike “Just Do It” advertisements were on the wall, and everything had this throw back/retro feel to it. I wish I was able to take one of those posters home. You just can’t find that kind of publicity anymore.

With my positive results in hand, I was told that I should cut down on the deli meats and that I wouldn’t need to get this kind of test again for another two years. More good news came later on when I saw the results from yesterday’s UNICEF 7k. I finished in 29 minutes 58 seconds (slightly faster than I thought). Out of 3,997 runners I finished in 190th place. In my category of males aged 20-24 I finished in 6th place, and out of men in general I finished in 151st place.

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