Monday, February 13, 2012

In the Long Run: Uncharted Territory (or, Treadmills Are Stupid)

This week, Midlife Rambler and I tackle the highs and lows of indoor and outdoor running.

Saturday's unfortunate excursion on Treadmill #11 at the Y was a trip into uncharted territory for me. And it yielded the same result as Warner Herzog's "Aguirre: The Wrath of God."*

Okay, I didn't find myself floating on a raft surrounded by a bunch of monkeys at the completion of the run, but I ended up sitting in the passenger side of the car with 50 minutes of running not completed. I pouted the entire way home.

I screwed the pooch on this run. I screwed it big time.

I was supposed to run for 2:10. Last week, I had a glorious, in the moment, well-paced, hour and fifty minute run outside. It was a wee-bit colder today and I thought I'd be wise (since I'm pretty cheap and still haven't bought the fucking balaclava) to do my run inside. With a very short inside track at my Y (13 laps to a mile; 4 sharp corners on each lap), running much more than an hour and a half or so can be awfully painful on these 39-year-old hips. After talking to my coach, she suggested I split the workout: an hour or more on the treadmill and an hour or more on the track.

I have limited treadmill experience. I can count on one hand how many times I've used them and none of those experiences were ever good. We have one in our community exercise area downstairs. Midlife Rambler likes to name his treadmills.  If he ever met the one in our building, I'm sure he'd agree with me on its Native American name: Two Days Older Than Christ. 

The treadmills at the Y are infinitely fancier than Two Days Older Than Christ. And there are a ton of them. I picked #11 because it was on the end and no one was on #12. 

I appreciate an ample amount of personal space. 

#11 has a lot of shelving for stuff. I put my two Power Gels and an unopened tube of Bloks on the left and had my water bottle and iPhone on the right. For a second, I was hopeful: I was enjoying the storage of #11 and it was quite possible that this wouldn't be as awful as I had thought it would be.


If what I'm about to say doesn't get me a lifetime pass on the short bus, nothing will.

I don't understand how to run on a treadmill. 

I mean, I understand that, in theory, it's left, right, left, repeat. I get that. But I don't understand how to move on something that is already moving. I had a similar misunderstanding with an elliptical machine about a year ago: I don't know how to run if my feet aren't making contact with the ground.

There weren't any whacky, Jack Tripper-esque flying-off-the-back-of-the-treadmill-and-into-the-wall kind of scenarios, but to me, what I'm running on should be still. I'm the one that is moving, not the sidewalk I'm running on. I couldn't tell if the machine was telling me how fast I should be running or if I could tell the machine, "This is how I be doin' it, bitch."

Clearly, the designer of the treadmill was a fucking idiot.

I started super slow, but realized that I could walk at the pace it was moving. I jacked it up a bit. Better. I jacked it up some more, but then I felt like I was going way faster than what it said I was running.  So I bumped it back down a little. 

And by this point, I was bored. 

I was bored out of my fucking short bus mind. I wasn't going anywhere! I had no motivation to go faster, because I wasn't going to be any farther out than I presently was. I realized right then how important the milestone I had on the previous week's run outside -- reaching the Bahai Temple -- actually was. And it burned my ass because last week, I started imagining what the extra 20 minutes of this week's run would allow me to see.  

How far up Sheridan Road, beyond the Bahai, could I go? Would I hit Kenilworth? Or Winnetka? 

The road to nowhere. Come on inside.
Well, it didn't matter. I was in Evanston at 12:10 pm and I was going to be in Evanston, in the exact same stupid spot at 12:30. And again at 12:45. And then once more at 1 pm.

Running to get some place makes a helluva lot more sense to me than running in place.  

I gave it the good old college try. I stuck on #11 for an entire twenty-fucking-one minutes. #11, which will now be referred to as Aguirre (he was a ruthless fucker), told me I ran 1.69 miles. So that's a pace of what... 1 mile per decade?

Fuck you, Aguirre. Fuck. You.

I got off of Aguirre, wiped him down, said hello to my ex-therapist** who had just finished her workout, and headed upstairs to the track where  I fought every damn demon in my own head for an entire 56 minutes.

In those 56 minutes, I went through every cliched motivational thought about running to stay on the track: 

"No matter how slow you're going, you're still faster than the person on the couch."
"I run for all those who can't...."
"Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional."

God, I tortured myself with those motivational quotes.

I pushed. I kept telling all the TTT's in my head to shut up and let me run. I made myself go for 10 minute blocks: I can't stop until these 10 minutes are over.  

Ten minutes later: I can't stop until these 10 minutes are over.

I'm not sure if it was my agitated throat, which at that point, felt like a dry cottonball was stuck on my thyroid, or the ignorant asshole that brought McDonald's into the gymnasium below and had stunk up the entire gym with fatty grease and salt clouds, but around 55 minutes, I started to look for the trash can: I thought I was going to puke.

At 55 minutes, I decided walking for one minute would be okay. 

I don't walk through aid stations --I grab my water or Gatorade and do my best to swig it down while I'm running. But it's likely that on a 26.2 mile run, I may feel the need to walk through support. Today's valuable lesson, and one I hope that sticks with me until May 5th: it all breaks down once I start to walk.

Half a lap through my minute walk and I started to cry. I called Husband and told him it was over. Come get me. I ruined everything.

Coach was on a weekend getaway, so I wasn't going to text her to tell her I failed. Husband did what she would do: reminded me that everyone has a bad run. And that the bad ones don't define us -- it's recovering from the bad ones that make us better.  Blah, blah, blah. My run sucked, and I was pissed.

I still am.

Shake well before opening, dumb ass.
Back at home, I helped unload groceries and I got my special FRS beverage out of the fridge. I told Husband I didn't even deserve to drink it. He told me to shut up and enjoy the drink. I didn't realize I was supposed to shake it before I opened it, so although I had the beverage, I didn't enjoy it. 

Fuck you, Aguirre. Fuck you, your unfound gold and all those stupid, Ebola-ridden monkeys. 

If monkeys freak you out, check out Midlife Rambler's monkey-free post next.

* I give Husband credit for the Aguirre reference. I was trying to make an analogy about famous explorers that fucked up but I just couldn't make it sing. I kept thinking of Indiana Jones running from that big rock, but Midlife Rambler had done a great piece on that a few months ago, and I didn't want to appear derivative.

**Come to think it, last time I had a devastating workout at the Y (the day I tried to swim on nothing more than two Shot Bloks and a travel mug of coffee),  I saw my therapist in the locker room. she trying to drum up new business?


  1. I don't know anything about the Aguirre reference...but being in a boat surrounded by monkeys would scare me. Monkey's freak me out a little.

    I hate the treadmill too! Sometimes if the TV is on it's not bad. Otherwise it SUCKS! The indoor track sucks though too, because after so many loops it's just like the treadmill! Don't feel bad about stopping, I don't know I could have done it either!

  2. Aguirre wasn't supposed to be a comedy, but I laughed my ass off when we watched it a few years ago!

    I'm also terrified of monkeys. Not freaked out...TERRIFIED.

    Fortunately, I have some wiggle room in my training plan, so I can go after that 2:10 this week. Ordering balaclava now....

  3. I want one of those balaclava (stealing your spelling on this one...geez what kind of word is that!)
    But alas I have been cheap too. I want to hear if you like yours when you run with it!

  4. Now I have to go read about some guy on a boat with monkeys?

    This is why I keep coming back here. Education.

    That, and all the cursing.

  5. i got my balaclava thingy at EMS when they had a half off sale- it was only like $13 and worth every penny!

  6. Best comment ever!!! I went there and found one for $9.99!!! I got my yak trax and wool socks, too! I'm outside on Saturday, baby!!!!!