Runner at Large

My whole life, I have viewed runners with a sense of awe. Now I am one of those, and I am extremely proud to be considered a runner.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

I. Don't. Do. Treadmills.

Okay, maybe the better terminology is "can't". Or "won't". No...I guess "can't".

Here I am in Greenville, SC. I'm traveling, checking out a manufacturing tradeshow (let me state for the record that scales designed to weigh pallets are NOT good scales to use to monitor your current weight). The hotel is on a busy road...there is a sidewalk, but one of the downsides to me running in a unknown place is A) what do I do if I run a tenth of a mile down the road and the sidewalk ends? and B) Is running on this road socially acceptable? So when I travel, if I am not with a co-worker who runs, is to hit up the fitness center. I haven't touched a treadmill in over a year. I now remember why.

I trained for my first 5K on a treadmill and loved every minute. Then I stepped outside for the first run once the great thaw hit, and swore I'd never look back. I tried to get over the fact that I had forgotten my tunes at home, so I had no headphone or music or magazines or anything. All I had was Harry Potter, and I purposely left him in the hotel room. I stepped into an empty fitness center (my favorite!) and adjusted the television to something that seemed to be somewhat entertaining, and stepped on the treadmill.

A vast layout rivaling the cockpit in the plane this morning lay before me. Did I want the "Quick Start" option? Did I prefer the "Fat Burn" choice? Or was "Manual" more up my alley? I chose "Quick Start" becuase it looked easy, and I wasn't about to let the cute little red heart on the "Heart Healthy" option get me! I almost bisected myself on the console when I started to run, not realizing soon enough the treadmill was starting me out at 0.000001 speed. I adjusted the speed to what I wanted, and was good until the treadmill started asking me questions. "What is your weight?" haha, Treadmill. If you are so smart, talk to the pallet scale down at the expo center. "What is your goal?" How long have we got? Fortunately, like any good machine, if you ignore it long enough the questions go away and the display is set at my speed and time and distance.

I focus in on the television...but the display is mocking me. I find myself staring at every second that goes by. Five minutes later, I jump off and run over to the magazine rack, retuning with the only two magazines there...Sports Illustrated. I repeat the start-up process, lay the magazines across the display, and focus in on the television. Okay, good to go, we're cooking with gas now! (or is it fire?)

Then come the commercials and while I feel good and could keep going, I'm so extremely bored I find myself wondering what voice messages I have waiting for me. Three minutes later, I start thumbing through the Sports Illustrated, and fifty seconds after that I find myself on the floor, pretending to stretch.

I stretch, do some sit-ups, and give myself a few minutes. Then I decide mabye I'll try the stairstepper, but one look at ITS console and I'm back to my friend Treadmill...I'm familiar with those buttons and know he's going to ask me trick questions. I knock out another five minutes before deciding this absolutely sucks and what I wouldn't give for my roads and streets at home.

Tomorrow morning I will try again, but I will take Harry Potter with me. Wish me luck! I will conquer the treadmill. I am now looking so much more forward to my run Thursday morning when I get home. Familiar routes, trick questions. Just me and the road.


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