From the Treadmill, with Love

I’m a runner.

Though I am slow, and sort of old to claim the status, I feel entitled. I have been faithfully putting one foot in front of the other in all sorts of weather for over thirty years.

At twenty years old and eight months pregnant, I was running in the small town where I lived. It was August and there were plenty of people on the street. A friend’s boyfriend called out loud enough for the hearing-impaired in the next town to hear, “Maralie! Good God! Look at the pregnant lady run!”

Later on, not pregnant, but during a humid, northeastern heat wave, a friend commented as I passed, “You know, we mortals worry about heat stroke.”

I’ve run on mornings when the digital thermometer on the bank read 38 below zero. Do you know what can be exposed in 38 below zero?

Absolutely nothing you hope to keep.

It’s as close as I’ve ever come to an extreme sport, short of trying to ride a flying saucer down Mount Washington.

Running is how I manage stress and keep my personal monsters at bay.

Since coming to New Mexico two decades ago, I’ve adapted to dry heat and the elevation that initially kicked my butt. Three hundred days of sunshine a year and more often than not, I’ve been able to run in shorts and a tee shirt on Christmas day.

I don’t like wind.

Struggling into the southwestern wind, the sand and dry air flicking across your eye balls while crud blows up your nostrils? It’s a special kind of Hell.

On those days, I use the treadmill at the gym.

The treadmill and I have a tempestuous relationship. It’s boring, benign, not your first choice, but fail safe. Sort of like the late night drunk dial of the exercise world, the treadmill is who you go to when you’re lonely and just need to let your dog’s run.

If my parents are reading this… I’ve learned of drunk dials from popular culture and certainly have no personal experience.

The other day was particularly windy. I addressed the treadmill, sat it to my weight, age and preferred program – manual.

I start out at 5.8 miles per hour. I think I mentioned I’m slow. Building up gradually, I top out at 6.2. I was feeling good.

Bruno Mars sang about it being a beautiful night and the world was a virtuous place by ten minutes in.

The endorphins were pumping. These are the moments you live for as a runner. I do anyway. I upped the speed to 6.5 miles per hour. Even in my current condition, several years and a few pounds past my fighting weight… I am invincible… can’t break me… had a home-made whoopee pie for lunch and I’m the bomb.

Elle King is doing that Tom Petty cover I like through my headphones.

My God. I feel AMAZING.

6.8 miles per hour. 7.0… still invincible. Blood and oxygen pulsing through every capillary… heart pounding… 7.2… miles per hour… this is as fast as I ever move on a treadmill.

This is as fast as I ever move. Period.

Damn, but I’m fast.

Twenty two quicker than usual minutes into a forty minute treadmill run is as close to mainlining hard stuff as I will ever get.

7.5 miles per hour.

Look at me. I am so awesome in my 46-year-old-BO-DEY.

Maybe the Boston Marathon is not out of the question.

7.7 miles per hour.

Maestra has got her groove on.

The heart rate monitor clocks me at 198. Then it goes dead.

Screw you…. HRM… I am awesome. Unstoppable. Post-Nuclear War, it’ll be cockroaches, Keith Richards and me.

Maybe it was that whoopee pie?

8.0… through Immigrant Song and Meghan Trainor for six whole minutes.

Maybe SNAP Fitness will sell me this treadmill?

My endorphin rush is moving into lactic acid overload. I’ve run four and a half miles in a little more than thirty five minutes. I’m dancing with the brick wall, but it’s taking sucker punches at my gut.

Gradually, I taper down to 6.0… 5.0.

Maybe only the Duke City? The 10K, not the half marathon. I’m not an animal.

Another night, and here we are again, croons Rob Thomas.

I give the treadmill a final caress of its end button. No time to cuddle.

Is there another whoopee pie left?

I do the lame walk of shame to the chest press… maybe the Arthritis Foundation 5K?

And another whoopee pie.

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