Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Dreadmills

I'm just going to say it:

I. Hate. Treadmills.

There. That felt good.

Now, treadmills and I didn't always have this sort of negative relationship; in fact, when I began running in March 2016, I logged every mile of my Couch to 5K program on a treadmill. The first time I ran outdoors was during my first ever road race. I continued to utilize the treadmill at my local gym during training sessions for the next few road races, but I slowly began to transition to more outdoor runs. Eventually, I was running on the treadmill once a week or less, and since then I have been on the treadmill 5 times. Mostly, I was getting in 4 or 5 miles on days that were too cold (my cutoff is 20* Fahrenheit), too rainy, or if there was too much snow on the ground. And that was working well until last Friday, when I was scheduled to run 10 miles.

Know what else was scheduled for Friday?

A bomb cyclone.

If you're not from New England, a bomb cyclone is like a Nor'Easter but on crack.

I panicked. I looked to see if I could get up at 4:30am to beat the weather (the rain was going to start at 1:00am, so scratch that). I checked the radar to see if I could drive to another state to avoid it (all of Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine were affected, so that was out).

Eventually, I resigned myself to an hour and a half of treadmill running, and headed out to my YMCA. The first 4 miles passed easily, and I remembered there were some benefits to treadmills after all:

  • I had access to my water bottle during my whole run
  • I could refill said water bottle whenever I needed
  • I could use the bathroom at any time, without concern for being arrested
Of course, after those 4 miles, I remembered why treadmills were public enemy #1:
  • No change in scenery -- you can only watch so many episodes of Parks & Rec before you start to channel your own inner Ron Swanson
  • Changes in pace don't feel as natural as they do on the roads
  • Have you ever been so bored you've considered tripping over your own feet just to spice things up?
And then, the kicker.

Did you know that treadmills require electricity to work? They do! And bomb cyclones (with 20-30 mph winds) have a tendency to make electricity a little bit dodgy. At mile 5.5, my treadmill went BZZZZZTTTTT and slammed on the brakes, sending me grabbing for the handrails.

For the second time in 24 hours, I panicked. I couldn't stop now, and for about 0.2 seconds I considered what would happen if I ran the last 4.5 miles outside (answer: a terrible reenactment of Twister, so that was a non-starter). 

Thankfully, the treadmill next to me had not been in use, and so had not shorted out like mine. I climbed aboard, and things seemed to be going smoothly until mile 7 when... BZZZZZTTTT. Again, I pitched forward and managed to save myself from smashing my teeth out on the console. Getting worried, I hopped off and refilled my water bottle. When I approached another treadmill, I saw a YMCA staff member apologetically unplugging the shorted out treadmills. Before they could stop me, I hopped on to the treadmill I had singled out, and began running again.

Mile 8.5 approached, and the wind was gusting fiercely. I anticipated the short-out this time, and frantically hopped to the second-to-last available treadmill. I picked up the pace, hoping to finish before we ran out of treadmills completely. The YMCA staff were circling and still looking at me apologetically as they unplugged the downed machines. The last available treadmill was next to the one I was currently on, and it was occupied by a younger woman. I'm not proud, but I considered shoving her off her treadmill and stealing it if mine stopped working.

Thankfully, I reached the 10 mile mark without any further electrical issues, and when I hopped off my treadmill, I saw the carnage around me. Mine was the last working treadmill out of 20. I had been lucky.

Of course, I would have been luckier if I hadn't had to use a treadmill for a 10 mile run, but that's neither here nor there. 

I managed to sneak in a 7 mile run today before our latest blizzard, and even though the 15 mph wind buffeted me sideways and sucked the life from my lungs, I couldn't help but smile. At least I was outside.

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