First of all, thanks for all the supportive comments and encouraging words this past week. Words cannot describe how physically draining and emotionally exhausting these past five days have been for me. To think how this highly-trained and battled-tested runner’s body can transform so quickly to a giant puddle of inactive mush in a matter of a few hours is both humbling and frightening. The good news though, is that I’ve started to turn a corner and my body has shown signs over the past 24 hours that it is winning the war once again. Although I have very little objective data to support this hypothesis (since I’m stilling sneezing and coughing quite frequently), the return of subjective sub-3 ponderings for the big race is evidence enough for me that I can once again start getting excited for the big day…Yay!
But…before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let me go back and tell you about the funniest story that you might not have heard and won’t ever hear again (because I’d be too embarrassed to tell you)…so listen up, ‘cause I’m just recounting this story ONCE and never again!
Let me preface the story by saying that I generally hold myself in pretty high esteem when I go running in the local gym. Because I limit myself to using only the treadmill when I go there and since I usually run much faster than anyone around me (and must look pretty good doing it too if I have to say so myself) I feel like I’m at my element whenever I’m pounding out the miles on the conveyor belt. Also, whenever I’m there, I always make sure I’m running in a race-ready technical shirt so as to differentiate myself from the cotton wearing wannabe crowd who are mainly there just to check themselves out while doing some light cardio.
It was with a similar mindset that I entered the gym for my usual hard Tuesday workout. Although I was sick that day, with fever, chills, and paroxysmal coughing fits, I thought (stupidly in retrospect) that a hard workout would jump start the immune system and help to eliminate the virus at a faster rate.
The scheduled called for a tempo run of 5 miles at 6:19 pace. To be safe, I settled on running the first half at marathon pace (6:52) and then transitioning to tempo pace only if I felt comfortable. Because my legs hadn’t run in a couple of days and had not experienced speedwork in a week and a half, they were excited for the opportunity to run fast even if the rest of the body wasn’t. After setting the treadmill to include random inclines at a steady 6:50 pace, I started running. The pace felt hard and fast right from the outset. Although I fought to hold the breathing and heart rate to a comfortable level, it became almost impossible after 0.5 mile. As I was getting disappointed that I was slipping so soon, I puckered down, closed my eyes, and pleaded with the body to just hold on until the end of the mile. As soon as I did I felt the treadmill tilted upward. With my eyes closed, I couldn’t register what was happening so I instinctively told myself to keep the same effort as I opened my eyes in a panic. But before those neuronal impulses became coherent, I inexplicably found myself slipping farther and farther backwards until a second later I found myself running on carpet behind the treadmill! It took me nearly a second to realize that because I had forgotten about the random adjustable incline and because I did not increase my pace in response to that incline, I had just done the most embarrassing thing this side of faking the finish of a marathon – I ran off a treadmill in the middle of a crowded NYC gym. Omigosh! First thought in my head: There should be a giant caption bubble above my head right now with the words “Wanna get away?” Second thought in my head: Is there anyone around who isn’t looking at me right now? Third thought in my head: I’m wearing my San Fran marathon shirt...spectacular…what a shining example of a great marathon runner am I? I didn’t dare look around. But even above the loud ambience of the hundreds of treadmills in operation in that same room and my own headphones pumping out tunes into my ears, I could still hear the muffled giggles and feel the laser stares of a thousand eyes straight on my back. It truly had to be one of the lowest points of my running life!
Somehow, despite the whole fiasco, I had the whereabouts to jump back on the treadmill and power down the machine to a more meaningful speed. I then proceeded to run at that same pedestrian speed for thirty minutes, or as long a period of time as I thought it would take for the rest of the gym to turn over. During that entire time, I didn’t look up, but stared at the flickering red digits on the display until time was up. The funny thing about that run was that I ran so slowly and so evenly that for a long time during it, I forgot that I was still sick. No matter though, the trauma for that night had already been done a long time ago…
So there it is folks. The mystery of the ONE time the treadmill took advantage of my sickness, rejected my running efforts, spat me back out, and left me with my most embarrassing running story ever!
Hope you all enjoyed that because I’m NOT repeating it ever again! Consider it my Passover/Easter present. Have a great weekend everyone!