Once I had my Turkey Trot iPod playlist sorted out, I decided it was finally time to execute a “stress test” on my body to see if I was ready to run a full 3 miles, which is roughly the American translation of “5k”. Like many my age, I vividly remember being told in the 1970’s that the metric system was the “new thing” we all must learn. So we did. Then we as a country promptly said “no thanks, we’re good” forgot it and went back to our old way. Now the only time we use anything related to the metric system is for a feel-good race such as the Turkey Trot, or a feel-bad heroin bust.
I awoke Monday morning at 4:24am, nursing a nasty Benadryl hangover from a weekend full of sweeping leaves from one side of the patio to the other and various chores that involved tornadoes of dust. As is the norm, Karen and Murphy Dog barely move as I slog my way around the room, clumsily searching through the darkness for sweatpants, a non-embarrassing t-shirt to wear and my cut rate running shoes.
I arrive at the gym at 5:02am, and even though it claims to be open “24 Hours”, the doors are locked and no one is inside. I am reminded of the old Steven Wright joke, where he is told that the 24 hour Mini Mart he is trying to get into isn’t open 24 hours “in a row”. Waiting even a minute for a gym to open so you can get started on punishing yourself, seems like the greatest waste of time ever.
Finally the early shift arrives to let us all in and I eagerly head over to the treadmills ready to stress test my body. My eagerness soon turns to despondency as I discover that the lone “good” treadmill is out of order. This particular treadmill, out of all 15, is the one that seems to agree with me most. Positioned directly under the ceiling fan, this wonderful death machine consistently gives me the feeling that I am always running ever so slightly downhill. This is about as good as it gets in the treadmill world. The only thing I can think of that would make it possibly better would be if it gave off the scent of bacon.
I reluctantly find another treadmill, after several tries, right in front of a mirror. (Evidently people break these machines on Sundays, because this morning only 3 of the 15 seem to work.) Looking at myself in the mirror as I begin does not feel particularly helpful. First off, I look really tired, and my attempt at hair combing this morning has apparently failed. Secondly, the t-shirt I have chosen in the dark this morning is rather ill fitting and in no way makes me look like a runner.
Alas, I begin anyway and it only takes me 90 seconds or so before I begin cursing this damned foreign treadmill for making me feel like I am running up a San Francisco street. I fight through it however, for I am determined to run 30 minutes today. After about 3 minutes, the legs start to loosen up and my music starts doing its job, distracting me from the simple truth that running bites.
About 8 minutes into the run, I start to notice that my body is not cooperating. My ever present allergies kick in, and I begin wheezing with every breath. The labored breathing makes me start sweating, and soon I am wiping my brow just as I close in on the one mile mark. This is starting to get worrisome, as my legs start to feel heavy, and my chest begins to tighten. I start to focus on the music playing in my ears, as if Bono were my own private running coach. I try to tell myself that this is merely a wall that I must break through in order to accomplish my goal. This rationale does not last long however, as the wheezing increases, the sweat continues to pour and the chest begins to hurt. Wall or not, I don’t think this is how I am supposed to be feeling after only a mile. Thus, approximately 12 minutes after I began my stress test to run 3 miles, I hit the “stop” button on the treadmill and sulk away, defeated and deeply disappointed in myself.
The romantic in me is reminded of that scene from Rocky, when Rocky first starts training for the big fight, but is overcome with exhaustion and cannot make it up the steps of the museum. Then, the realist in me reminds me that this is not a championship fight, but a harmless Turkey Trot. Yes it may be harder than I thought to prepare for, but hey, maybe I should be a bit more forgiving of myself as I do it. Oh, and maybe I shouldn’t try to run while working through a Benadryl hangover.
Coming soon! I try to enjoy myself a bit more and break through the 12 minute barrier, but the cold hard fact remains; I am not cut out to be a runner, and that running still sucks.