Thursday, April 24, 2014

Treadmill Fail

I fell off of the treadmill at the Y this morning. There, I said it.


When I got home last night, my wife enthusiastically declared that she signed up to run a half marathon on Mother's Day.

Mother's Day, 2014...just two weeks away.

Interestingly enough, while I thought that it was just great that she's able to run the equivalent of Everett to Lynnwood on a whim, I could not help but think that my glory days were over. For the remaining few hours of awake time that I had last night, I considered my options of how to make my fitness revival.

My decision-making capabilities were slightly hampered, though, because I was gorging myself with homemade chocolate chip cookies. They were fabulous.

Waking up at 4:15am this morning, I was feeling great despite the previous night's doughboy endeavors. And while driving to the YMCA, I decided to give the treadmill a shot. I was not satisfied with just a simple jog, though, I planned on cranking up the turbo and try to run at a 10-minute mile pace! For those of you laughing at my aspiring speed, please direct me to the other seven-footer you know that can run six miles per hour.

Six miles per hour. It sounded amazing. Mystical.

Stepping onto the treadmill, I casually pulled each foot, one at a time, up to my rear to get a quick stretch of some legs muscles. 

On a bar in front of me, there was a gigantic red button and an attached tether labeled "emergency stop." I figured that only dog owners and loving parents use tethers, so I decided not to hook up.

My head was about three feet above the attached television screen, so I tucked my earbuds away. Looking down to watch and listen to the television didn't seem like a very cool thing to do. After all, Prefontaine never ran with his head down.

Steve Prefontaine

My wife talks about the first mile of her training runs being the slowest mile of the entire run. Seeing that I was just starting my run, making the first mile my slowest seemed like an acceptable plan for me too. I settled right in at about 4 m.p.h., which coincidentally is the walking speed of a turtle.

After about five minutes, I determined that it was time to get things cookin' as I was going to make myself late for work if I maintained my "slowest mile." 

While holding onto the safety bar, I rapidly pushed a button that increased my speed to 6 m.p.h. The sensory experience was sensational! My footstep cadence sounded regular, if not a bit heavy. And the high pitched whining of the treadmill's belt was downright wicked.

For the next twenty minutes, I ran that way. Fast! While my athletic ego was beaming, my self image was facing reality: I couldn't help but think that I must look like a capybara on my little treadmill.

Capybara--the World's Largest Rodent

Rather suddenly, I hit a metaphorical wall. I was excruciatingly tired. I started to feel the back roller of the treadmill with my toes on almost every stride. The fear of actually falling off of the treadmill shocked me into a burst of energy, and I made my way to the front of the machine.

At that moment, I glanced to my left and saw myself in a full-sized mirror. Being as tall as I am, I rarely get to see my whole body in a mirror. My self admirations were interrupted by a loud rubbing squeal, though, as I had gently drifted to the side of the treadmill's belt which caused my shoe's sole to wail in agony.

I quickly corrected my stride, glanced around the gym to be sure that nobody noticed the misstep, and continued my 6 m.p.h. speed.

A moment later, my entire right foot went off of the treadmill and halted on the safety step-off platform on the side of the running deck. Life slowed down, and I desperately tried to stay upright. My left foot continued on its 6 m.p.h. stride, followed by a fruitless attempt to get my right foot back onto the treadmill.

Mikhail Baryshnikov

I did succeed at getting both feet back onto the moving belt, but had over-corrected. My body was incapable of performing a Baryshnikov-esque controlled re-alignment. While still on the moving belt, my body now turned to the side, perpendicular to the treadmill. I thought that I had better get my stuff together or I just might fall.

I fell. Hard.

The world's largest rodent, weighing 240 pounds, smacked the deck of that treadmill with such force that the machine actually stopped. Desperately wanting to crawl into a hole, I tried to move off of the treadmill. However, with shifting weight, the industrial motor was freed just enough to spin right back to 6 m.p.h., taking a swath of my forearm skin with it.

Things were falling apart quickly. And now I was getting hurt, too. I tried once more to move off of the once-again-still treadmill, but the movement allowed the machine to scream to speed and take a patch of skin from my back this time.

Like a Marine diving into a bunker to avoid the blast of the incoming grenade, I dove awkwardly to the ground.

Immediately, people from all around approached to ask if I was alright. I so desperately wanted to think of a witty remark, but was able to muster nothing other than a shake of my head and fake-smile.

Trying to regain a grain of dignity, I went over to the stretching mats. Doing some floor exercises seemed like a much more macho surrender than throwing in the towel and hitting the showers.

It was probably the worst possible thing to do because I was now in a location of the Y wherein I had to go on a Walk of Shame to exit the cardio room. So a few minutes later, I lowered my head and walked in between the facing rows of treadmillers and had to endure the altruistic concerns asking me if I was okay all over again.


I have fallen into a pattern of trying to literally keep up with my wife with my fanciful expectations of becoming a runner myself. Eistein's pragmatic observation of insanity is quickly becoming my personal truth: I'm doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Battle of the Sexes

Tomorrow, I will be fighting for my life.  Well, at least for some self-respect.  Tanya and I will be running in a 5km race around our neighborhood.  It'll be a race of two: mano y mano.


Rewind to New Year's Eve, 2011.  While announcing our resolutions for 2012, I stumbled.  For years, I was resolute in not buying a new car.  However, not only did I get a new car, I bought another tiny vehicle.  The only thing that was resolved last year was that I am forever destined to drive the smallest car in our employee parking lot at work.

For 2013, I really wanted to announce a resolution, a goal, that would be an out-of-the-park smash hit. We were with our friends, and each of us took turns sharing.  Two themes emerged before it was my turn: Being present (in the moment, with our kids, etc.) and athletic endeavors (marathons, grueling bike rides, etc.).  I was blank.  Nothing.  Frozen.

Tanya broke the silence with a suggestion:  "How about running a 5k, Steve?"

Some folks may not consider a five kilometer run as a worthy New Year's Resolution. However, Tanya knew my history. Running and big-boy Steve didn't mesh too well.

At midnight on the 4th of July in 2009, we ran in the Firecracker 5000.  It was a 5k run through downtown Seattle, encircling the Space Needle with a route skirting the South Lake Union, Belltown, and Lower Queen Anne neighborhoods.

I started out like gangbusters, running as fast I could.  In retrospect, thinking that my long-legged strides would get me through the race faster was a bit ridiculous. For what it was worth, that was the plan, though.

Within minutes, I was tanked.  Now walking, the participants that I nearly ran over just moments before, zinged past me. Basking in embarrassment, a girl spanked me while running past.  It was Tanya, and as she glanced back, there was an eye-lock of understanding that I was a fool.

For the rest of the race, I was too tired for even continuous jogging.  So, I walked.  A lot.

The streets and neighborhoods around Seattle's Space Needle rarely sleep and include many bars and night clubs for hipsters to enjoy.  On the particular night of this Firecracker 5000, most of the watering hole patrons enjoyed their libations outside in the summertime air, watching the runners on the street pass by.

More than four years have passed, and I am able to recognize the silliness of the situation.  While I am no longer emotionally scarred, there is still a good dose of embarrassment.  

Trying to redeem myself after getting spanked by my wife, I alternated running as fast as I could with walking and gasping for air to regain my strength.  By the halfway mark of the race, I was literally grunting on the walking/recovery cycles.
Okay, I see the resemblance.

Coincidentally, the halfway mark of the Firecracker 5000 took the race entrants through the streets that so many of those local bars were on.  I first heard a drunkard yell, "Hey, look!  It's Sasquatch!" However, since I was on my walking/grunting cycle, I was unfortunately privy to other, more colorful, remarks.

Our local NBA team, the SuperSonics, had just finished their first season in Oklahoma City after leaving Seattle the year before.  And the Sonics' mascot was a Sasquatch.  I get it: me being 7 feet tall and grunting like an animal was irresistible.

To add to my woes, I looked up the race results afterwards and saw that I had finished in 96th place in my division.  Interestingly, we realized that Tanya had placed in 49th the same division?

Yes, I was put into the women's division:


Now, here we are.  It's December 29th, and I have two days to complete my 2013 resolution.  Tomorrow, my mom offered to watch our kids so that Tanya and I could go on a day-date.  Originally, Tanya was thinking about us heading to a movie, or even going out for lunch/coffee.  I had different plans, though.

We are going to run a neighborhood 5k.  To raise the stakes, we will be broadcasting the race live via Glympse.  At 12:00 noon, we will post the Glympse map under the group !BattleOfTheSexes

We encourage you to click on our Facebook link at noon tomorrow or to type in our Glympse group into the app (yes, put the ! at the beginning).  You will see the race results live, showing our location, running speed, and direction.

I hope for redemption.  I hope for a win!