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.

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