Sounding like a broken record, I once again had to run on the treadmill at the gym tonight. After yet another snow storm, followed by a crystallizing ice storm, the roads are barely driveable let alone run-able. I’m really trying to stay positive about this, but I’ll admit: the snow-pocalypse is wearing on my very last nerves. And now to add insult to injury, I have to add Yaktrax to my list of necessary equipment required to walk out the front door. Not to mention that yet another storm is due to arrive Saturday night, which will more than likely cause a banquet I’m attending to be postponed. Just as well, as I’m sure the conversation will revolve around the weather, the snow, the cold, etc. I’d rather suffer through awkward silences at this point than resort to the old weather standby. My life and my schedule are now completely revolving around snow, and I’m resenting it deeply.
My friend Chris had talked me into signing up for a 10k this weekend in South Boston. Not thrilled about driving to Boston for a 6 mile race, I was finally swayed by two compelling attractions: 1. Each runner receives hot Whole Foods soup, and two free Harpoon beers. (It’s well documented, I will do nearly anything, up to and including driving long distances and running my ass off, to obtain free alcohol. Even if it requires paying a $30 entry fee). 2. It would be a chance for me to finally get to run outside, on a measured course, in a very scenic area, with cops holding off traffic and allowing me to run in the road without fear of being bowled over by Masshole drivers. Once I weighed the options I knew signing up was the right choice.
I’ve been eyeing the weather carefully and although another storm is scheduled for Saturday, Sunday is shaping up to be a beautiful 40 degrees and sunny. As the week has progressed, I’ve started really looking forward to this race and recruited a couple more runners from work. It was shaping up to be a great winter race. After another lousy day of work (which comes after a lousy day of work, which came after another lousy day of work, etc., etc.,) I was trying to psych myself up into going to the gym and running a few miles. On my way to the gym I received an email. The email was from this weekend’s race organizer, announcing that the race for this weekend has been postponed until the following weekend. Furthermore, the police will not allow the roads to be closed for the run, so we are not allowed to run in the roads. And since sidewalks have been replaced with 10 foot snow banks, this means the official “race” has been cancelled, and only the post-race party will take place. I guess that’s all well and good if you live in Boston and just want to go party for an afternoon. For me, I signed up for the miles. This was a crushing blow, and I took it as a personal insult by Mother Nature, screwing me once again with the weather.
I lost whatever enthusiasm I had left for the gym and came close to bagging it altogether. But, knowing that I had even less miles to look forward to this weekend, the treadmill wasn’t a nice-to-have; it was a requirement. However, if I was going to survive the gym, it meant adhering to a strict set of rules:
· Absolutely no watching the news while running. The news has turned into all-snow-all-the-time, and I can’t bear to hear one more cliché snow story; one more breaking news story involving pot holes, roof collapses, power outages, stranded animals, drainage problems, or any other snow-related calamity.
· No thinking about snow. The word snow cannot enter my brain. At. All.
· No peeking at other TV’s on other treadmills.
· This run must be mentally uplifting. Therefore, I created my mentally uplifting plan:
o Mile 1: Observation. I will use the first mile as a warm up, and an opportunity to observe (read: make fun of) other gym patrons
o Mile 2: Visualize the most positive warm-weather activity I can think of
o Mile 3: Observation, part two
o Mile 4: Hard core run, followed by cool down
The gym was filled to capacity today. When I selected a treadmill I was forced to squeeze in between two walkers. Out of respect to them, I tightly knotted up my ponytail to prevent splattering my neighbors with sweat. I trotted along on the treadmill and once settled into a groove, I started my mile 1 observations. I noticed that the treadmills were occupied by a large variety of people, and that there would be a lot more open treadmills if the following rules were enacted and enforced:
· No excessive stretching on the treadmill. Stretch on a mat for Pete’s sake, and save the treadmill for those who wish to engage in a forward motion movement
· No idle chatter on the treadmill. And by that I mean, standing perfectly still kibitzing with neighbors on adjacent treadmill.
· Forward motion must be at least 2 MPH (*exception: Elderly blind men). If you are going to walk less than 2 MPH with your arms straight at your sides, then just go walk in circles in the locker room. Or in the snowy parking lot. Or from your couch to your refrigerator.
Unfortunately, I have little faith that I could ever get the gym to adopt such strict policies (heck, I can’t even get them to enforce wiping down the treadmills), so we’ll all be forced to fight for treadmills until the New Year’s honeymoon wears off and I’m back to being alone in the row. I’m betting it won’t take long.
Mile two, for my positive warm weather activity, I chose to start planning my vegetable garden. Last summer was my first time in complete control of the garden, and it was a big success. I thought about what went well and what I could change. By mile three, I had worked out the following plan:
· Must remember to fertilize. Dad always insisted on chicken manure. I will replace that with something bagged, tidier, with less offensive odor.
· Lettuce, winter squash, and beans were a big success. Will plant lots this year.
· Planted too much basil and radishes last year. No one actually eats radishes, and one can only have so much pesto.
· The cucumbers got overshadowed by giant squash leaves. Must plant more spaciously.
· Dad never wanted to plant peas, because he thought they never grew well. (In reality, they grew just fine. They just never made it to the house because I ate them all straight out of the garden. And I blamed it on rabbits). As the inherited keeper of the garden, I’m making the executive decision to plant snow peas this year. OMG did I just think “snow”? Scratch that. Sugar snap peas. Not snow peas. Never snow peas.
Mile three prompted more fun observations. I spotted a trainer working with two people on treadmills. I know he was a trainer because he was wearing an official gym shirt, which said “TRAINER” on the back. I also noticed he was sporting a rather large cast all the way up his right arm. No doubt from a horrific kettlebell accident, I concluded. Here is an observation I’ve never made before. Apparently it was couples night at the gym. Nearly everyone I saw heading to the treadmills came in pairs. What’s worse, they all insisted on working out side-by-side. They scoured up and down the rows of treadmills in search of adjacent equipment. I started to feel out of place as the single one, which is pretty much how I feel all the time, and these cutsie little couples started to irritate me. I was further irritated when one of these couples wasn’t able to get adjoining treadmills and they ended up sandwiching around me, and proceeded talking over me. Screw you two, and screw my plan. I’m starting my hard core running now before I “accidentally” spit on you. I cranked up my run and did the last two miles at an 8:00 pace, while sweating and breathing heavily and being generally disruptive and obnoxious. On several occasions I noticed him looking over at me. I’m pretty sure he was in awe of my sustained high treadmill speed. Or, maybe he was just checking out my Asics. (Guys, I said ASICS. He was checking out my ASICS).
I ended my run with a quarter mile cool down while checking out the weightlifters. It’s always fun to watch these guys, who spend an awful lot of time flexing in front of the mirrors while managing to only very rarely lift an actual dumbbell. Overall it was a decent workout, and with no end in sight of that four letter word, I need to learn to love that dreaded belt and conjure up more new and exciting mind games. Or, move to a snow-free environment. Right now, it’s a toss-up. Stay tuned!