I admire runners.
I admire runners as they dash past my front porch where I sit in my chair dipping chocolate chip cookies in milk.
People say that the secret to running is to find your rhythm, then running becomes a pleasure. They get addicted to the feeling and (like the worst heroin addicts) will go to extreme measures to get their fix; extreme measures such as running twenty six consecutive miles. In a row.
I have never experienced pleasure in running. It’s like there’s a Twilight Zone for runners than I have yet to discover.
“Listen to music while you run,” my husband says. “It’s way better.”
So Saturday at the local fitness center, I climb aboard a treadmill, put my iPhone in the pocket of my shorts, stuff in the earbuds, and fire up Pandora. The music really does help, and soon I have upped the treadmill speed to a robust jog.
I hit a half-mile and, surprisingly, my body is not begging to quit.
Could it be? Am I entering that zone of Runner’s Rhythm? . . .
I’ll never know, because at that moment (probably due to my less-than-smooth gait) my iPhone leaps out of my pocket, hits the treadmill, and is catapulted into the machine directly behind me. The crunch at impact does not sound good.
I panic because, you know, iPhones are now like 5th appendages and you would panic too if your arm fell off and was flung into a neighboring treadmill. In fact, I hear an audible gasp from around the room: “Oh, no, she’s dropped her smart phone on a treadmill!” I don’t think that dropping a baby would have garnered that much anxious worry from the group.
Acutely aware that the room is watching to see what will happen next, I let my panic instincts take over, which means that I stop running.
The treadmill, however, has found his rhythm and has no intention of slowing down, so now I’m destined to follow the same trajectory as my phone. Fortunately, I manage to ward off imminent disaster by sort of “skiing” to the back of the treadmill and rather gracefully (I must say) hopping off.
Perhaps everything would have been fine if I had taken a moment to breathe, regroup, check my phone, stop the treadmill, and start over. But, no. I don’t want the people around me to think that I’m the kind of wimp who would let a little cell phone drop slow me down. And I had been so close to finding the mystical “Rhythm.” My treadmill hadn’t missed a beat, and neither would I.
In one smoothly connected, nearly perfectly-choreographed movement, I bend down, snatch up my phone, and pause (only for the briefest of nanoseconds) to reconsider the wisdom of jumping right back onto the moving horse (I mean treadmill).
Apparently, it’s a bad idea to jump onto the back of a running treadmill, because you don’t have enough treadmill behind you to get your other foot down before you run out of track and are launched into space, just like your iPhone.
Only I’m a little larger than my phone, so only my feet are pitched out from under me and I fall down hard landing on both knees. Old reliable, rhythmic treadmill keeps moving taking the skin from both my knees with it.
On the next bounce, my knees fly off the back of the treadmill and I come down with a thump on the inside of my right arm. Until that moment, I didn’t know it was possible to skin the inside crook of your elbow. I have no chance to regroup before my torso is launched off the back and I land on my face sideways. The treadmill licks across my chin like the rough tongue of a St. Bernard.
After three hits, I am at last free of the treadmill, which (I notice) has now stopped.
The whole impromptu acrobatic routine has taken all of three seconds. My husband felt the audible gasp in the room and noticed that I was no longer running upright next to him. Looking around, he spotted me on the ground, flailing to get free of my treadmill in the way a salmon tries to wriggle free of a grizzly bear’s paws. That’s when he reached over and pressed the red emergency stop button on my machine.
“Are you okay?” he (sensibly) stops his machine and hops down to help me up.
Still, not wanting all these nimble athletes around me to think that a little boxing match with a treadmill could bring me down (especially after weeks of watching Olympic snowboarders and figure skaters take way worse falls and bounce right back up to finish their routines) I jump to my feet.
“I’m fine. I’m fine,” I say and jump back onto the horse…I mean treadmill.
Turning the machine on, I crank up the speed to where it had been before the phone mishap and finish my run. Afterwards, I limp to the locker room, put on my swimsuit and cringe as the shower water hits my raw skin. I swim laps, doing an extra 100 meters because I do not want my husband to think I am a wimp.
But the secret is out. I am a wimp. My knees really hurt and I have a red treadmill hickey on my chin.
Still, let me put your worried minds at ease: My phone is fine.
And I am never taking my ego to the gym again.
* * *