Tuesday, February 21, 2012

My inner competitor’s first go on the hamster wheel

Friday was a non-running day for me. The day before my long run I like to do a little cross training instead. Usually, I’ll swim laps while my super awesome extraordinarily fabulous babysitter gives the Tiger a little swimming lesson and RunPapa watches my not so little peanut (a week ago at 3 1/2 months she was weighing in at 15lbs!)

But last week I wasn’t feeling so hot. I was tired, sore everywhere, running a fever a couple of days and my stomach was confused. It couldn’t decide whether or not it was starving or in great need of emptying its contents in a rather unpleasant fashion. And while I may run despite what ails me from time to time, I’m not so tough when it comes to the pool. On a run, if I pass out, I fall off the treadmill which yes, would probably hurt. But on a swim, if I pass out, I drown and that’s just never a good thing.  I opted to walk instead.

So after I got the Tiger all ready for the pool and handed her off to my very capable babysitter, I headed upstairs to the Rec Center’s indoor track, somewhere I’d never been before.

And let me tell you, I was entirely shocked when I opened the door to see it was pretty well packed considering it was the middle of a week day after all. I figured there’d be a few people, but I don’t know, there were maybe 15-20 people already up there walking. So I stood there a minute, kind of taken aback. I was suddenly faced with an unexpected first, how exactly to merge in with a group of people walking at a pretty good clip without getting run over and/or making a fool of myself, rookie that I was. I mean, should I back up and get myself a good walking start or stand there on the edge and wait for a break then jump in? I was so unprepared and didn’t feel well to boot. My brain was not functioning at full capacity and no one told me that skills were going to be involved when I had the brilliant idea to embark on this adventure. I didn’t want to end up that 2nd hamster that tries to hop on the spinning wheel with the first hamster while it’s in motion and ends up rolling upside down around the wheel a couple times before flying off. What to do? What to do?

I finally decided to just hop in the third lane, the only one that was open and quickly get up to speed. After a minute or two, I thought to myself, “hey, this is not so bad!” and started reading all the signs on the wall:

Walk in this > direction – “Ok. Got it. Check.”

1 Mile = 16 1/2 laps – “Wow. That’s a lot of laps. But yeah this is pretty tiny.”

Lane 1 Walkers. Lane 2 Fast Walkers/Joggers. Lane 3 Runners- “Oh crud! That’s why no one is in this lane! It’s for Runners. Wait. There’s no runners here. I’m good.” Then I look around. NOBODY was in that lane. “Aw geez. I better get outta here” I thought to myself. I didn’t want to be THAT girl,  the big rule breaker, making a bad name for runners everywhere….at least not on my first day.

So I slid over to lane 2, but lane three was calling me. “Kelly, come run! Kelly, come run!” I wasn’t SUPPOSED to run, but in lane 2 I kept having to walk around people. If I ran, I could have that WHOLE lane all to myself. Clear path. Just sail on by. “No. I don’t have my running shoes on,” I sensibly told myself. “These are my walking shoes, albeit they ARE an old pair of running shoes just wore out and minus the orthotics.” I kept walking, but with one eye on the 3rd lane. “You know, I could run really slow. That’d be KIND of like walking and I’m sure my shoes would be just fine for that.” I reasoned, but ,“No. no. I’m still not feeling well. I don’t want to push it when I’ve got a long run tomorrow.”

More walking. More pondering. “I could push my long run to Sunday. Plus, I’d be able to cover more ground in this 20 minutes running than walking. Besides, I’ll be the only rock star runner in this bunch. Plus, I’m not feeling THAT bad,” ran my thoughts. “Screw it.” I wanted my own lane. I started running.

“Neener neener suckers! It’s all mine! So lookout I’m flying by on your right Smile with tongue out“  I reveled in my (barely fast enough to be considered) running glory.

But it was short lived. I swear I hadn’t run more than a lap when I heard fast footsteps behind me. I looked back. Yep. Some young whippersnapper, who had up to this point just been off to the side doing a bunch of stretches and exercises, was now running…and faster than I was. By doing so she had (surely on purpose) relegated me to the role of jogger. I had to slide over to fast walker/jogger lane (where running was entirely impossible because of all the walkers) and let her by. Goodbye my sweet lane!

But wait! You see, my brilliance knows no bounds, because what I realized was that if I just picked up the pace enough to keep her within eyeshot, I could STILL have wide open running space in front of me without fear of holding anyone up behind me either. It was only if I let her run so much faster than me that I couldn’t see her that I’d need to worry about shifting lanes again. So…I picked up the pace. Ha HA! I still had my own lane (kinda) after all.

For all of a minute…then I heard the fast footsteps again. “You have GOT to be kidding me!” I shouted (in my head). I slid over AGAIN and let the culprit pass. Another whippersnapper, this time of the male persuasion, came flying by and I do mean flying. “Oh PLEASE! You are running way too fast for this teeny track and totally just doing it to impress runner girl. Stop it. You’re being stupid and you’re running a strong risk of flying off this hamster wheel into a wall or one of these nice senior citizens.” I reasoned with him (in my head). And I know you’re thinking, “come on now Kelly, you can never be running TOO fast.” But yes, yes you can. For example, when you’re an adult running in a kids race OR when you’re running on a track that’s only 1/16 of a mile (the size of basketball court to put it in perspective) and it’s full of old people, I’m gonna go ahead and say 5 minute miles are unacceptable (ok yeah, I’m exaggerating. He probably wasn’t running that fast, but you get me right?)

Back to lane 2 for me, but I was annoyed this time. No way was I picking up the pace to keep the wannabe Kenyan in sight. I’d stick to lane 2 where possible, but he was just gonna have to keep doing his fancy weaving in and out if I didn’t hear him in time and I had happened to move to lane three to pass someone. “You’re wrecking my cross training!” I yelled (in my head) as he flew by a second time.

But he only did a couple of laps, then he petered off and headed for a weight machine. “Ha! Ya big showoff!  You call that a run?” I thought in his general direction as he left. And then, to my surprise, so too did Little Miss Flexible head off after a couple of laps. Lane 3 was mine all mine again (Woohoo!!!)

So at this point I had been running for maybe 15 minutes. I headed around again for another lap but noticed it was getting to be about time to go retrieve the TIger and ok, the sick was kicking in. I’ll admit it, I was tired from running too fast to try and keep up (or stay out of the way of) those youngsters I had at least 10 years on.

And just as I was about to slow it down and walk again, this ringer, one of the seniors who had been walking the whole time I was there, picks it up and starts running. Well, of course, I couldn’t just stop running the minute he started. What would that look like (because surely all those people cared Winking smile)? So I ran a couple more laps before easing into a walk, just about the time another senior started running. “Let it go Kelly. Just let it go. You’ve got to go get your kid.”

So the moral of this story? Remember, we’re all just one runner away from being the jogger of the bunch and vice versa. We’re all just a walker away from being the runner in the bunch. “Fast” is all relative and it doesn’t matter in the long run (no pun intended). What’s important is that we do it anyway. Well…that and hamsters are stupid.

'Til next time...

P.S. I did the impossible. I caught the Tiger on film. That’s right, I’ve got the poop song on video. If I can figure out how to upload it and post it, you’re all gonna love this!

P.P.S. You should probably all know that it’s quite possibly that everyone that was at the Rec Center’s indoor track the day I ran there would probably tell you I’m certifiably insane, because of the goofy grin on my face the whole time as I thought about the silliness of it all. In fact, I’m pretty sure I laughed right out loud a few times. See what I’m willing to do for you guys? Actually, maybe that’ll be another way of scoring my own lane Smile

P.P.P.S. If offended any hamsters in the making of this post, please know it was not my intent. You have my apology. Carry on in your furry cuteness.


runnanna said...

So funny...and so true. Thank goodness everything is relative!

Mum on the Run said...

I'm still baffled why people would choose to walk indoors???
I live in Australia - I barely sleep indoors!