Hey, treadmill neighbor! We’re TOTALLY racing. I’m winning.

I’m only five minutes into a treadmill run¹ and already the first bead of sweat is trickling its little rivulet down my forehead.  I swipe at it with the back of my hand, wipe my hand on a towel, then crank up my pace.²

C & C Music Factory - I heed your musical command

It’s weird.  I’m so thin in pictures …

A ridiculously tall, frustratingly thin, and enviously athletic woman steps astride the treadmill next to me.  We will hence forth refer to her as “The Villain.”  The Villain unwittingly stepped into the battle zone.  We are about to battle to the death.  Or, at least until I pass out.

As she escalates her treadmill to a jog, I sneak a sidelong glance at her treadmill readings.  She’s set at 6.0.  Puh-lease.  She’s, like, seven feet tall.  By my mathematical calculations†, 5.3 is an equivalent pace for my five-foot-two-inch frame.  Now, we run.  The goal?  Stay on the treadmill longer than the Villain.  Preferably in an upright position.

Ten minutes later …

I’m sweating profusely.  My bottle of water is within arm’s reach and taunting me — seducing me with its siren song of cool refreshment.

I.  will.  not.  yield.

Oh, sure.  I could try to drink while running at this pace, but I’ve made this mistake before.  11:30-minute pace = water anywhere but in my mouth.  Treadmill neighbors are not generally appreciative of this.

Ten more minutes later …

The Villain drops her pace to a brisk walk.  HA! I elevate my treadmill to a 2.0 incline.

As the room starts to blur (either because I’m slipping into unconsciousness or because there are four gallons of sweat in my eyes), I start bargaining with myself.  Just make it through this song on your iPod, then you can lower the treadmill back to flat.  One song.  4 minutes or less.  You can do it.  Don’t be a sissy!! What would Jay-Z say if he was here right now?  Huh?

Before my song ends, the Villain starts running again.  6.5 now.  She’s totally cheating.  She’s probably taking performance enhancing substances.  Someone urine test this bitch.

Song over.  (Yeah.  Great idea, genius.  Put the extended version on your playlist.) I lower my elevation and crank the speed up to 5.5.  I’m practically flying!³  My lungs feel like they’re in a vice, my calf muscles are complaining to my quads, and my quads are complaining to my hips.  My hips are bypassing my spine and sending an SOS directly to the part of my brain that supposedly allows for reason and common sense.  We’re sorry.  All circuits are busy now.  Please try your call again later.

I.  Will.  Not.  Yield.

The Villain isn’t even sweating; she’s glistening from the slight moisture emanating from her flawlessly tan skin.°  I am red as a Maine lobster immersed in a boiling kettle.  The sweat and oil oozing from my facial pores may as well be a side of butter.


I slow down to 4.3.  I feign iPod troubles.  I gulp down the sweet, clear nectar that is ice water.  I do a Tanya Harding shoelace check. Karma deals me a vicious blow by turning my eyes to the clock – an act I’ve assiduously tried to avoid. I learn I’m 30 minutes into the death-match.  The Villain is running again. I decide she’s not human.

I turn the treadmill back up to 5.3 and try to ignore the pain.  I focus on the shiny bald head of a man using a stationary bike in front of me.  I practice my Lamaze breathing (because this is the only time that shit EVER works).

Two minutes pass.

Dammit!  Why is she still running?  WHHHHHHHYYYYYYY?

Why won’t she stop running?!  Can’t she see my fat is CRYING?  CRYING!

Then, just as I think I cannot go one step farther … as my muscles ache and cramp and scream profanities … as my head spins, and the guy on the spin bike in front of me turns into 12 guys on spin bikes on front of me … the Villain does the unthinkable.  She stops.


I keep running just to be sure the Villain didn’t slink off for a drink of water only to return and mock me. When I’m sure she’s gone, I touch the treadmill screen to stop it and look at my stats.  I am stunned.  I ran 4.67 miles in less than 60 minutes.

I step off the treadmill and feel the same weird sensation you get when you exit a roller coaster.  I am elated.  I am pumped full of adrenaline and endorphins.  I am exhausted in a way that feels infinitely good and stupidly painful.  I am so full of WIN, I would need to pee if I hadn’t already sweated out twice my body weight in water.

Never you mind that I went home and ate a Dove bar and four extra-strength Advil.  There will be another leggy treadmill victim tomorrow.  And, I will be ready.

As soon as someone helps me off this couch.


¹By “run,” some people mean a fast-paced forward momentum that moves a person about a mile in eight or nine minutes.  Personally, I prefer a much looser definition for “run,” which includes forward momentum that’s slightly faster than … say … walking.

²Hey, there’s a serious difference between a 12-minute mile and an 11:50-minute mile.  Just ask my knees.

³Seriously, the breeze was flowing through my hair.  It might have been because the air condition vent was right above me, but I think not.

†I totally made this up.

ºFake ‘n bake.  I’m just sayin’.

Strap on Your Sneakers, Pull Up a Chair, and Take a Run with Me

I’m in a mood.  A moody kind of mood.  This happens to me now and again.  Usually it’s hormonal, but the last few days have been particularly crabby.  Last Thursday, I went for a walk with a friend.  We talked a lot, which was very good.  But we also walked about six miles, I got all sweaty, and I burned off a lot of useless energy.  I had forgotten what an effective mood-booster exercise is.

At this time a year ago, I ran the U.S. Half Marathon in San Francisco.  (It’s very cool – you get to run over the Golden Gate Bridge.)  But, I have crappy knees, and I ended up having my left knee scoped last October to have some plica removed.  It takes a long time to heal from that, and I more than less fell off the exercise wagon.

After Thursday’s walk, though, there was a little tingling in the back of my brain; the triggering of a memory …

On Saturday, I had to take my car in for service, and the shop doesn’t run a shuttle on Saturdays.  The appointment was way earlier in the morning than Helene would be up and moving.  I looked at her sleeping figure, snuggled into the bed next to my sleeping husband and thought, You know what?  I will WALK home.  It’s a six-mile walk, so, I figured, what the hell.

I made a Spotify playlist for the occasion.  (Actually, I made a Spotify playlist long enough for me to jog-walk to Arizona, but …)  As I exited the car dealership, I fired up the playlist, plugged in my earphones, tucked my iPhone into my pocket, and set off.

It was one of those mornings where the sun felt hot but it wasn’t quite warm out yet, because the air still had a certain chill.  About a mile in, I decided to detour to my sister’s house, which was about a mile closer than mine.  Also, my sister has a coffee machine called a Nespresso with this milk-frother machine thingy that makes an UH-MAZING latte, and I needed some serious motivation for this trek.

In fact, the thought of that latte REALLY motivated me, so I decided I’d try to jog it.

That’s when the magic happened.

The right songs came on at the right times.  The sun got warm but the breezes still came through just when I needed them.  The street lights and walk signs at each intersection changed at exactly the right moments.  My breathing fell into a comfortably strained rhythm.  My foul mood was GONE, washed away in every bead of sweat pouring from me.  I actually caught myself smiling.  I was JOGGING.  And SMILING.  People might’ve been staring.


By the time I got to my sister’s house, I was a glistening, glorious, giddy mess.

I forgot what the adrenaline and endorphins do to you.  What they do for you.  I forgot how important it is to spend a little time every day totally immersed in your thoughts, the words of a song, the sound of your feet hitting pavement.

So, I took my little-dark-rain-cloud out for a run again on Sunday.  I thought a lot about my blog while I was on this run, so I decided to bring you with me.  (Yes, I realize I’ve already gone on the run.  Keep your reality, literalism and facts to yourself.  Sheesh.)

Ready?  Here we go:

There was a lot of nature.

We’re gonna head down this road now.  We’re going through a very nice park about .5 miles from where we started:

We’re further into the park now, near the soccer fields.  There are a lot of rules, so pay attention!

I found a lonely kickball. It needs some friends.  It looks so blue …

Hey, kickball!  I found you a friend!  She’s a bit two-dimensional, but …

We’re heading toward the canal now. We’re gonna go right.  Yes, I know it would be shorter to go left, but that’s not the point now, is it?  That and going right gets us closer to where we parked the car.

Look!  It’s two ducks Chuck.  Alright.  One duck Chuck.  Another duck … Charlene?

This duck did NOT want his picture taken.  He tried so hard to swim away from me, but I was too quick.  Take that Chuck!

Sometimes, ducks and other cute little animals get stuck in the canal, so they put up signs like this.  You would have to be a PETA-sized animal lover to want to go anywhere near the water in that canal.  In fact, I’m not even sure it’s water, honestly …

Every time I pass this shack, it both creeps me out and makes me think of Huck Finn. I have no idea why.  I am, however, mildly curious what’s in it.  It’s probably better if I don’t know.

This was not a happy part of my run. I really hope you find your way home, Ashes.

Here’s the parking lot where I started and finished my run. Total coincidence that it’s near both a grocery AND a liquor store. Swear.

Oh, good.  You made it.  Drink plenty of water and don’t forget to stretch.