Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Treadmill, I Beat You

I loathe treadmill running. So much, in fact, that I tend to run as fast as I can just to get off the damn thing. Not wise, I know, but I do it anyway.

Over the past week, however, late nights at work, my everlasting hatred of getting up early to run and a winter blast over the weekend led to far too many miles on the mill.

Today after work I headed for the gym for four miles. As I shed my work clothes and pulled on running stuff I realized I forgot a headband. Fortunately I just got most of my hair chopped off so I decided I could handle a few sweaty strands in my eyes.

Then I reached for my iPod. Dead battery. Unacceptable. I depend on it to make the miles tick by. Depend completely. After contemplating bailing and going home to eat some chips and slug some beer I decided to do a two-mile time trial and then get the hell out of there.

Hopped on, cranked the POS up to a barely tolerable speed and stared at the clock on the wall in front of me. After a mile I was surprised that I felt like I was jogging -- I was running comfortably and my breathing did not sound like the normal sweaty beast I turn into. I picked up the pace a bit more. As I neared the two-mile mark I decided to go for a 5k treadmill PR. I was well on my way when I hit the 2.5-mile mark.

Then the gym started looking bizarre. A bit foggy. Smoky, you might say. "That's weird," I thought to myself. "Runrunrunrunrunrunrunrunrunihatethetredmillhatehatehatealmostdonealmostdone."

And then, a smell. Sawdust mixed with campfire. Followed by quite a sound -- a squeal of brakes mixed with dial-up-modem.

The treadmill came to a grinding halt. Because it was on fire. Not a complete inferno, but smoke was pouring out from under the belt.


I looked around. People were looking at me. I pretended that nothing was happening. The treadmill screen alternated blinking "fatal error" and "no signal."

I hopped off and headed to the guy at the front desk. "The treadmill third from the end is ablaze," I said. But he knew that already. Ok, ablaze was overstating things, but there was some serious smoldering action happening.

Unsure of what proper gym etiquette called for in such circumstances, I thought about grabbing for the sanitizing wipes and making sure my sweat was off the machine. But that seemed dangerous. Instead I grabbed a magazine and hopped on the elliptical for a bit. While I ellipticalled I watched the guy at the front desk unplug the treadmill, squirt it with water from a squirt bottle, scribble "Out of order" on a post-it and stick it to the machine. I started to giggle. Then laugh. A lot. Like a weirdo. So I went home.

And yes, I am fully aware that the fact the damn thing caught fire had nothing to do with me running -- I am not so fast at all -- and everything to do with the fact that my crazy inexpensive gym is so cheap because the equipment is junk.


Kate said...

Oh, no, you totally ran that treadmill into the ground. I think you should definitely stick wtih that version.

I hate the treadmill, except for speedwork. Once when we were out of town for one of my son's volleyball tournaments, I had to run 14 miles on the TM because Chicago had had a ton of snow and I didn't want to leave my kid alone in a hotel while I went out adventuring in hopes of finding a clear enough stretch of path to run 14 miles. It was the longest, most unpleasant run ever...and I say that having run a marathon where every 2 miles I had to stagger to the bathrom. I wouldn't have been surprised to find the treadmill in flames since it was pure hell anyway. :P

Laurie said...

Yah, Kate! You are right! It ignited because treaemills are from hell.

Lia said...


Own it, girl.

Anonymous said...

you killed it! literally :-P

Abby said...

"Fatal error?"

That's sort of fantastic.

Mallory said...

That is AWESOME (obviously because you didn't get hurt)!!!!!

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Anonymous said...

I disagree. I think it's totally your fault the treadmill caught on fire. I also think you should get a medal (and maybe some prize money) for running that fast.