Putting the “try” in Triathlon: Run, hamster, run!

I hate treadmills. Hate, hate, hate, hate, hate. Perhaps hate is too strong an utterance for a machine that is basically the bastard offspring of a conveyor belt and hamster wheel, so let me rephrase that. If treadmills were the symbolic piñata of all my prejudices and distaste for physical fitness, I would hang it from a tree branch and beat the ever-loving stuffing out of it. Whoa, Twinkie Toes is getting her ire on, you may say. And you would be right. For those who are new to this column, it chronicles the training regimen, pitfalls and pratfalls as I prepare to compete in all three increments of next July’s Valley Girl mini-triathlon at Liberty Lake (Spokane Valley). This is my first attempt at a competitive sporting event since 6th grade softball, but faint heart never kept one from not having massive heart failure during a 12-mile bike ride. I apologize if I sound a wee bit pessimistic, but some facts have been laid bear to me that before, in my youthful pomposity, I dismissed with a mental wave of my hand, as in, “Yes, yes, I hear you, but that happens to old people and Kristy Alley.” Truth one: A certain age comes along where you can no longer eat anything you want and skip exercising. No longer am I endowed with that magical metabolism that makes one capable of consuming an entire pot of spaghetti and lose five pounds in the process. Those mocha breves don’t drop from the waistline like they used to. Truth two: You cannot go rogue and suddenly be overcome with the illusion that you are going to run like a bat of Hell, as you did in your teen years, and suffer no ill effects the day after. If you are out of shape, that lie is the equivalent of, “No, your butt looks small in those jeans.” If you have a treadmill and it fulfills your motion maintenance to your hearty-heart’s content, good for you. Seriously and truthfully, any exercise is better than none at all. But unless they are passing out cheese at the end of each run (and I mean the aged, sharp cheddar, not that Kraft crud) then I must excuse myself. Which brings me back to that accursed treadmill. I don’t like them on a good day, but it is mostly receiving my wraith because I refused to acknowledge truth number two. Last week, I journeyed to the gym for my run, as it was dark and raining outside and apparently some of my more concerned compatriots had the idea that the darkness combined with damp weather would result in me getting mugged and washed away (just teasing ladies; you know who you are). Anyway, I wasn’t excited about mounting said treadmill. They remind me of human-sized rodentia wheels, minus the cheesy goodness incentive. I ran on one once this summer, only to look out the window and mentally slap myself for exercising indoors on such a beautiful day. For lack of a better aphorism, “Screw that.” So out of a combination of boredom and bravado (pride goeth before the wipe out) I thought to myself,” Enough fooling around, let’s kick this up a notch. Several notches even; I can take it.” Oh, how hilarious I am without even trying. I put my treadmill on the “Wally West” setting and proceeded to burn rubber like Lindsay Lohan exiting a Venice Beach jewelry shop. And honestly, it felt grand. I remembered why I love to run. Goodbye stress and goodbye annoying voice in my head that says, “You can’t, you’re not good enough, yadda, yadda.” I left it in the dust. I ran until there was a stitch in my side and you could have watered that monster plant from Little Shop of Horrors with the amount of sweat I had in my shirt. Okay, so that’s gross, but running isn’t something you do if you don’t want to smear your makeup or ruffle your bouffant. And that was that. Sorry, no Tina Fey-ish climax where I step on my shoelaces and take a face plant into the machine’s belt. I left the gym feeling invigorated, like I had borrowed the winged sandals of Hermes. The morning after, however, wasn’t so godlike. I rolled out of bed and hit the floor like it had wronged me. My muscles ached in a chorus of pain. I did the old lady, legs akimbo walk around the house until my sense of dignity (yes, I have one) dictated that I had to attempt a good show for the work place. So the moral of this story, dear readers is simply this: treadmills suck. I know I’m in denial. I’m cool with it.