Sunday, October 28, 2007

Into the Void

The high temps are back in Phoenix with a vengeance, hitting 97F at the airport this afternoon with some locations around the city reporting over 101F. There was no way I was going to attempt a long run in that heat. Of course, the thought of running 17 miles inside on a treadmill wasn’t all that appealing, but at least I wasn’t going to self-combust inside the gym.

I brought along my MP3 and cranked up the tunes to try to stay sharp and overcome the mind-numbing sameness of the treadmill. My HR held steady between 145 and 147 and all systems were cruising along great for the first 9 miles. I varied the pace every so often to give my legs some variety, but I must have started to dehydrate on mile 10 as my HR increased to 152 and didn’t recover very slowly when I increased the pace to break up the boredom. However, things got ridiculous as I finished up mile 13 and started mile 14.

One of the great things about distance running is our ability to enter into that zen-like state of consciousness where we are barely aware of our surrounds and living exactly in the moment. I never slip into this state on shorter runs, but after an hour or so, I usually find myself day dreaming about something or other and traveling along an internal auto-pilot. On Thursday night's 10 miler I crossed a very difficult part of a familiar trail in the dark with no head lamp and had no memory of doing so. The trail drops suddenly 10 feet into a wash with sand across the bottom, immediately followed by a steep climb on the other side. I was a mile beyond this point when I suddenly realized that I had no recollection of where I’d been for the past 2 miles.

As nice as that feeling is running along under the moonlight on an urban trail with no automobile traffic, I wouldn’t advise doing the same on a treadmill; the damn machines are far less forgiving. After two hours of running the treadmill this afternoon, I must have started day dreaming about something or other (probably thinking about running). All of a sudden, reality came crashing back into sharp focus when my foot stepped off the left side of the belt. Involuntarily, both hands miraculously caught the railings on either side of the treadmill and my left hand hit the STOP button. Somehow, I manage to keep myself from beign slung off the back of the machine and into the wall directly behind the treadmills.

My first reaction was to start the machine up again and continue on to finish out the 17 miles; however, as I stood there with a death grip on the railings, I thought better of it. 13 miles isn’t what I wanted, but still, 13 miles is 13 miles and it’s insanely far to run on a treadmill.

I hope your week going well. I’m trying to figure out how to get in all the trips I still need to complete through the end of the year and take the remainder of my vacation. I think I’ll sublet my office, it doesn’t look like I'll be spending much time there this quarter.

Take care.

17 comments:

david said...

Sounds like a close call with the treadmill. They really are mind numbing. I'm impressed by anyone who would attempt a 17 miler on a treadmill!

Deene said...

good job at punching that red button just in time to prevent a painful result!

J~mom said...

Whew, that sounds like a close call! I don't know how you could stand to be on the treadmill that long. But you are right, better then the heat outside. I felt bad for the people at SOMA yesterday in the heat. Great job getting 14 in!

angie's pink fuzzy said...

oh damn, sounds scary!

Laurie said...

13 miles on a treadmill is awesome. I think it should count as 15 just because of the sheer mental drain.

I'm glad you caught yourself instead of the wall doing the catching. That could have been disastrous.

Lana said...

Yes, I know exactly what you are talking about - slipping in and out of reality...but whoa, I see how it can be dangerous on a treadmill! So glad you are agile enough to save yourself! Good work!

Where did those temps come from??? I'm freezing over here!

Ewen said...

You survived the demon treaddy Phil - well done! A mate of mine did the same thing once and broke his arm. A state of combat-like awareness is needed to stay on those things, as well as a zen-like state to survive the boredom.

Low 20s C down here - just perfect.

By the way, Steve Moneghetti is on your wave-length - he admires 4 hour marathoners because the 'time on feet' gives them a harder task than the speedy elites.

Bruce said...

When i belonged to a gym i use to run on a treadmill quite often with not too much drama. Somehow though i got that thought of flying of the end stuck in my mind and in the end i was just unable to set foot on the things. I guess thats the power of the mind for you.

Hope you find that void again soon, just not on the treadmill.

T

Laufenweg said...

omg!!! you were just about @$$ over teakettle! whew. glad you're ok. machines can be dangerous. lol. actually one of my friends did step badly on one...and like you said, was tossed upside down against the back wall. whoa.

enjoy all the upcoming travels! i'm happy to say i'll be staying in one place for a while.

jen said...

Nice job on the long treadmill run and avoding the dreaded involuntary "ejection."

I agree w/ Laurie that 13 miles on a TM is equal to at least 15 anyway. :)

Ann Ewbank said...

The treadmill- hamster wheel for runners!

Good to see you're doing well.

DawnB said...

Nice Job staying on that treadmill Phil, treadmills are scary.

Yes I have my Garmin back finally!!

I'm not sure what happen to Renee I've been meaning to ask on her brothers blog.

Looks like she is taking a brake. I'm going to miss her

Addy said...

Glad you had an okay ending to the almost treadmill disaster. When I trained for my first marathon I was so scared of hills (seriously) that I did a 15 miler and a 16 miler on the treadmill to avoid them. Really not sure I could achieve the same kind of thing nowadays!

Save the zen running for the outdoors :D

Ted said...

Oh yikes !!! I am never a big fan of using treadmill. I don't know how in the world you can stand the heat in Arizona. I was trying to remember the commercial I saw on TV where the runner fell on the treadmill. I think it was close enough to be like what you did on the treadmill.
Keep up the good work!

Ted said...

Maybe you want to check this one out....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D63A-ZWV4bA

Pokey said...

YIKES!

You are my hero for just being able to stay on the dreadmill for that long!

Bex said...

Wow - long runs on the dreadmill are quite hard. I'm impressed. And thank god you pressed the STOP button! I haven't fallen on a treadmill before, but pretty damn close.