Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Save this treadmill for me!

Just minding my own business, going for a little run on the treadmill...or so I thought.

So I head over to Dixon Tuesday night after work. Needed to do some speedwork: a mile warmup, four 1-mile segments at Half race pace, six 200m segments at 10k pace moving to 5k pace, and a mile cool down. I have a hard time keeping pace for that many segments out on the roads. Plus the hay fever thing. So...Yo Treadmill!

Since finals were last week at OSU, the crowds are pretty light. Which I lurv. So I walk into the main cardio room and there are only about two people on the treadmills. Cool.

I step up to my favorite machine and hop on.

The first mile is always tough. The 45 year old body just doesn't warm up as fast as it used to. I feel like Phoebe from Friends only not as cute and I can't play guitar.

But I get through it and start the faster stuff. Begin a mile repeat at just under 8:00.

I'm only about a quarter-mile in when a girl...young female student...(give me a break, I'm old), hops on the treadmill next to me.

Quick glance. Cute enough. Almost fall off the treadmill. Act cool. All good.

I don't really try to make much eye contact when I'm on the treadmills at Dixon. Mainly because they have big stickers on them that say "Keep workout to 30 minutes." Which is a joke. Sometimes I'm on there for 60 minutes, hardly ever longer than 90 minutes, but it has happened. So I don't even look around. Ignore the plebeians giving you and your treadmill longing looks and soon they'll wander over to the stationary bikes. That's always been my theory.

So cute or not, I don't really look at her, cause I'm busy using the hell out of this treadmill for the next hour and a half, so everyone else can just beat it.

But she's only on there for about five minutes before she's waving her hand in front of my face. What the hell?

"WHAT?" I scream.

She winces and everyone else in the room turns to stare at me. Whoops. Still have the iPod going full volume in my ears. I take off the headphones.

"What?" I say, turned down to about six.

"Can you watch my stuff for me while I run to the bathroom?" she says.

"You've got to be freaking kidding me?" I say in my own head where I always say lots of cool stuff.

"What? Really?" I say out loud in the real world where I never say anything at all to cute college age young female type people.

"Yeah," she says. "I'll just be a second."

And she takes off.

I mean, who does that? I don't want to watch her stuff. I'm trying to do speedwork here. This isn't easy for an old man!

Oh, whatever! So I glance over there. She left her stinking iPhone or iPod Touch or freaking huge old school iPod with a big old screen right there on the treadmill. Who does that? Is she afraid she'll get cooties on it in the bathroom? So now I'm responsible for her damn iPhone?

I'll show her cooties. I'm going to lick the damn thing.

So I tell myself to forget about her stinking iPhone and concentrate on my speedwork. I look down at the screen on my treadmill and see that I'm at 1.18 miles. Sweet humpin' Moses. I've run almost a quarter mile past my mark. I'm totally off my game here.

I belatedly slow my treadmill down for my recovery between mile repeat one and two to almost a walk. I glance around and notice that every treadmill is taken now except for the one beside me. The one I'm watching. The one I'm saving. For the girl I don't know. And her iPhone.



So I'm just about read to crank up the treadmill for the second mile repeat. About a 7:50 pace for this one. The treadmill has a touchy button - you've really got to lean on it for about 30 seconds to get it to start going faster. I'm leaning on the damn button with everything I've got when an Asian guy in bright red nylon Adidas sweat pants and a huge fleece hoody gets up on the girl's treadmill.

First, it's about 80 degrees in Dixon during the summer. There's no way this guy is going to actually run dressed like that. Second, about 90% of the students at OSU during the summer are International Students because, well, who can afford to fly around the world every couple months? And third, dammit!


He looks at me like it was only a matter of time until some American freaked out on him. He's searching me with his eyes. Probably looking for a handgun. I mean, America, right?

I take my headphones off and say in a normal voice, "I think someone's on there." Which is clearly a lie. "She'll be right back." Which I hope to God is true.

"Are you almost done?" he says.

"No. I just got on," I lie. "I got 30 minutes left."

He frowns at me and walks over to the stationary bikes. That's right, buddy. Just keep on walking. Nothing to see here.

I try to get back into a rhythm, but I've only got into the mile for about two minutes when another guy walks up to the treadmill and points at it. Looks at me. Points at himself. Then at the treadmill again.

I hate people.

Yeah, I get it buddy. You want to get on the treadmill. Tough luck for you. He's some older schlub like me. Probably on staff. No faculty person is dumb enough to be on campus this time of year - they're all on vacation.

"Someone's using it," I say. No other explanation. I've just about had enough of the whole "saving seats" deal here. I mean, it's not easy for me to run under 8:00 pace on a treadmill in the first place. It's all I can do to not shoot off the back. I don't need to hold a freaking conversation with every person that walks in!

"Where is she?" he says.

"Bathroom," I shrug.

He shakes his head at me like he's picturing a bus running me under the tires.

"You almost done?" he says.

"Just got on," I say. "30 minutes."

I haven't talked this much to the general public at large in months. I'm going to have to take a sick day tomorrow.

The guy sneers at me and walks away. Like I care, buddy. I'm getting all riled up like it's my fiancee that I'm saving the treadmill for. I try to focus my anger in the correct direction.

I'm going to wait 60 more seconds, then I'm taking her iPhone and stepping on the damn thing.

How long does it take to go to the bathroom anyway? Does she have some kind of issue? It's been like 10 minutes, I swear. Maybe 15.

People on the stationary bikes that are trolling the treadmills keep turning around and staring at me. I pretend I'm watching the NCAA baseball world series game on the TV on the wall. Good Lord, I could absolutely not care less about anything in the entire world than Florida State and UCLA playing baseball.

The Seminole pitcher has a damn fine moustache however.

The girl comes strolling back down the hall outside the cardio room. She's talking to another girl. She's actually standing outside in the hall now, chatting. I look down at my treadmill screen and see I've gone past a mile. Again.

I'm this close to losing it. If she ever wraps up her conversation and comes back in here, I'm going to give her a piece of my mind. Her parents clearly did not do their jobs on the responsibility advising side. I'm going to step up to the plate.

She finally giggles her way back to the treadmill and steps on. She checks her phone for a minute before she even starts the treadmill back up.

That's it. Bull. Horns.

She turns toward me. "Thanks so much. I really appreciate your help." She smiles. She is pretty cute.

"Sure," I say. "No problem."

I'm never working out at Dixon again.


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