I held the door for a pleasant woman that I have seen several mornings at the gym. She is a treadmill runner too, so we have smiled at each other, but have never been interested enough to actually take out our headphones and say 'hi'.
I held the door for her and then entered right behind her. She chatted up the hot, 20 something year old gym attendant (To be clear, this is "hot" for 4 in the morning. I imagine I would find him less hot after coffee consumption and when he is not surrounded by the > 60 yo early bird gym set, but he looks pretty good in that light, is all I am saying.) as he scanned her gym card. He scanned my card next and I politely waited for her to start moving toward the exercise room.
Then I saw it.
The only 2 open treadmills in the green zone. I call it the green zone because, for some reason, that is only apparent to the owners of 24 Hour Fitness, it must be 342 degrees at any given time in the gym, and the green zone is where the one pitiful AC vent is located. Therefore, if you prefer to run with your core body temperature at less than 342 degrees, you have to use one the treadmills or ellipticals in the green zone only. It is a 5000 sq. foot gym and at 4 in the morning there are at most 10 people there, yet we are all clustered in the green zone. I can only imagine what a little slice of hell that gym is at 5 pm.
The green zone only has 5 treadmills, one of which is the treadmill that is ALWAYS occupied by the Crypt Keeper, who is no less than 170 years old and freakishly tan. He cranks the incline on the treadmill to its maximum and pounds out the miles like he is running from the Grim Reaper himself. No one wants to run next to the Crypt Keeper. 1. because he makes you look like a pussy with your 0% incline running and 2. if you are female, he wants to talk to you, saying things that always start off with "He He If only I were 30 years younger...."
Ick. Try 100 years younger, Creepmaster.
So we don't really count the one next to him "open" per say. There only 3 other treadmills that are considered truly usable in the green zone and one of them was taken. Leaving the center treadmill and the one that was parked right in front of a full length mirror.
Now, I do not know about you ladies, but I like to hold on to the delusion that when I run I am smooth and graceful like a gazelle, bouncing playfully on the treadmill belt, light as a feather, with my ponytail swinging easily which each stride, a light sheen of sweat giving my face an angelic glow, teeth gleaming as I smile at my effortless pace.
Ahhhh. Take a moment as I savor that image.
Having a full length mirror in front of you means that I must either crane my neck to the side to avoid my own image, or face the godawful truth of my lumbering rhinoceros gait pounding along, causing the machine to shake wildly and threatening collapse at any moment, with my 4 am, 41 year old face sagging at each stride, red, puffy, and my mouth twisted in grimace as I gasp for air.
Ummm...Yeah. I sooo do not want that treadmill.
And I am not one to cast stones, but Dollface in front of me, was no gazelle either, if you catch my drift.
So it was on. One of us was going to get the center treadmill and one was going be forced to face their own running truth at 4 in the morning.
I pull along side of her as the path widens, she knows what I am doing and she picks up the pace. I follow suit and push it more. She turns and smiles a strained smile at me, looking for mercy? Maybe weakness? Tough cookies, sweetheart, all I have for you is an ass kicking and bubblegum, and I am fresh out of bubblegum!
I pull ahead. I can taste victory. 10 more strides and I can throw my towel over the computer which is the universal gym sign for 'taken.'
Gah! The cleaning guy steps in front of me, allowing her to pass me. She smirks as she takes the lead.
Only 3 more strides. Dear God, Crypt Keeper or Rhinoceros! RBR, you must push through. Our legs are hustling as fast as we can without looking like we are racing each other. She is staying just ahead of me.
Then it happened. All athletes have to look for that one moment when the race can be theirs, Perky Polly on the mat next to us, pops up from her exercise ball, "Janice! Hey! How are you?"
I step around her as she slows to face Perky and throw my towel over the screen of the center treadmill. Bet you wish you were an anti-social, out cast like me now, dontcha, Dollface!
Smugly I hop on the treadmill and begin my run. I hear the treadmill behind me start up.
"Good morning, Janice. He he. If only I were 30 years younger...."
16 hours ago