Day 315 - The Perfect Storm - when running can feel so right, and be so wrong
It was the perfect storm. At the gym so as to void the cold air on my infected lungs. Jump on to the treadmill, and I notice that on the two treadmills to the right of me are a younger couple (early 20's.) Over my time going to the gym I have come to know the veterans and these were definitely either first timers or really new to the place. During my warmup I overheard them talking about "testing whether they were in shape" "doing this for the first time" " trying things out" which confirmed my idea that they were new. It was also clear that the dude was trying to impress his female companion by his ability to run. (Despite the fact that at one point during my warmup he nearly totally fell off the treadmill when he stopped mid-stride as the belt kept moving.) Well it was at this point I had a decision to make. Do I ignore the potential of the situation, waddle through my sickly one mile, and be done with it? OR do I seize upon the male ego, the temptation to look at your neighbor's treadmill speed, and the presence of his female friend and see what happens when I start pushing the pace? Let me add to the wonderful visual picture by pointing out that I showed up at the gym having been sick in bed for the most part for three days straight, there was not excessive cleanliness, no attractive color coordinated running gear or anything that would indicate I had ever run before in my life. This I think would only add to my counterpart's motivation. So I started my run. I noticed that he was sweating profusely and struggling mightily at a 5.4 mph pace. Let me point out clearly here that I am not fast and will never begrudge anyone their speed. I point this out only to note that I had some room to work with. If he was "struggling" along at a 9mph pace I would have just moved on. So I started at 5.5, and quickly moved to 6mph, to give that wonderful, "hey I'm accelerating way past what you are running buddy" non-verbal communication. I then watch out of the corner of my eye for any reaction. I see a quick glance over at me, sizing me up, then a glance at the speed, and then, no lie, a quick glance over at his friend. Not more than three-four seconds later he reaches for the accelerate button and speeds up to 6.5. Feeling safe he starts struggling in to the new pace. I hear comments from the female friend "oh you definitely are in shape" "i know you haven't done this in a while but you are doing great" More fuel on the fire. I accelerate to 6.5 and then after a momentary pause to give that, "what this? this is still the warmup! and move on to 7.0 mph. All while giving long drawn out, "when is my heartbeat going to increase?" sighs to show how pedestrian this all is. My treadmill friend quickly glances around and despite the obvious pain he is in, accelerates to 7.0. After giving him a few strides to settle in and to not give the idea of a reaction, I move to 7.5. Its at this point I think about giving an over-dramatic yawn for affect, but I figure it would be overkill. Within the time it takes for him to look over again at the speed, then at me, then at the speed, then at me one more time, he accelerates to 8.0! Its at this point I figure I have achieved the results of my experiment and would feel rather guilty if he stumbled and fell to a nasty treadmill belt burn, so I finish out my mile and slow for a walking cooldown. He lasts three-four seconds after I stop, enough time to give a congratulatory grin in either direction and then hastily reaches for the emergency stop button.
Morally wrong? probably. Funny in a sick, twisted sort of way? definitely.