Sunday, January 20, 2008

Confessions of a Treadmill Hog

I am a Treadmill Hog.

It is official. And while I'm not proud of my hogging abilities, I'm totally stoked about what happened with my run workout earlier in the day. It wasn't easy, it wasn't pretty, and I'm sure my fellow gym-mates though I sounded like a caboose (I think I can I think I can I think I can!). But I did it, I stuck it through, and today was more of a break-through day than I could have ever imagined.

My second confession, of course, is that I succumbed to the treadmill in the first place. Cold temperatures I can deal with. Chilly air masses, frozen ground, sub-zero temps: not a problem. After spending a few chilly weeks up in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and doing every single run outside (except for 1) even when the weather was minus 16, I can pretty much handle myself. The Nordic child in me relishes the cold, and I'll happily bound along trails with the best of 'em. Bundled up, layer upon layer.

Today was different. The cold wasn't the problem, it was the wind. It was evil, it was wicked. If was as though the Wicked Witch of the West was blowing her icy breath across the Panhandle. It was bitter, it was cold. It whipped through layers, leaving covered skin covered in goosebumps. Average wind speed of 21 mph, with gusts upwards of 35 mph.

Honestly, if I had to do it, I would have. Half an hour, an hour - not that bad.

But today's run called for 1:45. No, not a minute and 45 seconds. One hour and forty-five minutes. (My coach is evil! Or at least has a sick sense of humor. I don't think he got the memo that I'm training for an ironman. 1:45 easy is one thing, but I had to do pieces. Like I said before, he's evil. :) Within the "mainset" of the workout, I had - pause, sit down, take it in - 4 X 20 min heart rate zone 4-5a.


No, that can't be right...

It was - confirmed on my workout spreadsheet.

Fantastic! Welcome to Ironman Training!

What would you do? Okay okay - many of you Cold Weather Warriors would have HTFU and just done the darned thing outside.

But in some sort of sick way, I think running on a treadmill for a workout like this is even more difficult than doing it outside. Compare bike trainer v. open roads. What would you pick?

But I wanted to eat the pain, to see my pained expression glaring back at me, feel my temple veins throbbing, taste the salt in my sweat, and watch the numbers tick by ever so agonizingly slow. This was the kind of workout that I expected to be so hard to push through, I wanted to play games with myself and make it even more difficult if possible.

I know that races that I've picked this season won't be easy. I know this. I embrace this. Frankly, I won't want it any other way. So this workout was mine to make as difficult as I could.

Quick note about the treadmills at the gym: they have television screens. But I never watch TV - something about the bobbing of my head and jarring of my stride makes me feel nauseated. Instead, I leave the screen blank, and force myself to look at my reflection. Not pretty, but when I feel that I'm at my threshold level and things are getting really tough, I'll take a glance at my image, force myself to stare my reflection directly in the eye, and then get back on track. I know I'm doing well when the temple veins start popping out.

And nothing can scare the speed back into me like a stare-down with myself. (This is the crazy woman in me coming out, I hope you realize).

When I arrived, I noticed immediately how busy the fitness center was. Geeze people, can't you find something different to do on a Sunday morning? Walking at 3 mph on the treadmill does NOT count - get off! Jogging at a leisurely pace of 5.5 mph does NOT count - get off! Don't you know I have SERIOUS work to do? Get off my treadmill! I have 1:45 to do, so get outta my way! I'm usually nice, and my gym etiquette is downright saintly. But today, nothing will hold me back. I am a woman on a mission, an Ironman-in-training with a break through run to accomplish. 5 other people waiting in line for the 10 treadmills, all being used - heaven help you if you get in my way...

Thankfully, I internalized my thoughts, and not a peep escaped my lips.

But the 5 other people waiting in line could tell that I met serious business, and after a few minutes a treadmill in the middle of the window-wall opened up. The gentleman waiting for it could sense how much I wanted it. I wasn't going to take it away from him. But once glance at my two water bottles, 4 packets of gel, gum, note pad and pen, 4 towels and ipod, he offered the treadmill to me.

"You don't know how much this means to me!" I exclaimed, giving him my movie-star smile, reserved for those oh-so-special moments.

"Not a problem, I see one over there opening up. Have a good workout." He replied.

What a great guy!

I hopped on and started stashing my stuff, as there was quite a bit. Even though I carried 4 gels, it was my intention of only consuming 2. I just wanted options, in case mid-workout one flavor became unpalatable. (Don't want another chocolate repeat from a few weeks ago). I wanted options, I wanted a flavor choice. (Hey, I always pack extra clothes on long trips, why not do the same with gels?)

Before I even started, I noticed my heart rate was about 20 bpm higher than it usually is. What could this be? I pondered. And then it hit me: I was giddy, I was excited, I was ready to rip this f*#!ing treadmill apart!

So lesson learned: when I get really excited, my heart rate goes up. Excellent!

After a 10 minute warm up, listening to the relaxing tunes of Aaron Lewis, getting my heart rate back in check, I stretched, reset the ipod and was on my way.

I wish that I could describe in vivid detail the intricacies of each piece, but I can't and won't. Something about 80 minutes of repeated zone 4 hell, is enough to cause a few blank moments for even the faintest of heart.

But I stared at my reflection, saw the steely grit and determination reflect in her eyes, and just kept running. 5 minutes became 10, which became 15, which became 20. I played mental games with myself, anything to keep me focused off, but on the clock. My usual zone 4 work during this part of the season, are 12 minute pieces - tack on another 8 and you've got yourself 20. I watched numbers, challenged them to go slower, and didn't give an inch.

I followed my game plan, increased the treadmill setting with each set, and kept my demons at bay.

Would it be easy to stop?

Hell yea.

But I don't want to go there. I don't want to ever doubt myself, question myself in a race situation. If I give up now, if I ease off now, what's to say I won't do the same thing come race day. The race, if anything, will be tougher. And giving up now won't bring me to the place I want to go.

I though of Bree, her words echoed resoundingly through my head, "The training is tougher than the race; if you can do the training, you can do the race."

After my first set, I took my splits, wrote down my distance and heart rate data, took my 5 minute rest, and got ready to run the second piece.

It was then that I truly began to notice the stares and looks from discombobulated treadmill-line people. I was getting a few dirty looks from fellow gym mates, but figured that Ms. I'm-walking-2-mph could get her rear off the mill-of-tread, I still had another 3 sets to go.

But what if someone confronted me about my treadmill overuse? What if the Gym Attendants came over and asked me to give up my spot?

I stared back at my reflection. Sweat poured down her face, the temple vein lookes as though it had a mind of its own. Her skin was pale, white and her eyes, while tired looking, also had a resolve. The heaving of her lungs, and gasping of breath only solidified her determination. She gave me inspiration.

If confronted, I would stop my piece. I would turn around, my full 5'4 frame taking up every single line of my challenger's vision, look them straight on and simply ask, "Do you really want this treadmill? Because, believe me - a big part of me wants to give it up, stop my workout short. I am in so much pain. I am pushing myself to new limits, to new bounds. But there's an even bigger part of me that knows that if I stop now, I won't ever achieve my goals, my dreams. I want to be an Ironman. I'm racing Ironman Arizona on April 13, 2008. I know exactly where I'll be that morning: getting ready to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112, run 26.2. Can you say the same? Do you know what you'll be doing? If you want to take this workout away from me, so be it. But you won't take my dream. I implore you to let me finish my run - but if you insist, I'll give up my treadmill. Because a big part of me just wants to collapse on the ground because I've pushed myself so hard. I do today what you won't, so tomorrow I'll do what you can't. Can I please get back to my workout before I really have to stop? Will you help me to fulfill my dreams?"

Okay, okay, I know it's a bit sappy, a little thick. But I didn't have any other options. During my second and third 20 minute set, I was receiving downright negative vibes from one lady doing calf raises behind me. I knew that I shouldn't be on the stupid machine that long, and if I had my choice - I would be outside. But I was too far invested in this workout to stop. It was now or never, and I wasn't going to back down simply because one turquoise top lady was sending me evil looks.

I plowed on.

My fourth and final set was the most difficult. I ramped up the speed, determined to cover more distance than on any of my previous sets. For the past 3 sets, my heart rate had remained in the low to mid zone 4 range. I was ready to call all bets off, to go out, guns blazing.

So off I went.

I listened to Eminem's "Loose Yourself", remembered Alicia's post about the beauty of his lyrics.

And then I thought about all the fellow athlete's whose blogs I get to read. You guys all played a big role in the success of my final set. It wasn't pretty, but to all of you I give a big THANKS. Jen and her 8X800 sprint run, Ashley and her 1/2 marathon in ICY conditions, Danielle and her "hour-of-power" swim, Elizabeth's dirty words, Beth's ice baths, Bree Making It Hurt, Mary's HTFU (see above, I've already given the link, because its simply awesome!), Ness' Run Test, and the so many incredible entries that I've had the pleasure of reading. Every step I took, the words of my fellow bloggers ran with me, and I felt stronger by the end.

I wish you all could have been there.

You would have seen a funny looking blond girl, seating profusely, swearing at her treadmill, wibbly on her legs, but a big grin covering her entire face and lighting up the blank screen in front of her.

And I was trashed! I saw the wizard: he jumped on my back after my run and made it impossible to run again. I slowed to a walk and then a crawl, and eventually gave up on running my cool down. 5 minutes later, I wiped down the treadmill (it was wheezing) and went to stretch. I noticed that no one in line wanted to use my machine - I took heart by that observation. Ha - see if you can keep up with MY treadmill!

Actually, they were probably so disgusted by the mess that I left, that they didn't want to be anywhere in the near vicinity of my treadmill.

I wouldn't.

After stretching, I hobbled up, changed out of my soaking wet clothes, drank some recovery stuff (WHY does it taste so bad??? I have to hold my nose and then promise myself a "treat" - thumbprint cookies? - later. Awful tasting! If they can make an aero helmet, lightweight bikes, and all other sorts of delectable goodies, WHY can't they invent a good-tasting post-workout drink? Humbug!) and hobbled out of the building.

It was going to be an ice bath day: it was an ice-bath kind of workout.


And in the spirit of HTFU (3rd time the charm!)- I decided to make this ice bath as fun as possible. My theme was "It's HOT in here!"

Enjoy the picture - and to everyone out there, thanks for your help and support.

Notice the visor - "Life is Good" - and zinc oxyde (didn't want to burn my nose in the bright bathroom light), and the colorful bathing suit. If you're going to give it your all, you might as well go all out, right? So in the essence of a true ice bath, I sprung for way too much ice, and way too few warm clothes. Had to wear the socks, though. Nathaniel noticed the abundance of ice, and threw in a few Heinekins for the Packer game. Also note the Tikis in the bottom right corner of the photo - can't see their ugly faces, but they gave me inspiration to stick it through. Plus, they provided a great perch for my cool drink. And finally, I found the perfect book to read while sitting in my 32 degree tub, titled "Ice Master."

Enough said!


Beth said...

AMAZING workout Marit!! MY HR was getting faster and faster just reading - you've totally inspired me to have a great day!! Great job for getting through it and giving it 110%++!

AND then...ALL that ice!! And you are in a bathing suit!! Love it!!! :)

As for the recovery drink...I'm thinking the thumbprint cookie would make a good chaser. I might just try it because that stuff does taste like crap!

Anyway, hope you have a great day and hope Nathaniel isn't too sad about GB losing! I thought of you guys immediately when I woke up this morning and saw they lost (I fell asleep watching the game last night). Oh well - always next year!

Pedergraham said...

Way to go Marit! Gyms are definitely not set up for IM training--one of our local ones has a 45 minute treadmill limit and hour limit for a pool reservation. Do you think you could set them straight on that?!!!I'm curious what the notebook and pen were for?

Anonymous said...

That is exactly why we had to buy a treadmill last year....! :) And, being a Bears fan...well....sorry GB lost (hee)...We are so mean in Chicago, aren't we? And, is that a BEER I see next to you in the bath? LOVE IT. Jen

Kellye Mills said...

Awesome Job on your workout! I couldn't help but to laugh because it reminded me of my days of running on the treadmill at the gym with my kids in the daycare. If they needed a diaper change, they wouldn't do it. They'd come get you from whereever you were in the gym. Well, once my kids saw me, chances are I wouldn't be able to just leave them in there again. So, I would run on the treadmill in constant fear of seeing the dreaded Daycare ladies. You could literally see people tense up at their sight! I would constantly configure my minutes to see how much time could be manipulated if I was the one that got that dreaded walk!! :)

I say take that treadmill whenever you need it. Eventually, you'll become that awesome Irongirl at the gym that no one will mess with!

Mel said...

Good for you for sticking it out and determined to finish though all the evil glares :) If I run that long on the tread I HAVE to watch T.V. or I would be bored out of my mind!

I do not know what hurts worse...the long runs OR the ice do you do them...I must be a pure whimp when it comes to COLD/ICE water:0 cute photo though!!!!


Mel said...

I am that a half eaten glazed doughnut sitting on the soap shelf???? Please tell me it is, that would make the photo even cuter :)


Marit Chrislock-Lauterbach said...

Hi guys - thanks for all the comments! They all cheered me up - and made me laugh!!! Right now, I am in a world of HURT - aakkk! Beth - your thumbprint cookie will be my new chaser... or peanut m&ms. If the workout is so "tough" that it merit's a recovery drink, the I can CERTAILY affordt to eat a cookie or three. :) Danielle - the local 45 min treadmill limit is at least better than the one at the gym I went to - Radcliffe Fitness Center has a 30 MINUTE LIMIT!!! Which is why I reprogrammed my treadmill with each new set I started. Nothing says "treadmill hog" like someone who has 1:XX on the screen. Then again - the treadmills shut off after an hour anyway. This way, even though people coulld tell I was on for way too long, the screen (at least) was innocent. As for the pen and paper... my next confession is that I write down my splits. Yep, I'm a split=taker. After each set, I would record my heart rate average, max, speed, and distance covered. That way, my coach can see what I did AND next time I do this workout, I'll know what I did the first time around... and I'll aim to beat it. Good question - though. I find myself taking splits for just about every workout... swimming I actually force myself to remember my times... can't for the life of me keep track of the laps I've swum, but gosh darn it, if I need to remember my times form 6 X 300 - I'll remember each and every split (then it's a rush to the car to write them down). Jen - buying a treadmill is a great idea... my onlyfear is all the moving that we do... plus, I'm afraid it my turn into a really expensive coat rack or something... there's just something about the gyms that doesn't let you quit... whereas if I was running full stop at home, with my bed in plain sight, that just might be too tempting... then again, another element to make the workout harder, I suppose. You have no idea how much I thought about your 8 X 800s! I did that workout a few times in hight school - it left an impression to say the least. Kellye - hope that you got power back! Yikes - that would be horrendous... to deal with the fear of day care people tracking you down! Aaakk! When I was a fitness director at the Y, our day care staff were good about diapers, but there was a 3 hour limit... then again, parents had to write in where they would be AT ALL TIMES in case there was an emergency. Gym day care staff are great, but I suppose it would be hard to concentrate if the Poop Patrol were on the lookout! :)And Mel - the run and ice thing - I'll be the first to admit are a bit over the top. I guess that I've always wanted to push myself. I think the fact that it's a lot easier doing the work NOW and then enjoying the race day play a part. Also - Elizabeth F. wrote a really great blog entry about Guilt - and how we as athletes handle workout associated guilt. Guilt is a good thing, as it prompts us to finish out the hard stuff, even when we don't want to. We've got that little voice in the back of our hed that reminds us... maybe my voice is a little more persistent, little more annoying? Not sure - as for the ice. Well... I'm from Minnesota and went to college in Wisconsin... the frozen tundra. But as for the ice baths - my massage therapist recommended them, and I figure that 15 or 20 minutes worth of freezing pain is a lot better than an extra two or three days of muscle pain. They do make a difference, but like the workouts, it's just something I do. I think I'm a little crazy at times - yes? :) I laughed when you commented about the "donut". Sadly, it wasn't. No - it's actually a shell. In order to make my "beach" theme as real as possible, I grabbed a few of the shells that we've got laying around the house and placed them in corners of the tub. Hence "we're having a heat wave" and the visor and zinc oxide. And to everyone else - YES there is a Heinekin in the photo. What you can't see in that particular one are the 3 or 4 others RESTING IN THE TUB with me. Nathaniel wanted to make sure his beer was cold for the game - and a dip in the 32 degree water did just the trick. It was pretty hard NOT drinking it. But I'm not a big beer fan. But it did make the mood more "beachy". Thanks for all the comments - you guys rock! Hope this helped to clear anything up or answer any questions. Bring 'em on!

Katie Weaver-Jongerius said...

I stumbled across your blog recently and I so enjoy reading it! I can relate to the cold weather training...I'm in Iowa! Your blog today just killed me because at some point we all become treadmill hogs! If anyone stops you...tell them they have to finish your sets. Even 2 or 3 minutes in zone 4 would kill them! I think there should be a rule at all gyms that you have to at least be sweating if your on a treadmill! Keep up the great work!

jennifer said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


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