As my family bustled about, preparing the Christmas dinner–turkey and ham, this year–I snuck off to the finished basement apartment, where our family friend/tenant had parked the old treadmill. She was out visiting family in Maine, so I had her place to myself. I plugged the dead man’s key into the console, started the machine at a fairly slow clip, switched the Zombies, Run app to accelerometer mode, and started running.
The cliffhanger from the previous mission–I was being chased by an enemy human camp after an ambush–I was out in the wilderness, in the dark. There was a red beacon on the city to guide me home. One of the ornaments on the small tree in the basement glistened, and became that beacon. The room itself was fairly well lit.
It wasn’t until a few minutes in that I remembered something about our family friend: She is always cold. The corollary of this, which I was realizing quickly, is that the basement is always hot. I started to sweat through my T-shirt, fast, and really wanted to cool down before I fell down.
After fiddling with my headphones, and missing half of a song from the Surfer Blood album I was enjoying, I finally pried my shirt off, and tossed it into a damp heap on the floor.
This is the first time I have ever run without a shirt on. I definitely understand why people do it, but am both self-conscious, and always thought it was a bit like showing off. Here, in the windowless basement, on a treadmill, I was hot and alone enough to go for it.
I caught sight of myself in the mirror, a tall bedside cabinet with a mirror had been placed alongside the machine. Looking at my shoulders, arms, torso: not bad. Recently, I’d been starting to feel my ribcage. The weight loss coming with the running was definitely inspiring. That’s when I looked a bit lower, and saw the gut. Bouncing, a little, rolling. But, along with that, there wasn’t the shame I usually associated with my body.
I definitely didn’t feel like my whole torso was shaking–as I did a little when I hard started running–it all felt fairly together. It looked worse than it felt, which I know is to be expected, considering I was then bounding up and down on a moving band of rubber. But, the shame I felt was more “let’s work on this thing. Let’s get rid of it,” and less “Look at that. It’s hideous.”
Then, I stopped looking at myself in the mirror and started focusing on the running. The incline control on the treadmill was broken. This was fine, I was missing the flat track around Chestnut Hill Reservoir. I completed the mission, at almost exactly 30 minutes on the treadmill, but wanted to keep going to round the distance traveled up to a nice, round number. 2.5 miles, I was close.
Finally, passing that, I slowed and stopped the treadmill. As I stepped down, my knees almost gave way. They felt like rubber, and I thought I was going to end up face-down in, or next to, that sweaty shirt I had discarded. I managed instead to make it to the elliptical, where I’d planned to cool down for a few minutes.
The small problem is that the ceiling in this part of the basement was about 8 feet high, and the elliptical’s highest point puts me around 2 feet above the ground. I am 6 feet tall. As I used it, my head was brushing against the ceiling. I was the hunched, lurching, sweating thing in the basement, listening to music and vignettes from a zombie radio show over his headphones, feeling good at what I had done–and how far I had come.
Shirt of the Day: Venture Bros. Council of 13.
Odd Pickup of the Day: A Toolbox. Useful, I’m sure, just not practical to grab and run with…