Friday, January 8, 2010

January 8: Treadmill

I try to run three days a week. Unless one of my running days is on a weekend, this activity takes place after work. I am not a morning person. Getting up early enough to run before work would probably render me incapable of actually doing my job. So I run after work, which spring through fall is something I look forward to. In spring and early summer, I keep track of the birds I hear singing along my running route and listen for the peepers and wood frogs as I pass a little marsh. Depending on how late I get started, I might enjoy the last rays of sun hitting the Megunticook ridgeline as I hit the stretch along the river. On one street, there's a pair of golden retrievers, one young and one old, that always run to the edge of their lawn and bark at me, tails wagging, as retrievers are wont to do. In fall, I appreciate the glorious foliage and crisp air that's a little easier on the lungs. One big lawn by the river hosts a lingering flock of geese that always raise their heads as I pant past. But by late fall, it gets too dark to run outside after work. So I'm relegated to the track and treadmill at the Y until the days lengthen again.

Tonight I ran on the treadmill. Rather than wind in the leaves and birdsong, ESPN and music from my iPod accompanied my exercise. Other people sweated and struggled all around me. After dark the big windows that face the woods behind the Y are invisible behind the reflection of the exercise room. So I tried to focus on Sports Center, thankfully close captioned, so the miles would seem to go by faster. I don't mind the experience. I usually see people I know, so there's the fun social aspect, and I'm usually out of there in an hour. But I can't help but long for my usual running route, even the steep uphills and the barking dogs. Indoor exercise, especially under fluorescent lighting, just seems kind of unnatural.

Snow, darkness. Inside:
treadmill rolls under my feet
In my head: trees, birds.

PS: Seems like the whole country is experiencing the chill of winter right now, even the deep South. My friend Pat Palmer recently arrived in Naples, Florida, and is not happy with the fact that the temperatures aren't much higher there than back home in Massachusetts. Here is the haiku she shared with me today:

One lone merganser
floating on the frigid pond.
Bet his bottom's cold!

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