Thursday, January 20, 2011

Treadmill Disaster: A Day in the Life

That doesn't look too bad:
when you fall on a treadmill, the
welt resembles the belt pattern.
I've grown to accept my lot as the Disaster Magnet. It's made me a little more careful over the years and even more superstitious than most. Yes, I do avoid walking under ladders, and I take extra precautions on Friday the 13th. But, as I found out yesterday, sometimes, even when I make a concerted effort to avoid disaster, it will find me. It seeks me out. And I must be lacking in proper disasters as of late, because I was obviously due for a big one.

The big one started with the weather. Two weeks ago, I had my yearly reminder of what happens on black ice. Luckily (for my body but not for my neighbor's yard), it happened in the car. I pulled out of my driveway, turned the wheel left but kept going straight... straight into the snowbank in my neighbor's yard. Note to self: ice is dangerous. Especially the ice you can't see.

Every winter, I slip at least once on black ice. I have constant reminders of these incidents: running tights with holes in them and scars on my knees. In 2008, I slipped once while running and once while NOT running. I was on a photography assignment at work when I slipped on ice and fell right smack on my camera lens (of all things) -- and broke a rib. And you question why they call me the Disaster Magnet?

So yesterday, I decided to be smart after finding out the weather forecast was rain/snow and temperatures around freezing. That usually spells I-C-E. And for those judging, I'm not a wimp! If it were dry and 30 degrees, I would definitely run outside. But why tempt disaster? I saved my morning run for an evening workout on the treadmill. I was so proud of myself. I even bragged about my decision on Facebook. Yes, I set up THE perfect recipe for disaster.

I should have known better -- pride usually goes before a fall. And I'm the Disaster Magnet. I walked (well, ran) RIGHT into that pitfall. And it's no coincidence to see the word "fall" twice.

The last time I fell on a treadmill was seven years ago in a hotel in Chicago in January. It was the first time I attempted to run with music, and I foolishly placed my iPod on a rack in front of me with the headphone cable running in front. Almost immediately, I crossed my arms in front of my body, hit the wire and sent the iPod flying. It landed on the side of the treadmill and I stopped to pick it up -- ON THE MOVING BELT. I ended up crumpled against the wall of the workout room (this was not a big place). Even though I was alone, I immediately looked around, more concerned with how silly I looked than if I was hurt.

Here comes the stupid part. I got up, put the iPod right back on the rack in front of me and told myself I would REMEMBER it was there and not cross my arms in front of my body again. But what happened? Just like great comedy, I did the exact same thing. Again. I sent the iPod flying... AND, I stopped to pick it up. AGAIN. ON THE MOVING BELT.

Crumpled against the wall a second time was enough to drive the lesson home. My iPod is now firmly attached to my body when I run on any treadmill. I learned to love the treadmill, with music, and I never had another disaster. Until yesterday.

Yesterday, I learned what it's like to fall off a treadmill, not alone in the dark, but in the presence of a gym full of people. And it's not even a GOOD story. I can't say I was ogling some hot guy or challenging myself to run faster. My mind wandered, I stepped off the belt and I never recovered. After a stumble and fall that seemed to last forever, I was ejected off the back of the treadmill and into the elliptical machine behind me.

Ouch. That hurt. The 90-something-year-old guy on the eliptical machine never missed a stride: "are you ok? maybe you should sit down for a minute."

This was NOT happening. I did NOT just get told to take it easy by some ancient dude on an elliptical machine.

I looked at the guy next to him: "Did you see it happen?" His answer: "Oh yeah, I saw the whole thing [insert attempt not to chuckle]." (His expression reminded me of Jerry Seinfeld trying to keep a straight face when "Kramer" did something completely hilarious on their TV show.) I might mention he was ALSO on an elliptical machine.

OUCH. That hurt more than the injuries.

I got right back on my treadmill. The guy - walking - on the treadmill next to me said: "I've heard that people fall off these things, but I never actually saw someone do it!"

OUCH! Once more. I am NOW the idiot in this guy's hilarious story that starts with: "yeah, I saw someone fall off a treadmill once."

They even sent a gym staff member to keep an eye on me while I started back at my workout. He stayed there. For a WHILE. I wasn't giving in. I turned the treadmill up (I was going to continue my mile repeats). It was then I realized... heck, I am in LOT more pain than I thought. But I finished my workout in defiance.

And now my biggest problem is figuring out what part of my body actually NEEDS ICE. The left side or the right side. Or my wrist. Welcome to my world. It's one of irony. And just another typical day in the life of the Disaster Magnet.

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