Dateline: Somewhere in Suburbia
She’s praying the rosary. The beads are strung in and out of her fingers as her thumb pulls each one to the side, as if counting them. She puts her delicate hands to her lips then whispers what I can only guess to be the Lord’s Prayer, or, perhaps a custom beseeching of her own. Has she prayed for a safe outcome? Is she worried she won’t make it to the end? Is she afraid of the pain that is sure to follow?
Seems like an odd place to pray the rosary, but who am I to judge where people find their reassurance and motivation? She crosses herself, then without warning, her arms and legs are flailing. This poor woman has chosen to endure the forced coordination of none other than: The elliptical machine. No wonder she’s praying her rosary. I would need the blessings of the Pope himself just to stay upright on that monstrosity. Forget that noise.
I, instead, choose the treadmill. Typically, I prefer running outside, but the treadmill offers me something I can’t easily achieve on my own: Buttons that make me run faster.
“WTF, Em, why the hell would you want to run FASTER?”
Fortunately, I only do it for 10 minutes during a common torture practice known as HIIT. Appropriately named, it makes you want to HIT someone once you’ve regained your ability to breathe. HIIT is High Intensity Interval Training. It’s usually done in a short amount of time, where you go balls-to-the-wall, or whatever the female equivalent (vag-to-the-mat?), for short bursts, followed by all-too-short recovery times. Its supposed to improve your cardio while boosting fat burning, or some shit.
I look to my left, then to my right. The row of treadmills is extensive, and I spy the closest one available. I mean, who wants to have to walk so far to find a damn treadmill? I step up and realize it’s covered in splashes of what I hope is spilled water bottle, but know in my heart it’s the sweat of some poor soul before me who may or may not have survived self-immolation on the churning belt.
Most of the others are occupied. There’s a woman wearing street clothes, casually walking at a speed so slow, that I can only describe it as lackadaisical. She simply doesn’t give a shit. I think I love her.
I take my place on what will be the bane of my existence for the next 10 minutes. I psyche myself up. “You got this, Em. It’s only ten minutes of your friggin’ life. TEN minutes. You can do this.”
I start with a warm-up, emulating the lethargic lumber of my new best friend over on treadmill #6. But five very short minutes later, I am running for my life.
It’s the kind of running you do in dreams where some faceless assailant is chasing you with a rusty scimitar. Not only has the speed dramatically increased, but so has the incline, to what I believe might be the Mt. Everest setting.
Christ on a cracker, what have I done to myself? I have to maintain this insanity for the next 40 seconds? I am going to die. I AM GOING TO DIE.
I look down at the timer. 32….31….
Less than 10 seconds since this self-imposed torment started.
Time has become irrelevant. I’m in a Kafkaesque nightmare where I’m forced for all of eternity to serve hard-labour on this inexorable, moving monster.
Where am I? Are my legs still attached?
My god. I’ve done it. I survived. I am now rewarded with 40 beautiful seconds of a well deserved respite. Sweet relief.
What the actual fuck? Where’s my 40 seconds? I WANT MY 40 SECONDS!
Poof, just like that, I’m back up to speed and have exactly one thought:
Does anyone have a rosary handy?