Monday, January 3, 2011

A Treadmill Shuffler Meets Some Treadmill Flyers

This weekend, I wimped out.

Thursday brought our first real snowstorm of the year, along with real cold. I got up early that day and got my six tempo miles done before the weather hit, and Friday (set to be another cold and cloudy one) was a rest day. I figured that outside conditions would be decent enough again by Saturday morning, and I planned to do my 11-mile long run on the half-marathon course out by the Boulder Reservoir.

Didn't happen. Come Saturday, New Year's Day, I took one look at the tights in my drawer, and the jacket, and the icy parking lot outside our condo, and remembered I have somehow lost my favorite winter running hat. And so it was that I found myself at my boss's gym--the Flatiron Athletic Club--having surrendered one of the free passes she sometimes gives me.

These passes--which are worth $20 (that's the price Flatiron charges non-members for a day pass)--make my boss one of the heroes of my running. Every few weeks I find one in my basket at work. Typically, their expiration dates are five or so months out. So I hoard them for a day like Saturday, when I wimp out of running outside for whatever reason and know the run won't work on the treadmills at my own gym. The pass used this past weekend was my last until she comes through again, so I'm hoping I didn't blow it. After all, there are a lot of cold months left out there, and in the great scheme of winter weather in Colorado, I've definitely seen worse.

Flatiron is posh, at least by comparison to my gym, the city recreation center. Don't get me wrong. I love the rec center. My job with the city gets me a free annual pass, so I can go in at any time and use the pool, the cardio and weight equipment and the drop-in classes for nothing ("nothing" being right in line with our family budget for that sort of thing). The staff is nice, and I know many of them by name. And the organized classes they offer, which do require even passholders to pay, are a great deal. This is where I take my Tuesday/Thursday boot camp class, and where my kids take gymnastics and are learning to swim.

However, the rec center treadmills have a 30-minute time limit, and there are only three of them. That wasn't going to work on New Year's Day, when everyone wanted to go to the gym to start on their New Year Resolutions and I had a long run to knock out. To be honest, I'm a little worried how it will be this week, when I also have a longish speed workout to do. Even at 5:30 a.m., the time I usually arrive on weekdays, January can mean you actually have to abide by that time limit (something that hasn't been a problem at that hour for the last few months). I'll find out for sure tomorrow, when the speed workout is scheduled.

On Saturday, Flatiron was pretty crowded too, but I got a treadmill with no waiting. The time limit there is an hour. Generally, thanks to the vast number of treadmills they have, an hour is long enough that even if I'm doing something that will stretch beyond that and it's crowded, the people around me finish before I do, and newcomers can take their treadmills rather than mine. The other reason I've never had to exit a treadmill early at Flatiron is that most of the people there are much faster than I am. I've seen Colleen De Reuck working out there.

I didn't see her there Saturday, but here's who was in my vicinity:

1) The two treadmills in front of me were occupied by a pair of elite-looking 20-something women with their baseball-capped coach, who periodically took notes and edged the speeds up and down for them. I couldn't see the exact pace of the one directly in front me, though I could tell she was going fast (maybe her calf-compression socks and mid-run shoe-change made her look faster, but I'm pretty sure she was well into the 9 mph and higher territory for most of her run). The other woman was catty-corner to me. I could see the coach pushing her up to a 6-minute mile. He did this at least 10 times, for about 3/4 of a mile each time. After five of these, he had her "recover" for a while at an 8-minute pace. Then she did five more. Both of these women were there before I got there, and both finished at around the same time I finished my 11 miles (which, by the way, were at a 9:13 pace, half-marathon pace plus 30 seconds a mile; I am not worthy).

2) Next to me on the left was a woman in her fifties who ran seven miles at an 8:30 pace (despite the fact that, as I heard her say at one point, she had taken the entire month of November off from running and considered herself "out of shape"). She carried on a brisk conversation with the man on her left, who had shaved legs and looked about my age. I couldn't see his pace, but even over my music I could hear him relating tales of his triathlons. They also talked a lot about all the New Year Resolution people in the gym that day, and had a cute little tiff over which of them deserved the little fan in front of their treadmills more. I wondered if they thought I was one of those New Year Resolutions people. And I was glad I hadn't commandeered one of the fans. Again, I am not worthy.

3) After Mr. Triathlete finished his 10 miles (he had announced to the "out-of-shape" 8:30-easy-pace woman that he was doing 10 that day, so everyone in the area knew that), he was replaced by another lean 20-something woman wearing only her running bra on top. I haven't had that little body fat since I was ten. Mr. Triathlete, not being the shy retiring type, asked her how far she planned to run, so I learned that she, too, was doing 10.

4) Fortunately for my ego, on my right was a man in his fifties running 11 minute miles. Sure, he was maybe twenty years older than I am, but at least not everyone at Flatiron that day was running faster than I!

Despite all of the intimidating fellow travelers, I got my run done, on pace, and, with those characters for company, was never bored. I was also able to take advantage of the other great thing about this club: the locker room. It's not very environmentally correct, but I grabbed three towels (yes! unlimited towels!) and made my way to the private showers and steam room, swathing myself liberally in the towels so that no one could see all my lumps and bumps. (I realize that few people in that or any locker room care how others look, and at the rec center I happily parade around the showers naked as a jaybird--but the crowd there doesn't tend as much toward the elite physique as it does at Flatiron.) Once sequestered behind the curtain, I took a good steamer of a shower, followed by a real heat session in the eucalyptus-scented steam room, followed by a rinse-off. By the time I got home to my husband and kids, I was thoroughly ready for lunch and a nap.

I've seen a lot of posts over the weekend about total numbers of miles run in 2010, lists of races for 2011, pounds to be lost and other fitness-related aspirations for the year. I figure I have enough on my plate with the goals stated in this blog. And for those of you who read my last post, I hear you, and I'm going to stick to my original plan and target the half-marathon in March; and yes, I will find a good doctor to look at my foot, which hurt like a mother after the 11 miles. Not good.

Onward in 2011, the year I turn 40 minus 2.


  1. I think its more important you did your run on New Year's Day. Lots of people would have just skipped that day, but not you! Congrats on sticking to your goal! That's no small feat.

  2. I know what you mean by watching the people around you on the treadmills. I don't usually work out at a gym very often, but when i was out with a stress fracture, I was cycling, weight lifting, etc. and watching all the people with good tibias on the treadmill :) Anyway, great way for you to start the day! Happy New Year --Alex

  3. Thanks, Jessica! It's a good thing to do on NY Day. In that sense, I was one of the NY Resolution people, and proud of it. Alex, I remember your post about people's tibias. I hope that's not me at some point soon, staring at people's healthy non-sore feet while on other non-running machines. I'm almost scared to go to the doc about it, but I know that's the wrong attitude....

  4. Wow, I am glad I do not live in Boulder. Or at least, have a membership to that gym. Intimidating! I used to know 1 guy that was a member there, and yea, he was as elite as you can get without sponsorship.

  5. Yeah, it's a trip going there. Keeps you humble. A free day pass to the new Colorado Athletic Club on 30th St. arrived in the mail on Monday--Dan and I are trying to decide who gets it. Might be even worse (i.e. more hard bodies) there....

  6. Is that the club on 30th and baseline? I used to go to that, went through at least 2 management changes while I was there.

  7. No, it's in the 29th St. Mall complex. They took over the first floor of the Whole Foods offices (which are still upstairs). I actually got a free pass to it last year. It's Niiiiice. But pricey. I'll have to mooch for free passes to go there too.