Tuesday, June 1


Watching Ace of Cakes while struggling on the Stair Climber. This was my view at the gym today. Some poor woman slumped over the digital display, her forearms resting on the handrails as she continued to climb, and climb, while Duff Goldman showcased his staff’s latest sugary masterpiece on the TV in front of her.

Is it just me, or does that seem counterproductive?

Maybe for her it’s motivating. Maybe she takes a quick peek at the chocolate fudge creation and thinks, if I climb for twenty minutes I can have dessert tonight.

That wouldn’t work for me because I would think, even if I climb for an hour, I still shouldn’t have cake, so why bother.

I need something more inspiring to motivate me. Something that tantalizes my imagination, not my taste buds. I need the Olympics. Watching all those athletes push themselves, not only for their sake but also for their national pride, well, it makes me want to work harder, because in my heart, I’m an Olympic athlete too. Just like in my minivan, I’m an American Idol.

I know it’s unrealistic, little ol’ me winning an Olympic medal. There’s a greater chance I’d win the lottery, but I can dream. Or fantasize, which is probably more accurate.

As I plod along on the treadmill, I picture myself in the back of the pack in the marathon event. I imagine there’s been no media coverage of me. No Lindsey Vonn-type frenzy about whether or not I’ll win the gold. I’m not considered a contender in this elite group of women. But somehow, summoning strength from the deep recesses of my soul, I start to gain ground. I pass the Japanese, the Brits, the Germans, the Kasakhstans, the Uzbekistans, and all of the other “stans,” until finally, I’m behind the leader, Wincatherine Ndereba of Kenya, the greatest women’s marathon runner of all time.

We enter Olympic stadium and the crowd jumps to their feet. It’s the little pear-shaped American against the long-legged Kenyan, and I’m closing in. I can taste the dust she’s kicking up. I can hear her breathing. She glances back, surprise on her face, and then, Wincatherine sprints toward the finish line, leaving me coughing in her dust. I mean really, who am I kidding, I can’t outrun a Kenyan. But I finish second, a personal best.

Throwing my arms up toward the sky in celebration of my silver medal, I try and not hit the kill switch on the treadmill. (This seems to be a huge problem for me.)

Back in the reality of the gym, I slow down to a walk, beginning my three minutes of cool down after my run. Glancing up, I see the woman on the Stair Climber. She can have her cake. I’ve got a silver medal.


  1. I read somewhere once that the Kenyan marathon runners will go out for days chasing and keeping up with herds of giraffe (full gallop for a giraffe is about 30 mph). As one kick from a giraffe can kill a lion, the idea is to keep up with the herd to keep yourself safe from being attacked by a lion. Lose the herd and you could become a lion appetizer. (Talk about motivation!)

    I use this imagery a lot while running, especially when climbing a hill. As my running mates surge on up the hill, I imagine they are my herd of giraffe and that the lions are closing in from behind. It has gotten me up many a hill when I've so wanted to stop.

    The only time I find the Kenyan marathon runners discouraging is after I complete a 5 mile run and it occurs to me that I'd have to do that 4+ more times and really, really pick up my pace. That's when I marvel at their abilities.

  2. I pretend I'm Jamie Lee Curtis. After a series of incredibly poor and subsequently life-threatening judgement errors I wind up running for my life for exactly 45 minutes. (the customary running scared vs. plot and character development ratio in an average horror move) The further I am in to my run/escape the more *life-threatened* I am. The *recovery* period during the *slow down* seems to be the most perilous in my workout. It's the manager who always brings me back to reality when he comes over and asks me to leave after shrieking in a cold blooded wail with tear streaked cheeks. "somebody please help me"...I like your fantasy better... It's less (what does the manager accuse me of?...) disruptive to others trying to work out) Not to mention I've developed and irrational fear of the treadmill now.