Originally posted at http://53riverbankrun.com/blog/roadwarriors/2014/06/04/an-ode-to-my-treadmill/
Oh treadmill, you get a bad rap. People hate you. And they don’t just hate you; they hate even the thought of you. They don’t even know you and they wrinkle up their nose in disgust. They call you names like dreadmill or hamster wheel. They seem to be offended at your mere existence, that anyone would ever *gasp* consider running on something like a treadmill. I remember a time that I was like them: the haters. I wouldn’t go near a treadmill unless there was some sort of freak lightening storm going on outside. Better to be outside and run free than cooped up inside going nowhere. It didn’t matter the conditions, I was always, always, always going to go outside. But our relationship blossomed out of a mutual need to run and maintain my sanity while being tethered to a single room.
It all started with a pregnancy. I know it wasn’t a great first impression. I was carrying a heavy load of baby, wearing a pair of non-maternity capris that were stretched to near capacity, with a cookie in each hand dropping crumbs all over your new, shiny treadmill belt. I wanted to keep running outside, but my husband began to fear my water would break 4 miles away from the house and there’d be no one around to help me. I agreed to run on the treadmill whenever my husband couldn’t run with me outside. I hated it at first, but then I had to admit, it was kind of nice. It was convenient to be only 12 steps away from the bathroom at all times. No one openly stared or disapproved of me while I was on the treadmill. No one asked me if I needed help (as if that would be the only reason a pregnant woman would be running down the road) and there was a limitless supply of cold water and snacks at the tops of the stairs.
Then my first baby boy came and I relied on you even more. I ran for a few minutes at a time in between flying up and down the stairs to check on a crying baby at nap time. Up and down the steps I’d go with the baby monitor bouncing on my hip. I’d run up the stairs, feed him, lay him down, run back down the stairs, and jump on the treadmill. The screeching cries would start again almost immediately. I’d run back up the stairs, change him or rock him, lay him down, run back down the stairs and jump back on the treadmill, and so would go those workouts as a new mom: my run interrupted 10 times in 10 minutes. Sometimes I’d give up on running completely and just strap my baby boy to the carrier on my chest. We’d walk slowly on the treadmill together, the familiar movement and hum of the treadmill belt lulling him to sleep. Some of my fondest memories are on a treadmill with a sleeping baby on my chest – the exhaustive daze of newborn parenthood overridden by my overwhelming love and awe at this little person I had made. Looking back, it still wasn’t a real good representation of myself even then, but I still felt like a rock star on that treadmill. I was still sporting my maternity yoga pants (that sadly fit much longer after I wished they wouldn’t), my hair hadn’t been brushed in 3 days, and there was baby spit up down the front of my shirt that I’d already changed twice. But I was free to run, even cooped up in the basement and while I was technically not going anywhere, I was surely moving. When another baby came and I began juggling kids, work, and running – I relied on your steady availability even more at all sorts of crazy hours of the day.
Now brace yourself, here is where it gets a little sappy. Sure the treadmill had been convenient before, but I didn’t love it by any means. The first time I ever felt the true depth of my appreciation and near love for a treadmill was on June 20, 2012. It didn’t matter that the conditions outside were perfect, I wasn’t going further than 5 feet away from this building, not even if my life depended on it. I was standing in a tiny windowless room, 3 hours away from home, on the 10th floor of a children’s hospital, teeth gritted, and tears streaming down my face. I wanted to run away. I wanted to throw things and smash them up against the walls. I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs until it all went away. I was filled with so much raw, nervous energy that my hands shook as I reached to press the big green start button. And there it was as the treadmill belt began to move – I was free. Even cooped up in that room going nowhere, there was life and hope and freedom. I could run. I could feel my body pull itself together to weather this storm, to absorb the shock, and carry on somehow. I cried tears of relief that I had something so simple and so amazing to cling to. For exactly 7 hours and 26 minutes, I ran and I was free even while chained to that treadmill until the call came that my son Emmett had made it out of surgery. He was ok. He was alive. He was in recovery. I could see him. I stepped off that treadmill full of gratitude and hope. The treadmill kept me grounded and kept me going when I thought it was impossible.
So the moral of the story? I don’t know. Be nice to a treadmill today because you never know when you’ll need one tomorrow. Or something like that.