Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Ready to Quit Now, Mayo?

Perkiomen Trail Snow
It’s snowing! And, yes, that means a lot of things—not all of them good. In particular, it means that the Perkiomen trail is covered in snow. I’ve just ordered myself a pair of Yaktrax, but until they arrive, with my running shoes down to their last tread, I am currently resigned to running on my treadmill. I hate my treadmill.

My treadmill is so old, I call it Methuselah. 

Running on it feels like running on sand and pain. Additional, it is strategically placed, so that it faces the mirrored bi-fold doors in my basement. Running on Methuselah reveals a lot more than my limits.  Do I really jiggle that much when I run? That’s disturbing.

I consider Methuselah my enemy. At the same speed, I can run twice as far outside. Yesterday when I was running, I hated--with a purple-faced rage--every minute. And if I looked up, I could see my face scrunched up in pain, so that isn’t an exaggeration. I started a litany of complaints in my head. Isn’t it funny how quickly we can, when faced with a chore that tasks us beyond what we are normally capable of enduring, turn into a wimpy complainer? Yep, that happened to me. I couldn’t stand myself. It had been a long time since the pain of running seemed too much for me. Outside, I run eleven miles and blandly encourage myself with, "I'm just stretching." Yesterday, I became so agitated with myself, with my wimpy complaints, and that damn treadmill, I ended up being my own Foley (Louis Gosett Jr.) in An Officer and a Gentleman.

“Ready to quit now, Mayo?”

I worked myself up into a frenzy of encouragement/bad-mouthing, upping the speed, pumping my arms. And, yes, I did make myself cry. Oddly enough, in the end, I actually, kind of, enjoyed my treadmill torture. It felt like winning. Take that, Methuselah! And it was a reminder to me to not always do the things I'm comfortable doing. When I abandoned the task of going as far as I go outside—which wasn’t even close—to instead fight past that little voice that wanted me to quit, something inside me rose to the challenge. I organized my mind not around a goal (miles), but around taking another step and another. I tapped into that rabid determination that makes all of us keep going when we’d rather stop. Finding the willpower to go on is what exercise, writing, and life asks all of us to do. 

"I expect to lose half of you before I'm finished. I will use every means necessary-fair and unfair--to trip you up, to expose your weakness..."  Foley, Officer and a Gentleman

I'm going to get back on Methuselah today. God, help me. Instead of going for distance, I'll just concentrate on kicking the ass of that little voice that insists on telling me I've gone far enough. I'm sure I'll thank myself for it later.

Mayo: I never would have made it without you.
Foley: I know.
Mayo: I'll never forget you.
Foley: Get the hell out of here. 


  1. I love this so much. I love that you torture yourself rather than give in to that voice. I would say I wish I had that exercise Foley on my shoulder, but I have to be honest--I kicked him the hell off years ago! ;)

    1. Ha! You are that encouraging voice, my dear! That's why so many people love and depend on you! And, that's why you've accomplished so much in writing, editing, and life.

  2. books on tape in this situation i think!