I’ve been going to the gym.
That’s an entire story in and of itself.
I go. I look neither left nor right. I plug in to whatever Pulitzer Prize winner in which I am currently absorbed. I get on a machine and check out.
I am not an exercise-with-people kind of gal. Never.
Running with a friend? What kind of friend wants to go running together?
Mountain Biking in a group?
I shudder at the thought.
But the gym is working for me in so many ways that I am figuring out how to maneuver my way around the fact that at 5:00 am, I am not alone.
Thus the headphones and floor-staring.
There are a couple of regulars to whom I am willing to give a head nod. One of them tried to say “good morning” to me this morning.
I’m going to guess he won’t try that again.
The one super distracting thing is that all of the visuals in the gym revolve around people: the folks working out, the televisions, the guys moving the stationary bikes (right?)…people everywhere.
I’m pretty good about tuning most of it out; listening the a hermaphrodite tell the story of his mom and dad, who are really brother and sister, fall in love can really take all of my attention.
And then, last week, some guy on the elliptical machine in front of me had the screen set so that he was running, virtually, in the desert.
Like, dude, how cool is that?
So, this morning, at 5:35 – I was running late – I was just stepping onto the running-thingey when I remembered the Canyons of Utah.
I jumped onto the elliptical and started going. I acted as if I knew what I was doing trying to find that video and I ended up on Facebook.
Looking left and right over my shoulders to make sure that no one could see me spazzing out. I hit the screen 53 times until I found my choices – Zion, the Sierra, or some wooded country lane in the Northeast.
Emerald Pools, here I come.
It was great – I was running on the trail just like I used to do in real life. It felt like the good ole days where I ran for hours on end into the wilds of the canyons all by myself happy as a clam.
And then I (the virtual camera) came around the bend and there were people on the goddamn trail.
Now, I get that this video was made from someone actually running that particular trail with a camera on her head and there probably were actually people on the trail – they did look a little spooked – but with today’s modern technology couldn’t they have eliminated those folks?
I mean, I was on a machine in a rec center surround by the local grocer, post mistress, and retired math teacher watching myself run through the painted canyons of a National Park, clocking 6 miles without moving an inch – they could figure out a way to get people off my trail.
I should say here, that it also wasn’t just one or two – overall, there was probably a total of 7 or 8 hikers.
So then I thought that maybe they left them in there intentionally.
The only thing that I can come up with is this…
A lot of people are afraid to go out into the wilds on their own – they get comfort from the knowledge that there are other human beings within screaming distance.
So maybe, just maybe, the designers of this program, the runner with the head camera and the directors and the expert consultants, all thought that for those people who get stressed out alone in a canyon, they better keep some virtual people in the virtual canyon so that the real people in the real gym didn’t get so lost in their fake world that they forget they aren’t really alone and totally freak out…
on the elliptical.
I am not that person.