Day 35: T-66 days

This will be a long one, and will delve into my brain. It’s a scary place. You have been warned.

48 minutes in the life of an AT-thru-hiker-wanna-be…
Today will take us through a typical workout on the treadmill; governed by 5 numbers: Time Remaining, Distance, Pace, Grade, and Speed. Pace never changes, a steady 24:00 minutes/mile. Speed, likewise, never changes. It’s a constant 2.5 mph. It takes about 14 seconds to cover .1 mile.

Time Remaining: 48 minutes, Grade 5.0%
Here we go. The legs, not being warmed up  yet, complain a little. You’d think they’d remember what lies ahead and be grateful for the low grade, but noooo. This is the very easy part.

Time Remaining: 43 minutes, Grade: 10.0%
First and easiest of the tough sections, since the legs are still untired.

Time Remaining: 38 minutes, Grade: 5.0%
Yay! Relief! Back down to 5% for a little while. Breathe!

Time Remaining: 33 minutes, Grade: 10.0%
At this point, I start staring straight ahead, trying not to watch the clock until it at least passes the 30 minute remaining mark. The good thing about breaking the workout into 5 minute chunks is that it only takes 2.5 minutes before you can start psyching yourself up – you’re past the halfway mark now, keep going, only two minutes left, only one minute left, time!

Time Remaining: 28 minutes, Grade: 5.0%
Yay! Relief! Back down to 5% for a little while. Breathe!

Time Remaining: 23 minutes, Grade: 10.0%
A time of discovery… for example, it takes approximately 15 seconds to gasp out a “Hail Mary” at this pace, at this grade, at this time. Also a time of rejoicing; the one mile mark is reached and passed at 24 minutes remaining! The sweat is dipping, or was, until the headband made it’s welcome debut.

Time Remaining: 18 minutes, Grade: 5.0%
Yay! Relief! Back down to 5% for a little while. Breathe!

Time Remaining: 13 minutes, Grade: 10.0%
Last and hardest of the 10% grade sections… this is where the legs are really complaining. Paradoxically, my favorite part of the workout, because this is where the mental gritting of teeth happens, and the willpower gets strengthened. Sometimes, when I’m lucky, I’ll find myself mentally singing, or planning a blog entry, like this one, and the time goes by a lot faster, Sometimes, it’s forever, staring longingly as the seconds slowly tick away.

Time Remaining: 8 minutes, Grade: 5.0%
Another coffee break for Sisyphus! I’m over my make believe mountain! From here on in it’s a stroll in the park!

Time Remaining: 3 minutes, Grade: 0.0%
And… cooldown. My body deserves a break.

Time remaining: 0 minutes.
The machine stops and flashes calories burned at me, among other numbers. When carrying a 22.5 lb pack, along with the rest of my weight, calories burned is about 400. Not bad. 🙂 I step off the treadmill, get two wet wipes, wipe down the equipment where sweaty arms inadvertently brushed. The water cooler beckons; I drink one cone-shaped cup of water in one gulp, while behind me, the treadmill shuts down. A second cup of water is savored more slowly, ritualistically, then I will toss my jacket over one arm, turn off the lights, and saunter out into the night in shirtsleeves and jeans.

A quick walk back to the apartment, a quick rinse, and a 32-oz mug of water later, I’m feeling better. But I always have to check my blood sugar after a workout – I keep a supply of trail mix on hand for quick energy and sugar if I ever need it.

And that’s how it is done!

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