Hongqiao Marriott Health Club, 2007

April 23, 2012 § 2 Comments

The decision to quit smoking was part of a larger decision to choose sports, exercise and health over partying, coolness and fun whenever they were in conflict with one another. My gift to myself for quitting was a membership to a ridiculously expensive health club, the gym of the 5-star Marriott, which was on the way home from work. My plan was to run and work out after work and use the convenience and luxurious bathing facilities (not to mention the shame of wasted money) as bait.

The plan worked. I joined the club in January. After a year, I had conquered cigarettes as much as anyone can conquer an addiction that is also a love affair. I ran my first half marathon in November of that year, took to the roads for good and didn’t renew my membership. Between those very different times in my life, I logged a lot of miles on the treadmill.

There’s not a lot to love about running in place, but I have memories that make me smile about nipple chafing (you can’t take your shirt off in that gym), sheepishly returning soaking wet headphones and jumping off to use the bathroom, only to have my machine stolen from me. One time I forgot my running gear altogether and ran in my boxers and argyles (luckily had worn running shoes to work).

But the main problem is boredom. Bad TV is a good distraction from the inanity of actually paying to run on a glorified gerbil wheel, but there are limits. Two hours of running in place requires a special kind of distraction. Mostly I watched whatever was on international ESPN, mostly soccer, cricket, F1, rugby and other commonwealth sports, but also more than a few YES! Network broadcasts of Yankees games. I still feel like I know Joe Girardi very well from his commentary that year. That fall a handful of the ALCS games were being broadcast and, thanks to the time difference, some happened to fall on my weekend mornings. The run that stands out from that year was during a Yankees-Indians ALCS game that fall. There was a bizarre outbreak of bugs on the field. Fausto Carmona pitched like he was Pedro Martinez for the Indians and Joba Chamberlain, who I had come to fear, then hate, then pity as the year went on, came on in the 8th for a 4-out save. He let the bugs get to him and then let the Indians come back and win. I was so into the game I actually jumped with my arms raised when the Indians scored the go-ahead run.

That is about as good as it gets on the treadmill and about all I miss.

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