I often feel like a cartoon character during my elliptical training. My mind does crazy things and goes crazy places when I’m stuck on that machine for forty minutes at a stretch. Yes – 40 minutes!!!! I doubled the length of my workout on December 30th – starting 2012 with a punch and feeling like a superhero. Now if I could just find Wonder Woman’s made-of-steel bra, supervillains would be in serious trouble!
Lately, I’ve developed a sports/exercise-related affliction in which my feet go numb. I did some research on the internet and I have developed something called “sleepy foot syndrome” – a fairly common affliction of elliptical machine users. Superheroes don’t get “sleepy foot syndrome” – the name alone is far too whimpy for such powerful do-gooders. How shameful!! My friends (real and imaginary) talk about shin splints, torn rotator cuffs, achilles tendon ruptures and fractured clavicles. Tough-sounding injuries with names that make you wince when you hear them. “Sleepy foot syndrome” sounds more like something an animated Disney character would get from running and running and running through a cartoon forest where the scene never changes. Oh, actually…. that’s kind of what I do. Oh my God, it’s no wonder I feel like a cartoon character!!
The other night I came home from work and it felt like there was no heat in the house. So, ignoring anything that could prevent my workout, I wore my cozy Smartwool socks, put my exercise capris over my long underwear (could be a new fashion trend), wrapped my big Panjshiri scarf several times around my neck and donned some leather driving gloves. Weston and his girlfriend rolled their eyes at me and my costume as I headed to Erik’s old room for my exercise. Why is it so amusing to embarrass your kids when they’re teenagers?? Click here to hear the crazy laugh of Looney Tune’s Elmer Fudd (Bugs Bunny’s archenemy). That’s my sinister laugh when I embarrass my kids.
Erik’s room (aka my exercise room) has become a depository of much junk since the summer of our leaky roof. The only light fixture was destroyed in the torrential rain of last summer – so I had to exercise in the dark that night. Trying to keep my good humor, I decided to pretend I was outside – striding on my elliptical machine on a dark and cold January night. In my goofy get-up, I warmed up quickly. I removed my gloves and regretted the wool socks and long underwear after only five minutes. I imagined draping my large scarf around my neck and wearing it as a cape.
I looked out the window through the darkness and spiny silhouettes of the treetops lining the Hoosick River. The faint outline of the Taconic Mountain range across the river was barely visible. As I looked through the eerie treetops, I envisioned the nasty Miss Gulch from the Wizard of Oz flying through the sky on her bicycle – her stern gaze fixed on the horizon as she pedaled furiously across the dark sky just before becoming the Wicked Witch of the West on her broomstick. I imagined my elliptical machine taking flight right behind her. My cape flying in the wind as I pedaled faster and faster to rescue poor Dorothy from that evil, wicked witch.
I’m comforted when I see the two single mattresses leaning against the wall behind me and the remnants of a foam egg-crate pad in front of me – though it also makes me think of the padded cells of insane asylums. These things just ended up here in the battle against our rain-soaked and drippy ceilings. But when I look at them during my workouts, I imagine myself striding so passionately and purposefully that I am propelled off of the machine and the pads and mattresses cushion my launch. Are you starting to get the sense of my delirious state during these workouts?
Many times, I have imagined putting the elliptical machine in the bed of George’s Ford F-150 (2004 Truck of the Year!) and asking him to drive around the neighborhood while I exercise. George and I laughed a lot imagining the looks on our neighbors’ faces if we were to do such a thing. Stationary exercise equipment is like wearing a straight jacket for me. But my crazy thoughts often bring me a chuckle, so it’s not quite so bad.
Shortly after Thanksgiving, my ancient stereo bit the dust (or crapped the bed, as George likes to say – is that a Vermont expression?). I replaced it with my less ancient laptop and found some old speakers, but it was a sad substitute. After a few days, my laptop’s battery wouldn’t hold a charge long enough for my then 20-minute workout. It was infuriating! So every day it was an ordeal moving everything around so that I had decent music to cover the sounds of my pain and heavy breathing. Once that problem was solved, the tired, old elliptical machine started to go on the fritz. My pre-programmed workouts no longer worked, the digital timer re-set itself every few seconds and I began feeling like the whole world was trying to sabotage my valiant efforts. I used the stopwatch on Weston’s cell phone and tried to manually change the resistance on the elliptical machine at proper intervals. I replaced the batteries in the machine, to no avail. Weston and I took apart the brain and tried to locate some loose connections. We found nothing. But a couple days later, it made a miraculous recovery and has worked fine ever since.
The best part of these technical challenges is that George and Weston bought me a new stereo/CD player for Christmas and my pace coach was fired. I had been waiting and waiting for him to show the smallest amount of enthusiasm. I pictured him jumping up and down and pumping his fists in the air as I successfully tackled some tough imaginary terrain. But he never moved – just stood there like a bully with his hands on his hips. Good riddance, you faceless intimidator! I don’t need you anymore because I am Wonder Woman!! Wonder Woman with Sleepy Foot Syndrome.