Proof the Devil exists: The elliptical machine

I have been under the weather for the last few days. Sore throat, cough, raspy voice, body aches. I’ve heard for years that it’s ok to work out with a cold, as long as I don’t push it, so I’ve been careful not to exert myself. But after missing my workouts Wednesday night (due to a trip to Malibu) and Thursday (due to this icky, horrible feeling), I was stir crazy by Saturday.

So, I went to my complex’s tiny little “gym” and decided to go moderate for me. I got on the elliptical machine to do 30 minutes of work.

Blech.

I did work, don’t get me wrong. I was drenched in sweat, and I did 5 whatever-ellipticals-measure-in (I’m assuming kilometers) in less than 30 minutes (that’s why I’m assuming kilometers — running 5 miles in 30 minutes would make me faster than I was in high school. I doubt it.). But god was I bored. And wobbly. I didn’t have feeling in my big toes, and my hips felt like someone tightened them with a rusty wrench.

I went outside and basked in the moonlight, took a 15-minute walk to get back the feeling of ground under my feet. I stretched in the middle of the parking lot, and I’m sure I looked like a lunatic. But I didn’t care. I just wanted to feel like my feet belonged to me, not the weapon of the Devil himself that was locked in that closet that passes for a gym.

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday
So yesterday, I felt a little less like I was going to descend into a full-on bronchial nightmare. Cautious of making myself sick by running in the chilly air (ok, it was in the 50s when I woke up. But low 50s!), I decided to dare the Devil’s device again. It couldn’t be as bad as the day before, right? I could get used to this eventually, I was sure. And I had to keep training for my Disney races.

I’ve pretty much abandoned the Disney/Galloway training method, because while the Magic Mile is intriguing, it’s just not my focus. I hate how all that math is ruining my love of running. So, I’ve decided to lengthen my long runs for two weeks, give myself a break with a shorter run (5-6 miles) every third week and cross-train like it’s my job.

Anyway, yesterday marked my “break week” long run. I was only supposed to do 5 miles. I went into the closet/gym determined to do 8 assumed-kilometers, basically 5 miles, on the elliptical.

Yeah, that didn’t happen.

I started off just like the day before. I used the interval setting to keep my brain from numbing in the first 4 minutes of the workout, and I set the goal to keep myself at 70-80 whatever-the-elliptical-tracks-as-speed. (I assume it’s RPM. Maybe the elliptical isn’t the Devil’s work, because the Devil is in the details and the elliptical gives no details. Ugh, I hate that thing.) My brain didn’t go numb, at least not for the first 15 minutes. Nope, not my brain. My feet.

My feet went completely numb by minute 20. The tingling started in my big toes as before, but a lot earlier in the workout. I made a conscious effort to rock back on my heels a bit, but the blasted machine isn’t built for ergonomics. It’s built to keep some mythical person at the perfect height pushing her arms out instead of running with them by her sides, on the balls of her feet with no flexing to her heels ever. I got it — Mattel designed this contraption for Barbie!

I suffered through to get 5ak done 30 seconds faster than before. Then I bailed from that machine, got on the treadmill. Not that I like a treadmill any better. Needless to say, that didn’t last very long either — I couldn’t feel my feet well enough to run securely on the treadmill. Being as I’ve fallen off one of those before, I bailed from that adventure too.

That left the recumbent bike. I sighed, plopped down, set the machine to punish my legs for another 10 minutes and felt as if I’d found salvation — at least for my toes. I could feel my feet again by the end of the bike routine, so I threw on my sweatshirt, wrapped my towel around my neck and went walking in the full moonlight.

Ah, heaven.

But it’s a DRY cold!

When I first moved to Bakersfield, the temperatures were near 100 for the first few weeks. And I was never all that hot, really. Why? Because the adage is true — the heat out here is a dry heat. A far cry from the August in DC 90-degree temperatures and air so humid I could drink it that I’d left behind, the weather here was comfortable, even at high temperatures.

Here’s the kicker. That also means the cold is a dry cold. There is no moisture to help hold in heat, no need to monitor the dewpoint. So, for example, when I went for a run yesterday at dusk (4:45 p.m. — goodness), my long shorts and sleeveless t-shirt quickly went from being perfectly comfortable to way too little clothing to help me regulate my body temperature. I had to turn for home after just 2 miles because the temperature plummeted with the setting sun.

Now, my East coast sensibilities argue that 70 to 55 is hardly “plummeting” — dropping, yes. I know I’m supposed to dress for 20 degrees warmer than the real temperature when I run, because my body will heat up that much, so dressing for 75-degree weather seemed reasonable. All that logic and reason amounted to last night, though, was an icicle nose and what I can only guess was very mild hypothermia — I had to stand in a warm/hot shower for 20 minutes just to stop shivering.

I learned yesterday that I must adapt to what passes for winter here, because it really is chilly. I will have to try wearing layers or maybe changing what time of day I run. I even lit a fire in my fireplace tonight (it’s 50 degrees, and my East coast sensibilities are ok with that).

Amazingly, this time last year I was spending a fair amount of time in western Massachusetts, where the average daytime temperatures hit 30 on lucky days. I was able to walk around comfortably there in jeans, a long-sleeved shirt, a knit scarf and gloves.

Must’ve been a wet cold?