This past weekend I was stuck in a hotel and had to use the treadmill to get a workout. I hate treadmills! This treadmill is a state of the art Precor. I still hate treadmills! It even has its own miniature television, which I left on CNN because I don't really care, and let my eyes glaze over at swine flu, Obama's 100 day milestone, GM killing off Pontiac, and a bunch of ads. All this was, I guess, supposed to alleviate my boredom. It didn't work, because I hate treadmills! Also to alleviate my boredom, I played with the incline and speed every minute or two: do I burn more calories running at 6.0 mph and 2% incline or 6.2 mph and 0% incline? Do I care? No, because I hate treadmills! I log 30 minutes plus cooldown, feeling like a hamster, then move on to weights.
Have I mentioned that I hate treadmills?
Once back home, I run one of my usual routes up to and around a pond, the centerpiece of a local park. The sun is breaking through cool coastal fog that keeps running temperature ideal. I run past condominiums, the middle school, and past a stand of majestic ancient oak trees at the edge of the pond.
In the cattail-filled top end of the pond, I spot a flash of red from a scarlet-winged blackbird. Rockrose, ceanothus, and flannelbush, three drought-tolerant California natives, bloom in pink, orchid, blue, white, and yellow. There's still a few lupines, although it's a little late in the season for them.
Today, there's a lot of male mallard ducks cruising the pond, but no females. Finally, I see one female emerge from the brush, trailed by six babies! They waddle along behind mama until they reach the water. I have an overwhelming urge to sing nursery songs about five little ducks going out to play. At the water's edge, mama shows babies how jumping into the water is done, and they all follow behind her. I surmise that other females are watching their broods, and wonder whether the swimming males are sulky rejected suitors or daddies gathering food for their families.
A number of swimming turtles are sunning themselves on the rocks around the pond. Whenever I approach, they jump in. Sharp eyes can spot their heads swimming in the pond. They avoid the deepest part, where the big koi fish hang out. I think the koi were left by a homeowner; these are, by now, as long as my arm, quite happy in their big pond. I don't see the white geese -- which I know were once pets, not natives -- anywhere. I don't approve of people dumping pets, although the geese are obviously happy in their habitat. This run, I also miss the two different kinds of white egrets/cranes that occasionally nest. A great blue heron lived here for a while, but I haven't seen it this season, so it might have moved on.
As I leave the pond and head down the trail to home, I scatter a party of five or six lizards. By the time I'm back home, I've covered about 2.5 - 3 miles in about 30 minutes -- the same as the treadmill. I've run up hills and down hills. I've varied my speed and even slowed down to walk around the pond. And I think to myself: how can people run on a treadmill, when the alternative is this?
Maybe it's because the treadmill alternative also includes this!
This diary series celebrates the great outdoors, whether it's at a national park or in one's own backyard. Challenge yourself and check in on Saturday mornings at Get Fit Challenge, on Fitness Mondays read inspiring diaries like anotherdemocrat's Hill Country Ride for AIDS, and remember that taxes pay for parks, fire roads, bike lanes, running routes, and other necessary elements of a civilized society.