around five o'clock in the evening, i pack it all up. i throw my no-show socks, my water bottle, shorts and shirt into my green onitsuka tiger bag, one that i purchased from some australian website. i put on my running shoes, my nike lunar glides, and i tie knots, tight, but not too tight. i listen to songs on my iphone, but they're just walking songs. they're getting ready to run my legs off songs. today, it was the bird and the bee doing hall and oates covers.

when i reach the connolly center, i have to pull out my work i.d. so that the boy or girl working behind the desk can swipe it, and i can walk through the turnstile. usually, there is a game on in the lobby, and sometimes, there are students sitting there and talking. i go into the men's room closest to the weight room, and i change into my gym clothes. sometimes, it is strange stripping down to my boxers, especially if there is another person there also changing, but i have gotten over that by now.

i go to the fountain to fill up my water bottle. afterward, i place my bag, now full with my work clothes, on top of the small red lockers. there are always people in the gym. there are people rolling around on mats, doing sit ups and ball exercises, and there are guys lifting weights and curling. i head straight to the treadmills. if all the treadmills are taken, i wait in line. if i have to wait in line, i pull out my iphone to change the songs, to see if anybody is online to chat with. because, well, forget about talking to people in real life!

finally, a treadmill will become free, and i will wait for the boy or girl to wipe it down with a disposable wipe. if the person doesn't wipe it down, i think he is a slob, but i still use the machine regardless, and i don't even bother wiping it down before i use it, either. i set my klean kanteen on the floor because if i put it in the designated spot built into the treadmill, it rattles around, and i'm afraid that i'm making too much of a ruckus. it's better to just set it on the ground. i choose a good song to run to, usually something dramatic like explosions in the sky, and then i set my iphone in a little slot because i haven't bought an armband yet.

i begin walking at 3.5 mph. when the song builds, i up the speed to 7.5 mph and then i run until i am out of breath, or when my shins begin to hurt. i can't look down at my feet, otherwise i will get dizzy. sometimes, i try to look at the flat screens above the treadmills, but then i'm afraid i will lose my balance, fall flat on my ass and embarrass myself, so i can't look for very long. sometimes, i see campbell brown on cnn, and she is very nice to look at. most of the time, there are other girls in the gym who are nice to look at, but it is common courtesy to not look at them for very long, either.

during the run, i try to keep my eyes focused on the brand written across the front of the machine. it's funny, i look at it for so long, but i can't even tell you what the name is. maybe it's something like timeline or timelife. i try to focus on that thing, and sometimes i'm in the zone. i'm unaware of what my body is doing. it's a strange thing, to just focus on one thing and forget that i am alive, in a gym, running on a machine, while there's my music and the gym's music all around me, and local news reports and basketball games and reality shows going off all around me. sometimes, i can just stare at that logo and i can really lose myself.

depending on how i'm feeling that day, i snap out of the trance i'm in, and i have to slow it down, otherwise i'll surely pass out or get nauseated. i bring it back down to 3.5 mph and then i find another song to listen to. most of the time i find myself running next to other people, and i wonder if they are trying to keep up with me, or if i am trying to keep up with them. i feel successful when i am running and the person next to me is walking. and then i feel like i'm not keeping up when the situation is reversed. it shouldn't matter, but since i have nothing else to think about, that is what i think about. after 30 minutes or so of this nonsense (again, depending on how i'm feeling that particular day), i hop off and i get a disinfectant wipe and wipe down the parts of the machine i have touched.

i get on the bike next. i try to bike for 30 minutes. it's easier to watch television when riding the bike, so i do that. i select cardio for the bike workout, and then it asks me to enter my age. i type in 27, and then i feel old, aware that most everyone around me, mainly undergrads, must be 22 or younger. the cardio workout requires me to hold the handles on either side of the bike, so i do just that. numbers in red show me my heart rate, the distance i have biked, my speed, and how much time has elapsed. i find it incredible that i have no idea how this machine works, yet i trust it to give me a decent workout. ten minutes or so into my routine, and sweat begins to form on my arms. the first time i noticed it, it was incredible. i had never before seen beads of sweat form like that on my forearms.

i watch the clock, too, because i don't want to miss my bus. if i'm feeling lazy, i'll be out of there in time to catch the 6:09 bus. if i'm not lazy, then it's 6:39. i wipe down the bike when i'm finished, and then i grab my bag and get out of there. the best feeling is leaving the gym, feeling tired, and then taking in the cool outside air. my sweat dries up, i catch my bus, and i go home, feeling like i have done something good, something worthwhile.

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