The frigid weather having uncharacteristically invaded the southland, I am not able to take my morning four mile walk up route 54 to Country Club Road and back, so I have been going to the UNC Wellness Center two blocks away to use a treadmill. This is a rather daunting experience, because inevitably there is some perfectly toned young thing who looks to be running a four minute mile on the treadmill next to mine. My son, Tobias, who at forty is in better shape than I have ever been, even during my brief stint in the United States Army, and who goes to a gym in whatever city he finds himself for rigorous workouts, has counseled me that I must not take notice of the other folks in the gym, but rather concentrate on trying to up my personal best at whatever machine I have chosen.
Well, the machine I favor has an elaborate display, and is capable both of varying speeds and varying elevations. The speed is calibrated in tenths of a mile an hour, and the elevation seemingly in halves of a percentage of incline. This morning, I set the machine at 4 miles an hour and the incline at 12%, and then ramped it up during the next half hour to an incline of 20%. The readout at the end told me that I had walked 2 miles [as indeed I should have, doing 4 miles an hour for half an hour], and had climbed a total of 1694 feet. That was a hundred feet better than yesterday, a personal best. Next to me was a tall slender young woman who was walking effortlessly up a 30% incline at 4 miles an hour for what seemed like forever. But, guided by my son, I took no notice of her at all.