09 Apr Zombies, Run!
If you were unfortunate enough to open the steam room door at the Mid-Delmarva YMCA, you would have seen me, naked and lobster red, wearing an expression of asymmetrical anguish. I looked a bit like the grotesque on the cover of Pink Floyd’s The Wall film. The middle of my back and left side of my neck were cramping, paralyzing me in such a way that I had to tilt my head right and extend my jaw to keep the muscle from contracting and forcing my chin into my left shoulder. I held it that way for a long time, and prayed silently for it to pass before a someone looked in and ran, screaming, from the steam room. Being seen in this condition wasn’t even the outcome I feared most.
As a fat guy, my top concern was the multiple-muscle spasm would be mistaken for the heart attack anyone who looks at me knows is overdue. At the gym, “heart attack” especially on an over-40 male, is a bell that can’t be un-rung. If someone saw me, red, sweaty, and twitching in the steam room, I could depend upon a trip to the hospital at the very least. My phone and clothes locked safely away, I would be transported to the hospital where I would have to find a way to convince my wife that everything was OK, but could she grab my clothes before she came to pick me up. The cramp was an ordeal waiting to happen.
Eventually, it released my neck me and migrated to my inner thigh and lower back. During this transition I was able to rise and limp toward the showers, where I could punish every muscle with cold water until I began to worry for my own health. It was a small price to pay for surviving two out of three zombie attacks.
For those unfamiliar with the Zombies, Run! app, it combines role playing with exercise. It is a 5K trainer that includes a story line. Over the course of dozens of episodes, it introduces various characters who give advice, make demands about what you’re to pick up on your runs, and occasionally scream that you’re being pursued by a number of zombies and you need to keep running, only faster. The program measures a runner’s (or walker’s) pace and sends zombies when that pace slows for too long.
During the first zombie chase, I ran and ran as the machine told me the zombies were approaching. As it counted down the meters, I had a significant realization: I would have to stop running or risk an actual heart attack. I stopped, and the zombies overtook me. Walking along with my hands over me head, breathing deeply, it occurred to me that I might actually have a heart attack anyway. Worse, I realized that in an actual zombie apocalypse I eventually might have to chose between having a heart attack and continuing to run. This was the scariest thing of all.
The acting is no worse than you’d find in any zombie film and, after finishing only the first mission, I was already calculating how dangerous it would be to run for another half-hour in the evening. I have narrative consumption addiction (NCA), which is why I hoped the app would work for me. I burn through books at the cost of one or two nights’ sleep, and cannot abandon any movie I haven’t seen no matter how bad. I always need to hear the way the story ends, even if it is clear how it must end. It is as true with food, and booze, and life in general. If it is pleasurable, I enjoy it to excess, which is probably no surprise.
If I can find a way to use my desire to overindulge to my favor, I might be able to overindulge for an extra few years, which is kind of a weird way to consider it.
The Y Are You Naked feature is, like my attempts at healthful living, on again off again. If you need to only be informed of these, search #YAYN.