“This is not a treadmill. This is my time machine. When I’m on it, I see the future. And I see me in it.” I started to say that to myself yesterday as I ran. It has become my mantra. Yesterday I ran farther than I have ever run before. Three miles in under thirty minutes has become my standard run. Yesterday I decided to do it twice. I ran 3.06 miles in thirty minutes, then took about a two minute break to stretch and get some water. I ran another 3.07 miles in thirty minutes.
The longest I had ever gone before was five miles. As I approached and then passed five miles, I was thrilled to know that each step I took was pushing my boundaries. Every step I took was pushing me a little further than I thought possible. At the same time though, I was getting tired. I was keeping the same pace, but I wasn’t picking up my legs as high as I had been. It was getting more and more difficult to control my breath. I knew I wanted to reach six miles, but I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to do it.
And then I said it. “This is not a treadmill,” I whispered to myself. “This is my time machine. When I’m on it, I see the future. And I see me in it.” I kept going. I turned off the little TV monitor, and could see my face in the black screen.
“This is not a treadmill…” I said again in barely a whisper. With every step I was redefining who I was. With every step I was transforming. With every step I was leaving behind a less healthy me. “This is my time machine…” I said again, this time a little louder. Someone standing next to me might have heard, but I was alone.
I passed five and half miles, and knew that the end was getting closer. I was getting stronger. I felt energy surge through my body. “When I’m on it, I see the future…” I said out loud now. And I saw it.
I saw first days of school. I saw softball games and ballet recitals. I saw slumber parties and Phillies hats at Wrigley Field. I saw broken hearts and mean boys. I saw high school basketball and halftime dances. I saw first loves and Prom. I saw piles of books, messy desks, and graduation gowns. I kept running, and turned up the speed on the treadmill.
I saw silver streaks in the hair of my wife, and wisdom wrinkling her eyes. I saw light in her eyes, felt the warmth of her smile, and was briefly taken back to the first time I saw her, the first time we kissed.
“And I see me in it,” I was almost shouting now. I felt the same flutter in my heart that I did 15 years ago, but now it has depth. I saw her clutching my hand as we drive away from a dorm. I saw her fixing the veil she wore on the head of our daughters. I saw myself dancing with a beautiful woman in white to Isn’t She Lovely, and with another to Lucy in the Sky. I saw babysitting and storytelling. I saw ravioli cutting with another generation, crowded laps, and adventures I cannot even imagine.
Running as fast as my legs could take me, I passed six miles. The time on the treadmill ran out, so I slowed. I wiped off some sweat, maybe a couple of tears, and then I stepped off the treadmill. Only it isn’t a treadmill. It is a time machine. When I’m on it, I see the future. And I see me in it.