On Monday I ran on the treadmill during lunch. My usual Monday routine involves using employee health and wellness release time to extend my lunch hour to 90 minutes so that I can go to the gym and get a workout done. For the last few months, that workout has been my pull up day 1 workout. In January, I sometimes did my tabatas at the gym, but at the end of last year I was trying to do more running.

Now that I’m not doing the tabatas every day, I have switched focus back to running. The pull up day 1 workout is the shortest of the pull up workouts, and on this particular Monday I finished with enough time to do a 20 minute run. Normally when I run during the workday, I do so on the track. The track doesn’t to compel me to do a cool down, and I tend to take it a little easier on the track. But on this day, I decided to do a hill run on the treadmills.

My favorite treadmill was open, one of the newer models. It has a television, which helps make treadmills less dull for me, and I like the settings. The hill workouts are fun, and none of the steep segments last too long. The way I set it up, the majority of the run is 1 minute flat, 1 minute hill, and the hill portions steadily increase to a maximum and then start over at the lowest.

I found an old episode of Criminal Minds with which to distract myself and started the run at 5 mph. But my legs were feeling good. I’d taken all day Sunday as a rest day. So I increased to 5.5 mph. The running felt good. The hills were a challenge, but not impossible. My breathing was coming easily, and there was no wheezing. I’m not going to believe that I’m over whatever cold/crud/illness has been plaguing me this winter until I’m feeling good for a few weeks in a row, but I’m hopeful that it’s gone for good this time.

I finished out the 20 minutes with 2.5 minutes of 6 mph. It felt good. The last seconds ticked by, and I hit the speed buttons to slow the cool down to 3 mph. I planned on spending only 1 minute on the cool down instead of the 5 the machine automatically chose.

I took three, maybe four steps at 3 mph and then I yelped and lifted my right foot. A sudden pain had struck the bottom of my foot. It felt as if the calluses on the pad of my foot had split open. It felt like a gash, like it must be bleeding. I hopped on my left foot for a moment on the still running treadmill. Then I hopped to the side of it and stopped the machine. Not putting pressure on my right foot, I sprayed it down and gathered my bag. Then I limped over about 20 feet to some benches to examine the wound.

I walked by several people, but only one guy asked if I was okay. I told him what I thought the problem was and that I was going to sit and check it out. At the benches, I took off my right shoe, amazed not to see blood in it. My white sock was, well, as white as it ever was. There was no blood on my, ahem, off-white sock. And there was no blood on my foot. At first glance, it looked whole and perfect.

And then I brought my face and foot closer together and saw a glint of light. Somehow, through sock, through shoe, on the treadmill… my foot had acquired a sliver of plastic, no larger around than a safety pin’s shaft, no longer than a key on my keyboard. And this tiny piece of clear plastic had fooled my nerves into thinking that a massive wound had opened spontaneously in my foot.

It was sticking out far enough that I was able to remove it with my fingers. I showed it to the guy who had asked if I was okay, and then I finished my workout with 4 unstrict pull ups (woo!).

I don’t know how the sliver of plastic got to my foot, and managed to go undetected through 20 minutes of running, only to stab me just as I began to walk. But I do know one thing.

Such a strange and painful event could only happen on a Monday.

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