One small step for man, one giant leap for... well, me.

I did it.

It took some pouting. It took some dirty looks. I had to go for a drive and think about it. I had to call mom, pout again. I paced my room. I changed my clothes. I tied my shoes. And then I did it.

I went to the gym. Alone.

So it's official. My running partner, marathon confidante, gym buddy - she's moving away. In 11 days. Today was my trial run at exercising solo. Sans a motivator. On my own.

It was everything I expected. And more. It was tragic. I went to the gym across town where I've never been. So there I was, alone, in a strange place.

The token gym devotees were all in place. The man grunting at the weight bench. The guy running at a speed of nine on the treadmill as if it were a slow jog. The woman who just applied lipstick before hopping onto the elliptical. The girl with too little clothes on. The guy who just plain made me uncomfortable. The gang was all there.

Except for my gang. It was me vs. them. I had no one to sneer with me at the woman in lipstick. No one with me to secretly wish we were the girl with great abs and too little clothes on. No one next to me to admire the guy on the treadmill, while thinking aloud, "He's hot. And fast."

I had to run on the treadmill alone. It was horrendous. To my right, an empty elliptical. To my left, a tall man on a treadmill. A tall man with bad breath. Every step he took, bigger breaths followed. Every big breath, another whiff of foul odor in my direction. My partner-in-crime wouldn't have had bad breath wafting into my airspace. She would've chuckled, picked up her towel and moved with me to the two empty treadmills three machines down. But it was just me. And I stayed.

It's a big gym. There are a lot of people. And I need to put on my game face. And by game face I mean iPod. And by iPod I mean I'm plugging the earbuds into my ears, turning up the volume and praying no strangers strike up a conversation. It's time to go it alone.

Tomorrow, of course, she'll be back. For the next 10 days at least. We'll wake up before 5 a.m., head to the gym, work out as usual. And she'll be my motivation. But once she's gone, all I'll have is a pair of running shoes, sitting empty on the floor, begging me to put them on.

And maybe, just maybe, I'll oblige.