I've tried trail running, but something about it feels weird. Even though a huge part of me loves the solitude, I feel a little too isolated, a little too scared. Like something is going to pop out at me around the bend. I would love immersing myself in nature this way. I know it'd be better for my joints and my core. Maybe having someone that I really enjoy running with and talking with would make it easier to run in this type of environment. Regardless of these benefits, I guess I'm just content to run on the familiar streets of my neighborhood.
One of the favorite things I like about my route are the familiar faces I encounter on my way. I see the same people most every time I'm out. I love the waves and smiles I get from neighbors and other motorists on their way to work or school. I especially love a friendly honk or when someone takes the time to roll down their window, wave an arm or yell a friendly greeting.
I especially love it when strangers do this to me. Like the enthusiastic high school kids. The strangers like the man named Kent "Oh, you're that runner woman!" who introduce themselves in the grocery store. Or our veterinarian, a fellow marathoner, who passes and waves and probably thinks I don't have any idea who he is. The man I see sitting at his kitchen table window whose constant friendliness brightens my day. The grandpa going off on his way somewhere, I imagine for companionship or coffee (what else would he be consistently out for at such an early hour?) who doesn't forget to acknowledge me (or I him). I look forward to all of this each and every day.
These people are my friends, my community. Those other "road warriors" whose presence speaks inspiration to me. The two older female walkers whose friendliness have cheered me almost daily for the last three years now. And I don't even know their names. The stroller moms. The fellow runners, those "I'm with you bro- I feel your pain- I get you" people just like me. I raise my arm to these kindred spirits, almost as a salute, whether I know them or not. We have a bond.
Then there are the not-so-friendly ones. The bike racer dudes, these are a different breed it, seems. Most, especially those intense, too cool male ones decked out in their official biking racing gear, don't seem to crack a smile or acknowledge my waves. (Which make me feel a little stupid.) What is it with these guys?
Mean, barking dogs that approach. Especially that one that came out of nowhere, bounding fast behind me, teeth bared and snarling. That was the only real time I've been scared of a dog. I try to conjure a barrier with thoughts of loving peaceful kindness toward these meanies. It seems to have worked. The sad reality of dead and decaying animals off to the side of the road. That poor pathetic whole and beautiful hummingbird that I saw laying on the asphalt the other day. These are some of the unpleasants.
If you are a female runner, you almost always encounter jerks. Or perves. Like the time I was running down the hill at the same time an older man was walking up the same side of the street I was. Naturally, I waved and smiled as I approached him like I do to everyone I encounter. Right then, he lifted up his hands, his hands more cupped (if you get my drift) than straight into a kind of quack, quack duck, "I'm going to grab your private parts" crude kind of gesture. (Like I have anything to grab at all.) That was his greeting and it totally caught me off guard. I didn't know what to think. But wouldn't you know it, there he was again, same time same place the next morning doing the exact same gesture as I approached him, all without saying a word. I whipped around fast and yelled, "What is that supposed to mean?!"
(Don't mess with me. Especially if you are a jerk of a man.)