Monday, September 5, 2011

along the running route

I'm the type of runner that likes the familiar. Most days, I tend to run the same 6 mile route. I'm running 3 days a week now. Decided that this is the right amount for me to stay healthy, happy, and injury free. I haven't done any longer runs for quite a while. Not really motivated, now that I'm not training for anything. Having something on the horizon something to work for might not be a such a bad idea.

I like the hills on my path.  Much of the time, I like the challenge. I think most runners either love them or hate them. Since taking a break after cracking my rib, I am just not running up them like I've always done in the past. I just don't have it in me lately. Maybe I'm lazy. Maybe it has something to do with me emotionally. Maybe I'm just liking the freedom to just say "forget it" and enjoy the no pressure of walking. I will say that sailing down those hills gives me a thrill that can't be beat.

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.

I thrive on routine, on rhythm. I like to run at the same time, almost on the dot, every time, just like I like to run the same route over and over. I think it's easier for me to make exercise a habit, something automatic, when it's at the same time and same place. 

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?!"

As you can imagine, this made me so uncomfortable and so unsettled that I told Keith. He urged me to make a visit/report to the police department. Which I did. And guess what, I did see that man again walking on the other side of the street, and this time I was on fire. I confronted him. I said I wasn't stupid. I told him that making that kind of gesture to a female runner could get him into a lot of trouble. I said he better think again about doing that sort thing. Especially to me. 

(Don't mess with me.  Especially if you are a jerk of a man.)

These things along my route, the familiar sights, the community (the good and not so good), the gift of immersing myself in so much natural beauty through each and every season... All have their place. Each are an element in this love of running.

Can't you tell that it's so much more to me than just the physical aspect of "getting some exercise"?


  1. Yes, there is more to run than running. It's a liberating path, I think1 Go, girl!

  2. funny. i am not sure where i am at right now with running. somedays I love it and just last week while out running 5 miles I became incredibly bored with it. yesterday, i ran 4.5 today i walked for an hour. i guess right now i am craving variety. part of me wonders if on the vegan diet if my energy is just overall a little low because deep down i am really driven. i just don't know right now....

    i love that you didn't let the guy treat you that way. dang girl - i am proud of you for that. So far, i have stayed safe out running. having brooklyn now helps though.

    p.s. - your hills looks more like mini mountains :)

  3. p.s.s. - are you still doing yoga?

  4. I completely get you! I love running too. I'm lucky in that the trails I run on are NOT remote at all - there are so many runners, bikers, dogs and walkers along the trails here in Boulder! I like uphills too, probably because my knees are bad and going up just taxes my lungs - at least nothing hurts!
    I love planning my day -week- month - when I'm out alone. I too tend to run the same 7 mile route, looping it a few times when I'm doing a long run. There is such peace in routine.
    Enjoy your next run! I'll think of you on Wednesday when I give my hand wave to my fellow runners on the trail. :-)

  5. I am missing the running. I don't mind biking the trails so long as I have a phone signal, but give me the roads for running. And your hills ARE mini mountains. I am so slow on those. I am half-tempted to just ignore the doc and run anyway. How did you stay off your stress fracture? Mine only hurts when I'm not running so there's no pain to motivate me to quit.

    I can't believe what a jerk that man was, but I'm super proud of you for standing up to him. Age does not entitle anyone to act disgustingly. I've had a few catcalls and double takes, but thankfully no one has been outright nasty.

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