When I was still in high school and discovering running for the first time, it was quite an unorthodox experience. I lived on a farm down a winding, topsy turvy road full of hills and wilderness, while lacking sidewalks and safety measures.
It’s quite astonishing I stuck with it like I did. And maybe even more astonishing I was never seriously injured in the process.
Naturally, I started with the run/walk routine. As most do. But I don’t remember ever improving. Only running as far as I could to get out of sight of my house, so my parents wouldn’t think I was a big wus, and walking immediately. This lasted until I got to the top of the massive hill that the road went over and I’d run another minute or so as to not spend too much time tempting fate while on a ridiculous curve.
There was a river access past our house, so I was forbidden to run during the weekends due to the idiots hauling boats and going 60 mph on a curvy road they’ve never driven before. Now that I think about it, most people drove it that fast and shouldn’t have. I was an open target on the side of the road at any hour of the day.
My music consisted of a sad fm/am walkman that only got reception in certain areas. I had to pretend it was a DJ mix of N*Sync slowly morphing into Kenny Chesney then into static then into Third Eye Blind then back to more static.
And watch out for the neighbors’ dogs! The ones you always heard going crazy as they were penned up behind the house. But sometimes, just sometimes, they were running around loose. This forced me down to a cautious walk (if I wasn’t walking already). Any sudden movement and they would surely bite my face/arms/legs off.
Then there was the off-chance you’d pass someone else walking/running. Stop immediately. Talk about the weather. Family. Neighbors (they did WHAT?!?!). The construction in your backyard (because EVERYONE has noticed and wants to know). More about the weather. And back on your way you went.
This entire experience was probably a 30-minute ordeal and maybe 4-5 minutes were spent legitimately running.
No wonder I didn’t have warm fuzzy feelings towards the sport.
Yes, I called running a sport. We can debate that statement at a later time.
But times have changed. Now I willingly get up to run. And am sort of good at it (relative to my highschool days). Chicago is flat. The streets are straight. And have sidewalks. Crosswalks exist. Dogs are leashed. Acknowledgement of fellow runners is done so solely with a small wave/smile.
It’s a more productive and less dramatic experience. Maybe even tranquil when done so in the early morning hours.
Except for when running into random doors. That hurts.
This morning there were no doors. Just me doing my thing in the *almost* perfect weather. For 4.2 miles.
The only bad thing? There are a lot of coffee shops and bakeries. I’m not one to often crave donuts or bagels, but when you’re a couple of miles in and haven’t had breakfast yet? It’s rough. (#firstworldproblem)
And sometimes, just sometimes, I wonder if it would be fun again to run like the dogs were chasing you. Like Phoebe did on “Friends”. You know the one.
Run safe, everyone.