Amazing news, Chronic Readers! It took me nearly 3 years, but I have made it to my goal mileage of running 3.1 miles, which equals a 5k! I am right on time, too, as Springtime/Summertime is perfect for signing up for legitimate 5k races in which t-shirt and/or logo-ed water bottle participation prizes are given- perhaps the real reason I am a runner. Oh sure, cardiovascular fitness, better blood circulation, and a drastic improvement in my Chronic-ness are all well and good, but let’s be honest, I’m in it for the t-shirt.
I only just reached this mileage goal last week, but as I mentioned, I have been chug, chug, chugging along for quite some time now. I prefer to run solo, as then I can take as many, “OMG, my heart is exploding, I’m going to die right here on the pavement, oh wait, false alarm!” breaks as I need without interfering with someone else’s tempo. However, I’m never actually alone while I run, as I now live in a rather peppy neighborhood chock full of other people who are mobile at the crack of dawn, just like me.
Without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, may I present the first edition of “People I See When Running…”
I have several different loops around my neighborhood that I have planned out and run depending on what I feel like- one when it’s early (more cars than people out), one when it’s late (more people than cars out), etc. Yet most of these routes return to a rather busy-ish street, which has one car lane and one bike lane in each direction. It also contains an unavoidable incline (I’d call it a hill, but if you know it you’d laugh. It’s only a hill to me!). This is where most of the above “My heart is exploding. Right. This. Minute.” moments happen. The other day, as I was huff-and-puffing up this bit, stuck in my own head in order to convince myself that ‘Sure, we all have to die eventually, but today is not that day for me!’ I heard something.
A sort of huff-puff alongside me.
Quick side note: When I run, I only have one earbud in. I like to be able to hear what’s going on around me somewhat so I can stay alert. I also run with my keys in my hand, because 1) I don’t want to lose them and 2) Bad guys. I am prepared to key your face like Carrie Underwood keyed her ex-boyfriend’s car in the “Before He Cheats” video if you are anywhere near my personal space while I am running.
Back to the Story: So, I am huff-puffing. I hear huff-puffing near me and I am all set to jab my house key into someone’s eye, when I turn my head and realize it is a rather portly guy on a bicycle in the bike lane next to the sidewalk. There are a lot of people in my neighborhood who bike to work regularly; super fit dudes in bright colored spandex whose leather briefcases and business suits are tucked neatly into carrying cases that balance just so on the back of their bicycles as they race minivans into the business-y areas. This guy was not one of those guys. However, he does look like he decided he wanted to be one of those guys, um, yesterday, and went to the local bike pro shop, and bought everything they had. He is wearing spandex when perhaps he should not be. He has one of those fancy mirrors you attach to your helmet so you can see behind you. He is wearing fingerless gloves. He’s got the carrying case on the back of his bike for his briefcase and suit, but it doesn’t look like it’s attached right and so his balance is off, and he is pedaling in squiggly lines like a drunk bicycle messenger. He can barely make it up the incline.
As it happens, neither can I.
I am doing that thing where you pretend you are still running, but really, if you stopped and walked, it would be faster. I am making a big show of how I am going to make it up this incline.
So is Mr. Solidarity on his shiny new bicycle next to me.
For about 2 minutes maybe, we slog along. I am not going to drop my running form and walk, even though I want to. He is not going to dump his bike and hop on the bus just ahead, even though he looks (and sounds!) like he wants to. Finally, the street where I turn comes along, and I put my hand up in the Runner’s Wave, which also looks like I’m about to say “Stop! In the name of Love!” He nods his head. Or at least I think he did. He may not have had the energy to make it an obvious motion. Blessedly, for the both of us, it’s all downhill from here.
The Boxer Gang
There are a lot of dogs in my neighborhood. No really, like a ton. It’s as if everyone read an article in the newspaper that said, “All successful people live in a house with a garden in front, have 2.5 kids, and a goldendoodle.” Let me tell you something, goldendoodles, with their no-shed promise and goofy good looks can be nasty little buggers. They are the ones getting in aggressive barking matches in my neck of the woods. They will draw you in with their golden curls and then bite your flippin hand off.
I try to avoid dogs at all costs when I am running, which is super hard. There are some I see everyday, so I’ve begun to note their patterns. My favorite is the Boxer Gang.
When I say gang, I mean it. There are 4 of them, of various ages and sizes, pure muscle as if they really could go 12 rounds, who walk with their owner down the middle of the sidewalk on leashes of various lengths. There is one though, that you know is the leader. He is the biggest, and maybe the oldest, and of course, has the most “Don’t mess with us,” personality of them all. There are some people with dogs in the neighborhood who will cross the street when they see me jogging up, which I appreciate.
When the Boxer Gang is rolling, I am the one who crosses the street.
The first time I saw them, they were with the husband-owner, who likes to walk them early Saturday mornings off-leash. I actually hid behind a tree on the other side of the street while they passed. Mostly though, I see them with the wife-owner, who always has them leashed.
The other day, I got as close to them as I ever had. Engaged in a game of chicken, mainly because it was wet and I didn’t want to run through the muddy grass to cross the street, we came towards each other. I look for signs of doggy-danger; you know perked ears, aggressive grumblings, whatever. I just have to get to the bit of driveway ahead and then I can cross the street.
I make it, veer off, and totally expect a chorus of barking to follow me.
But it doesn’t happen. I look over, and they are not even looking at me. No, one of them is, but just as quickly, he runs back to the pack and nudges his gang leader brother right before said leader runs into a bush.
It’s then that I realize, the leader of the Boxer Gang is blind. And his gang is really just a tiny gang of Seeing-Eye brother Boxers who keep him safe whilst intimidating the bejesus out of everyone else, perhaps so Boxer Kingpin can save face?
As I run on, I can’t help but laugh. The scariest dogs on the block are the least scary! Then I stifle my laughter and discreetly cross back to the other side of the street, because darn it if there isn’t a goldendoodle blocking the path ahead.