Yesterday was a bad run. By that I mean, I had a bad experience out running (and don’t you dare say, “I saw you out 'jogging' the other day” – that is most insulting to any “runner” – regardless of how slow they might appear to have been going).
I’ve had bad experiences plenty in the past. Not really bad like “feeling bad” though I have gone running when I’ve felt blue, but you can’t really cry when you run, I mean, you can, and perhaps might, but it makes it very very difficult to breath. In fact, in a high school cross-country meet I once ran next to a girl who, suffering from a bad knee, began to cry. I should have been more compassionate. It seems like you might hear a story in the New Era about a girl who stopped in a race to help a competitor even though it meant losing, but I just passed her and thought, as she struggled to breath due to her crying, that she was not helping her situation any. I must have been a very bad person back then, but I am much much better now, and actually, one time I was out running with the cross country team when an elderly man who was walking by us had a little fall. This did make me very sad, and I stopped right away to see if he was ok or if I could help. It turns out that he knew my dad because my dad later received a phone call from this man telling him how I had stopped in the middle of a race to help him and what a fine daughter my dad must have raised . . . of course, it was no race, merely a practice of little consequence, so I mostly felt guilty about my undeserved praise. Still, I fancy that in that situation I would have stopped even had it been a race (after all, he wasn’t a competitor from BEN LOMOND . . . and I think that girl was only crying because she knew I was going to pass her rather than that her knee really hurt that badly).
Back to bad runs. Usually my bad runs involve falling or dogs. Occasionally both. Amy and I used to run this race called the Bear Gutsman. It’s awful and great. You run two miles, then hike to the very top of . . . whatever that mountain is above Farmington where you see those two big round towers, then you run six miles down the other side (it’s a gravel road on that side because someone drives to those towers for something). In preparation for this, beyond running, we would do a major hike/run every week. Amy always complimented me on my sure footedness because after we’d hike to the top, we’d do our best to “run” down, and I was quite confident and expert at sidestepping rocks and branches and bumps and what not until once my toe struck a rock near the end of Indian Trail and I flew not unlike superman several meters through the air before landing and rolling. My big toe has felt rather broken ever since (that was ten years ago) and my sure footed nature never returned once I knew just what could happen.
Another time I fell in the middle of the road with not so much as a pebble in sight and I was forced to return home bloody and stinging and trying not to cry because well . . . it gets hard to breath . . . as I’ve mentioned.
One time I was pushing Abe and Daisy in the double jog stroller down a hill when, of all things, a bee flew into the stroller. Abe began flapping his arms and I pulled the stroller to a rather abrupt stop which caused him to plummet out of the stroller (who would leave their child unbuckled in a jog stroller!) and roll a ways down the hill. That was, I guess, more of a bad run for Abe, but a very sad run for me. There was loads of crying the rest of the way home that day . . . luckily (if that is the correct word) it didn't affect my breathing as Abe was the cryer.
Occasionally, Mike has tried to have me run with our dogs. I realize this is a great way for them to get exercise, but I don’t trust them. Once, I was running with Bud when he decided we ought to turn at an intersection that I intended to run straight through. So, he turned right in front of me. I flipped over him and landed in the road where a car stopped to check on me, which was embarrassing enough to make the fall itself seem insignificant.
Another time I was running with Shep. I happened to step onto a spot of ice just as a dog barked to the left of us causing Shep to lurch in that direction which pulled the leash enough to send me slipping, and yes, falling on the ice. Falling really shakes me up, even if I’m not seriously hurt, and when I’m shook up, I feel like crying . . . and, well you know.
So, this is getting long and I haven’t even gotten to yesterday, which isn’t sounding so bad after all now, but I had to mention dogs. I come across loads of dogs in my running, and I think I handle them pretty well, I know enough that I don’t keep running as this seems to excite them even more. I usually stop and face them and yell for them to “stop” or “stay” and it usually works. I don’t get unduly upset over the usual dog doing a little barking and chasing, but some dogs really seem to want to kill me, and it is quite scary when they are not stopping or staying rather pausing, and foaming, and barking, and making little angry juts forward at me as I keep pointing at them and yelling as commandingly as I can. I know the joy of country living is partly not having to worry about your dog being leashed or fenced all the time and no one really caring, but every owner is always certain that their dog “wouldn’t hurt a soul” and I am pretty convinced that is not correct. It makes me especially furious if I have my kids in the jog stroller.
Mike keeps telling me I should run with mace, and I do have a bottle, but I always forget and I don’t like to hold things when I’m running. When I used to run in the morning before it was light, I would occasionally take the bottle of “inert” practice mace that we had around (I don’t know why we had that rather than the real deal). It would have been useless against an attacker, but it gave me a little confidence all the same. In fact, maybe that is what I need again. It would probably freak dogs out enough, and I’d be less reserved about when to use it since it has no side effects. Speaking of pepper spray, someone would spray some in the school hall at least every year, and once a little kid on the bench in front of us at church sprayed some that he found in his sister’s purse, but those stories are for another time.
Anyway, yesterday I ran up a long rural road with not a bit of trouble. There is one spot where a very large wolf-like black dog lives. He is always fenced in, and it is a lucky thing because he seems to want to attack, and the fence is covered in “Beware of Dog” signs which make me think that he not only wants to attack but likely would attack given the chance. Yesterday the gate was open, but no sign of the dog. Whew. As I ran back down the road towards home, a truck came speeding along going about 60 mph. There was no where I could really go. It was a skinny road lined with blackberry bushes. I know the truck (well, its driver) saw me, but he showed no inclination to move over a bit or to slow down. Instead he just continued his happy speed as he passed within a foot of me. Obviously I survived, but I was so . . . scared? Mad? Insulted? I’m not sure, but very unhappy and wanting to say angry mean words to the fellow and knowing my dad would have shaken his fists and had a word or two to say and called the man an absolute idiot. But, I couldn’t yet calm these thoughts before a Boxer was rushing at me -- teeth bared --barking away (with two miniature poofy dog sidekicks barking excitedly that he was going to show me who was boss). My wits were still not quite about me, but I managed to do my commanding “stop” as he got with in inches of me. Luckily his master called him back (from some unseen spot) upon hearing my yells. So I continued on, my heart racing (which isn’t great for running either), only to be met a half a block down by TWO more large and frenzied dogs! I think I was really mad by this point because I not only yelled at the dogs but yelled, “GET YOUR DOGS!!!” in a loud enough voice that someone from the farm house an acre away called them back. They always call them back in an angry “bad dog, you know better than that” voice but prefer to call from the hidden insides of their home.
After all of this, I knew what was going to happen. I was going to go back past the open gate of the black wolf dog and he was going to be there. He was going to attack me, I was sure, so I began trying to think what one was to do. Bear attack? Play dead. But dog attack? Do I just cover my face, I wondered, so if I survive I am not totally scarred there? Will anyone come? How long before another car on this rural road, and if it’s that truck driver, will he stop and help, or just speed laughingly by? If someone from a nearby farm house hears the commotion, will they grab a gun first thing? Or will they more likely come to see what is going on, take a few minutes before realizing it is a human being attacked by that dog, and then go back for the gun? How long will that take? Will I still be alive? Who will pick my kids up from school if I am taken to the hospital and can’t remember any phone numbers to call?
The black wolf dog was not there, and I ran on home to safety, but . . . well . . . there you have it. A few of my running mishaps. I wonder what my stories would be if I were into biking! Actually, I did participate in one bike race, and if you are curious about how I weathered that, Amy's small email can give you a glimpse into that. Also, I actually did fall off a rocky ledge on a bike once and gashed my head open because I wasn't wearing a helmet. HUH? Sheesh, but really, enough is enough.