For the last several years, I've spend Thanksgiving and the day after with my sister's family in the sleepy town of Delaware, a growing rural enclave to the north of Columbus. Between my two kids and her three kids--representing an age span from negetive attention seeking kindergartners to moody pubescent teenagers, whom don't always mix, we heartily ate my sister's marvelous cooking, gave thanks, too, for lots of wine to wash it all down. My soon to be ex was there for the day and appeared uncomfortable, which made me uncomfortable, so we drank more wine. I planned the next day to run my lone flat Delaware route of ten miles or so to work off the food, drink and stress.
The next morning, at the acceptable hour of 7 am, Kim and I headed out into the shopping black hole know as Black Friday. We ventured outside of Delaware, closer to Columbus, rationalizing that we'd have greater access to a wider net of retailers. We hit Target first, which was a nightmare--I've never seen anything like this in my entire life. Multiple lines of people, carts piled with doorbusters, snaked through to the back of the store. Cartless, Kim and I headed to the toy section. Navigating was a stop and go gridlock, weaving through distracted people on their cell phones, and abandoned carts. If you stopped for a nanosecond you were impeding the progress of focused shoppers, their carts piled high, till you were pierced with a steely glare till you moved. Most appeared calm, as if this was normal. I started to sweat. I wanted to buy my soon to be ex a pair of fleece pajama bottoms for his December birthday, so I don't have to see him walking around in his underwear when I stop at the house.
I stood at the front of the store and surveyed the lines snaking into the hazy recesses of the store. They'll be waiting for hours, sucking their life energy away on mounds of crap, shaving off a few dollars on deals that aren't much better anywhere else, or if they waited till noon, right here without the lines! Why do people think they have to wait in a line to be getting a deal? I looked at them from the alien-like perspective of a non--runner looking at a marathoner. Not willing to spend three hours in line for a pair of pj's I could get for the same price elsewhere, I abandoned them near the end of the greeting card rack, and we escaped. We retreated back to sparcer populated, Delaware, where business was brisk, but not an abberational black hole of lines snaking into eternity. I made an appreciable dent in my shopping and we headed back to my sister's. Now--time for a run to work off the Thanksgiving excess.
I begged my sister to run a few miles with me, but she made a million excuses--I'm too fast, too much to do, blah-blah, so I got ready to run my typical out and back 10mile course that I frequently do. I headed out with my son's Ipod Nano, a leaky water bottle, and two miles into my run, realized it might have been wise to run with my phone, but while I'm a passionate runner, I'm also a stupid one--a profile for a running accident waiting to happen. It was cold, steely grey, windy, faceless cars sped past me as I alternated stretches of fallow field and wealthy culdesac neighborhoods named after gems. My water bottle leaked, soaking through my oversized wool mittens. I flipped through songs on my son's Ipod. I ran by an old man that walked out to his mail box, a piece of mail flying out of his hands, swirling like a leaf to the middle of the road. I retrieved it and he seemed grateful, even though it was just junk mail.
I was approximately five miles into my run when a post Thanksgiving peristalic colonic wave of overindulgent proportions hit my intestines. I saw a picnic area up in the distance, a little brown restroom. I clenched and ran with focus toward the brown little shack. Another peristaltic wave swelled as I grabbed the locked handle of the bathroom, closed for the winter, obviously. I thought, "this is the day I'm going to add pooping myself to my list of unfortunate running experiences." This run was turning out to be nothing more than a test of my spincter capacity. I walked till the wave passed and headed back over the reservoir bridge. If I had my phone, I would have called my sister to pick me up. I had dark dark thoughts as I ran into the wind, watching the wind kick up the waves, like visions of Delaware hillbillies sidling up, and throwing me over the bridge, because they don't like runners. I feel like this alot when outside my normal running pack, running alone, in an area I'm not familar with.
I was approaching a remote stretch with just a few old farm houses where an old, dingy white Italiant flat-roof style farmhouse stood some distance off the road. I saw a large German Shepard I've never seen before amble out to the middle of the road where he stood like a statue. A car approached. The dog didn't move till the car honked his horn. This kind of behavior alarmed me. The dog saw me coming and ran back to the house where he stood with another, smaller German Shepard. I wrote an article once on how to handle unfamiliar dogs on a run. I stopped running, of course and kept my eyes in front of me, barely keeping track of him from my peripheral vision. Then, to my utter horror, the dog started charging toward me and barking. Maybe this is not what you're supposed to do. Doubt exploded in my head. I kept walking and pulled my arms protectively in front of me. I felt the German Sheppard bump my ass with his nose, then he ran back to his house. I kept walking till I was far enough out and resumed my run, crying, and shook up. I really thought I was going to get mauled or at least bit by this dog. While I don't have many runs that I ever regret, this one I did. I missed my protective pack...I missed Bob, Debi, Hope, Maria, Don, Kurt, and all the others that pop out of the woods now and then to run with me and make me feel safe. Running, as much as I hate to admit, has its dangers...dogs, rocks, cars, getting lost...the list goes on. Runners need to stick together as much as possible. On this day after Thanksgiving, I have much to give thanks for--a wonderful family and a wonderful family of runners as well. I miss you all.