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Sunday, December 18, 2005

The Great Outdoors

I ran my "long" run -- 3 miles this week -- outside this afternoon. The weather was nice: overcast, cooler, hint of a breeze, and it's always nice to get away from the treadmill. However, running outside has dramatically changed since hurricane Wilma tore through here just two months ago. When the storm hit, she ripped up many trees and those trees ripped up the sidewalks or tumbled down across the paths and streets of the area. The trees also knocked fences and concrete walls into the sidewalks and streets, and crews are still in the process of not just removing the brush, but also repairing the sidewalks and pathways.

For the most part, there are long strips of uninterrupted cement, but there are other sections where the sidewalk is completely missing ("where the sidewalk ends," you could say), and in its wake are gaping holes or jumbled piles of blocks. In other spots, the sidewalk remains, but debris still sits on the path and jumping around or over it wears me out. So, for many portions of my run today, I ran on the street. Thankfully the streets in the area of my course are fairly empty and traffic is light; still, cars always act as though the swerving around you is a big deal, and they swing way over into the other lane. Which, I have to admit, is better than some drivers who refuse to budge to the side even when there's plenty of room. Instead, they brush right by you -- so close you feel the rush of air that follows their vehicle.

Drivers in general can react so strangely to runners or walkers on the side of the road. There are, of course, the whistlers or the honkers (I hate the latter; it scares the bejesus out of me) and those that yell "hey baby!" But once I had a guy literally turn around and stop and tell me I was beautiful. I'm not sure what he was doing -- is that how he asks women out? If so, he needs a quick course, because that method is the quick-study stalker method, one that is not appreciated by women. Then there are those like I listed above: They either ignore your presence on the road, or act as though you are as wide as a cement truck. But lastly, there are those that don't seem to see you at all.

Now, there were times in my life, particularly when I was a child wishing for magical abilities, that I wished for invisibility, but I have never ever wished for such a gift as I was running. However, some people just can't see me. These are the drivers who pull out right in front of you as you are jogging across a crosswalk while the light is in your favor. And they are the ones who blow the red light just as you are stepping off a curb ( I once had my life flash before my eyes when I stepped back up onto the curb just in time to miss a van that was so close I could taste its paint). And it's these drivers that I fear, because I think one day they will just run me down, but the worst part will be that they won't even know -- because they never saw me -- and they'll figure they hit a dog or a cat and they'll cruise on. Meanwhile, I'll be left without the use of my limbs to bleed in the street.

So, when the sidewalks are returned to normal here I'll thankfully hop back on them and praise the lord that they are there. Because the street -- that belongs to the crazies.

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