It is my birthday. Julianne has taken me to the desert on a quick birthday getaway. There is a giant hot tub IN OUR HOTEL ROOM. But I am not in there. I am on the sidewalk beside a highway. It is hot, it is windy, it is very, very dark. And I am running.
Shortly after we had arrived and got settled in our room (that had a frickin’ hot tub in it) I took a short drive to make sure that the sidewalk was suitable for my running workout. It wasn’t the greatest sidewalk ever but it would do, It was a mid distance run where I do a series of miles as fast as I can with short breaks in between. I decided to just do them as one mile out and backs starting at my car in the parking lot. I left a bottle of water by my car to continue the near constant hydration that had been a focus since our arrival in anticipation of this run and took off.
The thing I notice right away is that it is much darker than I anticipated. But there are plenty of cars on the road to illuminate the sidewalk so I’m not worried. Until I get to about a half mile out and it’s super dark. So I decide that instead of mile out and backs I’ll do half mile out and backs.
The first couple miles go by without incident. Then the traffic lightens significantly, taking my source of light with it. Soon I find myself running in an unfamiliar place on a rather bumpy sidewalk in the dark with lots of dips that seem like they are for roads or driveways that no longer exist. There is a steady crosswind punctuated by sudden gusts (the weather report will say that it’s around 8mph with gusts up to 18mph) I’m having to really pay attention to where my feet fall, it feels like trail running – or what I assume trail running would feel like, I don’t actually know since I’m not about to go running through the woods.
A couple of miles into the run, the hydration hypervigilance catches up with me – I really have to pee. No problem, there’s a restroom just inside the hotel. I pass by the night desk guy who gives me the same wary WTF look that he gave me when I went out in the first place. I turn the corner to find two orange cones and a sign that says that the women’s bathroom is closed. Damn it. I run through the hotel to my room, yell an explanation to Julianne who is giving me roughly the same look as the night desk guy since she didn’t expect me back for a couple hours, and use the restroom in the room. Then I run back out of the hotel lobby and hurl myself back into the dark.
My only reprieve is an intersection at a strip mall a couple tenths of a mile from the hotel. It is well lit and busy with traffic and I hit the light wrong every. single. time. I don’t want to run off the sidewalk and into a busy parking lot, and I don’t want to cross the road since it seems even darker over there. So I become one of those people who runs in place at stoplights. Another proud moment in my training.
Each time I stop, there is a gentleman asking people walking around in the parking lot if they have any money for him to go to the 24 hour Subway and get some food. He is yelling loudly enough to hear over my headphones. He makes a big deal out of the fact that he is going to use it to buy “good food” at Subway and not “bad food” After several laps he walks up to me.
I realize that I don’t have money with me (don’t tell my mom, she taught me to always have some cash with me) and thus am not in a position to help him, and I remind myself that this is a staggeringly inappropriate time to talk about the issues with food moralizing. But he doesn’t ask me for money. Instead he looks at me with a mix of concern and confusion and asks “What are you doing?”
Me: I’m running.
Him: I can see that, but…why? It’s the middle of the night and you’ve been out here for awhile.
Before I have to explain the light changes and I say “I’m sorry sir, I have to go.” He says “I understand, have a great run!” and it’s once more into the darkness. The next time I come by he is gone, and I hope that he has acquired enough money to get whatever food he wants.
In what seems like longer than it is, I finish my workout and return to the hotel and a well deserved soak.
Happy Birthday to me!
Update – Short Version
It’s been a while since I updated this blog. I’ll do a big update soon but the short version is that though I haven’t been blogging I’ve still been training for the upcoming IRONMAN. Thanks to those who contacted me to ask if I was ok, extra love to those who contacted me to say that they hoped I had quit or died. More soon.