If you asked me about six months ago where I prefer to run, I would have told you on the trail, in the woods, in nature. Yep, earth-tone running gear that allowed me to travel along with the other woodland creatures with stealth-like invisibility. I had a good pair of trail shoes that I would tie up tight, I’d plug in the iPod and I could go all day. I loved it.
Now here’s the sound of the other sneaker dropping: The only problem is I’ve got a bad right ankle that dates back to a 1982 high school basketball game, so running on top of rocks and roots could mean a turned ankle, of which I’ve had at least six. I was able to play through the ankle twists, get home and put a little ice on the injury and a few days later I’d be back out there.
But the last time I ran in the woods it was one of those 100-degree days. I like running in the heat -- the hotter the better -- because you’re instantly loose. So I was looking forward to my trail run. I was even going to loop it twice, but two miles in, WRENCH! This one was different: It really hurt and it felt different, not like the others. I got up and tried to run it off, but it wasn’t happening. Off to see the good doc and a shot of Don Cortisone in the ankle bone and I’m relegated (at least for now) to more predictable terrain ... and that means the road.
So when I leave my house now, I look like a 225-pound flashing traffic cone. I’ve got a flashing light on my leg and another on my arm, more reflective material than a traffic sign, and a pair of running shoes that make me feel like I’m running on a Tempurpedic mattress.
Even though I’m so brightly dressed, at least twice on every run I find myself having to stop because someone isn’t paying attention. Seriously, I can’t understand how it is that you can’t see me coming from a mile away. All kidding aside, the flashing light I wear is visible from a mile away. But nonetheless, I’m always shooting someone a look of disbelief.
Because I’m training for a future Ironman I find myself on a road bike, too. I have the same problem. I’ve never been hit, but it’s been pretty close. It leads me to ask the question -- is sharing the road that difficult? I also drive a car on the road and have managed to not come remotely close to hitting anyone, so I know it’s possible.
I can honestly say that I was really worried about being taken out by a texting teenager, but I’m sort of happy to say that the bulk of my problems is adults. Yeah, those folks that are supposed to be really paying attention to the road.
Just the other day I was coming up to a crosswalk ... you know those things where pedestrians have the right of way? As I approached the crosswalk a Prius came to a stop, the driver looked at me (again I’m kinda hard to miss, I look like a landing beacon at JFK) and when I entered the crosswalk he took off then slammed on the brakes. What? Really? We made eye contact, we had a moment that said "Holy ... could that guy be any more lit up?" Yet I find myself at a sudden stop with my hands in the air wondering what the hell went through that head of his.
You see where I’m going with this right? You get what I’m driving at? If you don’t, let me boil it down for you -- pay attention behind the wheel lest you find yourself mentioned on a morning show or in this column. What the hell is up with that?