The Lonely Foot Print

I tend to run alone.  It is just me out there on the street or metro park or tow path with my thoughts and my MP3 player.  It is okay, I like it.  A lot of times there are others like cars or other runners or walkers.  On most occasions when I am running during the week I see kids walking to school.  My routes take me by two high schools.  I am no pervert they are just near the gym and that is usually my starting point.  Those other occupants of my vicinity are fine and good but they are not really part of my running experience.   Well most of the time they are not.

Amongst my friends it is not secret that I love winter training.  It just seems easier than hot training.  Winter training has other advantages as well.  Part of that is the aloneness of it.  The mornings are darker and there are very few people out there in the Wintry soup or cold, precipitations, and wind. 

Last Easter weekend I went out for a 10 mile training run.  There had been a blizzard that was hitting NEO for a couple of days and was still in full swing.  I went to the Viaduct Park in Bedford, OH and started off for the Metro-Parks.  All was well with the run.  The snow was coming down real heavy and there was already about 6 inches on the path.  I was working real hard.  There were no other foot prints to follow because I was the first out.  Well, I got out 2.5 miles and realized that I had really been working.  Okay, by now you should have realized that the work to plow through the snow would have been much greater than that of the clear path.  I was not that bright and it took a while to figure that a 10 mile run would have been outside of my limits at the time.  So at 2.5 miles I turned around realizing that the workout was sufficient.  Another brain fart was coming real soon.  I noticed the footprints were there and I followed them back.  I had forgotten that they were mine.  I came to my senses quick but not before getting embarrassed by it.  By this time there was a significant amount of ice on my eyebrow, beard, and eyelashes.  I was the only one out there and I was soon figuring out why.  No matter I was still having fun and there was nothing that could stop me and my foot print making.  Then he came.  I was about a half mile from the car and I saw a mirror image of me.  He was bundled up and frozen in the face.  We crossed each other and just smiled with big wide grins.  No words were needed.   We were the dedicated.  The initiated brothers that shared the same experience and we had the ice sickles hanging from our chins to prove.  A wave of pride came over me because I knew he would be following my footprints for a good portion of his remaining journey.  Run on dude.

Again I was runing and it was early and icy.  I was making the first foot prints in the ice that day.  The Metroparks were mine.  Not so much of a big snow like last Easter.  It was just cold and early on a Sunday morning.  The sun was barely up.  I was having a great run and I was mostly lost in some random thoughts and rockin out to something on my MP3 player.  Either way, again, life was good and the path was all mine.  Then I saw him.  It wasn’t just someone it was another runner.  Didn’t he get the memo.  These Metroparks were mine.  It was no longer the multipurpose trail.  It was my trail.  I set the path through the ice.  This guy was trespassing on my proud lonely foot prints.  How dare he. 

I know, it is not nice and I should share the road with my fellow runners.  I really do.  I love seeing other runners, bikers, walkers, etc out there.  It is always refreshing to see people out and about in this day of sitting around and watching TV or blogging. 😛  It was a quick thought.  Of course I welcomed him with something like a nod or a quick salute.  Of course I was glad he was there.  I managed to follow his lonely foot prints and avoid some danger spots that were more easily seen by his path.  I hope my pedal evidence was as helpful.   

This morning, I again was running in the snow.  The 2008 blizzard has hit NEO and we have been buried.  I was running through upto 1 foot of snow.  I was having some trouble.  Sure I had run this same route plenty of times.  A good 5k.  For some reason I had not remembered the exact location of the side walks in front of Bedford High School.  So I missed them a couple of times.  No biggy, I corrected and went on.  Then there was the tire tracks that got blown away.  My 5k route doubles back on the aforementioned sidewalks so all I had to do was survive the middle portion and I could be back to a good track of foot prints to follow.  Oh, how I was wrong.  By the time I got back to the high school, 15 minutes later, my foot prints were merely a memory.  The snow had been coming down so hard that they were filled and the wind had drifted the splay around so that there was no evidence that I had actually been there.  I couldn’t even create a companion for my feet at the moment. 

These aren’t all points of sorrow.  A couple of summers ago I got home from work and headed out.  I really didn’t have a destination and my standard routes did not yet exist.  I was just going out running.  I was just clearing my head.  What a great way to do it.   I was just determined to go out and stomp out a few new foot prints.  They couldn’t be seen but I knew they were there.  A couple of hours later I got back home.  I was exhausted, overheated, a little dehydrated but it was all worth it.  I made those roads mine and found some good alone time.  I was never lonely I was just in my own space.

Last week I ran the Catch a Leprechaun 30k.  I had my goals and of course it was a race but there were points where I was alone on the road just running along in my head.  I was running along the lake-shore and I saw this house that had a Lighthouse like structure built into it.  It was so cool.  The top was a 360 view over the lake.  I was thinking about how I could go up there with a good book or a laptop (if I owned one) and just write.  It wasn’t long before I was composing this blog in my head.

I got to say thanks to my feet for taking my outside to my happy place.  I am sure I could enter into deep thoughts another way but by going to there and stomping out my very own lonely foot prints 4 times a week I get to do it at my leisure.