Thursday, December 1, 2011

I Am Now A Crotchety Old Runner

Truer words are rarely typed by me, I must say.

Let me explain my day. Didn’t start off too great. Was in a state of wistfulness for the better part of the morning.

Finally reached a point in the afternoon where I laced up and headed out for a run of a to be determined length. My left knee has been sore so I’m seeing how it feels, taking it eas...ier if I am able to actually use self-restraint on the outing. It was beautifully nice out, in the high 40s with no noticeable winds. I’d consider that an ideal setting as possible. I’m hopefully, to start.

Ah, but the afternoon, Zoe. In Oak Park. Have you not learned your lesson? Guess not.

The smallest things get under my skin. Like the dumbass suburbanites in minivans and pseudo SUVs who feel they have the right of way all the time, even when I’m already well into the cross walk with the light.  You can see me; you choose not to acknowledge me. Cool. I will start snot rocketing onto your tires. Then you may notice; my accuracy is grotesque.

Or, to be more precise to today’s adventure, sidewalks within a mile of OPRF High School a half hour after school lets out.  

I am just getting started, about a third of a mile in on what I would consider my “normal” route. There are minimal stops and it gets me north enough to avoid such things as people. Or children, so it the point and purpose.


I approach a corner featuring a quartet of young girls blocking my way. This angers me. One of them moves, but the others don’t, standing their ground and begin to sing something I care not to pay attention to.

As I pass by, one starts running with me. This angers me greatly.

I found this was a commonplace occurrence this summer running downtown on Michigan Ave/right off of State Street in the Loop at least three or four times; teenagers would find it highly amusing to spontaneously run with me. In response, I would start to sprint and lose them, out of sheer “what the…”. I don’t know what they are getting out of such random activity, but I sure don’t want some shit in jeans and a chain wallet running beside me.

But back to the moment at hand. I don’t even think there was a moment of mental hesitation, but as soon as I hear those few plodding footsteps, the smack of ballet flats on concrete, I screech to a halt, simultaneously stopping and spinning around to confront her. I’m not dealing with this today.

“I’m sorry, can I help you with anything?” I am sounding as stern as possible. Eye contact is very present.

The look on her face, mortified and she stumbled over some incoherent words. Her cohorts started to giggle behind her.

“Are you sure? I want to make certain you are really sure.”

 Her response, a snide “Yeah”. I know the presence of verbal vitriol too well; it composed a good amount of what rolled off my tongue in my teenage years.  I turned and started back on my way.

And here lies where I evolved from a pissed-off runner to an angry old one: That “Yeah” struck something. It couldn’t be the last thing that was said in this encounter. I made it about a step and a half before I turned back while moving.

“Good luck failing out of high school.”

I meant it.  And continued on.

Yeah, I had stupid moments as a teenager and times where I’d snap back, never to a stranger, though. And I would never do that to a passerby. I hate the notion of inconveniencing someone, especially for a millisecond crossing paths on a sidewalk.  But the second you act more important or infringe on my space, I’m angry.

I will always thank those who move to the side when I come through. You took time to recognize that not only am I coming through this minute space we tread upon, but also I’m moving faster than you. Of that, I appreciate your efforts.

A block away from this nonsense, the verbal equivalent of me pounding the heel of my hand into the hood of a car that wasn’t paying attention as I was already well into a crosswalk (that always gets the drivers attention), it crossed my mind.

“I sure as hell wouldn’t have done that as a kid.”

And onward I went, passing more people with kids and more people walking dogs. Apparently to live in this town, you need a baby or a dog. Perhaps it’s good to be renting as I am forever without canine, and very certainly want nothing to do with a baby.

But today marks the start of a 100-mile quest over the next 60 some odd days, via the Frozen Tundra Challenge. Not sure why it peaked my interests enough to give it a go (especially when I create my own challenges and fail to follow through...poor 116 days) but I figured given I already use DailyMile, why not?

There is no clean way to end this post.  So, I go. 

A Good Dog

Not interested in sending this one out via social consumption, I just wanted somewhere to post this online for me. 

At 15/potentially 16 years of age, childhood dog Tosca passed on this morning. Last few weeks were rough after she suffered what was presumed to be a stroke. Saw her on Friday for the first time since early October (when she looked frail and all things considering, old, but still was spunky and happy) and she was just a shell, a fragment of herself; lethargic and laying considerably still. She did lift her head up a bit and wagged her tail as much as she could when she saw me. It's the kind of subtle action that breaks your heart.  

She never wanted to run with me, but was the reason my family started taking our two larger (then eventually smaller pooch) beasts to an enclosed area at my nearby school. There were a few times that once she grew into the sizable golden retriever she turned out to be (unlike the husky she looked like as a puppy), we had to chase after her through the backyards on our block as she just wanted to nab a nearby rabbit. There was a point of experimenting with long pieces of close line as  50+ yard leashes, but I can still point out the faint scars on the back of my ankles from when she quickly looped around me and pulled me off my feet (that HURT, it defined pratfall to a tee). She also was an avid fan of swimming after gulls/ducks in Lake Michigan, not totally understanding the whole depth issue of going out too far. 

I happily would take her on little night treks down the street for the final out of the day, especially in the winter (like New Years eve or Christmas night). She barked at everything (leaves, strollers, the mailman, people when my mom would pack all three dogs in the backseat when she would come and pick me/my sister up after school) and was active for the overt majority of her life. Going to really suck not having her around at Christmas  in a few weeks when it just sets in that she isn't there.

Another important component of my childhood is gone. I thought this was supposed to get easier with age. Doesn't feel like it. 

Love this photo of her with an equally beloved Guinea Pig, Victoria. I don't know if it's true or not, but she felt like my dog. And was a great one at that.