Saturday, September 25, 2010

Tom, Jerry, and Alicia Run In Circles In Your Living Room

I was never a great fan of Tom and Jerry when I was a kid. I like cats more than I like mice, frankly, and I always thought it quite unfair that Tom worked very hard but never got to eat Jerry. Jerry was obnoxious. I forgave Road Runner, for instance, for not ever being eaten by Wile E. Coyote because while coyotes are pretty neat and I admired Wile E.'s determination, road runners are awesome. Plus Road Runner wasn't a little twit. He was just crazy prescient. The Force is with Road Runner, dude.

It was therefore rather odd that I had a lengthy Tom and Jerry flashback while running today. You know how the scenery in those cartoons just loops and loops and you see the same lamp flashing past you a dozen times in twenty seconds? I was pretty sure I'd looped that yard with the swing set in it five or six times already. And also I was seeing so much of this particular backyard barbecue that I was starting to feel slighted that I wasn't invited.

I was pretty certain I was running in circles.

Sometimes I do this on purpose. When I am doing a daily short run and don't feel like going out too far, I run around my block (reversing directions every loop to keep from putting too much turning strain on one leg--I don't know if this is actually doing me any good but it seems to make sense.) My block is just short of a mile (.88--I checked) so this is a good distance to run in circles around for a pretty short run. I just run around for between twenty and forty minutes.

Today I was not doing this on purpose. I was also, sadly, not running around my block.

I did my first longerish run today. It would not be accurate to call it a true long run, as I went just shy of five miles, and I only ran for an hour (well. Fifty minutes. I had a five minute warm up walk and a five minute cool down walk). I'm still fifteen weeks out from Disney. When I do long runs on my own rather than with my TNT group, I usually do them by time-on-feet rather than distance. I'm a little behind. According to my schedule I should've run for an hour and fifteen minutes today (or, well...and hour and five of intervals plus five minutes cool down and warm up) but as I signed up kind of late, I didn't think it was a good idea to jump my time that far this week. I'm not that worried about it--it'll even out somewhere.

I almost didn't go out. It was supposed to be hot (for late September) and tomorrow is going to be cool, but I also have plans for tomorrow early afternoon and I knew if I didn't get my run in first thing in the morning (which I could be better about...) I wasn't likely to get it in later. I therefore suited up and went out anyway. I was pretty sure the heat was going to be my biggest problem.

It wasn't. I was in the shade most of the time, it wasn't too humid yet, and there was a good breeze. Yes, I sweated through my hat (gross.) Yes, I looked like I'd worn my tek shirt in the shower. But I wasn't too hot.

Nope. I was lost!

HOW I managed to get lost running where I was--in the residential neighborhoods nearby--is a testament to my legendarily poor sense of direction. Usually when I am going to run in that neighborhood, I just pick a direction, run for half the time I need to run for, then turn around and run back exactly the way I came. This won't work for longer runs, because the residential is actually not that big (it's super-densely filled--no green spaces here except lawns, lawns, lawns--but not big.) So to get the sort of distance I knew I needed, I sort of had to run around in squiggles.

While doing those squiggles, I got disoriented.

I can get lost in a paper bag. If you tell me "It's very simple. Just go straight out my front door to the intersection of sixth and Main, and then turn left onto Main and then walk down Main for two blocks" I will STILL get lost and somehow manage to make two rights (that makes a left...right?) and end up in another town entirely, if not in another state. I am usually pretty calm about getting lost. It happens so often that the novelty has sort of worn off.

I was not calm about the idea of getting lost on this run. I was thirsty (I had not brought my water belt with me, mostly because I can't recall where it is at the moment--I've moved since I last used it.) Nature was calling. I wanted to be at my doorstep when my time was up, not walking around swearing and having to ask strangers "Can you tell me how to get to Shop Rite from here?" (I live right next to ours.) God only knows what they would've thought about the sweaty, sorta pudgy woman dressed like a total dork (my running outfits do not define chic, I fear) asking where Shop Rite is.

My husband, who almost NEVER gets lost, has absolutely no fear about asking for directions. I, who get lost all the time, will usually wander around in circles for a while before I even think of it. This has less to do with pride and more to do with the fact that I don't follow "how to get there" directions very well. Often they leave me more confused than ever. I could tell you epic stories about me getting lost. Suffice it to say that when we lived on base and I was little, I walked to school, and for the first few weeks we lived at this one particular base I got lost walking what should have been nearly a straight line to school and had to be brought home by the military police. And that while those instances became rarer as we lived there, I never entirely STOPPED using the SPs as a taxi service.

Well, I thought, my Garmin can trace my route. I'll just tell the Garmin I want to run home! I didn't want to run all the way I'd come, of course (although maybe running the squiggles in the other direction would've un-disoriented me?) but the Garmin can remember set points and tell you what direction they're in. On my next walk interval, I therefore pulled up its map function and confidently went to the "set points" function.

It was then that I realized that I had forgotten to mark my front step as a set point.

A few moments after this unhappy realization, I was plodding down a street whose name looked familiar but I swear I didn't recognize any of the houses on, I saw a slow-schools sign. That's appropriate, I mused. Go slow. I feel like I'm running so slow I'm actually moving backwards.

Then I smiled.

There's only ONE school in that area, and I run past it all the time. So, it stood to reason, if I just RAN AROUND THE SCHOOL I'd eventually figure out which way to RUN HOME towards.

This was a brilliant and foolproof plan! I plodded in the direction of the "school" signs. Hurray! Saved by an elementary school!

Or, I thought on lap two around the school, perhaps not. Because while I definitely recognized the school, I was SO turned around and I'd run past parts of these neighborhoods so many times today that I still wasn't really sure which way home was. Finally I figured out that if I ran down a certain street past the school either I'd hit a dead end I knew was a bit past, or I'd hit the road that would take me back to the street I actually live on.

I almost wish I'd hit the dead end, because then I would've known for sure that I was on the right way. I didn't, so I was starting to panic until I saw the familiar town park looming before me and knew, finally, after twenty minutes, exactly where I was.

And I was right in front of my apartment the very moment my Garmin beeped the end of my cool down!

Long run one down! Only eleventy-billion more miles to go before Disney!

1 comment:

  1. I feel like you just articulated perfectly how I feel about my poor sense of direction! Sometimes I'm convinced that I have "bird brains," as in, I can only sense my direction from high above. I tell people I'm "spacially challenged," lol.