I ran nine miles yesterday morning. I was anxious about the run. I was in San Antonio, so there wouldn't be any designated route and no water waiting for me at designated stops. The first of those was more worrisome. I lived in San Antonio for a short time and still remember my bus routes and long walks. But I didn't know the part of town where my hotel was at.
I went online and found some shared routes on Map My Run and Runkeeper. I checked satellite views and used Google Street View. (For those who missed an earlier post, I am very paranoid.) Then at about 5 a.m., just before I left for my run, I looked up crime reports in the areas.
I walked outside making sure the hotel security camera spotted me (in case police later needed to know what I was wearing). The cold air hit me as soon as I stepped out and I started my run. Two thoughts immediately sprung to mind:
It's cold. It's cold.
This is a really stupid idea.
However, the second thought always comes to mind whenever I start a run, so it didn't deter me.
I had narrowed my route to two choices. I hit the intersection where I had to decide. None of the maps I looked at showed the streets at night. Badly lit route won out against "Are there lights behind that tree?" route.
My rules are simple. Run where there's light. Run where there's a sidewalk. The preference is to run against traffic, but that's trumped by the first two rules. When I ignore these rules I get into trouble. And that's what happened, but I'll get to that later.
Stop. Go. No Stop. Go.
I've read that long runs have a lot to do with mentality and pushing yourself to finish. For me, and maybe slow runners in general, it's not pushing to finish that's hard. The hard part is the start.
At races, you see people pass you and disappear in the horizon before you get your first quarter-mile in. It can be discouraging. And when running alone, there's no fanfare to distract from your thoughts. "You tried. No one would blame you if you stopped." Fortunately, this is where music really helps me.
I'm not sure if it was Aretha Franklin or Pink, but I remember the song starting and I thought, ''Here we go."
Quiet Roads and the Bus Backup Plan
The sidewalk on the road ended, so I detoured south until I didn't like the lighting and decided to turn around. I saw a bus go by and made sure to get the number, in case I had to use one to get back. My run toward the next main street was thankfully quiet and uneventful. When I got there, I was surprised to find activity at a shopping center. I'm not sure why a barbershop and dry cleaner would be busy at 6:30 a.m. Maybe I was looking at the wrong signs.
Signs of Life
I was surprised I hadn't bumped into any other runners. But I did spot a police unit. And with my oversized reflective vest, headlamp, and reflective armband, I'm sure he or she spotted me too. I liked this road. There were signs of life - traffic, open fast food joints and restaurants, and some mechanics were just opening up their shops. I reached the expressway. The sidewalk ended. I detoured down a side road to reach 4.5 miles and then headed back the way I had arrived.
Having passed the restaurants again, it dawned on me that I was freakin' hungry. I had been eating GU Chomp gummies. This time I grabbed a small piece of a CLIF bar. I never pack a full bar, just a piece or two. I won't make that mistake again. I'll find a way to fit it in my belt.
I finally spotted another runner, a man walking, and someone else on a bike. Sunrise was approaching and I got a better look at everything I had ran past. The schools and homes were very nice.
I reached the eight-mile mark and decided on another detour. I wanted to pick up breakfast for my family at a McDonald's near the hotel.
Where the Sidewalk Ends
The sidewalk ended and I did something stupid. I ignored my rules and kept going. The 18-wheeler that went by me reminded me this was stupid. l didn't see a sidewalk anywhere ahead of me on the road. But there was a side road that led straight to the hotel. There were no sidewalks but the sun was out and there wasn't any traffic on the road. I was on the same block as the hotel.
I was about a third of the way down the block, when I heard them. Dogs. There were at least three or four and they did not want me there. I saw fences, but they were old, not well-maintained, and looked open. I passed by one dog who was fenced in. But then I saw his buddy stroll out a few houses ahead of me. Rot.
He started barking. I kept going and then he started approaching. And he got a lot closer than I expected. I didn't push my luck and turned around. I heard him barking and still following me. He was waking up all his friends. By the time I got to the corner, there was a chorus of barks. Luckily, they were fading in the background. I was soon back on a sidewalk and on my original route. I finished my nine miles as I passed a convenience store and decided to pick up breakfast for my family there.
I entered the hotel through the lobby and wondered if anyone looked at the surveillance video. If so, they'd see me leave standing tall but nervous and returning sweaty, slumped over, and carrying donuts. But I was smiling.
Thank you for the beautiful morning, San Antonio.
Former high school water girl (really) finally running.