My journey as a long distance runner who started the sport later in life.
With the 21K Tarahumara race looming on February 15, 2015, I am deep in the throes of long, slow distance training each and every Sunday. This morning I suited up and headed out for an 18K jaunt, pleased that I would finally break the 10 mile mark for the first time since joining the Earthathon 25,000-mile Relay and embarking on my January run streak. I have never been an overly fast runner, so starting out for 18K means I have about 2 hours of quiet contemplating to do, and so that is what I did. Actually, I rarely run with company, so I quietly contemplate a lot these days what with the run streak going strong.
Today marks the one-year anniversary of Fingergate, the fateful day I sustained three spiral fractures to each of three proximal phalanges near the metacarpal phalangeal joints on my right hand. I still sometimes think about how stupid I was to run with a friendly yet rambunctious and unknown boxer, never dreaming of how it would end about 100-m from where it began and with my fingers wrapped around each other like so many spaghetti noodles. It’s been a long time since thinking about it made me cry, but I can still be annoyed with myself if I dwell. The hand still doesn’t work properly, and it is possible that it never will. The microsurgeon has suggested another surgery, but that would make surgery number three, and I just wasn’t ready for that again so soon on the heels of the first two surgeries. I needed a mental and emotional break from the post-op lifestyle, and so I have postponed the third surgery until a time when I feel ready for it, whenever that might be.
You can imagine my absolute outrage when, while out for my 1-mile quota yesterday, an off-leash black lab charged me, barking ferociously, as I was running in the park. The owner bolted after it and towards me as I stopped and looked at her accusingly, all the while she was repeatedly reassuring me that the dog was not vicious. Hardly the point in my mind, so I showed her my fingers and said, “These three fingers were broken because of a dog.” Her eyes registered nothing, and she said, “I know, I know,” dismissively. Okay, so Buster doesn’t bite, but if you let him knock someone over there could be a whole other world of hurt for that person. I suspect that a dog owner who is too clueless to keep a charging dog on leash at all times would probably not be able to grasp the concept of that type of consequence for another human being and how even if one is not gored by a dog they could end up badly off for a while anyway. I momentarily thought about printing and laminating some pictures of my disgusting spaghetti hand and posting them in the park with warnings about being knocked over by a charging dog, but those urges usually subside after a few more decameters of running, and so they did.
Today was 18K of, “Where can I run in this city so that I won’t be charged by a dog today?” It is too bad that it has to come to that, because city running in Monterrey is already annoying enough what with the all the traffic and the trip hazards everywhere. I opted for some side streets with less traffic and ultimately hit the Calzada del Valle and part of the Calzada San Pedro during the ritual Sunday morning San Pedro de Pinta, when they shut the traffic access down so that there is actually somewhere “safe” for runners to run.
I use the term safe rather loosely given that many people come out with their dogs on those extenda-leashes, offering a runner some great clotheslining opportunities. These same dog owners are often tapping away on their cell phones, completely oblivious as to just how far their leash extends and whether or not it is completely across a running path, which it often is. There are signs that say, “short leashes only,” but signs are only as effective as their ability to be enforced, and enforcement is close to non-existent. If you are not clotheslined by a dog leash you might be side-swiped by a cyclist, as they are often weaving around and barely stable, such as the one that nearly hit me today. If you don’t bring your dog to San Pedro de Pinta then instead you might choose to rent a bike, even though you don’t know how to ride one, just to ensure you have some way of endangering both yourself and others while you are enjoying the fresh air of Sunday morning.
I know I sound cynical, and that’s because I am cynical about this particular topic. Running around essentially one-handed means that I have a heightened sense of self-preservation, and a lot of these near misses freak me out while they probably don’t even register on the person who almost causes them. There was a mime in front of a new business, and I saw him doing some cute stuff to interact with the two male runners ahead of me. I wondered what, if anything, he would opt for when I approached him. Based on my looks some merchants and entertainers don’t know how to interact with me and choose not to, which is totally fine by me. He opted for the scariest thing there is: A high-five on my right side, my bad hand. I am not a grumpy runner, so I tentatively put my hand up, but at the last second eased back a bit, and he seemed to understand because he backed off a bit too and gave me the most gentle high-five I have ever received. Thank heavens, no hand pain for the run, unless I am sideswiped by a cyclist or bowled over by a loose dog in the last 8K. A small win, which is better than no win at all.