Saturday, June 4, 2011
Better Watch Out
Updating a blog is a bit like a job, unpaid, fun, but sometimes challenging. A friend emailed me today, wondering why we had quit updating. Sigh. I could claim mitigating circumstances: the challenges from here include blocking and slow to intermittent to non-existent connections. Really, though, I've just been struggling with the concept of blog. Do people read it? Do they care? Who are they? Do I want them reading it? Is this just an open journal, preserving our adventures for our kids to read later?
My friend (who I had no idea actually read our blog, much less was interested enough to spur me on) gave me the kick in the pants I needed. So, with my one-year only Girl Scout fingers raised, "I promise to update our blog more regularly."
Today's topic is urban obstacle running, which is how I like to refer to my runs around town. Now, I need to first say that I am thankful every day I run that we live in a place where I can run on the streets safely and freely in normal running kit, including shorts. Friends in other countries are not so lucky, living in locations that are either not safe or do not provide personal liberties for women to run in public.
I often run from our house out to one of the main roads. At the juncture, I need to choose to run right which takes me (eventually) around the lake, intermixing road, sidewalk, lake park trail and parking lots or left to quite a bit of large and small road running. Running here requires scanning, a technique I have named to describe the process of constantly shifting sight from right in front of my feet to ahead to the sides to determine what obstacles are coming. Obstacles here range from the mundane of car traffic to the more interesting. Street dogs, pedestrians, bicycles are all assumed. Perhaps more unique is the surface, the terrain.
At one point in time, the city built a sewage drainage system bordering streets with sidewalks placed above the drainage system. That point in time was a long time ago, at least judging by the current state of the sidewalks (and the drainage system). Pedestrians of all sorts must pay attention - the sidewalks are decaying daily, creating craters, pits and unstable areas that are really better off not explored by feet and ankles. Some of these pits drop down two to three feet into the sewer - not where I want to lose my shoe or twist an ankle. In my recent desire to improve my running to the point of less to no pain and moderate enjoyment, I have been practicing "barefoot" running techniques (actual barefoot running might not be advisable here - the authors of such books talk about choosing not to run in areas harmful to ones' soles). My urban obstacle runs are perfect practice for being light on the feet, lifting up, not plopping down. The zig zags and up and downs from sidewalk to road to sidewalk to leaps over holes or ditches encourages that light feeling of just touching down on the earth. Today, the run was nice, aided by a breeze that kept me upwind of most of the garbage areas and cooled the rivulets of sweat down my back. I saw two young chickens rummaging in the undergrowth, an assortment of dogs who like to sit on top a five-foot stone wall (for a better view?) and the morning bicycle delivery guys with their bikes stacked impossibly high and wide. A most enjoyable start to the day.