(In the following story, picture the guy above, but in the road with a bloody eyeball hanging from his head.)
Mary and I go biking on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. We usually meet around seven and ride the narrow back roads of Scott and Harrison Counties until nine. Mary and I have gotten to know each other pretty well since we started biking together a year ago.
We chit-chat as we bike. While she rambles on about something, I listen patiently, giddy with anticipation of my turn to ramble. This is our time. We get to vent and decompress and after two hours of bike therapy, we are new women and ready to take on the day.
It took a few rides before she realized I was a little animal crazy.
On a ride last August, Mary and I were surprised to find a possum sitting in the middle of the road. With its teeth sneering at us, we didn’t dare get near. As we passed, I could see it had been hit by a car and suffered head trauma. It had been circling in the middle of the road, with a little blood trail behind it. The animal rescuer in me panicked, Mary kept rambling as if there were no suffering possum in the center of the road.
I tried to make eye contact as we passed. I was hoping to see sweet lovie eyes, the kind of dark glossy innocent eyes a puppy has. But this guy only had angry eyes for me. He had a frothy grimace on his face that dared me to rescue him. Mary warned me to leave it alone. And we rode off.
On our way home, the thing was still there, alive, but now laying in the middle of the road. My heart ached. I simply could not leave the thing there, only to be hit again by another passing car. I had decided in my mind to come back with my car later, scoop it up and get it the care it needed (whether he liked it or not). I would never admit this to Mary, she is a good friend but she may draw the line at rescuing a half dead possum.
I had to get the thing to the side of the road however, if I wanted to have a live possum to come back to. I told Mary to stop and let me move the thing. She panicked at the risk. I maneuvered my bike so as to use my wheel as a shovel. I pushed it across the road, as it snarled and bit at my tire. Once safely on the side, I telepathically told him I would be back and not to worry.
After returning home, I loaded up my kids into the station wagon and set out to rescue the brain injured possum. I explained to my kids the situation, they knew the drill, they were not strangers to their mommy’s animal antics. We arrived at the curve and rolled down our windows in search of the poor angry possum. Crunching along, tires turning slowly so as not to miss the thing, I spotted the telltale white hair…and then the entrails. The intestines and liver….yep …that’s him. “Looks like the turkey vultures got to him first kids”. Oh, well, can’t save ‘em all.
I never told Mary about returning to the angry possum. Had we known each other better then, I would have considered it. Had I returned to a live possum that was ultimately saved by my heroic efforts, I may have told her. But it was a half-baked effort to save a mostly baked possum and it was by far more embarrassing then brag worthy.
Running the Numbers
As I entered the spring of 2012 I knew my schedule wasn’t going to allow me to train for or travel to races this year, at least not during the summer. So I made a decision early that this would be a fun summer. This would be the year I could get back to the joy of my sports and not feel the pressures of meeting a training schedule.
What a relief. At last I could take my time on my runs. I could stop to rescue a turtle or pause to watch a deer and her twin fawns. I could go back to pick up the baby bird in the road and set it safely in a hollowed stump. Hell, I could sit on a rock and paint a picture in the sand if I wanted to…this was my ‘fun’ summer.
Now don’t get me wrong. I still wasn’t ready to give-up my Garmin. Even though I wasn’t worried about my mile splits or my average pace I still wanted to know just how much I was enjoying my runs as a reflection of my time. Does that make sense?
Now I knew my numbers would be affected. I knew that impromptu stops to smell the wild flowers were not conducive to speed records. I fully expected my minutes per mile to rise like a slow boil in a pan of ramen noodles. But what I didn’t expect was the exact number they rose to.
So just last year I could carry myself for a few miles comfortably at a 7:38 pace. The thought now gives me shivers a little, but it’s true and I was pretty proud. Now I go out for my normal six mile run at exactly eight o’clock every morning and every mile my Garmin beeps at me with my mile split. And do you know what that mile spilt is almost every time? It’s 911! I am not kidding!
And just so you know, I leave at eight o’clock because my husband leaves for work at exactly nine o’clock, so that would give me plenty of time to get hope and slap him on the donkey butt as he headed out the door.
But now that my morning runs have turned into more of an escapade with Diego. And I spend more time picking up trash and petting dogs, I find I’ve been arriving late to my home. How late you ask. Exactly eleven minutes late! That’s right, I get home at 9:11am.
I’m not superstitious and even if I was I am not sure what it would be that my Garmin is trying to tell me. Is this ‘fun’ pace going to lead to an emergency? Or maybe every time my mile split pops up at 9:11 it means I have a new animal rescue…I just need to go look for it…it’s probably in the woods somewhere and I should go for a hike rather than run.
I went looking for answers on Google. ‘What does 911 mean? I asked’ and unbelievably, I found the answer!
According to wiki.answers.com: (The words in hyphens are mine;)
In numerology, you reduce numbers into single digits. So 911 becomes 9+1+1=11
(OMG! 11 is my lucky number! My birthday is 2-11… same as Burt Reynolds btw.)
11 is one of the master numbers. (I am a master! I have a dog!) It is one of the few numbers that is not reduced down to a single digit (I can’t be reduced either!).
The 11 is also known as the psychics number, it’s the most intuitive of all numbers and it represents illumination and deep insight. The 11 is also very sensitive, charismatic and inspirational. (Okay, ya got me there. I don’t know what all that’s about.)
I’m not sure where this column is going. All I know is that I am a runner. I like numbers. They tell me how I’m doing and I can’t avoid analyzing them even if I have agreed not to. What I will say is this, according to my mile split times…I’m having a pretty fun summer.
I did something a little different this morning. I decided to take my camera with me on my run. I didn’t take it with me so that I could shoot pictures of all the crazy animals I encounter on my runs, though I did take a picture of my favorite three-legged/toothless black lab that likes to chase me. No, I brought the camera for a different reason.
I have written trashy columns in the past, and tried to add a touch of humor to the fact that Sadieville has a littering problem. This may be the trashiest column yet. I brought the camera to take pictures of what I get to see every day when I go for my run: trash.
I’ve been letting it get to me lately. My runs are supposed to make me feel refreshed and new but lately they are making me ill. Every time I see all the trash I want to puke. So as a form of therapy, I brought my camera to document the run. I will decide what to do with the pictures later.
So I am running along, stopping to take pictures of the worst ditches. I snap a shot of the couch and scattered cushions along the creek, the garbage piled near an underground drainage pipe, capture a few tires…and then I see it.
It sat there in the distance along the road like a tidy little Christmas gift. As I approached I snapped a few pictures, making sure you could see WAL-MART written on the side. When I reached it I looked down and shook my head. It was another trash bomb.
I am skeptical of anyone who has a clean car because I fear they are a ‘trash bomber’. You know, one of those litter-pigs (‘litterbug’ is too pretty sounding) that gathers all the trash from their car, puts it in a plastic bag, ties it in a knot and tosses it out their window as they drive.
I ran past the trash bomb, disgusted. But then I changed my mind. I decided to dissect the little bomb just to see what they tossed out. As I untied the knot I could feel my heart jumping a little as I realized there was junk-mail in the bag. I pulled out a letter from Dish Network and noticed the address of the recipient. I set the letter on top of the bag and took another picture so you could read the address. Then I put it back in the bag and tied it.
I took a picture of me holding the bag and smiling. Then I started running down the road and snapped another picture of my hand holding the bag as I ran. I was really getting into the ‘documentation’ side of my run.
As I passed mailboxes I made note of their address. I felt light on my feet as I approached each mailbox, knowing I was getting closer.
What I did next was illegal, and unless you can get ahold of my camera you have no proof that I did it. I will tell you that the pictures tell the whole story. I can tell you this: when the judge interrogates me about what I was doing it will probably go something like this:
Judge: “Mrs. Strong, you say you were running down the road?”
Me: “Yes, sir.”
Judge: “And you found someone’s mail on the side of the road?”
Me: “Yes, Sir!”
Judge: “And what did you do next?”
Me: “I returned the mail to the owner.”
Judge: “Did you take it up to the house and hand it to them?”
Me: “No Sir, I shoved it in their mailbox.”
End of Story.
Newspaper Bundle is a collection of newspaper columns available on Smashwords for free. The following column is not available yet nor has it run in the Georgetown News Graphic as of today. I thought I would give a sneak peek to my blog friends (even though this blog is brand new and I have no friends yet).
The Risk of Running
People often tell me I am crazy to run and bike in the remote areas of northern Scott County. I will be the first to admit that I find myself running to the beat of banjos and the occasional rooster call. Heck, I’ve been chased by dogs and once on my bike this spring I looked over at the pack of canines only to discover that one of them was sporting horns…it was a goat. The goat was chasing me!
Last summer I crested a hill on Hinton-Sadieville only to find myself in a standoff with five horses in the middle of the road. And you know my history with possums. Things like this probably don’t happen to runners who stick close to densely populated areas.
So let me tell you about my friend Gary. Gary is in the Georgetown Run Club and Intellectual Society. He is also a faithful employee of Lexmark. I imagine Lexmark really like him because he is very healthy and spends most of his lunch hours running the sidewalks of downtown Lexington.
Like many of the people in the Georgetown Run Club, Gary is an engineer. His brain is always moving like the well-oiled gears inside a Swiss time piece. Gary found himself on a typical run of typical distance on a typical route in downtown Lexington during a typical lunch hour. And on this typical run Gary, with his long rhythmic strides planned to step over the raised portion of the sidewalk on this same block that he had run so many times in the past. But for some reason, unlike the many times he had cleared the raised portion with his right foot… this time his toe caught.
Now Gary being the engineer that he is probably had a plan in the back of his head should such a thing ever happen. His brain was well aware of the injuries that take place when someone reaches out with both hands to catch their fall…broken wrists, broken collar bones…scuffed palms at the very least.
So when Gary’s toe clipped the edge of that raised piece of sidewalk his brain told him not to reach out. Gary did what any engineer would do…he braced himself for a roll…much like stuntman might do from a moving train.
Unfortunately, Gary’s head hit first. And then his shoulder. I’m not sure exactly what order the stuntmen prefer but with Gary the result wasn’t all that pretty. His head began gushing blood from the right temple, cars pulled over, and one man was even kind enough to take him to the urgent treatment center.
To make a long story short, Gary showed up a Run Club on Tuesday after two Cat Scans and as many trips to the hospital with six stitches in his head and two black eyes. The road rash on his shoulder was so impressive that he was unable to run because the friction of his shirt on his wound was much too painful. I’ll admit Gary managed to be the center of attention at Run Club and all the attention he was getting made me a little jealous. But was it worth it?
So you go ahead and tell me how dangerous it is to run and bike up here in these hills. Tell me I could be attacked by dogs or bears or some crazy person packing a banjo. Tell me these hills are too steep or the roads too narrow or the cell service too sketchy. Go ahead, but I will tell you this: there are no sidewalks to worry about out here. And I am pretty sure that right there makes it worth all the risk.