Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Eyes and Ears of this Institution

One of the neat things about being a runner, is you get to know your neighborhood inside and out and recognize all the runners who use the sidewalks and streets. I can recognize the clothing, the stride, gait, and pace of pretty much every runner in the area.

Even if we haven't met or spoken, I know who they are, and have probably done some back story in my head about their lives and I can conjure up what kind of day they have had based on how they are running.  Because I always take notice of runners.

Even after a 20 miler, when my muscles ache and tendons are torn, my eyes perk up when I see a runner, and I always envy them. No matter the weather or time of day. And just watching for a brief instant lets me share a bit of their experience.

And, God forbid, when there's a stranger in the area, a runner I don't recognize, a gait that isn't immediately recognizable, a running pace that doesn't seem to match the body form.

"Who is that?  An intruder runner?  A stranger, on my turf?  Should I sound the alarm? is it safe?  What far away land have they come from? Are they enemy or are they friend?"

Yes,  if you run by my house my nose will detect your scent, I'll watch you like a junkyard dog, my spidey sense will tingle, and I'll be thinking,  "Wait, why don't I know you?  You are a bit of a stranger here?  Did you just move into this neighborhood, did you run farther than you thought, or is this perhaps your first run ever?"

"You are running through my neighborhood. I don't know you and I should. I should."

And I have been the intruder as well and veered into foreign territory, running into neighborhoods that are far away from my typical beaten bath, gone done the road I've traveled less with miles to run before I sleep (yes, that's a poem mash) and felt eyes on me. Runners peered out of window shades, gathered their weapons, all wondering "who is this strange runner? we are runners and know not of him and we should..."

Knowing your neighborhood is especially noticeable this time of the year, when I can tell right away who has changed their Christmas light decorations after any nighttime run.

When there is Snow in the forecast, I know who is most likely to shovel their driveway, who uses too much salt so that it hurts all the doggy paws, and who never shovels.

I can tell you when someone gets a new TV, which houses will be watching the Detroit Tiger's game during a summer night, and who's TV is big enough that I will be able to check out the score from the street.

Give me a number of miles from 1 to 23 and I can list off a series of routes that will start at my door, take you through either a hilly or a flat route, provide you with parks with portapotties, woods with trees, gas stations with 99 cent waters, and you'll be delivered back to my front door: Epic run complete.  

Like most runners, I've learned mileage distances from random landmarks;  Bellacino's pizza to Belle tire, from the fire hydrant to the closed down dollar store, and of course from my driveway to the high school track. I've come to learn which stretches of sidewalks slant and to which side, where I can find the softer surfaces, and have learned every single dangerous potentially foot tripping crack.

And I really Don't need a weather man to know which way the wind blows, I have just learned which buildings have flags on them that  allow me to gauge the direction and speed of the wind by the flapping of the stars and stripes.

I know at exactly what points I"m going to have to resist the floating aroma of fat-laced slider cheeseburger stands, burger kings,  Chicken Kings and Mcdonalds.

The list can go on and on.

It may sound kind of creepy, but, like Carl the Janitor from The Breakfast Club:



Anonymous said...

if you lived in my neighborhood, I would ALWAYS keep you guessing....

Anne said...

This reminds me of when our city was in mandatory water conservation mode and I knew which neighbors were cheating and operating their sprinklers before they thought anyone was up, let alone running by their house. You are so right about knowing all of the nuances of the neighborhoods where we run.

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