Sometimes, I drink too much coffee, which for my crazy sensitive body is one cup on an empty stomach, and I decide to run on my own in addition to the miles I do with Back on My Feet. My neighborhood combines hills and sharp curves with no sidewalks, so I elect to run on the main roads nearby. I also choose to do this because Bankhead doesn’t have a great reputation, and running with a large audience of pedestrians and commuters makes my parents feel better. (Don’t worry, Mom and Dad, I only run midday). If you ever want to join me for a run in Bankhead, be warned, it’s not all smooth sailing.
If you grew up in an area like mine, hills are foreign concepts. The worst hills in Florida could still be safely navigated by a small child who is pulling a wagon behind him. Even now, every time I begin running up a hill, my rear end and hamstrings scream in frustration. My mind tries to convince me that it’s okay to walk up all the hills because fighting gravity is a workout regardless of my speed. Hills are also bothersome because you can’t see or be seen by what’s on the other side which may or may not include speeding cars and unleashed dogs. I can’t spend too much time looking at the hills though, because I have to watch my feet. The sidewalks are strewn with broken glass and trash. In many places the sidewalk looks more like a pile of large cement rocks. I now know from experience that stubbing your toe while running is ridiculously painful. I have learned that I cannot simultaneously hop on one foot and run.
While nursing my throbbing toes, I try to avoid the pedestrians. Runners are a rare breed in Bankhead. Most pedestrians don’t know how to respond to them. I’ve had a few people repeatedly look back at me with a worried expression on their face as I come up behind them. I’ve had to explain that I’m not chasing them – I’m exercising. I also have to carefully avoid running into certain individuals. These red-rimmed tipsy guys walk in an unpredictable line and may or may not move to my side of the sidewalk at the very last minute.
As I weave back and forth trying to avoid the moving target who is looking at me like I’m the crazy one, a loud obnoxious HONK pounds at my skull. If you are one of those people who beeps at runners to “encourage” them, please stop. It’s not encouraging. Actually, I don’t care why you honk. Just don’t. It’s disturbing. It ruins the mental mantra that I am reciting in an attempt to continue moving. Besides, by mile 3 my hair is sticking in all directions, my face is bright red, and I’m covered in sweat. I do not want to be reminded that the general public is watching me.
Although there are challenges, I don’t want to discourage you from joining me. I can ensure you that you will not be bored. There will be no monotony. It’s also a rather beautiful area in its own way if you can get over the truck fumes and litter.