My Mid-Run Defense Mechanism
Sometimes Jason and I go running “together,” meaning we start from our house at the same time and he promptly leaves me in the dust. We have a 6.5 mile loop we do often, and there’s an option to tack on an extra mile by going around Volunteer Park. Occasionally he’ll run around the park while I’ll soldier on, and he’ll eventually catch up to me towards the end of the loop so we can finish back at the house together.
One day, we took off at the same time and he said he was going to add on the Volunteer Park loop, so I waved goodbye and said I’d see him in a while. I went to my “zen” place and let my thoughts wander, having forgone running while listening to music a few years ago. By not listening to music, I feel as if I’m more in touch with my surroundings and more cognizant of cars, pedestrians, cyclists, and other things going on around me.
Or so I thought.
I was running up the last big hill of the 6.5 mile loop, a long stretch up 24th, while dodging overgrown thorny bushes and trying to keep my heart rate at a decent level. My sights were laser-focused on climbing, so when I heard a “Hey” and saw a huge, close presence coming up right next to me out of the corner of my eye, I was caught off-guard by the sudden appearance of a mystery run companion. So did I do what any rational, normal human being would do and say, “Hi” while moving over slightly so this runner could pass me?
No, of course not.
Instead, I uttered a breathy, gutteral noise that translated roughly to “WHARRGHHHHHHH!!!” and wound my right arm back to defensively slug this possible kidnapper/rapist/it puts the lotion on its skin dressmaker square in the face. As I pivoted to land my punch, I realized I was about to hit my boyfriend in his surprised and equally startled head.
Jason winced and blurted out an appropriate, “WHAT THE HELL IT’S ME DON’T PUNCH ME!!!!”
I holstered my fist of fury and started laughing so hard, it took away what little breath I had from running up this stupid long hill. My heart rate had skyrocketed from the combination of the hill climb, getting scared, and laughing uncontrollably. We both giggle-gasped our way to the top of the hill, trying to talk to each other but failing because we kept laughing even harder.
When we reached the top, he stopped and reiterated, “What the hell?!”
I shrugged and said, “You scared me!”
Jason said, “I called out to you like three times when I saw you up ahead. Did you not hear me?”
I did not. I was in the hill runnin’ zone!
I told him it was a good thing he was the mystery runner and not some random person I nearly accosted. He was like, “No kidding, that’s some defense mechanism you’ve got there.” Whatever, it’s his fault for creepin’ up to me so stealthily. He’s like a human Prius.