As I alluded to in my previous post, I was once an athlete. A field hockey player, to be exact.
I realize that most people find this hard to believe as these days, my athletic endeavors are limited to chasing stray cats in my boyfriend’s backyard and the occasional lawn-mow (as illustrated in the photo below). In my defense, I recently gave team sports another shot. But after every tennis team I joined suspiciously “dissolved,” I decided that perhaps I’d better make a lasting transition into individual sports. So, I decided to get into running.
My favorite place to run is Cherokee Park. It’s full of pups, it’s relatively kid-unfriendly, and I always know exactly where I am in relation to the nearest bathroom. A few weeks ago, I was too tired and lazy to run, so I decided to power-walk instead.
But as I began my walk, I couldn’t help but feel a bit self-conscious. The only solo walkers were elderly women and strange men who believed that khaki cargo shorts were still an acceptable item of apparel. Certainly, I can understand the appeal of a nice pair of cargos — who wouldn’t want so many convenient options for storage? I myself was a cargo proponent for the better part of a decade, but I’m also the first to concede that they are in fact an assault on the senses.
But rather than let my insecurities get the best of me, I decided to put the negative thoughts behind me and make the most out of my walk. If nothing else, it would give me an opportunity to slowly enjoy the park, to see things I’d missed while running. Suddenly, my senses felt heightened. Like I’d splurged on an afternoon latte or, like Bran Stark, I’d opened my third eye. I began to examine every passerby with great attention to detail, realizing that this made me an anthropologist and that perhaps khaki cargos were a viable option after-all. Here are my observations:
1. Toe sock runners are dangerous
With heightened senses, I heard much of the world around me. The squirrels in the bushes, the birds in heat, the androgynous bikers whizzing past me. The only thing that snuck up on me, however, were the damn runners in those toe sock shoes. As an avid crop-duster, I’m fairly attuned to the gentle pitter patter of runners approaching me from behind. But due to the lightness of their footwear and the slenderness of their girlish calves, the men wearing toe sock shoes breezed by me without so much as a peep. It was startling and, quite honestly, unfortunate for all parties involved.
2. Big Foot probably smokes pot
At one point, I rounded a corner and was confronted with the distinct, skunkish smell of marijuana. I looked deeper into the woods to find said pot-smoker and saw what could have easily passed for the Germantown version of Big Foot — a man, casually strolling amongst the trees with long, unkempt locks and what looked like the remains of a tattered linen shirt. I couldn’t see his feet, but from my experience at Forecastle, I deduced that he was likely barefoot. I made eye contact with his chest hair and felt the blood rush from my face. I remained on-edge–practicing what I hoped would come across as a casual, yet passionate iteration of “I’m no narc”–until I realized that this fellow looked strikingly similar to one of sister’s ex-boyfriends. Certainly, a former Clark lover would cause me no harm, I thought. That soothed me. And I moved on.
3. Wildlife excites me
Obviously, this comes as no surprise. But at a slower pace, I realized that I was much more apt to spot critters. At one point, I even saw a turtle breast-stroking along with the current. It was almost too much. I stopped at every bridge to see how many ducks I could count, a treat I sometimes enjoy on my walk to work. To save money, I park in a free parking lot down by the Ohio River, which, for you non-Louisvillians, is the liquid that likely inspired the popular sci-fy series, Alex Mack. The Ohio is certainly no environment for whales, but every morning, I cross my fingers and pray to God that it will be the day I see one. It’s moments like these I know I need to relocate to Seattle.
4. I’m becoming my mother.
About five minutes into my walk, I thought to myself, “This would be really wonderful if I had a book on-tape.” It was jarring. And I rather not comment on the matter any more than I already have.
And those are the four things I observed at the park. To summarize, here’s a picture of my sister and I blowing away the competition at my first mini marathon.