Running Alone

>> Wednesday, December 23, 2009

On most days, I like to get up before the world and go running. I try to slip out of my house as quietly as possible, lest I hear "Mommy?" and have to be her.

Rather, I like to get out there and have my "alone" time. As I start out, in the dark, though, I often find myself anything but alone. Even at that early hour, there are others. As I run near the main arteries, I am always surprised to see how many people are already rushing to get places.

However this is a different rush than I see if I run in the evening. In the evening, the rush is more plaintive, more acute and people are more likely to make noise: the squeal of tires, squeaking to a stop, and honking out of frustration. There is actually more anger in the evening traffic. Perhaps people have run out of patience by that time in the day. Perhaps people are so close to home that any delay causes a tantrum.

The morning traffic keeps their tension to themselves. However, when they see me on a cold, snowy morning, I can feel their surprise. They are not expecting to see a runner. But I digress.

Running in the early hours gives me my time, but even with the opportunity to be one with my thoughts for 30 minutes, I still find myself trying to connect. I always greet any other runners with a wave a nod. (We have a secret handshake, but it's hard to run and shake at the same time.)

But what I spend most of my time on is: spying.

I spy the yards of my neighbors. I check out the holiday lights that are still blazing at that time. I observe the well kept houses versus the run down houses. I see who's lights are on in what rooms; I know who leaves early for work and who comes home really late.

The thing I am most obsessed with, however, is who has come before me. After a snow, I always notice the foot prints in the snow and am surprised when mine are not the first ones. I mean who could come out before ME? I follow the prints to see if I can determine who the person is. Where did they come from and where are they going? Most importantly, was it a fellow runner?

I used to run on a crowded path, where no matter how early I would get out, I would find myself dodging cyclists and dogs. I wasn't the only runner, either.

I very much like my new running route where I make it as much about other people as I want, which, as it turns out, is very much.

(Photo credits; davidcoxon, ibm4381, _Shward_)