Thursday, June 25, 2009

The industrial park odyssey


Everything is gray and wet and it all looks the same to me. The buildings and the roads through the industrial park wind around in a pattern that probably makes sense when viewed from above but on the street it's hard to determine which way leads north or south. The rain, which began as a welcome sprinkle through the late afternoon haze has increased in force and the sun is gone. I pick a direction that I think will lead me out and back to my neighborhood only to discover that I'm 180 degrees off and dead ending at a point where cars are whizzing off the expressway onto a busy four lane road. As the skies open up and the rain gets harder I turn and run toward an office building to take cover under the overhang from a bank. Two bank employees step outside, look at me and giggle for good reason. In my bright yellow jersey, running shorts and lime green accented running shoes I'm the last thing they expected to see on this dark rainy day.

I see that the rain has slowed down and I head off in the other direction, the parking lot has filled with puddles and I step in one so my running shoes and socks are soaked to match the rest of me. I reach a crossroads and realize that choosing the wrong direction will put me even farther away from where I need to go. It's cold and getting darker and the rain starts again, harder. I decide to go right and quickly encounter dozens of cars rushing to get out of the park, leaving me little room to run, save the slick, downward sloping, landscaped grass that runs beside the road. I ask a young woman leaving work if she knows how to get to the service road. She points me in the direction I just left so I ignore her and soldier on hoping to recognize something familiar from the path I took to get where I ended up.

It's getting late and I'm expected home but I have no phone and no money for a payphone (if they still existed) to call and say that I'm stranded. My glasses are foggy and my vision is distorted by the rain. I'm amazed to have found myself in this situation. I feel like I'm headed in the wrong direction until I see two people at a bus stop and I ask them if they know how to get to the service road. They do! They turn me around and point out a road that bears right in the distance and they tell me to follow that. I take off at what I'll guess was an 8:00 pace and as I round the corner I see the familiar entrance to the service road that will lead me to the Middle School and then home.

I run with everything I have and make my way home in less than ten minutes. My wife opens the door and as I brace for the "Where have you been!? We've been so worried about you!!" all she says is "Hi! How was your run? Your shoes are all muddy!" It was a disorienting experience and a frustrating one too. I knew the whole time that I was half a mile from my front door yet I couldn't figure out a way to get there safely. I think I should start running with a compass.

So much for my attempt to break my distance record. I started well by picking up some miles in a previously unexplored neighborhood but the industrial park and the rain did me in. I'm taking today as a rest day and I'll go out again tomorrow morning. I never thought being 1,500 yards away could feel so far from home.

2 comments:

  1. eeek! ER - check out the SPIbelt - (or the ifitness knockoff I picked). It doesnt bounce and its discreete and cheap. I use it to run with my phone, a twenty, a metrocard and some ID, you never know...

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  2. Thanks. My Pearl Izumi running shorts do have a nice zipper pocket but I didn't bring money or a credit card because who'd think you'd need them so close to home? I used to run with my Blackberry in the winter. I had more pockets with all those layers. I really need a compass and more sense.

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