I have written a lot about running. I have only been running for about five years but have managed to go from having to walk after a quarter mile to having finished four marathons in that time. I am now able to to generally place in my age-groups for shorter races and have had generally very positive experiences. If you scroll down you will see that I have written quite a bit about many of my great experiences and the positive impact running has had on my life.
Today, I thought I would share my worst running experiences. I have had a few injuries, run in some nasty weather and dealt with the same issues as most runners. Nipple-chafing is horrible. Chafing in general sucks. My body has shut down on me (Click this) I have had inattentive drivers almost hit me. I’ve literally had to dive out of the way of three. One person came so close that their mirror hit my hand. There are still jerks that swerve their cars at you just to see you jump to the side. I have fallen on ice. I think most of these are pretty typical. Below, however, are my least favorite.
First. I love dogs. I am a dog guy. The bigger the dog, the better. I am not necessarily a dog fan while running.
I’m running through my neighborhood with headphones in. It is one of those freezing cold, snow -covered runs. I’m just trying to log my miles, ignore my numb hands and listen to a little music. The next thing I know, my left arm is jerked straight back, I stagger a step and am twisted around. As I try to make sense of what is happening , I wildly look over my left shoulder to see that my forearm is in the mouth of a golden retriever who has it’s legs braced and is pulling on my arm. My first instinct is to punch.
In a panic, I put everything I have into that shot and connect as cleanly as I ever have. I hit the dog square in the face with enough force that I am pretty sure that I broke my hand. The dog yelps, let’s go and takes off. The owner comes running up to me. “Hey! you didn’t have to hit my dog!” I am still trying to make sense of what happened and am a little concerned about my ringing hand and can only manage to say, “I didn’t know what it was doing.” The owner sticks her finger in my face, says, “You’re an ***hole!” and chases after her dog. To this day, I feel kinda bad for punching that dog, but it was unleashed, in a road, and jumped on me. Maybe it was playing, but I just reacted.
Dog #2. I am running down the road and see a woman raking her yard with a large dog. The dog sees me and comes charging at me. I know that I need to stop running to avoid the chase instinct and stand facing the dog. It pulls up about 15 feet from me and starts to slowly circle me. I am pretty good at reading dogs’ body language, but this one is alternating between wagging it’s tail and then laying its ears back and snarling. I can not quite decide if it is going to wag up to me to get pet or if I am seconds away from being bit. What worries me most is that it is pretty clear that this dog does not really know what it is going to do next.
The lady is still standing in her yard watching. Without looking away from the dog I call out, “Hey, are we going to be cool here?” Without moving she simply says, “I’m not real sure. He’s acting weird” Her neurotic looking dog is still circling me and I am becoming less comfortable with its body language. “Look. Can you please come get your dog?” Again, without moving she says, “I am not sure he’d let me. We are going to have to wait to see what he does.”
This does not sit well so I say, “If your dog comes at me, I am going to kick in the head and I will not stop kicking until it is done moving or you come get. Up to you.” She throws down her rake and says, “Fine.” As she grabs the collar of her nut-job dog, she looks at me and says, “You’re an ***hole!” Yup. Heard that before
The Most Scared I’ve ever been on a run
It is a beautiful summer day. Today’s route is not my favorite as I am running through a neighborhood that has a lot of families from the schools that I work in. I am not worried about any of them. I just like to keep work and personal life separate. I also prefer that students not know where live.
Regardless, I am running down the street when up ahead I see a couple adults I know from school. They wave. I look to my left, make eye-contact and raise my hand to acknowledge them. As soon as my hand is up, my periphery vision glimpses a flash of sparks, smoke and a giant explosion rips through the air. It’s so loud, that it hurts. The adults I am waving ate, dive behind their car. All I can think is, “Someone is shooting!” and I sprint. I sprint ten yards ahead and scramble behind a random car in a driveway.
So many thoughts. Where is the shooter? Is the car between me and him or am I just sitting in the open? Should I stay here or should I just ran like mad? Where would I run? I’m confused, and I am not 100% sure that I would not be running right into danger. Was there only one shot, or did I panic and not hear the others?
I glance across the street and see the people I waved at starting to stand up. They peek over their car. One of them points to where I had been. They both nod and start laughing. They see me and yell “It’s OK! We thought someone shot at you but it’s safe.” I walk over and talk to them. It turns out that a branch had blown into one of the city’s transformers. It just happened that I had the misfortune of being almost directly under the pole when it exploded. We all got a good laugh out of it, but I cut four miles out of that run and went straight home.
Two years ago, I won my age group and finished 5th overall at a local 10K. It’s not going to happen today. Granted, I’ve been battling the flu bug that shut West Michigan down and I have been less intense in my training, but the cold, hard fact is that Father Time is starting to reel me in. There is about a mile left and I know there are probably 20 people ahead of and that I am nearly 25 seconds/mile slower than I was two years ago. Worst of all, is that I am struggling miserably and just want this stupid race to be done.
With about a half-mile left, I try to push through and maybe pass one or two guys in my age-group to salvage the day a little. I catch a couple more and am going to be able to cruise across the line. Slower than years past and farther back in the pack, but whatever. Then, with 50 yards left, it hits me.
I have never thrown up while running but my stomach just completely rolled. I think that maybe it’s just a quick reaction, but it immediately rolls again and hard enough that my cheeks puff. I know that I am about to puke all over the finish line in front of all the spectators. I can’t just do that right on the finish mat where everyone will be crossing, but I can’t run to the side into the spectators. What is the etiquette for this type of thing? There has to be some type of protocol. My stomach rolls a third time. It is going to happen. Then the worst realization hits me.
There is nobody really close ahead of me. I glance over my shoulder and nobody is within 20 yards of me. This means that the race photographer that is crouched by the finish line is 100% focused on me and is going to be able to snap off a bunch of pics of me finishing. His lens is pointed at me and I have visions of three-picture sequences of me projectile-vomiting across the line are about to be on the internet. I am going to be a meme. It’s amazing what becomes important to someone while they are freaking out.
I cross the finish mat while making the gag noises and cut a 90 degree angle. I do not think I ran more than 18 inches past the timing pad before turning. Someone yells at me that I’m out of bounds, but I saw a gap in the sponsors van. I keep it together another three seconds while I squirm between two vans and stereo equipment to a small area where I am out of sight. I will spare the details, but as things were happening my only thought was not about pain, what went wrong, frustration or anything like that. Instead, I was genuinely happy and thinking, “I am so glad I kept it together for those three seconds so there are no pictures!”
Those are the ones that immediately stand out to me. Of course, I have had nails go through my shoes, been told that my feet hit the pavement obnoxiously loud, literally ran through wet cement while I day-dreamed (not proud), been mocked by college-aged women and been whistled at by a teacher before she recognized me but in general, running has been a positive experience.
So…what’s been your worst running experience?
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