This ranks as my best running story; I’ll probably remember some more in the future, but right now this one is my favorite. This past summer, my friend Christine and I decided to go for a 10-mile run. We’d done it before, so the distance wasn’t a problem, but we’d never run this particular loop without a coach with us who knew the way. We thought we knew enough of it to figure it out, and the local running club was going to be there, too. So off we went.
We stayed with the club runners for the first mile, but then they suddenly sped up and left us behind. Turns out they were doing a tempo run. Go figure. So now we’re on our own. How hard can it be? We knew to go over the bridge, turn right, see the water fountain, turn off the loop and run 1 mile out, turn around and go back, turn right, and finish the loop. So that’s what we did. When we got to the point where we were supposed to get off the main course, it got a little tricky.
There were 3 different trails. We didn’t have a GPS, so we didn’t know how far a mile was, and we didn’t want to end up in somebody’s backyard. We picked a trail, ran for about 2 minutes, then approached a dead end. Great. So we turned around and tried another one. This time we ran for about 5 minutes before reaching the highway, so we turned around and decided to forgo attempting the third trail. We’d run a little more when we got back on the main loop to reach the 10-mile goal. So we got back on the main path and continued to run.
All was fine for about 45 minutes until we approached an intersection. Right, left, or straight? There were some bikers nearby, so we asked them how to get back to the parking lot. They laughed and made a sexist joke. Alrighty then. We made a quick decision to go straight and semi-sprinted away. This was when it started to get interesting. We saw a small trail of rocks leading to a big house, and commented on how nice it would be to live there. Then about 20 minutes later, we saw it again. We were going in circles! You can bet some expletives were being tossed around at this point. We had easily surpassed the 10-mile mark, and now we had no idea how to get back to the starting point.
So we opted to go to the house and ask them where the heck we were. We walked through the backyard around to the front of the house and rang the doorbell. No answer. This house was on the end of a street, so we walked down the street looking for someone to ask. A middle-aged couple was doing yard work, so we asked them the pivotal question… “Uh, where are we?” They looked at us strangely and then told us. Apparently we were about 5 miles from the starting point. Crap crap crap crap crap. That was the only thing going through my mind at that point.
Here’s where the story gets weird. The woman asked us if we needed a ride, and after approximately 4 seconds of careful thinking [what if they’re serial killers… oh well… they’re probably not], we took her up on the offer. It took about 15 minutes to drive back to the parking lot where we started. We were extremely lucky to have found these people, and we never even learned their names. Here’s what I took from this experience:
1. Know the trail.
2. Don’t trust that bikers know where they’re going.
3. Carry a cell phone on your long runs.
4. Don’t trust everyone, but if you’re really desperate and in a nice neighborhood than chances are you’ll find some random couple to give you a ride.
5. Getting lost makes the run go by so much faster.