There are some days when I think I’ve really gotten my shit together as a functioning adult. These days usually involve me being really productive and cleaning everything in my house while simultaneously cooking enough meals to last an entire week and lovingly baking AJ’s favorite cake, all the while looking super hot.
These days are few and far between, but every once in awhile, they happen. They usually result in me feeling very smug about how responsible and productive I am. This type of hubris inevitably leads to my downfall.
Case in point: I’ve been struggling a bit to fit in all my workouts since the time change. With limited daylight hours at my disposal and an overwhelming fear of biking in the dark, I’ve started to really count on lunchtime workouts to get things done. This week, my coach wanted me to run 15 miles at some point this weekend, but I figured Friday was my best chance of making that happen since I had plans. I decided to get some of my mileage done at lunch after I dropped my truck off to get an oil change. That way, I would only have to do ten miles after work. Yes, I realize this is not really what my coach had in mind, but it’s better than nothing.
I had a plan to run through downtown to a trail along the river that would spit me out onto a cute little main street and send me on a delightful 5 mile loop back to my truck. At that point, I would pay for my oil change and go on my merry way back to work, all within the span of an hour. Such a good idea right? Right.
I set off on the run and made it down to the path along the river, noting many signs pointing the direction for “State Street” along the way. I was intending to exit the trail on State Street, so I kept waiting for the final sign that told me when to get off the path. Miles went by and I got farther and farther away from the oil change place, but I kept going, thinking surely the exit was just around the next corner.
I ended up running until I reached the end of the path. I was excited because I thought maybe this was finally State Street. It wasn’t. It was the hood.
I ran nervously through the neighborhood with what seemed like a thousand pairs of redneck eyes watching me, trying to figure out why in the hell I was running in the middle of the day. This caused me to run faster. I had no idea where I was, but I knew the general direction I needed to head to get back to town, so that’s what I did. I thought about going back the way I came, but by this point I had run about 5 miles with no water and I knew there wasn’t any water that way. I was hoping for greater success on my new path. Unfortunately, the neighborhood I was running through had the very distinct smell of decomposing flesh, and not just like on the side of the road when I ran past a dead animal. It had the smell of death so strongly for over a quarter mile that I am about 90% sure there’s been some type of massacre in the neighborhood and nobody has discovered it yet.
Instead, I ended up in a quarry. Yes, an actual quarry. Somehow, the neighborhood spat me out into an industrial/mining area, and all the men driving to their shifts were looking at me with great interest. One in particular had Confederate flags all over his truck (which was a jacked up compact pickup truck with the words “SUPER CRACKER” emblazoned on the windshield). So I felt good about that.
I finally escaped the industrial complex and found myself…on a highway. I could see the interstate from where I was standing. For frame of reference, my office, the oil change place, and the city of Columbia are NOT near the interstate. That’s when I knew I was really in trouble. I calculated that I was still about 4 miles from my office and about 6 miles from the oil change place – and I knew there was no water along the way. Oh, and did I mention that I was running along a highway? Yeah.
I was starting to feel really sick and hot because by the way, it was 1 pm and over 70 degrees in the full sun, and I had no water. I’m not going to lie, the thought of hitchhiking did cross my mind. Of course, I had not brought my phone with me because this was supposed to just be a 5 mile run somewhere close to downtown and my office. The new goal became just to get back to the office, because I clearly wasn’t making it to pick up my truck and I really just wanted some type of liquid. And despite the fact that I have lost weight and almost never experience chafing in general, for some reason every single piece of clothing I was wearing was rubbing my skin raw. Perfect.
Eventually, I staggered my way into a gas station (a tenth of a mile from my office, but better late than never) and grabbed the biggest fountain Sprite they would sell me. By this point, I was so nauseous that not even Sprite sounded appetizing and I could barely choke it down. I made it back to my office and collapsed into my chair, with my watch recording just over 9 miles.
Of course, 9 miles isn’t a big deal in and of itself, but it is when you have no water, and it is when you were only planning on running 5. And when you almost died about 5 times along the way.
This is what happens when I get too cocky about being an adult. I don’t actually plan my route, I just figure it will work out. The original plan would have allowed me 3 water stops over 5 miles, by the way. The actual route offered me none, and I had no water. I didn’t bring my phone. I apparently didn’t wear the appropriate clothing. What is the moral of this story? Don’t assume that you know where you’re going, even if you think you do. Bring extra stuff. Bring your phone. Bring water. Unless you’ve run that exact route before, there is no way of knowing what is going to happen. You might end up accosted by a Super Cracker, and no one wants that. I’m just glad I made it out alive.