Friday, April 29, 2011

Way Too Close

You know as a long time distance athlete I've come to terms with the fact that I 'play in the road'. We're not so much in the road as on the side of the road, but I do the vast majority of my training on the road.

Close calls are pretty common, what with cars passing less than a meter away from you. Sometimes even less than a yard. But 'close calls' are usually not really that close. And running is much safer than bike. You get hassled now and then but it's your job to live with it.

A lot of days, especially when I ride, I'll come home and tell some story to Margit, who will just roll her eyes, maybe because I'm not just living with it as much as I should.

I took the day off Friday because you could tell by Tuesday that it was going to be a beautiful day. This time of year, with a lot of days off stored up, I start using Friday for long rides. However, I have a marathon coming in six weeks, so deep down I know that I need to be getting in long runs. So I got up planning to run 90 minutes.

Before I'd left the house I'd upped that to two hours.

Then I got outside. It was more beautiful than I expected. I had the music cranking in my new headphones, I felt really good, I was setting a decent pace and I was running in my Zoots with no socks. The sun was beaming down and I decided I'd run to the end of 146 and back- giving myself one hour and ten minutes to do it.

The run was going really well. I got to the centre of Guilford, ran through it, and headed towards Madison, looking forward to climbing that nice hill that 146 ends on.

There's a 4 way intersection at the base of the hill. It's about 90 seconds or two minutes short of the turn around- you can see the top of the hill where 146 runs into Route 1 and ends. I was headed for the intersection and as I always do, I was evaluating the traffic. It's a four-way stop and there was traffic in the lane opposite me, and a truck coming from my left, an 18 wheeler.

I looked at the truck and was a little annoyed. I was going to get to my stop sign before he did- and I'm a pedestrian, so there was no question I'd have the right of way. So would the car coming from the opposite direction, I thought.

But instead of slowing down, the truck was, I thought, speeding up. Trying to beat me to the stop sign. Or the car or both of us. So I sped up. I was going to assert myself here, not let this guy take advantage of me.

So i was running hard and I got to the sign and-

That was when it hit me. The truck wasn't trying to beat us to the stop sign.

I was about to hurtle into the intersection. I stop short. Just short.

The truck didn't stop. It didn't slow down. It just barreled through the intersection at about 35-40 mph.

I threw my water bottle at it, hitting the back of the trailer, up high. And then watched the spinning bottle, gatorade spurting out of it, thinking not about how close I'd come to being run over, but rather about how I was losing valuable nutrition.

As I started to run up the hill, three people stopped to ask if I was all right, which I thought was kind of funny, because it's not like the truck did hit me. But it gave me an idea just how close this particular encounter was.

Way too close.

It also made me realse that maybe, just maybe, I've developed adequate discretion out there. Or at least I know enough not to mess with an 18-wheeler.

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