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I get by with a little help from Henry David Thoreau

October 2nd, 2012 · 23 Comments · Daily

So, yesterday morning I dropped the kids off at school and drove straight out to my favorite running spot to embark on my very first outdoor 26 minute (without stopping) run. With a water bottle strapped to my hand and Mumford & Sons singing in my ears, I took off into the woods. (“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately.”)

Just so you’re with me, this is what I saw:

Someday I'm going to make a sharp right and run like a cheetah into the woods. I'll then camp out for three days, knowing that the nearest Chinese buffet is less than two miles away. Alexander Supertramp.

This is what I heard:

I walked for five minutes, and then I ran. Sluggardly. (I averaged about 7:44 per kilometer.) When I thought I had been running for more than ten minutes, I looked at my phone and saw that I still had 23 minutes to go. In other words, three minutes was feeling like 10 minutes. This 26 minute adventure was going to FEEL like an 85 minute adventure. (Quick side note: While I’m running, I can’t do simple math. Similarly, I sometimes see a herron and call it a herring. My brains liquify and run out of my nose and I have no idea how to breathe. Running is physically and cerebrally taxing. I have no idea why I do it.)

Anyway, I ran and I ran (and I ran) and I looked at my phone more than 30 times during the run to see when the hell it was going to end. When the little man told me that I had five minutes to go, I noticed that my left eye wasn’t seeing correctly. I wondered how I would handle having a stroke in the woods, and I considered stopping. (“I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary.”) I continued to run. When I had less than a minute to go, I noticed a svelte running lady about 25 yards ahead of me. I decided to run like a cheetah (but on two legs) to pass her before my little man gave me permission to cool down with a five minute walk. (Less than five seconds after I stopped running, Svelte Lady flew by me as I snorted and panted and tried to squirt water into my face.)

Here’s the weird part. When my cool-down walk was over, I made my way back to the car. I climbed into the car, I chugged a bunch of water, I turned on the radio, started the car, put my hands onto the steering wheel, AND NOTICED THAT I HAD BLOOD ALL OVER MY HANDS. (Clarification: They weren’t COVERED in blood, but there was more than just a trace amount, and it was dried and on both palms.)

Apparently, after having my stroke in the woods, I blacked out and killed a fellow runner with my bare hands before regaining consciousness and continuing with my run. (“I have never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude.”)

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23 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Dooley // Oct 2, 2012 at 7:11 am

    What the?! Stigmata much?!

  • 2 Elizabeth // Oct 2, 2012 at 8:15 am

    The HDT quotes in this are fantastic. Fantastic! Any idea where the blood really came from? A nosebleed, perhaps?

  • 3 Ami // Oct 2, 2012 at 9:50 am

    Hey, the not being able to see out of your eye thing worries me. (The blood too, but I have an 8yo boy, and blood appears randomly far to regularly these days for me to get too worked up.) But still. Hm. Vision and migraines are often tied together. Have you noticed a correlation between running and migraines, either good or bad?

  • 4 DLG in Mich // Oct 2, 2012 at 10:39 am

    Ha! Awesome running story. Thanks for sharing.

  • 5 Mary K. in Rockport // Oct 2, 2012 at 10:53 am

    Well, that’s weird. Ami makes some good points. But I’m wondering if you clenched your hands tightly in your running discomfort and boredom and stabbed yourself in the palms with your fingernails.

  • 6 You can call me, 'Sir' // Oct 2, 2012 at 11:53 am

    It’s OK. If you were technically unconscious when you killed the person/people/animal(s)/radio star, then they can’t convict you. Don’t ask me how I know this.

  • 7 CButler - St. Louis // Oct 2, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    MAAAYBEEEE you should stop running.

  • 8 Grammy // Oct 2, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    Beautiful post. Beautiful visual. Beautiful audio.

    Have they found the person/thing you killed in the woods, yet? How do you know it was you? Is it possible that you were the victim here?

    Seriously, have you explored at least the possibility that a brisk walk might be better than a run for you?

  • 9 Deanna // Oct 2, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    I have clenched my fists so hard during tough runs that my fingernails have cut my palms. Maybe that’s what happened.

  • 10 elsiroomom // Oct 2, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    I can tell that I watch too many lawyer/cop/spy/criminalpsychologist shows because I immediately began thinking about a plot for an episode where an woman begins running and it triggers some sort of run-hating rage but she is blacked out in the rage and doesn’t know she killed anyone. (Television writers – this idea is copyrighted. You can pay me the big bucks if you use it!)

  • 11 Clara // Oct 2, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    I’m going with the stigmata theory.

  • 12 Carroll // Oct 2, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    OK, great run, blah blah, beautiful surroundings, blah blah, fabulous tie-ins with Thoreau, inexplicable blood, blah blah blah… More to the point, where is the boundary for these things we call woods? I’m serious! There were woods all over the place in New England where I grew up, and apparently you have woods as far West as St. Louis. But no one ever talks about woods in California! Our son down in the So Cal mountains is surrounded by a “forest”. My friend in Colorado walks her dogs along a river where there are plenty of trees, but she’s never mentioned “woods”. Sometimes she does go “up to the mountains”, where presumably there are also trees. But woods? Where do we (collectively, folks — us mainland US residents and/or Canadians, if applicable) stop having those. And why?

    (Maybe Thoreau has the answer to this somewhere)

    Also, those folks who have questioned your need to run, vs walk briskly, or even (since you presumably still have those cool brown New Balance trail shoes) “hike”…I think they’re on to something. Different bodies need/respond/react differently to all sorts of things. In it’s heart of hearts, your body may just not be a runner . Maybe you’re an apple-eating dog-walking knit-while-you-walk (you could, I know you could!) kind of person instead :-) Exercise is exercise and it’s all good!

  • 13 Kait // Oct 2, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    And THAT’S why I don’t run – I get all hulksmashy and kill fellow runners.

  • 14 Kim // Oct 3, 2012 at 7:49 am

    Please don’t leave the Pumpkin Run with blood on your hands…you’ll scare the children. (Or, it will be appropriate since the run is so close to Halloween..hah)

  • 15 kathy // Oct 3, 2012 at 8:00 am

    Oh how I love this post.

    I did the C25K thing last fall and when I was done I could run or more accurately, shuffle, about 2 miles. I did the timed version and the timed version thinks people run at a certain speed, ha! I called it good and shuffled 2 miles a few times a week for a while and then I stopped. And now I sit a lot.

  • 16 Cindy // Oct 3, 2012 at 8:14 am

    Great. Now I have Flock of Seagulls’ “And I ran so far away” stuck in my head.

  • 17 The Cartoonist // Oct 3, 2012 at 9:32 am

    I keep checking your local news and nobody has found the body yet. Of course it is bound to happen eventually that someone walking their dog will come across the body. This leads me to believe that dog walkers are actually the murderers because it is just too convenient that they ALWAYS find the body… either that or its because dogs like stinky things… or something

  • 18 Sarah // Oct 3, 2012 at 9:59 am

    Hmmm, fingernails would be my guess. Maybe you should switch to tai chi?

  • 19 Ani // Oct 3, 2012 at 11:02 am

    Love, love, love Thoreau and those quotes are fantastically weaved into your post. And I too have the Flock of Seagulls stuck in my head and I get a bit dizzy during Zumba. I think maybe more water is in need but I have no idea about the blood. Hope all is ok.

  • 20 V // Oct 3, 2012 at 11:59 am

    next time I feel crappy through a run, I will remind myself that I can still see out of both eyes and have no blood on my hands. THANKS!

  • 21 Linda // Oct 3, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    This is your best blog post ever! Dan and I discussed it and took a vote. We think you are innocent and that the other runner is the actual psychopath. You will forever be known to the Svelte Lady as the one that got away.

  • 22 Sarah // Oct 4, 2012 at 10:11 am

    http://www.aeonmagazine.com/being-human/steve-fleming-neuroscience-crime/

  • 23 Susan // Oct 8, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    I HATE when I black out and kill people.