Going nowhere and making good time

July 6th, 2008

Since I could use a fist bump right about now, I’m going to announce that my running partner and I ran ten miles today. Ten miles, albeit the old lady way. We have managed to train away some of the huffing, puffing, cramps and crying that had me convinced at an earlier, cynical age three months ago that I would never run ten miles let alone one.

Running has become just about the one thing in my life that is satisfying my expectations, expectations being the kind of oversized load that triggers a 20-car, fog-bound pile-up around the next blind curve. Still, as a pastime, hitting the pavement provides me with a wide avenue of observations about myself and the world around me.

My regular route has me crossing a busy intersection during morning commute, an intersection with eight timed signals for through-traffic and turns. The consternation is palpable at this spot as the engines belch and fume about the interruption in their all-important progress. The traffic experts have been here. The science is on display. In place of the benign illuminated hand that once invited walkers to venture forth – We come in peace! – the crossing light now pairs a hunched stalker with a flashing countdown of seconds remaining before the defenseless few are smacked back to where they came from.

Can you believe it? In this hurry-up world, they even want the pedestrians to tailgate! In these last, poisoned days of our planet, they want the people on foot, the innocents who are truly doing no harm, to get out of the way already!

Now it may just be the peculiarity of the hour and the carbon monoxide, or the pulsing love croons of serial seducer John Mayer in my iPod (I’d run anywhere he told me to), but when I see the flashing countdown of seconds left to me in this crossing, when I see this laughably unjust incrimination, it makes me smile. I find myself trotting across the intersection with a grin on my face. I make it my wholehearted practice to smile at the gauntlet of grim drivers I pass. I peer through their tinted shields into their dead faces. I want to make contact, you see. I want them to respond. I want them to see the first, and perhaps, the last happy person they will see today. I want them to be happy too.

I know, I know. We all think we’re going somewhere. But on these mornings, in a sudden gush of giddy bliss, I bet I’m the only one who realizes how free and easy it feels to be going nowhere. Fast.


  1. I’m old school, so how about a good ‘ol high five? Ten miles is incredible. I don’t like to even drive ten miles, let alone run it. I can’t fathom running it. You are an inspiration.

    Comment by Kristin H. — July 6, 2008 @ 10:45 pm

  2. 10 miles – AWESOME !! are you training for a run ??

    Comment by Feener — July 6, 2008 @ 10:54 pm

  3. Kristin,
    I’ll take my attagirls however they come.
    Training for the Chicago marathon, “America’s flattest course.” Oct. 12. Just aiming to cover the distance. BTW, cool blog. I’ll have to lose more time there!

    Comment by Karen Maezen Miller — July 6, 2008 @ 11:30 pm

  4. A couple years ago I listened to a program about suicide and the Golden Gate Bridge. One story changed my behavior–and I can’t really say that about most stories no matter how great they are. A man jumped to his death from the bridge and in his apartment they found a note that said, “If just one person smiles at me on my way, I won’t jump.”

    And so I remind myself when I am out to smile because maybe then I won’t be the last happy person someone sees that day.

    Comment by mapelba — July 7, 2008 @ 3:24 am

  5. P.S. It does occur to me that maybe this person saw people smile all the time and still he didn’t see them. Maybe a lot of things…but still, a smile can’t hurt.

    Comment by mapelba — July 7, 2008 @ 3:26 am

  6. We call them “knucks” over here … and you’ve earned ’em! Way to go!

    Comment by Shalet — July 7, 2008 @ 4:09 am

  7. mae,
    you inspire me in so many ways.

    Comment by Wendy — July 7, 2008 @ 12:26 pm

  8. Thankfully for this 34 year old, it’s never too early to run the old lady way!

    Comment by Jena Strong — July 7, 2008 @ 12:46 pm

  9. I think all blogs must cross paths eventually. If you are running, you might enjoy this blog:


    He is a certifiably crazy long distance runner, but my spouse seemed pretty crazy during her marathon training, so perhaps you’ll like it.

    He’s also a Zen person – Rinzai I think, or maybe one of those Rinzai/Soto hybrids. But it’s very interesting writing about running, which seems like quite a trick.

    And kudos to you for running and smiling – the reason I’ve shied away from running in favor of rollerblading is solely based on the relatively happier, smilier look of the roller-bladers. Most runners look pretty grim most of the time.

    Not to mention the drivers, you really wouldn’t want to swap lives with many of them based on their expressions.

    Happy day, happy running,


    Comment by Chris Austin-Lane — July 7, 2008 @ 2:44 pm

  10. I cannot wrap my head around running one mile, let alone ten! You definitely get high fives and fist taps from me.
    I am not sure why, but I cannot stop smiling thinking of you running to John Mayer. Makes me happy 🙂

    Comment by nyjlm — July 7, 2008 @ 8:20 pm

  11. I loved this.
    It made me smile.
    And I’m getting really excited to come watch you run this October.
    That, unfortunately, is my speed, just the watching other people run. 🙂
    But I’m really good at it, and I will so be there.

    Comment by bella — July 9, 2008 @ 4:32 pm

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