Dear readers, I know you think I make up stories.
Surely, there’s no way someone could have as many running adventures (or misadventures) as I do. No one can trip and fall down THAT many times. Or see THAT many monsters. Or eat THAT many tacos and still manage to waddle faster than a panda bear.
But I promise you — I can’t make this stuff up.
I show up to run, and the adventures just follow. Take, for example, the shenanigans I found myself in the midst of just last Wednesday evening.
I was out for an easy, typical run at Trinidad Lake with my good buddy Juanita and her loyal running dog, Ollie. But as you will see from the tale that follows, for us, a ‘typical’ run is anything but.
Juanita and I were both hot and tired this particular evening, so we decided to employ a running strategy we have dubbed “wogging.” Half jog. Half walk. The rules are simple: when someone might be looking, we run. When no one is around to see us, we walk.
In this way, we are able to maintain the illusion of being dedicated runners. When in reality, we are quite often as lazy as the day is long.
One perfect strategy for “wogging” is to blame our frequent stops on Juanita’s dog, Ollie. When I’m tired, I tell Juanita that we need to stop and walk for a minute because Ollie needs a drink. Or because Ollie got a sticker in his foot. Or because Ollie looks like he wants to pause and smell a rock. It is amazing, sometimes, how many times Ollie needs to sit for a spell to enjoy the beauty of a sunset. Or contemplate a bird that is chirping in the distance.
On this particular day, Ollie decided to help us out by utilizing his ‘leash pit maneuver’ to slow us down; i.e., every five minutes or so he would swing around behind me and ensnare me in his leash, so we would have to stop and untangle ourselves. He’s a very smart dog.
While Juanita and I are usually quite adept at faking a non-stop run for any onlookers who may be out and about, apparently on this occasion we failed. Someone must have seen us, and must have thought that our sputtering starts and stops were the product of a lack of proper nutrition — for as we rounded a curve in the road, what did we find laying in the dirt at our feet but a pile of brand new, apparently untouched groceries?
“Free food!” Juanita hollered. “I shall take the Cup O’ Soup. You shall take the box of spicy vegetables and rice.”
Obediently, I followed Juanita’s lead and snatched up the victuals so graciously left for us. But now what? How to take the food with us as we continued our run? It is difficult to wog whilst carrying groceries in one hand and a water bottle and/or dog leash in the other.
Again, Juanita had a brilliant idea: we would stuff the groceries into our shirts and continue our wog.
And so we did.
After bounding along laden with our treasure for several minutes, I again began to tire and slow my steps, no doubt due to the added effort required to carry my box of spicy vegetables and rice. However, as I did so, Ollie’s attention was caught by something in the distance in front of us. He decided he needed to get closer to investigate — and away he dashed, pulling Juanita along in an unwilling sprint behind him.
“Whooooaaaa!” she hollered, and she spiraled down the road, kicking up a trail of dust behind her as she struggled to hold on to her careening pooch.
I sprinted with all my might to catch up to Juanita and help her hold on to Ollie. As I finally came up even with her again, she managed to put on the brakes, and we squinted up the road to see what had caught Ollie’s attention.
And that’s when we saw them. A herd of elk was stampeding towards us.
There had to be at least 100.
I felt sheer terror coursing through my veins. My stomach clenched — I couldn’t breathe. What was I to do? Pray that Ollie would defend us? Throw my box of spicy vegetables and rice at the elk in order to distract them? Grab Juanita and skitter up the closest tree?
As my panic reached a crescendo, thankfully, the running gods looked down upon us and decided to spare us for another day. The elk herd made a sharp turn to the right and galloped into a dense thicket, leaving Juanita, Ollie, and I to stare after them as they disappeared from sight.
Slowly, tentatively, our trio tip-toed our way past the elk thicket and back to our respective vehicles. As I left the lake that evening, I knew that I was lucky. Lucky to have survived yet another escapade that proves that I’m a shenanigans lightning-rod. And lucky to have held on to my box of spicy vegetables and rice. Because now I didn’t have to worry about deciding what to cook my family for dinner.