Friday, August 27, 2010

Running in the Cornfields Part 1

First let me admit the title of this post is inaccurate. I didn’t actually run “in” the corn fields. I would NEVER run IN the corn fields! 
I watched “Children of the Corn” in the 80’s. I have been afraid of those damn fields ever since! The trail I ran laid a scant twenty feet from the fields on either side and that was close enough for me! I still kept a sharp eye peeled for ol’ Malechai  as I ran. I bet it helped me keep my pace brisk knowing at any time psycho children could come out of the corn and drag me back in never to be seen again......
The start of my eight mile run was actually great. I felt fresh and strong! I had left early (8am) and was confident the heat wouldn’t get bad until after I was back in at around 10 ish. I mis-judge that a little bit. That wasn’t the only thing I mis-judged......
The trail was where the old railroad tracks had been taken out. So they ran a fairly straight shot threw neighborhoods and then through farmland when the trail left town. 
In the first couple miles I ran past large houses with carefully landscaped back yards. Many of the home owners built bridges across the ditch that separated their yard and the trail. With all the rain that comes in the summer, the residents will actually need the bridges to cross the ‘river’ that will appear. 
One yard was particularly delightful. The owner had placed a lot of objects of interest on their back property line so they actually lined the trail as I ran along. It was really fun to see the cute set ups they did. My favorite was a little bench with a pinic basket next to it. Just behind the basket was a sign that read: Picnic menu and listed items like “Hot Dogs”, “Soda Pop” “Chips” and there was a bright red phone right next to the sign for you to call up to the house and place your order. So cute!
There was also a Tic Tac Toe game set up using rocks with “X” and “O” painted on them. The game was at its end where there was only one square left to play and I noticed that either the “X”s or the “O”s had the potential to win the game.
One of my favorite features was a miniature 1960ish t-bird toy car with a big teddy bear sitting in it. The big teddy bear was holding a small teddy bear. Very cute. All the little scenes cheered me as I ran along. But that wasn’t all. 
At the end of the property was a large shed with a mural painted on it. It was a painting of the trail itself with a biker and a runner on the path with the phrase “Find joy in your journey” at the top. How appropriate! That property was a joy in itself!
I had a long way to go and I was already feeling the heat. It was going to be a long time before I’d see my Dad at the first agreed upon checkpoint. (My dad was SAGging my run for me). 
 And then I saw him..a few hundred feet away. He was wearing a red t-shirt, so he was easy to spot. He had parked at the nearest street that crossed the path from where he left me. 
At first I thought, “Aw, he’s checking on me.” Then I realized, he must not have thought I could make it that far! I hadn’t even gone two miles yet!
When I reached him he started jogging beside me for a few yards. How cool! Dad and I have ridden bikes together a lot. But we’ve never ran together. In fact, I don’t think I have ever seen my dad run. Ever. But he jogged with me until he was back where he left the car.
The run to the turn around point seemed long.  I was not used to the humidity! Breathing was so much harder than in California! The air was like, not chunky, that would be LA. But wet and heavy. Like you’re breathing syrup. 
I was getting wiped! I couldn’t wait for Dad to meet me at the first ‘rest stop’. I needed a break! Then he called me. 
“Jill, I’m at 100th street and I don’t see you.” 
“I’m south of 100. I’m at 110.” I shout into my handsfree set.
“110 isn’t south. It’s north.”
So a long discussion ensued regarding the odd layout of the roads and where my precise location was. 
“Ok, Jill. I’ll meet you at 26th. I think that should be the next cross over you’ll reach.”
There was a ton of bikers on the trail that day. We later learned there was a sponsored ride. So at least I wasn’t alone as I struggled my way to the meet up. A few minutes later my phone rang again. 
“Jill, where are you?”
“I’m almost to 24th.”
“What? How did you miss 26th?” 
“I didn’t see you. Are you sure you’re at 26th?”

“Yeah. I’m at the intersection with all the old farm equipment.”
“Farm equipment??”
“Yeah. It’s right next to the trail. You had to have run right past it!”
“I didn’t see any equipment.”
“Gosh Jill! Where ARE you?? Maybe you aren’t as far south as we thought.”
“I don’t know Dad. I sense I’m south of you.”
“Me too but I should have ran into you here.” [Frustrated pause]
Some more bikers passed me heading north. 
“Dad, you want to try to meet me at 24th?”
Five seconds later my phone rings again.
“Jill, you are south of me. I stopped some bikers and they confirmed they had seen you south on the trail.”
“Yeah I’m just now crossing 24th.”
“Ah, I missed you!”
“Dad, remember the farmhouse on Irvinedale?”
“Meet me there.”
I kept running. I was so tired! The heat and humidity was just KILLING me! The farmhouse was way out there. It was within the last two and a half miles of the finish. That was a long way to go before getting my bottles refilled. But I kept plugging along. I was afraid my dad was going to have a long wait before he saw me coming down the trail. 
Finally, I reached what I call “Butterfly Alley”. It was a piece of trail right across the street from the farm house. It was a long stretch. But I knew a break was at the end. 

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