Though the next time I do, I think my fellow outdoorsmen would like a heads up.
It was a picture-perfect day for a run. I was blazing along my normal route on Riverside Trail. As any runner can tell you, there's a cathartic freedom that comes from the activity. For me, it's freedom from distraction. It's a chance to clear the head. Some days, that feeling is especially powerful. Even when sharing the trail with a host of other people, I can literally feel like it's just me and the asphalt.
And my music.
And that's a problem.
|Trail of tears.|
I had just crossed the halfway point of my route, and I was in a zone. A groove. Another place. I approached a stretch of Riverside that bends precariously close to the St. Joseph River. So close, in fact, that sediment will often wash up onto the trail after a period of heavy rain, not unlike the one we experienced recently in Michiana.
I normally keep to the right of the trail as I run - no need to be European about it, after all. But the ebbing of the river had left a pile of crud directly in my path. Naturally, I veered left to avoid it.
And then it happened.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a rollerblader
falling flailing completely losing all dignity as he fell - and rolled - in the grass. Oh, how he rolled. His shoulder-length hair visually amplified the sheer violence of the event as it went akimbo with each rotation of his unsuspecting body. And while I am admittedly not the fastest runner, it is worth noting that for approximately five yards, the pace of the blader's fall was equal to that of my jog. The obvious difference being that I was traveling by foot, and he was traveling...by everything else.
I stopped, out of concern for my fellow trail blazer. He gathered himself on all fours, and looked up at me, panting.
"You didn't hear me yell, 'Pardon me?'"
Whoops. Apparently my little leftward veer had an unintended consequence. I cut directly into his path, and caused the ensuing barrel roll.
"Uh, no. Sorry. Are you ok?"
"You really didn't hear me?"
In hindsight, I don't know why he asked again. Was he hoping I'd say, "Yes, but dude, I was in a zone. I figured better to keep pace and you risk certain death than break stride"? Also, while I appreciate good manners as much as the next guy, who yells "Pardon me" on a trail?
Nevertheless, in the moment, I restated the obvious. "No, I didn't. Sorry about that."
"Guess we both had the music going," he said. Indeed.
He lumbered upright, and examined the deep mud stains on his arms, legs and clothes. I let him leave the scene first. No need to risk that again. He slowly began along the trail again, examining his body while he coasted for the next 50 yards or so, no doubt pleasantly surprised he still had everything he started the trail with.
I kept a safe distance in following.
There's probably some metaphorical lesson on life here, but the whole thing was just too jarring for circumspection. Let it be enough for this to be a cautionary tale: Please practice safe jogging. Middle-aged rollerblading men with long hair are depending on you.
You feel me?