Sunday, August 23, 2009

23 AUG 09: Rocky Road

First the good news -- Saturday night marked my best running session since early April! The key for going beyond three miles non-stop apparently was the lack of humidity in the air. But a lack of curious dogs along the course didn't hurt, either....

Most of my running at this time of year takes place in the morning, shortly after I wake up. It's obviously cooler at 8:15 a.m. than at 5:15 p.m. Morning cloud cover and shady spots on the course keep the sun away. And running before breakfast makes the orange juice much more tasty and essential.

A morning run on the Riverwalk this past week led me to something I'm more used to seeing on Saturday nights - a group of six people walking together. I call two side-by-side a "blockade," after the game of Parcheesi. Four people make a quadruped. But a group this big? All I could think of was a six-pack.

I came upon this "gang of six" near Port Columbus. All of them wore plain white T-shirts, none of them appeared to be older than high school-age -- and they were strolling the Riverwalk at 8:15 in the morning. If their destination was a school on South Lumpkin Road, they should have been running like I was.

One girl in the group said something to me as I jogged by -- and I did something I probably should not have done. I stopped to run in place, asking her to repeat the comment. "Are you tired?" Hard of hearing at that point, more than tired....

"A little bit, but I'm working on it," I told the group -- my usual reply to people who ask how I'm doing during a run. The question never seems comes from joggers heading the other direction.

I started to jog on - but then a small rock fell in front of my path. I stopped to run in place again, and turned around. "Why?" I asked the group. If I offended someone somehow, this was their chance to explain. But as usual in these cases, the young people didn't have an immediate answer. Act first, think of an excuse second - at least the health care reform debate has that list reversed.

Someone in the group dared to ask what I meant. "Throw a stone at me, and risk hitting me on the head and hurting me."

"Who are you saying this to?"

"All of you. I don't know who did it." If I had eyes in the back of my head, I would have become a teacher.

No one offered an answer, so I jogged on without saying anything more. But indeed I was tiring, and gave up the run to turn around about one-tenth of a mile later. That's what made Saturday night's run with less humidity even more inspiring. I ran three times as far, and my T-shirt still didn't end up as wet.

The turnaround meant I would encounter the six-pack on the way home - but this time we'd be going in opposite directions, so I expected no more trouble. On top of that, a bare-chested young man in much better condition jogged past them moments before I did. For most young people, his muscles should be a more entertaining distraction.

But I probably made another mistake, by talking to the group about that fit man. "He's why I wear a T-shirt when I run." Not to mention because I'd be encouraging young women to walk around the Riverwalk naked as well....

As I jogged on, another rock hit and rolled in front of my path - this time a larger chunk of asphalt. This time, I didn't stop. I only added, "Enjoy your SCHOOL day!" Some sort of jeering was audible in the distance - but at least none of the young people tried to race me.

One man I know says I should carry a concealed weapon on the Riverwalk when I run, because it's a dangerous area. But would pointing a gun at these young people have solved anything? Well, I suppose it might have started them running - either away from me, or toward a police officer.

To be honest, I'm not sure I could have done anything to stop the rock-throwing by someone in this group. It reminds me of the college hall-mate who laughed every time I tried to respond to someone who abused me. I finally asked what I could have done which would NOT have brought laughter - and he said, "Beat him up, I guess."

While we're on the Riverwalk: a construction fence which was up for years at 12th Street finally has come down. But now there's what appears to be a more permanent fence about 75 yards farther north, including a concrete sculpture in the middle of the walkway. The Eagle and Phenix Condominium owners apparently only want visitors at the sales office....

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E-MAIL UPDATE: Oh dear -- it's time to call out the "rumor patrol" again....

Have you heard anything about the new library having building foundation problems? I have heard the rumor and noticed the bottom 2 steps inside the building have now been marked with "danger" signs because of the slant .

"No, no, no, no!" was the answer Friday from Debbie McGregor with the Columbus Public Library. For starters, the Muscogee County Library Foundation still has a book endowment program....

Oh wait - this is about the building. Debbie McGregor told me warning stickers have been placed on the bottom three stairs of the library's grand staircase because people have tripped on them and fallen. There used to be a caution sign there [20 Jan 06] - but maybe someone checked it out for two weeks.

Someday I'll understand why the central library was built with three separate steps at the bottom of the grand staircase. What's wrong with allowing patrons in a hurry to have a running start up the stairs?

We made this call on the day the Mildred Terry Branch Library held a "rededication" ceremony. The new building still isn't paid off, so 150 commemorative bricks are being sold to raise money. Hopefully the bricks were not chipped away from the Booker T. Washington Apartments down the street.

Let's see what else is making news this weekend:

+ Ground was broken for a new Smiths Station High School. I thought this was going to be the city's second high school, but the Lee County Superintendent says the old high school will become a junior high. Perhaps all the teenagers moving to our area with base realignment already have committed to military duty.

+ Aflac held its annual diversity fair - this year focusing on children's games. I suppose they call "hopscotch" something else in Japan, since it's not known for having immigrants from Scotland.

+ The new "Puerto Rican Women's Association" of Columbus held its first meeting. WXTX "News at Ten" showed several ladies wearing big hats. But if the meeting didn't end with a salsa dance or a big game of dominoes, it really wasn't authentic Puerto Rican.

+ Kyle Busch won the NASCAR race in Bristol, Tennessee. We mention this because WSTH-FM "Rooster 106" abandoned the race broadcast with 40 laps to go - returning to country music without any explanation. If Clear Channel Radio can't afford to pay for extra hours of NASCAR, the college football games in September had better not go to overtime.

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