I spent Sunday night at my boyfriend Brian's apartment, and since I had taken a rest day from running Sunday, I needed to run Monday morning. So Brian showed me a 3.5 mile route I could take around the university right near him. It seemed simple enough, just follow the sidewalk he said. He gave me his key so I could lock up in the morning and be able to get back in upon my return. I promised to try to not wake him up. Actually, I said I would be "stealthy." As anyone who knows me can tell you, this was a foolish promise, as I have a clumsy streak approximately a mile wide. We go to sleep. Here is what follows the next day:
- I wake up at 3:20 am. I intensely dislike setting an alarm for 4:30 in the morning just because it alarms me to even acknowledge that time exists, so my rule of thumb is that if I wake up any time after 3 am, I get up and run then. I always seem to wake up sometime between 3 and 5 without fail. I immediately break my promise of being stealthy by fumbling around in the dark and having to turn on a light so I can put in my contacts. My early morning brain forgets to bring my phone. This is a problem later (foreshadowing!).
- I have extreme difficulty locking the door. Enough difficulty that Brian hears and has to lock the door for me. Although, to be fair, he maybe should have told me that his lock was "tricky" (his words) the night before. My promise of early morning stealthiness is officially shattered.
- I finally start my run. I feel pretty safe, as the path is well lit and easy to follow. I thought maybe there would be fellow runners, but it's a little early for that. I finish the 3.5 miles at about my regular pace (at least, I think I did, as my phone is back at the apartment).
- And here's where things get dicey. On my first loop, I noticed a blacktop trail that seemed to follow an even wider loop around the university. In my infinite wisdom, I decided to follow this trail on my second loop. This was a poor idea.
- Things go fine until I realize I am actually well behind the university, in a poorly lit wooded area. At some point, I become surrounded by woods on both sides. I am sure during the day this trail is very picturesque and beautiful, but right then the only thought I could conjure up was that this is how people end up murdered, mugged, and/or raped. And also, why didn't I bring my pepper spray?!? Naturally, this thought compels me to run faster.
- Eventually, the blacktop trail ends. As in, just stops. Not loops back around the university. I am now in a completely unfamiliar neighborhood. This situation is not ideal. The thought crosses my mind that I could just backtrack, but I have no desire to go through the sketchy forest again.
- I decide to use my frighteningly accurate sense of direction to try to run in the general direction of Brian's apartment. I use the term "frighteningly accurate sense of direction" in as ironic a way as it can be used, as my sense of direction is so poor that it is frequently mocked by friends and foe alike. I often actually get lost trying to navigate office buildings.
- I quickly lose track of which way I have turned, as I run through what seems like endless neighborhoods. In a moment of what I can only suppose was delirium, I decide that if worst comes to worst, I can wait till the sun rises and use it to navigate my way back. Like I could seriously do that? Did I think I was some Mayan sun priestess or something?!?
- As I run, I contemplate the simple fact that this whole situation could have been avoided if I just had my phone with me. Directionally challenged though I am, even I am capable of following GPS directions.
- I turn into a wealthy-looking subdivision. This does not seem to be leading to a main road. I turn back around to the road before the subdivision. At this point, the Melissa Etheridge song "I Run for Life" comes on my iPod. I am not yet at so melodramatic a point that I believe I run for life, but at this point I do believe I may run for my sanity. Because seriously, at this point I am running just to try to reach some kind of road I recognize before I go crazy. I do not care where this road is at or how far it is from Brian's apartment, just that I recognize the road.
- I eventually exercise a modicum of good sense and decide to listen for road sounds and look for bright lights in my quest to find a main road. This is an infinitely better idea than my sun navigation idea.
- At last! Salvation in the form of a road I recognize. I am not sure exactly where it leads, but I do know the name. I run on this road for awhile until up ahead I see what appears to be a traffic light, Is it a mirage? I hope not, as this could indicate extreme mental illness since mirages are not as common in the suburbs as in the desert.
- It's a main road I recognize!! I am a bit farther away from Brian's apartment than I thought, but I know how to get back. Along the way, I gain a second wind. I feel like I could run for days! Either it was a second wind or I was just that relieved to know where I was.
- Of course the door won't unlock and Brian has to open it, apparently deciding there was a better chance that it was me back from my run than it being a crazed killer with extremely bad lock-picking skills. While I was pumped up back from my crazy misadventure, Brian simply looked like a man that had now been woken up twice by his crazy, running-obsessed girlfriend and just wanted to go back to sleep. Because it was only 5:30 in the morning by this time. What felt like days running in the wilderness of the suburbs was a mere 2 hours. My story could wait till later.
When we woke up again at a later hour that normal people arise from slumber at, Brian was much more interested in my story and thought we should try to retrace my steps to see where I had ended up and how many miles I had covered. I couldn't remember some of the street names, but we eventually figured out my route, and Brian seemed to enjoy pointing out the spots where I could have easily run back to his apartment. I ran a total of about 9.2 miles or perhaps a bit more since I did backtrack at some places. So my pace was 3 or 4 minutes slower than usual, which didn't surprise me as I had walked some stretches trying to figure out where I was at. But I did run more than a mile more than normal, so that was a win.
In conclusion, I can be a directionally-challenged spaz at times, but I am at least entertaining.