Sunday, July 09, 2006

Running in the Mission

It takes about as much mental energy to run in the Mission as physical energy. You have to dodge passive walkers as well as playing children and teenagers who dart about rarely expecting someone to come jogging along behind them. There are the unexpected substances and items that first come into your peripheral vision and then as your foot moves toward the used condom, dog crap or broken whiskey bottle you make a quick and difficult muscle contraction to move your body a little further, and you make it - just centimeters beyond the offending sidewalk filth.

Then there are the smells I never used to experience running about the leisurely trails of Town Lake in Austin - urine and pot smoke.

The biggest danger are the cars and trucks. The alleys are tough because you rarely expect to see a car driving down them, but if one is there it is most difficult to see until you are already in the alley. At stop signs, you at least hope that vehicles obey the red octagons, if not as respect for the law at least as respect for the safety of those in the neighborhood. You never assume they will, however, and a look in the driver's direction is critical as you creep into the intersection and judge whether they are aware of your presence.

There is an artform to running with traffic signals. You take note well ahead of time whether you have a red or a green and then alter your speed accordingly. No one wants to stop while they run, and it feels awkward to run in place. So, if you are half a block away from a green and the cross signal is already counting down (they do that in these parts) then slow down to a jog so that you won't get to the intersection until the light goes through the red cycle. If it is red, and you are a bit away, speed up so you will get there soon after it changes.

Finally, there is the concrete which is probably bad for my knees. What choice have I got? Treadmills are really boring.

1 comment:

Lito said...

Sometimes I write about the Mission in a derogatory way, but I actually love the neighborhood. It is these negative things that you have to pay special attention to when you are running, but there is more I could have added. I get to see a lot of people walking around, playing, drinking coffee and beer, singing, talking, eating, playing soccer, playing basketball, etc. Unlike some places where people stay indoors or mainly go outside to walk to or from their automobiles. There are also great views of Bernal Hill, Twin Peaks and some of downtown depeding on what part of the Mission you are in. I even got a "hello" from a handsome, shirtless dude washing his car last time I was out. So, the good things far outweigh the bad, the bad just makes for better weblog material.