I’m running the Chicago Marathon in October.
I didn’t see myself crossing off more than one marathon on my bucket list, but after New York in 2014, I knew I wanted to do it again.
The weather that year was less than favorable. Like- praying I didn’t lose feeling in my toes before I even got the chance to start. And that wind! The high winds kept the wheelchair participants off of the Verrazono- Narrows Bridge. Personally, I had a moment where I thought the wind was about to lift me by my feet and blow me into the median or just straight into the water. But the crowds were unbelievable and the finish in Central Park felt epic. Good moments and bad.
It was, intense.
So here I am, trying again. And truthfully, I like the overall experience. There is nothing like a marathon to give you hope for humanity again. Such diversity in the runners and in the crowd and we are all on the same side, cheering for each other. I’m all about that.
But training for the Chicago Marathon, which takes place on October 9th, requires the peak of the training in summer months. And let’s be honest, it’s been one hell of a month. WAY TOO HOT. So I’ve second guessed my decision many many mornings and I made way too many excuses during our vacations.
But no more, it’s time to get serious.
Heat, rain, whatever- I am hitting the pavement.
I’ve been in Detroit the past week, staying in Rosedale Park with my sister and her family. Whatever your thoughts or preconceived ideas are about this city, I love it. It’s my home. I’m forever a Detroiter. And this specific neighborhood has some gorgeous homes and even better, most of them are occupied. Because if you know Detroit, you know there are a crazy amount of abandoned homes and land. It’s like no other place I’ve seen.
My route. Five miles. I had it down and I kept it simple. Each morning that I’ve been here I have set out in the same direction, pounding the pavement around the same blocks. Going as far as the abandoned school and making my way around it to head back home.
Yesterday, I did it a bit different and went a little further to get some more mileage in. And that was a mistake. A BIG mistake. The kind of mistake that had me bursting in the door when I finally got back to my sister’s, sharing the harrowing story of how I BARELY made it back. (Ok, it wasn’t THAT bad, but it felt bad.)
I was headed down the block past the school, listening to my iPod and staying in the zone. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him. And he saw me.
Our eyes locked.
I cannot tell you what breed of dog it was, but let’s just say it didn’t have a kind face. I quickly realized that he was not on any type of leash and there was no owner to be seen.
He ran straight for me.
I panicked. I knew this could end badly. I ran behind the trash can of the people across the street and hoped it could be used to shield or somehow defend me. I stood as still as I could and the dog stopped.
We were in the worst staring contest of my life.
I felt the presence of someone behind me. I looked back and up at the home owner whose trash can I had taken hostage. She cracked the door open and I asked- “Do you know this dog?”
He bites, she said. He gets out of their backyard often.
Can I please come up on your porch? I asked.
She said yes and I backed up the steps and behind the wrought iron fence that seemed like a very unreliable guard. But, it would do.
I looked at how carefully she had that door cracked, but I knew I may plow her down if that dog came any closer. I was terrified.
The dog paced in front of the house. Back and forth, back and forth. Eyes on me.
He went and marked his territory on every possible tree and object in the area, all while assuring me he wasn’t leaving anytime soon.
I was trapped.
The woman who was still standing with me, while hiding behind her door, said her husband would be home at any moment. He had run to the gas station and he could help, she said. She wasn’t coming out, NOPE.
I was a sweating, cowering mess. Hiding in the furthest corner I could find on her porch, just hoping that the dog didn’t lunge closer and that her husband would get the gas he needed and COME HOME NOW.
Moments (HOURS) later, he pulled in.
I said to the lady, He is going to wonder why this white girl is on my porch? She laughed.
He backed the car in and jumped out. He looked at me and said- “I saw you when I left! You were running the other way, so I figured you were good.” But I had circled back around. And, apparently, he knew the dog was a threat.
And then he saved me. He really did. He told me he used to live across the street and he was familiar with the dog. He knew the dog wouldn’t hurt him. So he lured him away and I carefully asked his wife (still peaking through the door) if I could run across their grass to get away faster. “You’re good,” she said. I poured out my deepest thanks to my guardian angels- and then I ran.
I ran fast and I ran straight to my sister’s house. I threw open the door with my story and then I went back out to finish my run- in the other direction. All of a sudden I started seeing the other people out for their walks carrying golf clubs and bats. Really. And I knew.
So I am not giving up on this marathon. Vacation, humidity, dogs and even bears (that’s another story) I’m doing this thing.
Also, I ordered a small can of pepper spray.