Had some pretty epic runs the last two days, unfortunately, in both sense of the word. But let me stay censored and positive.
Yesterday I was not excited about going for a run, and was thinking about how it has changed. I think most of my favorite runs have been in Florida. Running to the sun rise on Bayshore was always great, even with the tunnel that smelled of piss and corndogs and the sometimes gross smell of the water- I loved it. Especially the Gaspirilla Pirate Ship, I always was say something about “Grrrr I shall find my booty” when passing it. Other favorite runs were of course any race I did, and nothing will ever top Ragnar, Miami --> Key West. Even though I was recovering from the flu and the seven mile bridge was the bane of my existence, it was epic.
Running was always my time. I would drown out my stress with some horrible dance/rap music and run for miles not thinking about anything that mattered. Honestly, I usually would day dream about ridiculous things- sometimes completely fictional fantasies and other times, a lot actually, would think about Peace Corps. Wondering where I was going, and then later worried about my rejection and medical holds. I thought about what it would be like, what continent I would be on and what language I would speak. I dreamed up the programs I would start and relationships I would form.
Now that I am struggling to communicate and working on a needs assessment that is much easier in theory, my runs are much less stress relieving as they are stressful. I think I have finally figured out the streets to avoid because of Taverns and Shebeens, but now am facing my fan clubs and jokes.
Yesterday’s run was so cliché ‘PC’ it was cheesy. If only there was a camera I would be plastered on a billboard with the slogan “Never have to say ‘I should’ve’” My glowing Lekgowa-ness would radiate on the 17 little South African children giggling and following me.
As I approached my usual spot where I turn I heard “LEKGOWA” which is normal, but this time saw a crowd of children running at me like I was Angelina Jolie and Madonna all rolled up into one miracle worker. One little toddler had a stick. It was scary.
The kids ran with me for a couple minutes-I slowed down to try and entertain them for a bit, and as I could hear the toddler with the stick wheezing I had the realization I might kill this little pot licker so i stopped. Some of the laggards caught up and I did some stretching with them, jumping jacks, and other random stuff. I told them I was going to keep running, combining my little Tsonga and Sepedi, and instead of them leaving they continued with me. We ran a total of 1.5 miles together, it took forever. I kept stopping for the little ones, sometimes carry a couple at a time. I tried talking to them and got some of their names. We laughed, me out of nerves and confusion, then at me. The sun was setting so I tried telling them they needed to go home, so I ran in the direction where they met me- and told them to stay. Actually I think I said sit, but whatever.
Anyway. It was fun, I enjoyed being around humans as after work I am always by myself, but I thought about how much my runs have changed. My 1 to 2 hours of alone time I enjoyed so much in Tampa is now my time of constant attention, drunks trying to run with me, constantly calculating where to go to avoid masses just to find a pop up Shebeen I have to go around, and having to greet everyone. A lot of “where are you going?” “why are you running” but mostly laughs and me ignoring the not so funny ones . Oh, and I can’t forget the cows. Oh the cows. I do find myself laughing, a lot, during my runs!
I love the kids, the ones that are used to me know I will high five them- so I often have lines of cheerleaders with their little sticky palms out- giggling as I say ‘Thobela’ and slap all the hands.
I guess it’s ok that running is no longer my mental time, as that is now pretty much every other waking minute. If I am not running and not at work I am alone so I have plenty of time with my cluttered mind space.
I have to admit it is hard to get out of the door sometimes, knowing all eyes are on me. Today I went a new route and was happy to not have kids follow me for more than 3 minutes- I enjoy my Lekgowa Kitima clubs, but I really wanted to get in a good workout. I also very much enjoy seeing the progress of people knowing my name, and gogo’s not looking so shocked to see me, but rather pleased to greet me.
I miss wearing my running shorts and listening to my iPod, but the sunsets I see over the mountains and laughs I share I guess trump that. I also love the rough terrain to change things up a bit. Today’s new route had its pros and cons, but the sunset was especially amazing.
The area I am in is so small and sun setting earlier everyday so I find it difficult to get a long run in, but soon I’ll figure it out.
For now, I’ll be proud of my 3 miles, and call the days where I don’t go too far b/c of my Lekgowa Kitima fan club ‘integration’.