Friday, March 15, 2013

Close Encounters (of the Viking Kind)

Workout: 4 miles, 11:30 average, Connects

People were skating over on the left there.

Scary times on the trail today. I'll preface the story by saying that nothing actually happened and Bailey and I are sitting pretty (well, she's actually aggressively ripping apart the new toy I just bought her), but it was a potent reminder of the importance of being aware of your surroundings and doing what you can to minimize risks.

Since I'm on "Spring Break" for the day and it's too sunny out to work more than a few hours (come on, "good weather" is totally a legitimate excuse for ignoring responsibilities), I took the dog to the Coastal Trail. There weren't that many cars there (you mean some people have real jobs?) and after we pulled into a parking spot, I saw that I had some new emails so started messing with my phone. I happened to look up at my rearview mirror and noticed a creepy guy rolling by very slowly in his car. I could see that he was staring at me, and his car came to a stop right behind mine. He sat there for a few seconds before slowly pulling forward ten feet or so, as if to turn back onto the main road. Instead of leaving, however, he paused for much too long and then backed into a space a few down from me. This whole time he was looking at me. I had locked my doors and put my key back in the ignition as soon as he pulled up behind me because there was obviously something wrong with him, but I was still very concerned about what he might do.

After parking, he got out of his car wearing only a t-shirt (it was 10 degrees out - he clearly didn't plan to stay out for long) and walked slowly down the trail I had planned to use. Okay, buddy. You're crazy if you think I'm following you. Really, this guy's idiocy is kind of astonishing. I mean, did he think he had me fooled? He sure as hell didn't look like he was out for a casual stroll; he looked ready to rape and pillage. Anyone could take one look at him and realize he was bad news. Sorry, I don't mean to trivialize the situation; humor is my way of dealing with uncomfortable situations.

We did the smart thing and PTFO'd the second he was out of sight. Fortunately, the Coastal Trail extends for miles in either direction, so we drove about three miles before parking at another access point at a much more popular section of the trail. All was good, although I was definitely alert and on the lookout for creepy Viking man (he had red hair). This (and moose) is why I don't wear music on outdoor runs.

[It didn't occur to me to call the cops until much later, at which point I couldn't really remember what he or his car looked like, but that probably would have been a good idea. Lesson learned.]


Moving on from that awfulness, it really was gorgeous outside.

 Yes, this is essentially a repeat of that first photo, this time with less grass! Variety is the spice of life.

It was totally average as far as runs go, but it felt great to be in the sun. We're on, like, day 14 of sun now. Crazy.

Let's take a look at some of the sights I got to enjoy! What did you look at during your run today? Probably not mountain-lined, frozen ocean views.

Frozen ocean!  

 More frozen ocean!

Last frozen ocean!

The other awesome thing is that I found the perfect spot for speedwork. Not only is it completely flat, long enough for longer repeats, and not too curvy, but it's also completely ice/snow-free. Driving along, I couldn't believe it - straight pavement as far as the eye can see! Well, at least for a mile or so. It's not all that scenic (it's right next to the airport, actually), but it will definitely get the job done. I've seen people running down this road before and always thought they were heading towards a nice lake or something, which is why I finally decided to check it out. Turns out they're just looking for flat pavement like me! The only downer about this place is that it's an approximately twenty-minute drive from my house (and another fifteen minutes or so to work/school). Whatever, better than a window-less basement!


Following my run, I went to Target. I am most definitely going back there to buy all the clothes, but since I was a post-run mess I opted not to share my sweat with everyone by trying stuff on. I may just head back this weekend, though. New clothes are definitely not budget-approved but then again, I've been wearing the same crappy garments for what feels like decades now. I could use some new threads. And hey, at least my tastes aren't expensive!

Wow, that was sort of a tangent. I really just wanted to say that I bought sunscreen and that you should too. I wore sunscreen religiously when I lived in New York, but got out of the habit once I moved back to Alaska. Like I mentioned, we've been getting a lot of sun here lately, so I thought I'd do my skin a favor and lather it on. I usually just use it as my moisturizer so it doesn't require any extra effort. Say no to skin cancer! PSA over.

And now I'm off to enjoy an early start to the weekend. My Q's for U's:

  • Ever been in an iffy situation like my Viking man encounter? 
  • What kind of scenery did you have for your run today? Concrete jungle, woods, a television?
  • Do you wear sunscreen? If no, get on it!


  1. Ahh, this post gives me the heebie jeebies (is that still a phrase?). I watch WAY too many episodes of "Law and Order: SVU" so I automatically think EVERYONE, EVERYWHERE is ready to kidnap, rape and/or murder me. Smart thinking not going near that dude and staying alert!

    1. Totally still a phrase. Then again, I no longer count as "this generation" so I'm not sure what the kids are saying these days!

  2. I was out on a busy, semi-commercial stretch of road/sidewalk on July 4th 2009 (?), around 9-10 PM. A van of kids (literally, like, high school kids) rolled by in one direction, they were leaning out the windows yelling and making all sorts of noise. Then, the van turned around pulled over to the curb somewhere behind me and let one of its members out. He proceeded to run "after me" (but, again, sidewalk, so only 2 options) in flip flops (I could hear them whacking the pavement). I picked up my pace, put some distance between us, and considered veering into the nearest open store (again, busy street, but late - lots of stuff was closed). Meanwhile, I think the van was driving slowly next to the kid. Eventually, he gave up, got back in, and they drove off.

    I probably should've been more freaked out, but honestly...I felt like they were stupid, drunk (?) kids - and not even a very real threat. It felt more like they were school-yard jerks than a legit threat. I suppose they could have done me some harm if they'd had a mind to, but I could hardly even take them seriously. I was basically just pissed - and sorely tempted to turn around, confront him, and dial the police right then and there.

    Only in retrospect did I realize that I *probably* should've been more scared than mad, but - I guess I was lucky. And I did stop LEAVING for runs after dark. Although sometimes I still ran INTO the dark...

    No run today. BOOO.

    Sunscreen. Um, I should? :-/

    1. YES, you should wear sunscreen! Especially you, given where you live! But of course, I'm not the boss of you so I guess you can do whatever you please ;). I would highly recommend it, though!

      Aye, that's kind of scary, but I would probably feel the same about some punk kid in flip-flops. You were obviously faster than him anyway! I'm surprised you were running so late at night, though; I definitely don't have the motivation to do that, slash it would freak me out.

  3. So scary!!! I don't remember anything specific, but I'm one of those people who is always on edge about that stuff, ha. I rarely wear headphones when I run - especially in the dark and on trails. I totally believe in trusting your gut, though...I have definitely had a few time where I just feel skeeved out for no particular reason, so I change my plans. Better to be safe than sorry!

    Glad you found a place to do your speed work, for me, going outside made ALL the difference!

    Those views are sooooo pretty!!!!! I ran the Rock and Roll Half today in DC, so we ran by the Lincoln, the Arlington Memorial Bridge, up Rock Creek Park, towards the Capitol and RFK Stadium. Not as pretty as yours, but it was still pretty awesome!

    I always wear sunscreen!!

    I <3 Target. I love their clothes, their running gear, their kitchen appliances, ha, everything. I try to not let myself go in there very often because spending money on all that stuff is definitely not in the budget right now. But I also really enjoy revamping my wardrobe (running or regular)...and now that you're going to be a PhD candidate somewhere, I think that deserves a treat!

    1. Haha, you're right, I DO deserve a treat! I actually didn't end up getting to it this weekend but I will definitely do that soon. Thanks for the pep talk!

      The few times I was in DC at night near whatever the main bus/train station is, I was kind of (and by kind of I mean really) freaked out. It's not like New York where there are always hundreds of people out and about; DC can be pretty dead in certain parts! I ran there a few times and felt kind of uneasy in certain places even in the daytime! It didn't help that my friend lived in the Navy Yard (?) area, which has a lot of creepy underpasses and empty lots nearby...

    2. Yeah, the Navy Yard area would be creepy at night. Union Station does get empty outside of the main business does most of DC, actually. So few people actually live in the city compared to those who work in the city. I run on the National Mall a lot at night, but my sister recently told me people get mugged there a maybe not so much anymore...