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These are the runners in your neighborhood.

February 21, 2009

I stole this post’s title from Mark Remy’s blog post at Runner’s World. I read that post on the day it was written, which was the 18th, and immediately thought of the one girl I always see running along the canal. No matter what time I make it out there! (I aim for the morning, but it almost never happens that way.) She’s petite, she’s Asian, and she’s much, much faster than I am. That’s about all I know! OH, and she runs with her shoulder-length hair down (instead of in a ponytail) and without an iPod, always an impressive feat.

There are also many dog walkers I see. The man with a Rottweiler, the man with two greyhounds, the woman with a German short-haired pointer. The man with the perfectly behaved Australian shepherd. There’s also a young man with a mutt of indeterminate heritage. What I notice most about him, however, is the ever-present joint he smokes while walking his dog.

Yesterday, however, I went for a run in my own neighborhood, instead of along the canal. My neighborhood route comprises of two loops that create a lopsided figure 8. If I run the smaller loop twice and the bigger loop once, that’s 2.5 miles. Add the bigger loop once more, and I get to 3.8. Yesterday’s run involved the whole route twice, and because I just wasn’t in the mood to deal with them, I left my dogs behind. Just took my shuffle and headed out.

In the 36 minutes I was out there, no less than THREE people asked me where my dogs were! Two of them, I had never even seen before. (Or at least had never noticed.) They were both slightly older men, one was out enjoying his own exercise of walking, the other was chatting up a neighbor at the end of his driveway. And the final person to ask (well, technically, she was the second of the three) was a young girl, aged about 7, playing on the sidewalk with other neighborhood kids, as they were out of school for half-term holiday.

She was the one I had seen before. For when I run with my dogs, we take to the street for that section of the run because there are almost always 5-7 kids playing on the sidewalk, and I like giving them a wide berth. This run, since I had no dogs, I merely jumped to the grass instead of the street. And one little girl called called out, “Where are your dogs?” I threw an, “At home!” over my shoulder and continued on. But I was to return that way once more, and when I did, she started waving as soon as she saw me. By the time I was within earshot, she had started conversing with me. I had to pause my music and ask her to repeat herself. She wanted to know why I didn’t have my dogs. Why I like to jog. Was I American. Could I bring my dogs back out so she could pet them. And, inspired by her bravery in asking questions, the other children started firing away as well. One set of brothers was excited to tell me that while they had been born in the UK, they were MADE in America. (And at this point, one little girl called out, “I was made in Swindon!” Very excitable group, with incredible knowledge of their parents’ history of intimacy.) The brothers’ dad was from Pennsylvania, so I told them to tell their dad they met someone from Louisiana, but I needed to be on my way because I was scheduled to volunteer. (“What’s volunteer?”)

Those three encounters really made my run. Having a whole conversation like I did with those children is really rare, so I had no idea that my dogs and I made such an impression on people when we ran our neighborhood. Sure, *I* notice people and their dogs, but I never expect anyone to notice me! That they felt the urge to speak up and ask about my dogs just makes me smile. And it makes me want to keep up my running! I don’t want any of my neighbors to think I’ve slacked off, now that I know they’re keeping track.

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