Hearing the world, being alert about cars and traffic while running

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September 3, 2015 by scratchtype1

The well drillers’ equipment is making a great noise and that noise itself doesn’t make me nervous so much as the absence of what I listen for when I run the roads — the sounds of cars approaching, whether coming at me but hidden beyond the hill slope or past the bend of the curve, or behind me. Finally I run past the front yard of the house where they are working in the already uncomfortable heat and humidity. The small bridge is soon.

I’ve maybe once or twice tried running with music. Not on the roads, but on a loop in a small township park. It was then that I discovered for whatever reason, I really really don’t like to run with music. It gives me no joy, it gives me no inspiration, it doesn’t make a run come alive for me. It’s just, weird, to me. If I want to be pretentious I could say that it separates from the subtle music of the world, the whispery sounds of soft winds, the rhythm of the feet against the ground, the crickets and cicadas of summer, the chirps and tweets and songs of birds. That may or may not be true, or maybe not all the time. But maybe it’s safe to say that sometimes I do perceive a music to that, but keep in mind, I’m a lousy singer and have trouble keeping a steady beat. So maybe I’m just bullshitting you.

Mostly for me it’s about awareness. Or maybe paranoia. But then, maybe paranoia ain’t a bad thing when contemplating what kind of damages a large, heavy and fast-moving object like a car can do to the fragile human body. Maybe it’s a rare event that it happens, but I don’t want to be that rare event when I can take measures to avoid it. The first and primary one to me is being alert. With my eyes and with my ears. The roads I often run on are narrow ones and there’s been a few times where by listening I was able to measure how the car that I could see in front of me and the car behind me were all converging on a similarly intersecting area. Some drivers are good about making room for everyone. Some aren’t so good. Some may just not be all that aware. Especially now in this age of cellphones.

Tuesday afternoon I ran late in the afternoon. I crested the top of a hill and could see a blue car approaching me. It was keeping fairly close to the road edge, a road without shoulders. My edge. Usually my experience is that most people once they spot you, start to move left some. This one kept coming at me. I kept looking at it and also considering the options to my left. The car stayed on its path. Finally I began waving the right hand. Hello? Do you see me? Finally just about as I was going to bail left into the tall grass and weeds to my left, the car swerved as think I saw the head of the driver finally look up from the cellphone they’d been looking at.

What if I had been running with traffic? I probably would have heard the car approaching behind me uncomfortably close, but maybe I wouldn’t have had the eyes to tell me that it was time to bail. And what if I had been running with headphones, with them reducing how clear the sound of that car was?

I saw it today. A woman runner, running with headphones, with traffic. Sometimes I wonder if I should try to say something. It just seems so crazy to me that a person doesn’t want to be aware as possible for that danger when running on roads. There’s no way in the world I could feel safe running with the traffic. Of course, the thing is that I don’t feel safe exactly even when running towards traffic, but that’s why I do it. I want every possible bit of information that can help me save my butt. I don’t want to put my body and my life in the hands of someone whose hands and eyes might be more busy with a cellphone than paying attention to the road.

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