Thursday, October 11, 2007


Today started with such promise. I awoke before my alarm after a fairly pleasant night's sleep, still basking in the warmth of the wonderful birthday day I had yesterday. I had a hot cup of strong coffee before I met my running group at Starbuck's for our regular Thursday run. This is one of those runs that I love because I would never do it alone. We run downtown, to the international bridge that takes you to Mexico, through El Secundo Barrio, around the industrial section of town, over a highway overpass, and back up to the center of town. And all of it is in the dark. It has just enough feeling of danger to be fun, but since I'm with a group of about 20 people, not scary. Until today.

About 30 minutes into the run, I am back of the pack with my friends Nathan and Gilbert. Nathan and I are running the Marathon to Marathon this weekend, so we are just cruising along. Gilbert is hanging back with us because he had put in some hard runs earlier in the week. The bulk of the group is several blocks ahead. When we reach the heart of El Secundo Barrio, we hear a woman scream. We look over and see an elderly woman with a cane being robbed. Gilbert springs into action, "Let's go!" and takes off after the robber. Nathan follows. Okay. You know what happens next: I follow Gilbert and Nathan. We chase this guy down alleyways and streets. In the dark. But to no avail; he gave us the slip. Not that we would have known what to do with him anyway. A business executive, a track coach, and a soccer mom - the new Mod Squad.

Anyway, I was so excited to get home to tell Tim of my adventure. As I exit my vehicle in front of our house, I am hit by the most noxious smell - something akin to burning tires. The closer I get to my front door, the stronger the smell gets. When I open the door, I am practically knocked over by it.

"What happened?" I yell from the entry.

"Rocky got skunked," Tim yells back from the kitchen where he is busy opening windows.

"Inside?" I asked, not fully understanding the situation.

"No," Tim says, clearly intending to leave it at that, but I rounded the corner just then and gave him the eye. "He got skunked and then I let him in the house."


And it just degenerated from there, but I won't bore you with any further details in case you are squeamish. So, after taking my poor stinky children to school (the smell permeates EVERYTHING), I headed out for a nice long run on the river with my non-skunked dog, Rex. We ran for 2 hours, in the dirt, climbing over rocks, cruising on canals. It was bliss. When I returned home, I called my friend Laura to tell her about my run and the skunk.

"Why aren't you at your birthday lunch?" she asked in a panic.

Oh. My. Gosh. I was missing my own birthday lunch. People were waiting for me. So, I had no choice but to change into clean running shorts and shirt and head over to the nice restaurant where all of my friends were dressed in pretty luncheon clothes. I was covered in 3 hours of running sweat, dirt, AND I smelled like a skunk. Then, because enough is never enough, when we left the restaurant, Ingrid pointed out that I had a flat tire. Yes.

After toying with the idea of having my kids take a cab home so as not to expose them to my bad chi, I came to a few conclusions about this day:

1. I have running friends who will chase down a robber in the dark, in the ghetto, to retrieve and elderly woman's purse, without thinking twice;

2. I have river banks and canals to run on right outside my door, and a dog who loves to run on them with me;

3. I have girlfriends who will throw me a birthday lunch and not say one word about how I'm dressed or how I smell;

4. I have a very observant friend who saw my flat tire so that I was able to get it fixed the day before I would be driving on a desolate highway for 4 hours with my husband and children in the car.

So, all in all, it's been a pretty good day.

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