Ok, so I am not used to getting up and trying to be somewhere by 7. So this morning was a challenge! I was on schedule, dressed, face washed, teeth brushed, and hair pulled back.  Then I decided it would be a good idea to take my dog with me.  Since I don’t walk that often, he suffers many days from my laziness.  What better idea then to take him with me! Only that meant, getting his leash, packing a container for water and more.  So then I decided I would go ahead and pack my computer, this way I could easily drop the dog off and head straight to the coffee shop to work and of course blog! Then I had to get a bottle of water for myself.

Finally I’m in the car and about to pull out, when I realize I’m not wearing my glasses, and I legally and physically cannot drive without them. Yeah, so needless to say, day 1 was not looking so good.

Beanie moving so fast he's a blur!

We arrived at the local park and Beanie jumped out of the car, eager to get moving!  I keep him tight on the leash and make sure I stretch a little, knowing that no matter what I do, I’m going to feel it the next day! Maybe even sooner.

Keys and phone stuck in pockets I set off on the nice asphalt path.  Only to get stopped 3 times within the first .2 miles by Beanie.  Apparently walking makes him need to take several potty breaks! Bags disposed of, we set off again.

During one of our breaks I took a quick snap of the woods alongside the path.  This park is a nature preserve and it appears they’ve had a controlled burn to promote growth of smaller plants and revive the forest.  I began to think of the theme of rebirth and thought I would focus on ways that this exercise regimen was helping me to start again.

Notice the black soot and ash from the recent controlled burn.

As the cold began to hit on my cheeks, and the slight breeze through the now bare trees blew across my ankles, my thoughts turned more towards wearing a bit warmer clothes for my next adventure.  I also began to notice how I had not seen many cars in the parking lot but there were several individuals walking in the park.  It seems many people from nearby neighborhoods enjoy using the park to walk in the mornings.

Beanie continued to keep pace and take only a few breaks to mark the various trash cans and bushes, but he gradually stopped pulling at the leash as we headed around the back corner of the park, and the halfway point of our loop.  It was at this point that I encountered an older gentleman walking in jeans in a long sleeve shirt.  He seemed friendly enough, but I still pulled Beanie in closer to me and hunched my shoulders as I picked up pace.

I chided myself for being so paranoid.  Here I was thinking the worst of a stranger.  I began to analyze how often I judge others, and told myself that maybe that was the lesson to learn today.  To be less judgmental based on appearance alone.

I focused on that thought as I began my second lap.  Beanie was now starting to show how tired he was becoming.  I knew that he would sleep most of the day once we got home. But as I came around and hit mile marker .7 I heard a noise behind me of shuffling feet. Glancing back I saw someone getting on the path.  Jogging in an odd sort of shuffling way.  I first thought it must be an older person, trying to get the exercise their doctor had recommended.

As I continued walking though, my natural paranoia came back.  Here I was a lone female on a path back in the woods.  I had not passed anyone in quite some time and was nearing the back side of the park again, which seems almost set apart from the world, even with the quiet suburban street just a stone’s throw away.

The gentleman continued to stay just far enough behind me that I had to turn around to see him.  And it seemed that every time I would stop for Beanie to mark a trashcan or bush, this man would take that moment to run in a few small circles on the spot and stretch his arms.  I quickened my pace, much to Beanie’s dismay and kept a watchful ear and eye over my shoulder.  Glad now, that I had opted to go sans iPod and listen to nature instead.   I rounded the back corner and listened to the sound of traffic from the nearby main road getting louder.

The jogger continued to stay just around a corner and repeated the odd running in circles with arms stretched overhead.  I scolded myself again for the judging but did not slow my pace.  Maybe he has a OCD disorder that requires him to do that.  Maybe he thinks it helps his run.  Maybe he’s seeing how aware of my surroundings I am.  The birds were chirping as I entered the home stretch, and the jogger lagged behind even more.  I passed a few more people and my heart rate began to slow.  As I neared the parking lot, I pushed just a little harder to make it to the security of my car and my car alarm.

I felt silly as I got Beanie’s water out and went over to the nearby picnic tables to stretch.  I began looking back towards the path to see if the man was coming along.  Hoping that as he walked by I could get a better look.  I guess I hoped that if he looked normal enough I would feel worse and then could start feeling better about being so judgmental.  He never walked by.  Not once in the 15 minutes I stretched.  I strained to look at the other side of the lot, hoping I would see his car pull out.  But none did.

As I got in my car to leave I realized that in my hurry to get the walk over with and to get away from this “boogeyman” I had created in my mind, I had missed the outer loop of the park and cut myself at least a quarter mile short on my 3 miles, if not more.

So if nothing else I learned a lesson there.  Focus on the task at hand, stay alert to your surroundings, but not so much that you miss your objective and goals.