Today I ran up and down my driveway for 3.1 miles as part of the Worldwide WP 5k. It’s not as mind-numbing as it sounds. Including the turn-off to the north pasture oil pump and the hill that gently rises to the western treeline and yet another oil pump – along with the jog down to the gate and the gentle curve up to the house – our driveway is approximately .65 miles long. A complete circuit – as if I were going ’round a track – is about 1.3 miles. Which means it takes about 2 and 1/3 circuits to complete 3 miles. It certainly beats the treadmill.
I’ve nearly given up running on the road near my home. The scenery is lovely, to be sure. There’s a nice mix of flat and slope; sun and shade. And though the speed limit on this winding, rural road is 35, that is regarded as just a suggested rate of speed and apparently considered far too slow for most drivers. I’d really like to avoid getting nailed by someone who is speeding while texting/talking/munching on something from Sonic/reaching into the back seat, etc. And I’ve been the unwilling participant of a kind of runner vs. car dodge game a few too many times. I’ll stick to the treadmill and the driveway, thanks.
Running up and down the drive is not without its hazards, however. There are the two cattle guards. Intimidating under the best of circumstances, but downright treacherous when wet. There are the deep, muddy ruts left by the oil trucks; the skeins of webs weaved by the fat, orange “night spiders” who during the evening string their sticky strands across the tree-lined part of the driveway. One doesn’t see them until it’s too late. Both spider and runner flail arms and scurry away from each other as quickly as possible, thoroughly creeped out. Parts of the driveway are not actually driveway, but are grass-covered paths – long, tall grass that could and does hide any number of beasties from snakes, skinks, scorpions, salamanders, box turtles and snapping turtles to chiggers and ticks (not to mention industrial-strength burrs). Part of my pre-run ritual is to spray with insect repellant. My baseball cap has a deer fly “catcher” on the back. It works. (Deer flies are wonderful at helping one achieve PRs, by the way.)
Of course the pay-off to all of this peril is the unobstructed views, the fresh air, the sights and sounds of nature that keep me company as I crunch over the gravel: wild turkeys chattering from somewhere in the woods as they prepare to start their day; bluebirds softly calling to each other from the electric lines; a blue heron coming in low over the southern pasture, its destination the pond teeming with tiny frogs and succulent minnows; a brilliant orange sun rising above far off trees, my dog looking back at me with a tongue-lolling grin. Happy to be in motion.