Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Excuse me, please?

My morning runs started back when I was in High School. I never was on a team, I just would get out and do it. I continued to run off and on in college, both as an undergrad and grad-student. About 15 years ago, running became an integral part of my life. Over the years, I have worked up to 10 kilometers, 5 times a week. I no longer view running as exercise, but rather as a normal part of my life. When I wake up, the first thing I do is put on my running shoes.
I loved running in New Mexico. Since we lived near the University I had two different routes I could choose from: the golf course or Johnson Field. Oh, how I loved those morning runs. There is nothing like cool fresh NM air and a sunrise over the Sandia Mountains. In the fall there is the special bonus of the smell of roasting green chile.
Of course, I can't complain too much about my runs here in Glenelg. There are plenty of shared use bike paths. This means I am able to run for kilometers on end along the ocean and take advantage variety of loops. My only complaint about my runs in Australia is that when the wind blows, it blows!! There is nothing shielding us from those antarctic winds, and there are spring days when I worry I may get blown all the way to the Red Center. The hot winds of the North aren't much kinder, and they tend to bring the flies.
None the less, it was my running in Utrera that proved to be much more challenging. First of all, when we first arrived there were no other women runners in the pueblo. Women would walk, but I was a bit of a freak show. It wasn't long before I had the whole town talking about me. When I meet someone new I would get the "I know about you, you are the runner." Of course it didn't take long for the gossipers to start monitoring my running. If I missed a day, the questions would start "Aren't you feeling well, you didn't go for a run?"
Then there was the problem of where to run. I didn't feel comfortable running the dirt roads on the outskirts of town: they were just too isolated. The narrow cobblestone streets were far from ideal. Way too much traffic on the wider streets. Fortunately, just at the end of town, there was a long wide, tree lined paseo (walking area). I was able to run up and down the paseo six times, combined with 6 loops around the park across the street, and was able to make my 10 k's. Somehow, I managed to get over the monotony of all the up and down, and round and round--but still there were a few challenges. On rainy days, the park was muddy. The kids ditching school liked to throw rocks. Some days the park caretaker would show up late, and the gates would remain locked, though my biggest problem was probably the old men in the park. There was a pack of about 10 seniors that walked the park daily. They would take up the whole path, making it impossible to pass them. When I ran up behind them I tried to make as much noise as possible--cough, jingle my keys, drag my feet--but they seemed never to hear me. As I got closer, a polite "excuse me" got no results. So the only choice left was a full on bellow of "on the right!" This not only got their attention, but also drew the reprimand, "Nena! Nos asusaste!" (Girl, you scared us). Of course, the whole process would repeated itself on my next two laps.
One evening, when having a drink with one of Mark's coworkers, I was describing my running situation. Eva just shook her head and laughed. She informed me that I was going about it all wrong. That if I wanted to get them to move I would have to yell out , "Coño, quÍtense de allÍ!", which roughly translates as, "Get the hell out of my way." Given my upbringing which stressed respect toward eleders, I was never able to brazenly address the pack of older gentlemen. So, I was left with the daily routine of politely announcing my presence and being yelled at by the Senior Citizen's of Utrera .


  1. I am coming over this morning from a comment you left on Bossy's post about google. I think that is great that you are a runner. I always wanted to be one. I admire that! Hope you have a nice week!

  2. I love the description of the different areas that you have run. I used to run and loved how alive it made me feel and how in touch with the area. I'd love to run again but my body just doesn't take the pounding any more. I'm hoping to head back to an aerobics class as soon as my schedule settles down. You are inspiring me to exercising so I can enjoy the outdoors more.