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What to carry when running in my hood

2013/06/19

I try to run with as little as possible: shorts, shirt (for now, until I lose weight, bulk up and start shaving my body), Vibram FiveFingers on the feet, and my iPhone (and occasionally headphones). I do not own an expensive Garmin watch, as the iPhone not only serves as a phone in case of emergency – yes, it actually makes calls! – I use the Runmeter app to track my runs. If I drive to my running spot or leave the house unattended, then a key. That’s it.

If I head to one of the Metro Parks around Columbus to hit the trails, which I love doing, I need nothing more than that. The trails offer nice views and fewer distractions than running through my neighborhood, and its those urban distractions that require me to be more prepared. Below is a list of just a few things I should take with me running in my hood:

A cigarette lighter. I don’t smoke, but yesterday, a man waiting at a bus stop a few blocks from my house asked for a lighter, a cigarette dangling from his lips. I said, “Sorry, I don’t smoke when I run,” to which he replied, “Yeah, that’s right, that’s right, smokin’ and runnin’ don’t mix.” I wish I could have helped him out. But I kept running.

50 cent(s). Not the rap artist, he’s not even on my playlist, but 2 quarters. For the woman outside the corner bodega who just wants to buy a can of cold pop on a hot day. “I don’t drink liquor, I just like to enjoy a cold pop from time to time.” I wish I could have helped her out, too. But I kept running.

$20 and my ID. Because running past the Grass Skirt Tiki Lounge downtown is too tempting. Slushy, iced drinks have been proven beneficial to runners on hot days because they cool core body temperature. The alcohol is a bonus, despite its dehydrating effects and ability to slow lactic acid breakdown. Additionally, alcohol has a habit of rendering its user clumsy, a problem I suffer without being inebriated.  I crave cold tropical rum drinks on hot days. But I keep running.

Dog biscuits. For the chained up pit bulls and rottweilers I  pass every third house. If I toss them treats as I run by, maybe they’ll begin to recognize me enough so that one day, if they come unchained, they will lick me instead of chewing my leg off. I am uncertain whether a thin chain can adequately restrain violent and mentally unstable canine breeds for long. I’d feel safer if they were in steel, electrified cages. (The same applies to violent and mentally unstable humans – steel, electrified cages.) I prefer not to be forced into achieving a world record pace while being chased by a frothing Doberman. They pull against their chains and snarl at me. But I keep running. A little faster.

One more thing. 

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