I’ve been going to the same state park to run on a semi-regular basis for years, literally years. About five of them now. Over those years the popularity of this place has grown to the point that you can hardly run the wooded trails on the weekend because they’re overrun with crazy bikers. It’s a hot spot for triathlon training and the casual mountain biking enthusiast as well as for hikers, dog walkers, and ,of course, runners of all shapes and sizes. My point is, this place is not off the beaten path. Any weekend from April to November will find the trails there downright busy.
During the week it’s a slightly different story. The trails are way less populated. Once or twice I’ve even run for an hour and not seen another person…but that only happens if the weather is pretty bad (like the other day when I ran 11.5 miles; it was forty-five degrees, rainy, and miserable). Usually though there’s a few people out running or biking even at three in the afternoon and especially on the well marked paved trail.
Lately I’ve noticed some sketchy goings on in daytime hours at the state park. A couple weeks ago, just minutes after I parked, I saw a man and a woman get out of an suv. They walked over to a nearby car, she got in, he closed her door and went back to the suv. They each drove away in their separate vehicles. Suddenly I thought “They just had sex.” Then, “What? No!” Clearly I need to get out more if that’s the first place my mind wanders when left unattended. But then I went into the outhouse to change and right on top of the accumulation of excrement was a used condom. Right. On. Top.Yup,they totally just had afternoon sex in the parking lot of the state park.
The things you catch people doing at the state park. I smirked a little and went for a run.
Monday I was on the back leg of a 2.5 mile out and back run on what’s probably the most popular piece of trail in the park. It goes right by the main Trailhead parking lot, though I like to start at the trail’s origin about 3/4 of a mile farther down. So far that run I had encountered an older man walking his dog and a speedy runner going the opposite direction. I’ve seen this guy a couple times before, he’s the obnoxiously fast type and at least once I’ve given him a look that clearly states my feelings about his speed. (disgust mingled with envy tinged with admiration in case you were wondering) Shortly after exchanging looks with the fast guy I passed the one mile marker and rounded a corner just in time to catch a dude in a baseball cap just off the trail facing the woods…in the pee stance.
I did not see this guy’s junk but I’m 95% sure he was standing a mere two feet off the path urinating towards the woods. Maybe I’m wrong but I have four boys, I know what the pee stance looks like. His baggy shorts were lowered to hip level and he was looking down. If he wasn’t peeing he was doing something else that should not be done in public. Plus he muttered an apology as I ran by staring at him. Why apologize if you’re not doing something inappropriate? Talk about an awkward moment.
The thing of it is dude was less than a quarter mile from the outhouses at the trailhead. Seriously? I almost stopped and said something to that effect but I had a good run going and didn’t want to lose momentum.
A moment later I was still shaking my head over what I had just seen when I heard the rhythmic thud thud of another runner’s footsteps from behind me. Crap! The peeing creeper was catching up to me. Maybe he wanted to apologize again. Or maybe he just wanted to murder me, dump my body in the woods, and wear my skin. Overly dramatic? Maybe, but there was definitely an air of horror movie creepiness to the moment. I focused on keeping a steady pace while trying to turn my head enough to see the guy behind me without making it obvious that I was looking. Even in the best of circumstances I’m not very subtle; it was a challenge to not make this weirder than it already was. All I could tell is that it was a guy in shorts. As the thud thud of running feet hitting the pavement got closer the feeling I get when I’m in the woods at dusk was getting stronger. It’s a feeling that I call Stephen King scary.
Just then the speedy runner from earlier sailed by me with a head nod and a friendly smile. Relief swept through me and I fought the urge to laugh out loud at me creeping myself out like a thirteen year old girl.
You never know what kind of adventure you’ll find when you go out for a run.