This weekend we were in Los Angeles for a friend’s wedding. I was looking forward to my Saturday run, as I think running in a new place is a fantastic way to explore it. I was also well aware that my sense of direction is abominable and am actually beginning to wonder if maybe some crucial brain development ceased when my brother threw the 8-Ball at my head from the top of the steps when we were kids. The 8-Ball was confiscated and my brother was punished and that made me feel good, but I will never get my sense of direction back, and that frustrates me but luckily with modern technology you barely need a sense of direction these days anyway. Although it would help a lot, which I learned for like the millionth time this weekend.
So I laced up my shoes and strapped on my Garmin (which was in fact a gift from said brother, actually mostly because he was worried about me and he thought the navigation function might help, and come to think of it was this gift maybe his subtle way of apologizing for the whole 8-Ball thing?? I haven’t told him this but now I guess I am telling the whole world, so Adam if you are reading this you might as well know, I don’t even know how to use the navigation function. I use the Garmin for pace, distance, heart rate, and lap splits and it is one of the best gifts I have ever received, even though I don’t use it for its intended function). While I was getting ready to go, I went over my route once again with our gracious host, who was trying to tell me how to get to the reservoir. It was like up the stairs, left at the cactus, right at the super modern house, then down for a while and around. “That sounds pretty straight forward. I got it.” Dan looked skeptical. I insisted I understood the directions and I would be FINE. I felt like a drunk probably feels when he swears he can have ONE beer. Dan insisted I take my i phone. If I didn’t love that damn phone so much I probably would have succumbed to my inner child and asserted my FINE-ness once more, just to be defiant, but instead I agreed it probably wouldn’t hurt to have the mapping software (just in case, because like I said I was FINE).
So with my phone in hand, I stepped out into the glorious oxygen (and smog) filled sea level air and started my journey. And oh my god did it feel good. When I come down to sea level I realize just how much training at altitude makes me feel like I am breathing through a straw. This was pure heaven. I could breathe! I COULD BREATHE! Big, deep, decadent, luxurious breaths of oxygen-rich AIR. With green stuff all around! Trees, leaves, bushes, stems, cacti, it was all gloriously green! I’d forgotten how much my eyes love the sight of green. When I wasn’t enjoying the green lushness of the landscape, I was admittedly staring at my phone, trying to figure out where I was and how to get to the reservoir. It was like they were trying to hide it or something, it was so tricky to find, but with the help of Google Maps I made it to the reservoir and there I was able to run without the nuisance of worrying about where I was. All I had to do was keep the water on my left. Which I did except when I messed up at one point and ended up, well, somewhere, I don’t know where really but I eventually made it back to the reservoir. I was so happy! My legs felt light and free and with all this air I was able to run FAST! According to my Garmin, I was running between a 7:30-8:15 pace and I wasn’t even out of zone 1. I was fantasizing about moving to LA and running fast every day when I completed my second loop around the reservoir and decided this was getting old and the best thing to do would be to check out different parts of the neighborhood. The only way to go was up. And it just kept going.. up and up and up and up. When I finally crested the hill, I paused to enjoy the view.
Then I went down for a while andaround. I looked at my watch. I meant to run for about an hour and I was at the 45 minute mark so I consulted my phone. My battery was getting low so I was trying to be conservative about my phone use (and picture taking, but it was just so pretty I couldn’t help taking a few) but I had no idea where I was. Luckily Google maps knew exactly where I was. I mapped out some directions to get me back and I resumed the run. Everything was going well until I got to a place where there was supposed to be a road but there was just someone’s fenced yard. A nice dog walking man approached me to see if I needed any help. I told him where I was trying to go and he told me how to get there. I remember him saying something about “left and down” but as I headed left, the only way to go was up and up some more. I felt confident that I was getting closer when Dan called. I was totally in the zone, charging up this hill while my battery was slowly dying so I kept it brief. In between panting for breath I told him I was fine and I would be back soon, and the map was great, not to worry. Until a few blocks later, when I realized I was actually getting farther from where I wanted to be and actually I need to own up to something here. I don’t just have a bad sense of direction. I also have a really hard time reading maps. It has gotten better over time, especially within the past 5 years, which is about the time I actually started learning how to read them (My prior rationale being, why use a map when you can just get a cue sheet? Who needs a map when you live in a place like Rhode Island where there are no street signs and all the landmarks are stuff that used to be there 20+ years ago, e.g., Go left where Sears used to be). So anyways, yes I have made it my business to read maps more, and I actually like looking at maps to learn a new place, but it remains an area for personal development. I was getting really confused and frustrated. I was thirsty and I didn’t feel like running all morning. I had to pace myself. There was a wedding later on and I was not about to bonk before the main event. And did I mention there were hills? They were like this:
Running around here made me realize why that show I may or may not really enjoy that takes place in the Los Angeles valley is called “The Hills” It’s not that I’m a quitter. I mean I have done two ironmans and not fast. Quitters don’t do that. Its that I am (at times) a realist. The facts were:
I was lost.
Every road was super curvy so nothing made sense.
I didn’t feel like doing any more hills just to realize I went the wrong way.
My phone was dying and I was afraid I would miss my window to call Dan to come get me.
I didn’t want to miss what promised to be an amazing brunch.
I still had not had any coffee and I knew there was some back at the house.
So I called Dan and told him what corner I was at. I heard Dan repeat it to our host as they pulled up Google maps and heard our host say “She’s all the way over there?” While I waited for Dan, I stretched and watched all the hot little sports cars go by. Every car that wasn’t a sports car gave me hope that it could be Dan, as I had no idea from what direction he would be coming and I had pretty much forgotten everything about our rental car except that it was silver and not a convertible or a minivan.
Finally he came for me. I bounced into the car and we giggled about how I always end up in this situation and he always bails me out and thank God for him, etc. But seriously, thank God for him. I always wanted to marry someone who was smart, kind, funny, and patient, but I forgot to add to my checklist needs to be able to put up with me and my sense of direction. Thank you, universe for taking care of that for me by sending me Dan.