I had something else planned for today’s post, but I had quite the adventure last night, so I thought I’d share. It’s kind of a long story, and I apologize for that in advance.
Yesterday was a pretty typical day in that I arose around 4:30, went for a swim, biked to work, and then headed out to the field to haul water around to my plants. In the afternoon, I helped an undergraduate with his field work, and we didn’t get back to the lab until late. Nonetheless, I had a fairly intensive bike/run (called a “brick” in some circles) workout planned for the evening.
I tell you all this because, by the time I headed out on my bike, I had already had a long and fairly physically intensive day. Workouts after a long field day can be tough, but I just tell myself to stick it out.
I did the bike portion of the workout, short (15 km) and high intensity. Then I rolled off my bike and started on the run. I had planned a 24 km run (15 mi), which is not trivial for me, but it was a beautiful evening and I was soon enjoying myself and moving along at a pretty good clip.
As the sun set, the world filled with fire beetles (I am calling them this in the attempt to dissuade people from using the misnomers of “fireflies” or “lightning bugs”, which are both technically incorrect). As I ran through them, they landed on me all over until I flashed like a beacon.
I was daydreaming and not paying a lot of attention, so I decided to try running down a road I had never been on before. I had looked at a map beforehand and the road seemed to connect, so I thought I would be alright.
But as I ran down the road, the sky darkened and the fire beetles vanished. Dark walls of trees rose on both sides. “Okay,” I thought, “I am still heading west, everything should be alright.”
Soon enough, the road I was running on turned to gravel. Another half a mile later and the gravel disintegrated into dirt with clumps of grass. The canopy closed overhead, blocking out the moonlight until it was black as pitch. I stumbled to a stop, hands out in front of me.
Clearly, I couldn’t continue this way. I knew I was going west, but in the pitch darkness and without a road, I could easily have gotten turned around in the forest.
So I took a deep breath, turned around, and ran back the way I had come. Now, I had been running for over 2 hours at this point, and the thought of doubling back all the way was hard for me to swallow, so I decided to use one of my tricks for finding my way around a new place. I doubled back until I hit the nearest paved intersection, and took a left, heading north. The road took me up a long, winding road and my heart sank as it continued steadily north, instead of bearing west again.
The problem with running is that it can get you a whole lot of nowhere fast.
At the top of the hill, the road curled in on itself in a cul-de-sac. I stopped. Dead end. The thought of doubling back at this point was nearly unbearable, so when a woman walked by with two barking dogs, I couldn’t help but say, “Excuse me, I’m so sorry to bother you.”
“I’ve been running for three hours; I think I’m lost,” I blurted, trying not to sound desperate, though I was.
I told her about my plight, and although she thought it odd, she was kind. She offered to give me a ride back to town, and I must admit I did not fight very hard when I said, “No, I couldn’t possibly…” and when she said, “No, I insist!” I gave in rather quickly.
I must have apologized forty times on the drive back.
But here is my moral dilemma. She took me back to the lab, where I changed, got on my bike and commuted home. By the time I had showered and gotten into bed it was near midnight. This morning, I got up at 4:30, went for a swim, and now am about to head out to the field.
Which means that I probably could have run home last night, but I was too lazy. I feel like a terrible person, that I took advantage of that woman’s kindness and made her go out of her way to help me because I was stupid and lazy.
I wish there was a way I could repay her kindness.