A Close Encounter, a Coincidence, and a Cookie

I will not typically write up a mid-week training run, as I figure they are interesting to no one but me. Tonight’s personal running adventure, though, was full of coincidence and even a close encounter.  Since I continually look to find and facilitate connections, I’m sharing it in the hope that it might help another runner notice an opportunity to be momentarily surprised by chance.

It was still warm when I started along my favorite path, and I had just finished demonstrating a lack of common sense by teaching a pilates class that focused on lower body right before running. After three miles, my legs still hadn’t forgiven me. If you can imagine running through drying cement with a super-size rubber band binding your legs, that’s about the way it felt. I intended to do some speedwork during this run, but after that warm-up was doubting whether I could eke any more pace out of my groggy legs. My rule of training is “Unless I am ill or hurt, I will always try,” so heading into mile 4 I looked for a pace that felt between “comfortably hard” and “all out 5K race pace misery.” The worst that would happen is I wouldn’t be able to finish the “fast” mile, and my confidence would be a bit bruised.

I made it fine, in a time I was satisfied with. To try for another, I retraced my steps and headed back in the direction of the trailhead.

Around a bend I encountered something that made me freeze for a moment. A doe was standing in the middle of the path facing me. Staring at me. Staring me down. Not turning tail and gracefully sailing off in the usual way that gives me deer envy.

Was she going to charge me? I had recently heard a few runners’ tales of aggressive behavior from Mama Deer, so I startled. Finally I asked Ms. Doe to move and she nonchalantly walked off the path. Despite the pause, I hit the .75 point of that mile way too fast and jogged in to come in faster the second mile. This wasn’t race day and I wasn’t out to deplete my legs.

During the rest period before the next interval, I walked to a water fountain at the rest area next to the trailhead. On the way I passed by two women holding the tiniest, most adorably snuggly puppies. The babies were the size of kittens, so they could cradle one in each arm. I’m not the type of person who squeals and gushes over Blatantly Cute Things, but at that moment it was all I could do to not walk over, gently take a puppy, and sprint off with it. I love dogs, so seeing those little ones made me smile as I headed off for the last mile repeat.

After running, I needed a few things from the store. Fifteen miles down the highway back to town there’s Wal-Mart, which is normally 12 miles out of my way. I don’t prefer to shop there, but tonight it was too convenient to pass up. My usual M.O. in a store is get around and grab what I need as efficiently as I can. I was doing that in the produce section when I passed a familiar face: one of the puppy women! We had that weird “I recognize you” moment, and she asked if I was the one who had been running. She wanted to know how far I had run and if I did that every day, and complimented me. I answered her questions as modestly as I could, feeling a bit self-conscious since I’m not out on the path looking for praise. I asked her about the puppies, and said how much I’d enjoyed seeing them and how cute they were. For the second time that night I headed away from the puppy woman too shy to follow her out of the store and ask to hold a dog.

It took a moment, but I realized this total stranger had given me a little lift twice in one evening without having any awareness of what she contributed. So, thanks, puppy woman!

My evening of minor and probably insignificant coincidences was completed by the fortune cookie that completed tonight’s Chinese take-out.

I am gingerly, often clumsily, spending more time on trails these days to add variety and fun to my running and prepare for a trail 50K next month. How is it that an assembly line worker (or, more likely, machine) knew of those ambitions when inserting the fortune I read:

(“Be careful! Straight trees often have crooked roots.”)

That might be one to slip in my race bag.

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1 Response to “A Close Encounter, a Coincidence, and a Cookie”


  1. 1 Staci June 13, 2008 at 11:43 am

    I don’t think I could have survived a puppy encounter twice without stealing one.

    Just sayin’….


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