Archive for September 2nd, 2006

Old Men…Geese…and Project Runway: A Tribute to My Morning Walks

September 2, 2006


Every morning…an 80-year-old man carrying a cane and wearing camos and a plaid shirt kicks my ass.I’ve been getting up every day for nearly two weeks now and going for a mile-long walk.

The old guy…obviously…has been going at it a lot longer than I.

I live across from an elementary school and the sidewalk that wraps around the campus measures a third of a mile. It’s tough…but I go ’round three times each morning. I’ve moved past shin splints and am on to a sore Achilles tendon. I had to stop a day to ice the ankle and give it a rest…but I’m back. I’m determined to stick to it…as I really want to lose weight (man, it’s scary to put this in writing).

So far I’ve lost 3.5 pounds…as well as a good bit of my pride.

Not only am I walking in a pair of Spandex leggings (thank goodness for the cloak of darkness…otherwise…yikes for the neighbors)…but I’m in this unspoken race with that damn camo/plaid man.

1. He always beats me out the door. It doesn’t seem to matter how early I set my alarm clock, he’s always out there blazing a trail when I step out my front door. The man must begin his trek at 2 in the morning.

Tomorrow I set my clock for midnight.

2. He wears long sleeves and camos, yet I’ve never seen him sweat. Maybe this is an old-person phenomenon…but here I am in my billowy t-shirt and pony-tail…and looking like I’ve dived into the deep end of the pool as soon as I hit the sidewalk…while he calmly and coolly keeps his steady pace without a drop of perspiration.

Shakes fist at old guy…while choking on his dust.

3. We do keep nearly the same pace…for which I’d be proud…if I wasn’t competing with someone more than twice my age…and who carries a cane. But even though we usually walk at the same pace, he won’t ever let me walk behind him. I swear, he always steps off the sidewalk when he hears me. I know he’s trying to make room on the narrow walkway for the woman with the fat ass…but I always feel like I need to rush to past him so he won’t get hit by a car while walking in the road. And when I do put on the gas to move past this speedy senior citizen…my calves ball up and my shins start screaming.

Perhaps I should grab his cane from him as I pass next time…obviously that’s where he keeps his freakish strength and stamina.

But despite my unsuspecting nemesis, the pain, and the sweat…I, surprisingly, love these morning walks.

I pass three other guys every day…one cute guy in his 50s with gray hair (me likey that), one banker-type in his 50s, and one guy in his 30s (who looks like a mix between Jack Black and the dad from the Sunshine Family). We all give the cursory nod on the first meet-up and then do the dodge-gaze with every subsequent pass. It’s kind of an unspoken rule…saying hello once is acceptable…speaking at every pass is a social no-no.

I have my little green iPod set with a bunch of different playlists to make the walk more enjoyable. Usually I listen to a mix of everything on the iPod…but there’s always a hearty helping of Taylor Hicks…a smattering of KT Tunstall…or a really good podcast, like Tim Gunn’s Project Runway recap.


The best part of the walk is watching the sun come up. With each rotation around the school, more and more vivid pinks and peaches slash across the sky, just over the tops of the blooming crepe myrtles and craggy old oaks. It’s breath-taking…which may not be so great, considering that I’m usually already out of breath.

Though I’ve never been a morning person…I’m really enjoying being out in nature for these 30-minute walks before the world starts honking its horns and chattering above the peaceful silence and beauty that exists in the sky and the trees and the grass and the air. So much of the subtlety of the outdoors gets unnoticed or lost in the din and chaos of “civilization’s” everyday.

In my walks this week, I was able to enjoy things that, otherwise, I normally would have slept through or been oblivious to while in my car with the A.C. running and the radio blaring.

The changing of the seasons is such a glorious time and this week, I was lucky enough to experience some of the first signs that summer is now handing over the seasonal baton to fall. There was a coolness to the air yesterday that washed over me with such pleasantness that I’d have to say I actually felt good…even to the point of being able to ignore my aching legs and feet. And the day before that, a low-flying flock of geese passed directly over me. Their awkward honking and perfect V formation made me actually pause my iPod and stop to watch them fly by. (I know it was unwise for me to look up under a passing flock of geese…but I couldn’t help it…it was beautiful…and totally worth chancing an eyeful of goose shit.)

I hope I can keep up my pace because, whether or not I can out walk Grandpa Camo…I’m proud of myself for at least making the effort. And though 3.5 pounds doesn’t seem like a lot…I’ve found bigger rewards in spending time reveling in the usually under-appreciated beauty that surrounds us all.