This blog is not about running basics for you (because I’m sure you already know), but basics for me. I am S-L-O-W-L-Y learning what to do and not to do when going out for my little jogs. Much like my cooking style (start cooking, then read the recipe to discover I don’t have all the ingredients), I decided to go for a run into an unknown terrain and not really prepared.

Landen Lake is across the street from the kids’ schools and always looks so picturesque to me with the little bridge and the lake and all the little mommies walking their little yippy doggies and pushing their cute-as-a- button strollers. I have always thought about running around the lake myself, and finally had enough time to do it yesterday afternoon.

It’s not that far from my house but I am too chicken to run on busy roads so I drove to the lake and parked across the main area. I put the car key in my sports bra and strapped the ipod onto my arm. I wasn’t going to take my cell phone or ID or anything silly like that.

I didn’t even know how far it was around the lake, but figured it couldn’t be THAT far. Three to four miles was what I thought. Easy-peasy. The sign at the entrance said “For Landen Lake residents only.” I figured that they didn’t really mean that for me and crossed the street and started to run.

The trail was very curvy at first then ran nicely alongside the lake. Suddenly the trail stopped and I was forced into a neighborhood replete with matching grey condo units. I wasn’t sure where to go to get back on the lake so I followed the signs painted on the road that looked like a bike trail. This led me through another subdivision and another, and then I popped out into that cute little bridge and back into another subdivision.

I FELT like I was headed in the right direction and that I would eventually come upon my car. If you know me at all, this is probably a stupid idea as I have very little sense of direction. But the whole running part was actually fun because I didn’t exactly know where I was. I had some free time and I figured I could always walk home if I couldn’t find my car. I found the running part wasn’t so painful because it was more like exploring than exercise. I suddenly realized why people like this whole running thing.

So I’m running alongside another road full of condos when I see another runner coming toward me in the other direction. I start to run past him when he takes a turn in onto another trail. I run past a couple of feet so as not to look like I don’t know where I’m going and follow him in (at a reasonable distance), hoping he knows where he’s going. I follow, and follow, and follow, and we’re at the lake! But wait, am I going the right direction? I look across the lake and nothing looks familiar. Damn, I wish I would have paid attention. Should I follow the runner or not? I can’t see around the houses and plots of land that jut into the lake here and there to get a clear take on where I am.

Eventually, I turn around. I don’t know much about compass points but I KNEW I had to go the other way to my car. I was pretty sure. Okay like half sure. Okay, I was winging it.

About a half mile later, I saw the end, and my car across the other side! Hurray! I got myself out of there. I took off the ipod and looked at the clock. Fourty minutes. That was it!? Really? It seemed like an hour at least!

Lessons learned:

1)      Have some semblance of an idea where you are going.

2)      If you don’t know where you are going, take your phone.

3)      If you don’t want to take your phone, take some kind of road ID or some way for the police to identify your body.

4)      If you don’t want to follow any of the rules above, at least get lost close to home.