Friday the 13th Book icon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I am not a superstitious person. The universe does not curse a particular day of the week since an arbitrary date falls upon it. There are enough irrational people in this world, and I have no desire to be one of them. I have known quite a few people who claim not to be superstitious, except when it comes to the number “13.” To combat this, I have embraced the number as much as I can, or at least to notice where the number “13” shows up in my life. It ranges from my shoe size, my ring size, my birthday (1-3), the fact that I get off at the thirteenth stop on the train, and so on. If “13” truly was an unlucky number, I would probably be dead by now, given how often it comes up in my life.
Why am I bringing up Friday the 13th when it carries no power to me? I want to put into context my evening run, and how if I did believe the day was bad luck, this evening would have reinforced it.
With all good curses, things start out small with imperceptible strange coincidences. Over time it builds until you question your sanity and sense of reason.
Throughout the day a shooting pain had stabbed along my shin. When the pain occurred it came on so suddenly and unexpectedly, I would almost lose my balance. After the third time, I started questioning my health. Did I injure myself and not know it? Was it a muscle or bone issue? A great way to start a run.
I owed myself two runs from nights this week when I hadn’t gotten to run, one 6 miles, the other 2. Given that I have a 12 miler on Sunday, I figured the 2 miler should be on Saturday. After getting home and having dinner on this Friday the 13th, the earliest I could hit the road was 10:15 PM. Yes, I am that guy that goes out running after 10 on a Friday night. If you have been reading, you know I have started focusing on my pace, and not just the distance. So off I went.
Coming around the bend at the end of mile one, a couple stood chatting on the sidewalk I was running on. As I approached, they decided to start walking the same direction I was running. It happens, so I passed them. Around a mile and half, a minivan approached along the street. The driver turned and pulled into a driveway along my path. He didn’t pull all the way in, but left a half a car length to spare. This blocked the sidewalk. Maybe he didn’t see me. The interior light came on, the driver opened his door and looked at me. As I circled around behind the minivan, I heard the familiar beep beep sound as the rear door began to open, just as I was running by it. So he saw me, and he still opened the door! Best case scenario, opening the door forces me to run further in the middle of the street in the middle of night. Worst case, he was trying to hit me.
My route winds throughout the neighborhood. The couple I saw earlier must have taken a shorter route since I passed them again. Over the course of the next couple miles I avoided three other cars parked over the sidewalk and not pulled all the way into their driveway. Minor annoyances, nothing deadly and in a vacuum, it isn’t worth noting; however it was Friday the 13th.
Passing two and a half miles the couple was ahead of me again. They approached a corner where the sidewalk and street end at a cross street. I normally cross the street and make a right. I noticed cars approaching from the left a little too fast for my taste. When that occurs, I normally turn left, run for a bit, and then cross. This prevents me from crossing a street with cars nearby. That is on a normal night. But normal does not seem to be on the table for this evening.
The couple stops. This isn’t them just slowing down, they stop abruptly. They don’t just stop anywhere. They stop between the tree and the road, the only narrow “safe” space between a traffic filled road and the trees. This forces me into the street, and into the path of an approaching car. As I pass from the safety of the ending sidewalk and directly onto the road, they give me the stink eye, as if somehow I made the mistake of encroaching upon them.
Eventually, I turn down the dead end street that had been occupied by the opossum on a different night not too long ago. At the end of the street a white car is parked facing me. The driver flashed his lights not once, but three times. THREE TIMES! He then decided to leave the high beams on, though it was a well-lit street. Are you afraid I didn’t see you, Mr. Parked Car? Three or four car-lengths out, he started driving, high beams still on. My night vision is now shot. I was nearly at the half-way point of my run at that point, thank goodness.
A little while later, I noticed a white car parked on the side of the road. In the car I could see two small glowing embers. They would burn bright for a moment and then dim away. When I saw a few strides closer I detected a scent I haven’t smelled in some time – pot. These two are smoking up on the side of the street. It then hits me; it is the same car that flashed their high beams at me. They aren’t good at hiding the fact that they are smoking. The area is just flooded with the scent.
By mile four I was in the final stretch. Sitting at the three-way stop intersection was a jeep. It sat there, and sat there and sat there. I needed to cross the street. Would he turn towards me or not? Would he wait? He can’t go straight, that is a house, and left would be near me. As I got closer, the jeep began to move slowly. The driver was looking for something on the floor, and obviously unable to find it. The car began to idle slowly into the intersection. The car drifted across most the intersection before the driver’s head ever emerged. Finally he popped his head up and slammed on the brakes. Any further and he would have been in someone’s yard, and in my path to getting home. He most likely would have hit the curb and maybe even knocked some since into himself.
The rest of the run was uneventful. The question is, was the run cursed, or was it good luck that none of those events became terrible accidents? Next time should I bring out a few lucky charms (no, not the cereal), or should I trust in fate?
My goal was to beat my 6 mile pace of 11’35”. Results, 10’52”. Time to celebrate with a chai smoothie.
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Do you have any superstitions when it comes to your runs?