Matters Of The Gut

A quiet late spring weekend afternoon.  The afternoon of Easter to be exact.  I had run threshold testing on my training schedule.  It had taken me all day to get my mind to a place where I would be okay with the high level of discomfort the testing would require.  Even though I knew I should’ve done it earlier in the day, I couldn’t get my psyche on board until late that afternoon.

A gorgeous high school track in an affluent neighborhood in Plano, my favorite place to pound out speedwork was empty when I arrived.  Uncharacteristic for a beautiful spring afternoon on a weekend. But then again, it was Easter.  I started my warm-up (one mile with heart rate in Zone 1) to shake out my legs and get the blood flowing through my muscles.  

As I came out of the first curve of the second lap, I saw them pull up.  Three guys.  They appeared to be high school aged.  They approached the entrance to the track and stood by the long jump sandpit talking as one of them played with the sand grooming rake someone had forgotten to put away.

The threat assessment meter every human has in their gut went from low to severe/danger imminent. 

Did the guys look threatening? No.  But there was something that was off.  Kids/students come to that track all the time on weekends.  The newly turfed football field, the track encircled, attracts people to play, and to practice.  Additionally, the field on the other side of the track (which was also deserted at that time), the size of three football fields side-by-side was often used for practices, an open area for kids to play in.  

But these guys were not dressed for any of that.  Two had on jeans and t-shirts, the other, cargo shorts and a long-sleeved shirt.  A very big “something” was unsettled in my spirit.  An intangible intuition that caused panic to rise the closer I came to rounding the curve of the track which would bring me into direct proximity, arms reach from the three. 

I acted on my gut, and instead of continuing on with my third lap, veered off the track and grabbed the water bottle I’d left sitting by the entrance and quickly jogged to my car.  All the while keeping the three in view. 

What were their intentions? I don’t know.  What I do know is, I cannot overpower three guys on my own.  I also knew, even if I screamed, the high shrubberies that lined the four streets surrounding the high school and the track would most likely muffle my cries for help for the people who lived in the houses across each street.  What I knew, was that primitive-self-preservation alarm has to this day, never steered me wrong, especially when it takes a running leap off the meter like it did that afternoon.

I drove 9 miles to another track.  A track where there were people and families walking and playing.  A track that sat against a street that was well travelled with nothing obstructing the view from the street to the track.  And among those people, I finished my workout.

Be safe.  Listen to your gut.  Don’t stay someplace because you fear eyebrows will raise if you leave.  When your gut says leave, even if you’re not done with the task at hand, LEAVE! Safety first. Safety last.  Safety in between.   

Live to train another day.