26 November 2008

Running Safely

I was talking to a co-worker today about her husband's running. She laughed telling me that he carries his cell phone with him. She never knows, when she calls him, where he might be but knows immediately, from his laboured breathing, if he's running. That got us talking about running safety. With the shorter days of winter upon us and the change from daylight savings time, I thought I'd just mention some things that come to my mind. Most days, I run before the sun comes up and I don't carry my cell phone, but here's what I do:

1. Almost always, I run on the left side of the road (when I'm in the US), facing traffic. The only exceptions are if I've turned a corner and can't immediately cross the road. I figure that this gives me a few extra seconds to escape an accident if necessary.

2. When it's dark or dim, I wear a reflective vest. My vest only cost me $12 or so. I've seen others wearing them at night and they really do make you visible.

3. Most shirts, shorts, shoes, hats, jackets, etc. made for running have some sort of reflective patches on them. I don't trust those to make me fully visible but every little bit helps.

4. If I'm running a particularly dark route, I'll either carry a small flashlight or, until the batteries corroded and it quit working, I wore a running cap with built-in LED lights (that was really cool).

5. It's not something I wear, but I make sure someone knows when I expect to return and what route I'm running. That concerned my wife because I'm usually gone before she wakes up. So, we purchased a small magnetized whiteboard and markers with magnets that we keep on the refrigerator. I write my Out/Back times and my route. It's only been used once in 3 years (I put the wrong Back time -- missed by a whole hour -- brain fog) but gives my wife a great peace of mind.

6. Finally, I purchased a RoadID (see the link on the right side of the blog) and a Firefly® Supernova flashing light from RoadID. I use the "interactive" RoadID on a wrist band and clip the light to the wrist band. The light is just one more thing to attract the attention of drivers and to alert them to my presence. The RoadID will identify me and give my emergency information should something happen. The RoadID was $19.99 and the light was $12.99 -- pretty small amount to pay if something does happen. Great gifts to give a runner for Christmas -- stocking stuffers. Click the link (right side of the blog, you might have to scroll down a bit) and it will take you to the RoadID site. Yes, I do get a commission on this but it won't cost you any more than if you go straight to the site. However you get there, this is a product I'd recommend -- or some form of ID for that one chance in a million that the information is needed.

What do you do to stay safe while running?

Run well, y'all,

04 November 2008

American Democratic Process

Henrico Columbian polling line at 6:50am

What a day! My plan was to run this morning. Columbian Center, my polling place, fell at 4.4 miles on my route so I was going to stop, vote, and then run the last 1.7 miles. But, when I woke up, it was raining. Those who ended up in line with me would probably be glad to know that I changed my plan. Instead of running, I took a shower, made a pot of chai, and drove to the polling place.

What a shock as I drove into the parking lot. The line at 5:55am, in the drizzling rain, was all the way down the above parking lane (the lane was only about 1/3 full at 6:50 -- above), turned and crossed two other lanes. I'm guessing there were at least 250 people in line at that point. Spirits were high; no complaints about either the wait or the weather.

If anything good has come out of this incredibly acrimonious and interminable campaign season, it is that huge numbers of people have been motivated to exercise their right to let their voice be heard by voting. BBC just reported that 97% of African Americans in Georgia voted today. There were major concerns about polling stations being overwhelmed by the turnout. Record numbers of people voted early. Today was the longest voting line I've seen since the Carter/Reagan election of 1980. No matter who wins, it is great.

I am -- and have been -- proud to be an American. Yes, we have glaring flaws; no, we do not have a perfect government nor are we a sinless people; yes, Americans can be loud, brash, obnoxious, and ethnocentric. Still, this is a good country. And this election is a great step forward. Who wudda' thunk that my generation would see an African American not only the nominated candidate for one of the major parties but, according to early returns, looking like he will be elected (BBC is already projecting Obama as the winner). That's not a commitment for or against either candidate.

I hope you were able to vote today.

BTW, did you see the Google logo today?

Run well, y'all,