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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Running On Wheels

The phrase "running errands" seems like a misnomer.

A few months ago, Runner's World (my main connection to the outside world of running) ran a story about a man in Los Angeles who essentially did all his daily tasks on foot. If he had to go anywhere within a certain radius of his house, he would run there, including grocery store trips. It seemed like a brilliant idea to me, and I almost did a little of that myself this morning. We needed milk, bread, and mini Twix bars, and I needed a 3-mile run. As it happens, there's a grocery store 1.5 miles from my house. The stars had aligned.

But then morning came, and Sublime didn't quite do the job I needed them to do. As the minutes ticked past, I felt myself sink lower into the bed. My mind wandered to the task at hand, and it suddenly seemed completely absurd.

Why would anyone want to run with milk in a backpack? True, I only needed a half gallon (for cooking and cereal, since I'm not drinking any this month), but that still must throw off your balance, which can't be good for your back. And even if the extra weight isn't a huge problem, is there any worse combination of things to put in a bag than milk and bread? The whole loaf would be flattened within twenty steps of the store. Why don't I go at a bag of potato chips with a sledgehammer while I'm at it? No, I thought, the car is the tool for this job. Errand complete.

Once I had everything in its place in the house, I headed right back out the door and ran the route I had just driven. I still believed I had made the right choice, but I did wonder about the overuse of our car. You see, in Chicago, the car was reserved for leaving town, and other than that, it just sat there collecting snow. Public transit in Chicago is fantastic, and I got used to walking/riding everywhere I went. We never drove unless we absolutely could not avoid it.

Now, we don't go a day without some errand on our own four wheels. Sure, there are buses down here, but it's nowhere near the extent of the Chicago system, and since it's unknown to us, we're a little reluctant to explore. Plus it's so much easier to drive.

But is it? Parking, gas prices, and others' inexplicable inability to use a signal are all contributing factors to the string of profanities I mutter to my steering wheel on any given drive. With that in mind, I think it's time to start exploring other options, starting with completing more short errands on foot. I still don't want to carry milk in my backpack, but if I've got to pick up something quick, light and easy, it's a viable option, right?

At the very least, I should get a bike and ride to events that require little-to-no heavy lifting. Then I could say, "I've got to ride some errands."

Doesn't have the same ring to it, does it?

Wednesday's Run:
3.11 Miles

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