Everything Is a Snake

I don’t like to run. In fact, I have always hated running. My first memories of this hatred go back to about 7th grade, when I was always near the back of the pack during PE class jogs, despising every second, having to force one foot in front of the other, fantasizing about various ways to get out of the final quarter mile.

If I fell into a hole or tripped on a giant rock right now and sprained my ankle, I wouldn’t have to endure the last 100 yards of this hell. If I passed out, someone would carry me.

This went on through high school, where I only played sports that required very little distance running — no soccer, basketball, or track for this girl. I never jogged for exercise or “fun” during my college or post-college years.

Then, a few years ago, I decided to give running a try, because everyone seemed to be doing it, and hey — it’s free. I started a Couch to 5 K program, and did OK with it. Then I just kept forcing myself to run a few times a week. My feelings went from “seething hatred” to “dread” to “mild distaste” to “hey this is almost tolerable.”

So now here I am, forcing myself out to run a couple of times a week. I just moved from sea level to 7,000 ft. so the acclimatization process is kind of painful, but I’m working through it.

And then this happens:

Snake in the Road
Snake in the Road — I was in a hurry, hence the bad framing and lack of a snake head.

Now, I live in the mountains and I know there are rattlesnakes out here. This isn’t the first one I’ve seen. There are also tarantulas, centipedes, scorpions, coyotes, and probably bears and mountain lions.

But here’s the thing about seeing a snake while you’re out running. You unstrap your phone from your arm and take a picture (zoomed in, of course). Then you carefully skirt the snake, giving it a wide orbit just in case it is a snake with a ‘TUDE. Then you continue on your way. And then…. no matter where you look, everything is a snake.

Tiny lizard running into the grass = snake.

That twisty swervy crack in the asphalt up ahead? BIG SNAKE.

Twigs by the side of the road = whole bunch of snakes.

Tumbleweed blowing across the road behind you? Sounds like a snake to me!

Dainty yellow butterfly alighting delicately on the blooming purple sage?  DEFINITELY A SNAKE!!

You get a little jumpy, is what I’m saying. And the rest of your jog is socked in by an overwhelming paranoia that the snakes are plotting against you and surely this will be like a bad Sci-Fi movie where a jogger gets eaten by a 40-foot rattlesnake before the opening credits even start, and that jogger is you.

The last half-mile is a steady uphill slog. I can barely walk it without passing out, much less run it. So I trudge onward and upward. One foot in front of the other, cursing these stupid ideas of “running” and “exercise” and “health” and scanning the brush and road, seeing the snake in everything.

Onward. Upward. Left, right, left, right.

If a snake bit me right now, I wouldn’t have to go this last half mile. If a snake bit me right now, someone would carry me home.


4 thoughts on “Everything Is a Snake”

  1. I giggled hard over this, being of similar persuasion about running. When I moved to Albuquerque from Atlanta four years ago, it was the beginning of being in the best shape of my life. I still won’t run unless chased, but I’ll walk a mean 13 minute mile. Even though I’ve returned to the South, I’m trying to keep that up–trying.

    As for everything being a snake–welcome to the wonderful impact the human evolutionary environment had on the formation of our big brains. This, along with an inborn fear of the dark is how we got this far–running only being a means of escape, not a way for trendy hominids to stay in shape.

    Thanks for sharing! It was a great read.

    1. “Won’t run unless chased” was my running philosophy for years! How about a business where you can rent “chasers” (other joggers, coyotes, a bear??) to chase you around for a few miles per day.

      Also, walk a mean 13-minute mile, that’s me too.
      🙂 Thanks for reading.

  2. I’m not a fan of running and you have just confirmed what I’ve suspected about runners all along: “hey this is almost tolerable.”
    Thanks for keeping it real with is non-runners. People keep saying “it’s fun” & “you’ll grow to love it”. You captured the “you won’t hate it” sentiment perfectly!

    A+ for keeping at it!

    1. Thank you! And yes, almost tolerable is as good as it gets.
      I pretty much only run so I can feel self-righteous about it. And eat cookies.

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