The house I grew up in is on a relatively busy street for suburban Connecticut—one or two cars pass a minute. I was cognizant of this fact because whenever one would pass, if I was playing in the front yard, I’d hide. One of my favorite games for a while was jumping over the boxwood hedges in front of their house, trying to clear them completely like a hurdler. (Okay, so maybe I wasn’t as much of a bookworm as I remember, now that I think back…) But the moment I heard a car engine, I’d crouch down behind the bushes instead of clearing them in a single leap.
I was reminded of this shy-girl habit last week during a tempo run. My game that day was to warm up for 20 minutes (which included making a detour to a bathroom, but that’s a whole 'nother topic!), then turn up the dial and crank out six miles at goal half-marathon pace (8:00), and finish up with 20 minutes of cooldown. I was running on the shoulder of a fairly busy street—certainly more cars than my parents’ street sees. Other than having to negotiate pavement-sharing with some bike-commuters, I was fine with the traffic.
I had promised myself I could take a Roctane break halfway through the speedwork. When my new Garmin beeped for a third time, I stopped, unintentionally, behind a row of large arborvitae. As I ripped into the packet, I was about to start walking as I normally do during a gel/drink break. Instead looking at the tall, bushy hedges, I had a flashback to childhood. Suddenly I didn’t want any drivers or cyclists to see me, especially as I lifted my tee to wipe sweat off my face. I was embarrassed for passersby to catch a glimpse of my belly, for them to judge me as a runner.
If the competitive grown-up in me hadn’t eventually spurred me on, the timid child in me might have stood there, behind the bushes, all morning.