I have a little pod that attaches to my running shoe and calculates my pace and distance, and transmits this handy information to my running watch.  In order to ensure its accuracy it requires calibration on a measured distance, ie a track.  Since we are in a rural area there is no track nearby, nor even a school as far as I can tell.  So, thanks to Google, I located a high school including a track approximately 7.5 miles away.  That will make a lovely long run for my prep for the Richmond marathon, I thought cheerily to myself – 15 miles, 15.5 if you count the calibration.  Saturday afternoon I set out, and I should mention that rural Virginia is not a runner-friendly area as far as I can tell.  The roads are narrow, winding, have absolutely no shoulder, and plunge into deep ditches on either side.  I survived the first 7.5 miles, was pleased with my time, and located the high school.  Behind, I might add, about 3 million police cars.

I innocently began walking around, trying to find a place to sneak onto the track.  I mean, I did just run 7.5 miles so I could run 2 laps on the track.  That’s 4 – 5 minutes for me, not a lot to ask.  Unfortunately one of the police noticed me and strongly encouraged me to retreat to the sidewalk.  So I asked one of them if there was another track nearby.  “Ma’am I don’t know.”  OK, so is there a measured distance anywhere around?  “Ma’am I don’t know.”  Then they yelled at me for standing still on the sidewalk, I needed to keep moving.

I will stop here to mention that this is exactly, exactly my luck.  The one day of the year I need to use this school’s track and make the necessary arrangements in my life, not to mention running a 15 mile round trip, is also the one day of the year it is swarming with law enforcement.

I found a different policeman who directed me to a different track about a mile or mile-and-a-half away, so I headed off.  I found the track.  My watch’s calibration wouldn’t work.  This is also exactly, exactly my luck.  By this point I am THIRSTY, because part of Virginia’s plan of attack on runners includes a complete and total lack of water fountains.  I find a park.  I locate the one water fountain in the park.  The water fountain does not work.  I cannot think of anything but WATER because I am so thirsty (I had been running for close to 2 hours at this point).  I keep running back the way I came and pass a soccer park (I don’t know what else to call it – it is a large tract of land with about 30 soccer fields on it, nothing else).  Surely, I think, there will be water fountains aplenty in such a place.  I locate a building which has concessions (closed) and restrooms.  Hallelujah!  There are always water fountains near restrooms.  Except, apparently, in Virginia.  The water fountains had been ripped out (there used to be water fountains there, though) and a useful electrical outlet placed in their stead.

So I did what any truly thirsty person would do and drank out of the sink in the restroom.  Then I started back home, it got dark, I almost got hit a couple of times, I rolled my ankles a few times each falling into ditches on the side of the road trying to avoid getting hit, I went too far because it was so dark I couldn’t see my street, and by the time I got back I had accidentally run about 20 miles.

And who is responsible for all this mayhem and total inconvenience?  Sarah Palin.  She was having a rally, for whatever reason, at the high school where I needed to run.  Just my luck.  May the record show that the first time a politician directly influenced my life it was a complete inconvenience.

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