• Valeria Rodriguez

If Side Walks could Speak...

When I got the opportunity to write for Run South Florida Magazine (in 2016)


 and found myself drawing a blank a couple days from my first deadline, I slowly started to feel those all too familiar “I-have-a-race-coming” kind of nerves overwhelm me.


So, I did what I knew best. I took my writer’s block out for a little run. Five miles into an eight-miler at 3:30 in the afternoon with the sun blazing and bugs kamikazi-ing into me, I thought to myself, if sidewalks could speak, they’d probably be ragging on me. For sure, they’d be telling me that I was getting my butt handed to me on a neon platter by the two other runners who were almost a block and a half ahead and weren’t even breaking a sweat. Meanwhile, I felt like I had strapped 20-pound weights to each of my ankles. That’s when it hit me. I couldn’t write, I couldn’t record, and I couldn’t even share this dilemma with the other people I was running with because they were too far ahead. I started thinking about all the talks I’ve had while running with high school friends, college teammates, mommy friends, co-workers, and strangers. We’d talked about everything from how to make out to how to best hunt down the runners in front of you. The reality is that my strongest friendships have developed over years and miles of talking while running. Granted, there aren’t many other options of things to do while running next to someone for 12+ miles week-in and week-out. You get used to telling stories with lots of descriptive and, all too often, unnecessary details. By the time I got to mile 6, I realized that I would probably be in a lot of trouble if sidewalks did decide to speak up one day. There would be a high likelihood that I’d be accused of inflicting physical and emotional abuse. The physical abuse would encompass the constant spitting (yes, I spit when I run, so deal with it…it’s not one of the worst things that runners do while running anyway) and the inconsiderate sound of pounding on pavement brought about by my very loud running style which allows me to sneak up on absolutely NO ONE in any race or run…ever. The emotional abuse accusations would arise from the bipolarity and the roller coaster-esque nature of my topics of choice for long run discussions ranging from a weekend recap, relationship status update, job hunt follow-up, milestone celebration, mommy moment meltdown, dinner date details, and the ever so tantalizing water cooler gossip. Only rarely have sidewalks confronted me with some not so subtle up-close and personal encounters, in which the pavement had clearly been victorious. But we’ve quickly brushed those off, made our peace, and put it behind us. As my Garmin beeped away at mile seven, I noticed that whatever the topic, whatever the weather, and whoever the company, sidewalks all around the U.S. and a couple of other spectacular places around the world have gotten to know me way more than even some of my closest friends. They have always been around (for the most part, unless there is construction) to lend an ear, let me run my mouth, curtail any sobbing sessions, entertain my runs with one-step-per-sidewalk-division games, or simply just guide my route. Those runs have helped me come to terms with many truths over miles of group and/or individual “therapy” sessions. First truth is that running therapy is WAY cheaper than actual therapy. And the second truth is a direct result of this series of conclusions: There will always be another race. There will always be another goal. There will always be another city. There will always be another flight. There will always be another party. There will always be another job opportunity. There will always be another season. There will always be another guy. There will always be another adventure. There will maybe even be another heart. There WON’T, however, be another life We’ve got one shot at this one, so take life in stride. And just as I rounded the corner of mile eight, I thought to myself, if sidewalks could speak they’d probably be saying: RUN LIFE…don’t let it run you!

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