This is how lazy I am.

Dear friends,

I have lived in Missouri for exactly 649 days.

And for exactly 649 days I have complained to anyone who will listen to me about the ratcha-fratching hills.

Last fall, I showed you this photo of the hills by my house that I despise every single moment I am running up and down them.


(You commiserated with me. Thank you for that.)

What I haven’t told you is that while it’s really hilly where I live, there are some relatively flat stretches in town. In fact, there’s a municipal bike/walk path about five miles from my home that is pretty darn flat and that I have inexplicably ignored.

See, that’s how lazy I am. If I can’t throw on my shoes and run out my door, I’m not interested.

I have a twitchy fear of complicated, ambiguous undertakings. (Actually, most of my work life is complicated and ambiguous, so I avoid those characteristics in my personal life. I haven’t succeeded, but still I try.) And figuring out where the path goes, or the best place to start and finish, or where to park, well . . . that seemed like a lot of effort when I could just open my front door and go.

But Friday night, Mr. Mom and I went to a dinner party and noticed  a good stretch of the path ran through our friends’ neighborhood. So I came home, determined to overcome my fear and investigative inertia, and I spent a half-hour on the internet using various search terms and looking at Google maps trying to figure out the perfect route.

And I found it — a 7.3 mile route that appeared to offer minimal ascents and descents (or so it seemed to a girl who can’t really read Google maps). So I scrutinized the map, looked for landmarks I could remember, determined where to park, and tried to commit the route to memory.

I headed out Saturday morning and found a trail-head right where I expected it to be. And 20 minutes into my run, I realized I had wandered off course when I crossed a busy highway that I didn’t expect to encounter until much later in the route. (Two workmen were standing beside the highway as I ran by. I heard one of them say to the other, “See, that’s what we ought to be doing right now.” Not a bad boost for an old woman.) It seems I was lost and had no idea how to get back to the path. Worse, I didn’t have a clue how I wandered off it.

Which is exactly the kind of complicated, ambiguous result I had been steadfastly avoiding.

So I just kept running. I wasn’t lost-lost. I was familiar with the part of town I was in. But I was turned around and didn’t know how to find the route I was originally pursuing, or whether or not I’d make it back to my car without calling Mr. Mom for a rescue.

Fortunately, I made out just fine. I never did find most of the route I was looking for, but I found another section of the path that proved scenic and satisfyingly flat. And I made it back to my car  precisely when I was ready to quit anyway, at one hour, 25 minutes.  Success!

I estimated my distance to be at least 7.5 miles based on my time, which means I broke my Missouri distance barrier. (Around my house, I have never run farther than six miles). More success!

Which made me wonder why it took me 649 days to give it a try.

With gratitude {for the post-run healing power of bubble baths},

Joan, who figures there’s probably an app for charting runs but also has a twitchy fear of the iPhone app store unless somebody tells her straight-up which one to download