GET OUT: No refuge for nine-minute milers

By on April 23, 2015
A welcomed distraction: running past historic cabins. (Photo: Sarah Zermani)

A welcomed distraction: running past historic cabins. (Photo: Sarah Zermani)

Jackson Hole, Wyoming – A wide assortment of fellow Jacksonites are much closer to the equator, filling up on tropical fruits and relishing the sunshine. For me, getting out this time of year takes exceedingly more motivation than any other month. If I fail to wake up at an insanely early hour, skiing is typically out of the question. Since ski partners are minimal, I have little motivation to get out of bed. After all, it doesn’t count as bailing if I’m just bailing on myself.

Around mid-to-late day on my days off, I generally feel the itch to exercise. I saw people running around East Jackson and concluded that this was a new activity that I should try. After rounding up a decent sports bra and some tattered running shoes, I parked at the end of East Broadway Avenue where the road turns to dirt. A flurry of happy exercisers mingled in and out of the confluence of the roads. Dogs and moms in yoga pants abounded, and I thought, “I can handle this.”

It started off easy with a relatively flat dirt road, the sun on my face, comfortable and beautiful. I passed the old Miller house and life seemed so simple, scenic and relaxing. Perhaps the run would bring a plethora of wildlife sightings — deer, birds, maybe even a moose? With the magnificent views of the snowy Teton Mountains peeking out from behind the grassy buttes, anything felt possible.

I kept running. I ran for a couple miles. Upon my turn around, I immediately regretted running as far as I did. The wind invaded my once calm running stance and small specks of dust blinded my eyes. Why hadn’t I noted the wind upon the initial start of my excursion? The breeze was at my back when the day seemed so beautiful — I had not even considered it.

One-way runs on dirt roads seem endless at times. (Photo: Sarah Zermani)

One-way runs on dirt roads seem endless at times. (Photo: Sarah Zermani)

At this point, I was well aware of the distance that needed to be covered to get back to the warmth of my vehicle. I was also aware of how ill-equipped I was for my run. No gloves, no long sleeves — just shorts and a T-shirt. Typically, I am prepared for all weather during my excursions in this valley. For some reason, this hadn’t clicked as I was only going on a short jog. The importance of bringing extra clothes never struck me as something that was meaningful to my immediate life.

It was evident that my running was not equal to that of the innumerable Jackson athletes out that day. Speedracers in spandex and aerodynamic glasses trotted by me. I overheard a conversation of a couple long-legged guys speeding by who had just skied the Grand that morning. Who in his right mind decides to go for a run after skiing the Grand Teton? My ego was further shot when I was passed by a young mother pushing two small children on the gravel road. She smiled, her Lululemons fading as she became a speck in the distance. Despite the fact that I was sticking to my nine-minute miles, it’s certainly no Jackson pace.

I searched the buttes, hoping that a stray wolf or sheep would give me reason to stop and rest. But the more I looked, the more dismal my hopes became. The only remnants of any animal I saw sat in a faded doggy bag left on the side of the road. The old poop inside the bag prevented it from blowing away. The light blue plastic whipped in the breeze and for one breath, I smelled exactly like how I felt. At this moment, my dry eyes met an aggressive gust of wind that dislodged one of my contacts. I turned my head to attempt to redirect it into my eye, but in one flash, it blew away.

Eventually, I made it back to my truck, after battling the wind for the last four miles. I shut the door and sat inside for a while, feeling the warmth and calm. I concluded that going for a run may have been worth it. My body certainly felt like it exercised and my lost contact became just a casuality of war. I’m not sure that I am cut out to run with the hordes of extreme athletes in the town of Jackson. Next time, I’ll pick a place with fewer people or just plug some headphones in and decide not to care.

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