As part of my commitment to exciting, spontaneous exploits I signed up this semester to take a running class. No, it’s not a classroom-oriented 15-week course in trends of the runner’s culture, and neither is it an anatomy class discussing the specifics of how the body literally goes into shock when exerted. It is a running class, and we run. The final exam is a timed five-mile run.

The teacher is insane, having run from Mexico to Canada in his younger years, and he deeply enjoys tripping, throwing mud and snow balls at, and putting down his students. He calls me fat and/or slow at least twice a week.

My running professor’s favorite thing to do is run trails through the woods. Because of him and his class, I decided on March 4, that I officially hate trail running. Here are all the reasons why:

  1. Having flat feet, I have zero sense of balance. Combine this factor with the many roots that spring up unexpectedly from all trails that go through the woods – imagine that, tree roots in the forest! – and I fall on my face at least every 30 feet, every 50 if I’m lucky.
  2. I have allergies to tree pollen, so running through the woods makes my eyes water. So then not only am I likely to trip because of the retarded physiology of my feet, but I can’t see the freaking roots that are out to get me. Me on a running trail is like Helen Keller driving a car.
  3. I’m a poor college student, and I can’t afford fancy trail running shoes with little cleats on the bottom. So when I run in the root-infested, mud-slicked trails, my Adidas slide out from under me without warning, usually right at the point of the trail where on either side is a 50-foot drop to some stream or trench. I hate wet leaves. I hate running on wet leaves. I hate how you can’t escape them in the stupid forest.
  4. Mr. Insanity, the running professor, likes to start and stop unexpectedly, encouraging mud-ball fights. So while my adrenaline is pumping, my eyes are watering, and I’m just waiting to slip and fall to my death, the carefree non-flat-footed trail-shoe-equipped students around me laugh and toss mud at each other, inevitably missing their intended targets and hitting me in the face.

“Oh! Sorry! Hee hee!” They laugh and prance away.

Storm clouds form in my soul as I imagine what it would be like to shove one of them off the side of the trail, or at least face down into those damnable wet leaves.

On March 4, the last straw came. I was tired of being hit in the face with mud and snow balls, so I let the class run ahead of me (even the really obese girls at the end). Somehow, that triggered everyone to speed up. I had fallen so much that my knees throbbed and my entire right hip had become a blue bruise, so I gave up and walked.

Then I discovered the most ludicrous thing about running trails. They don’t look any different than the rest of the forest floor. Trail runners must have some sixth sense that guides their feet, because I saw no trail at all. I wandered for awhile. An hour passed. Maybe two. I may have been missing for days. I did not come prepared. I had no watch or cell phone or pepper spray.

I heard some traffic noise and finally stumbled on a paved road. When I found the class again, they were as jovial as always. They hadn’t noticed I was missing. The professor called me fat and slow. Then he laughed, slapped me on the back, and gave me half-credit for the day’s run because I didn’t stay with the group.

I hate trail running. I’ll run in the woods when they’re burned down and paved over. Eff you Smokey Bear.

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