Column: Line Drives — Keep an eye open for runners

[This is my column in the Oct. 13 issue of The Commercial Review.]

There are less than seven months to go until my half marathon.

I wrote last month that August wasn’t the greatest in terms of my training. At least, it didn’t feel that way, as I logged 52.16 miles during those 31 days.

Compared to September, the previous month was much better.

I managed only 35.4 miles in September. That just includes time spent on the road or on a treadmill; it doesn’t account for the distances ran while playing softball or basketball a handful of times a week.

But, in September I did run my fastest time for a 5K race — I completed the Hudson Family Park 5K on Sept. 10 in 29 minutes, 56.9 seconds. Slightly more than two weeks later I ran 2 miles in under 20 minutes for the first time.

Earlier this month I completed a 3-mile run by pacing faster than 10 minutes per mile, and Oct. 6 I ran my fastest mile — 8:42 — since I was a child.

While the distance for the month of September didn’t quite add up to what I wanted it to, those two speed accomplishments were indeed something with which to be proud.

Additionally, I surpassed a weight loss total — the main reason I began running in the first place — of more than 70 pounds since the first of the year. That in and of itself outweighs the feeling of not accomplishing my distance goal for the month.

This month, I am setting a goal of surpassing 60 miles. As I write this I’ve already completed 14.6 miles. It’s not quite the best of starts, but as they say, finish strong, right? Plus, I’m running a 10K on Oct. 23 in Fort Wayne, which will help get me to that 60-mile goal.

As the daylight begins to shorten, my work schedule will not, therefore the best times for me to run will be during the evening. And, in order to work my body up to the ability to run the half marathon in May, I will continue to run outside to build up my distance rather than inside on a treadmill.

Temperatures are also dropping, and with autumn in full swing and winter soon on the horizon, drivers in Portland may not be acclimated to seeing someone like me about town running.

So I offer a few things to note, both for the safety of myself, as well as anyone else who runs outside, and those driving.

As a pedestrian, I am required by Indiana law to run on the sidewalk if possible.

Where I typically run in Portland, there are sidewalks along Meridian, Water and Votaw streets. I utilize them frequently.

However, most of the streets I run on do not have sidewalks. Those include Arch, North, Charles, Western, Seventh and Wayne streets.

If there’s not a sidewalk, what are my options?

According to Indiana code 9-21-17-13, “If a sidewalk is not available, a pedestrian walking along and upon a highway shall walk only on a shoulder, as far as practicable from the edge of the roadway.”

On my main running route, this only applies to Seventh Street between Western Street and the bridge over the Salamonie River.

Indiana Code 9-21-17-14 says, “If neither a sidewalk nor a shoulder is available, a pedestrian walking along and upon a highway shall walk as near as practicable to an outside edge of the roadway. If the roadway is two-way, the pedestrian shall walk only on the left side of the roadway.”

That means on Arch, North, Charles, Western, Wayne and Arch streets, I am to run against the flow of traffic, which I have done on the majority of my runs. But herein lies the problem — oncoming traffic.

On numerous occasions while running south on Charles, northbound vehicles have to move over to pass me. Often times, those drivers maneuver their vehicles to the complete other side of the road to give me more space than I need.

It’s a gesture that is much appreciated.

More than I’m happy to admit though, some vehicles leave little space when driving around me.

Josh Stephenson, a Portland police officer, said there is no required distance that vehicles have to provide to pass pedestrians, or runners, like myself.

When I run at night, I make it a point to be seen. I tend to be in well-lit areas, but that isn’t always an option. I also wear bright colors, reflective bands around my ankles and a reflective vest to help drivers spot me.

Others don’t take the same measures I do, but they deserve as much safe space as me while out and about.

So for the safety of everyone on the roadway — both drivers and pedestrians — please be careful.

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