Shades of white

What do the following activities have in common?

1) Painting a picket fence.

2) Watching the NCAA championship basketball game.

3) Running at the Downtown Canal in 79-degree weather.

Before I answer, let me say that I did all three of these activities within the past 24 hours. They were all exilarating in their own way. You might even say they all gave me white knuckles.

Oops, I just gave away the answer.

Yes, it was a day for white knuckles, literally and figuratively.

It started Monday morning. I took the day off from work as a personal day for a long holiday weekend. The weather was so beautiful — clear skies and 80 degrees — that I felt a need to do some yardwork. I spent four hours with a paintbrush, freshening up an old, dilapidated picket fence in front of our house.

This fence is long — probably more than 80 feet long and more than 150 pickets.  so it’s going to take another month of Sundays to finish painting it.

But even spending a few hours dipping a paint brush into a gallon of Benjamin Moore exerior latex was enough to turn my knuckles white. Literally, of course.

Then, after my painting orgy and a few other things, I settled down to watch the NCAA championship game. Like most of Indianapolis, I cheered for hometown favorite, Butler University, the underdog against basketball powerhouse Duke. The game was a genuine nail-biter. The lead changed back and forth more than 10 times, and went down to the final seconds before Butler lost by a single basket, 61-59.

Watching the final minutes were enough to turn my knuckles white. Figuratively, of course.

The game didn’t end until about 11:30 p.m., meaning I woke up groggy at 6:30 this morning. I stumbled around at work all morning, yawning and blinking. I could have talked myself in taking the day off from running. But I’ve already missed too many days of running in recent weeks, and the weather was beautiful: nearly 80 degrees, sunny, with a nice breeze.

At lunchtime, I went running on the Downtown Canal, a scenic stretch that runs past museums, fountains and upscale condos. This canal (not to be confused with my old favorite, the crushed-limestone Central Canal) is popular with the downtown crowd, but I rarely run it, because the surface is concrete. However, I needed to squeeze in a quick run and avoid traffic, so this pedestrian concourse fit the bill. Plus, I bought new running shoes last week, and I knew the springy midsoles would help cushion the shock.

But my shoes did little to cushion another kind of shock — thousands of people out walking on the canal, enjoying the sunshine. It was a mob. It felt like the starting line of the Chicago Marathon. There were points were I had to slow to a walk to get around people walking four abreast on the narrow concourse. Then there were the dog walkers, the baby strollers, a few bicycles, hundreds of other runners and lots of people just standing around, basking in the sun.

This run woke me up in a hurry. This was no mindless jog in the park. It was like trying to cross Lexington Avenue in Manhattan during rush hour — a real white-knuckles experience. Figuratively, of course. I finished up my run in 34 minutes, got back to my desk and let out of breath of relief.

Next time, I’m hitting the trails. Real ones, with dirt and stuff.

I’ve had enough white knuckles for one week.

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2 Responses to “Shades of white”

  1. Nice weather does bring out the people, doesn’t it? I bet there were some white legs out there, too.

  2. Glad you survived the white knuckle run. Our runs are suppose to help us release stress, not build it up!
    No more pavement – get dirty!

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