The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Autumn Leaves Turn Brown Early This Year

3 min read


Every runner knows that feeling—the gurgle. It usually happens somewhere between miles three and four. If you’re lucky you’re either almost home or near a public restroom. Unfortunately for me, neither of those was the case when I undertook a five mile run to take advantage of the crispy fall weather.

When I started I felt fine. I was stretching out in my lawn and pretending my yoga pants made me look lean and athletic rather than the more truthful confession: spandex prevents chub-rub wild fires. Just trying to keep the parks safe.

The trail I take is breathtaking during fall. It runs parallel to one of those roads unfrequented by cars but always has runners and bikers. There is also the added benefit of Ranger Rick driving by and making you feel safe and reminding you to not play with fire or something.

I had just cleared a mile and a half when I felt it, the gurgle. Now, you don’t have to be a runner to know the gurgle. You probably have had it after your Uncle Rico’s chili or drinking the water in Mexico, but one thing you always hope for is a private bathroom with soundproof walls. One thing you do not want is the gurgle to happen in a national park that has absolutely no public restrooms.

I slowed my gait a little, but I thought, “No, I got this.” I want to hit five miles today, and really there was only one more mile until I had to turn around. Realistically, I thought, “Worse comes to worse, I’ll walk, right?”

“Oh. This is not good,” I thought as I came to a stop. I stood for a moment wishing my stomach into silence. “Gurgle,” my stomach replied. Having reached the two and a half mile point, I turned around gingerly and began walking home stopping every 20 yards or so to let my dignity die a little and pray for endurance.

When I got to three miles I started looking for spots in the trees. At first, I told myself no. I could just see the European hiker who had wanted to see the Civil War battlefield wander off the trail, just to stumble upon me waging my war in a shrubbery.

However, I was just about to risk scarring anyone who came along, when a woman who was walking her dog said something to me from across the street.

I pulled out my iPod ear bud; certain that she wanted to ask me why I was walking like John Wayne. Even better, she smiled and said, “Hey, keep an eye out for coyotes. I’ve been seeing them here lately, some as big as him,” she said as she gestured to her sizeable dog.

At this point, I’m pretty sure she’s the devil. I could just see the headlines, “Woman gets mauled while dropping a deuce.” Nope, I told myself, I’ve got to finish this.
I made it back into my neighborhood, just a quarter mile from the porcelain god.

I gently open my door to my house and waddle in. “I’m going to make it!” I told myself. I’m only a few feet from freedom. I lost all sense of anything else; I only had one goal in mind. Walking down my hall I felt cold sweat pouring down my back.

The baby gate set in my bathroom doorway stood firmly in front of me: the last trial. One leg over made it over. Then I lifted my other leg over—and all my dreams died.