Friday, May 23, 2014

That Time I Was Attacked by a Freaking Swan

Runner's face obstacles when they run. Most of the really difficult obstacles are internal and personal: an injury, trouble finding motivation, trouble finding time, etc. But other times, obstacles are external.

And wow, there can be a lot of them.

Okay, in real life, there aren't as many Goombas.

If you run a path every day, part of being good at the sport means adapting quickly. There isn't a field or stadium for distance runners. The world is where you run. Because of that, you can never quite predict what sort of issues might plague your run any given day.

Once, for example, a bike race coincided with part (most) of my run. Did I wake up that morning thinking that my run would involve 3300 bikers who are physically incapable of saying, "On your left," blasting past your shoulder at 30 miles per second?

No. No I did not.

Did I wake up another morning and think I would be running past two men having a fist fight over what I can only assume is a volleyball game gone awry? Did I know that fistfight would suddenly coincide with my path?

Again, nope. Not at all.

There are some obstacles you expect to encounter as a runner. One big issue for the running community? Dogs. People don't always leash their dogs, and some dogs don't always like to act reasonably when they see people running toward or away from them. As a runner, you kind of have to be doing one or the other.

To be honest, though, I've never had a big problem with dogs. In fact, up until this week, I had never had animals bother me at all during a run.

Until this god damn swan.

I run along the north branch of the Chicago river for most of my run. Aside from the occasionally overwhelming poop-smell, it's kind of nice. Sometimes I will see ducks and swans hanging out along the banks. I'm cool with them. Up until the swan, I always felt waterfowl and I had a mutual respect for each other.

Full disclosure: we're best friends.

One morning, I spotted a swan hanging out right beside the path, and it seemed to be waiting for trouble.

I should have known that this swan WAS trouble.

As I ran past, I suddenly heard a wild flapping behind me. That noise was accompanied by another, a terrifyingly guttural and alien chirping and...glugging. It sounded like Satan's toilet struggling to flush. It instantly became the most terrifying sound I had ever heard.

I chanced a look back, and what I saw was the pure, unadulterated fury of this swan as it swept towards me with no swan like grace, it's head and neck swinging violently as this hellish scream escaped its snapping maw.

The message was clear: this was his path now. This was his house now.

I responded with similar grace.

I ran, and now I don't run past that stretch of path without thinking of that god damn swan. Which, I'm sure, is exactly what he wanted. Clearly there must have been a nest nearby. That, or that swan was just tired of all us jogger and bikers stepping on his turf.

I've learned since that swans are officially under the protection of the Queen of England. Having been on the receiving end of that swan's fury, I know the truth. She doesn't protect them. They protect her. They don't need any help looking after themselves.

Respect, swan-bro. Please don't attack me again.

1 comment:

  1. This seems to be a theme in your life. Remember when the goose tried to eat you when you were a little kid?