Sunday, August 20, 2006

Running: Night Run on Grounds

I had an entertaining run last night. Needing to run longer than I cared to stay on a treadmill and living on a country road with no streetlights, I drove downtown about 10:00 pm and parked in my church parking lot, just across the street from U.Va. I strapped on my water bottle carrier and chuckled as I figured that I was probably the only person I would see over the next 6-7 miles who was drinking water unaccompanied by barley malt, hops and yeast. Wondering whether everyone else might actually have the better idea, I started heading up University Avenue to the Corner, the commercial hub of the University.

I quickly realized that I was going to be dodging reveling Wahoos for much of the run. This had been “move in” day at the University, and the students were out in force on the first Saturday night of the new school year. While a few places had kids lined up waiting to get in, most of them were just milling around, seeing and being seen. They seemed surprised to see an "old" (and already sweaty) guy in their midst.

Past the Corner, I headed down Rugby Road, fraternity house central. No formal frat parties yet, but definitely some lively goings-on. With The Band's "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” blaring through open windows, one house was full of bare-chested guys alternating between playing pool and playing air guitar. Girls could wait, this was definitely a male bonding night.

I looped back around and ran past the Lawn toward the dormitories, and suddenly felt like a salmon swimming upstream as I encountered a huge contingent of first-years on their way down to the Corner. Their anticipation was palpable on this their first night as college students out on the town.

A bit further up I ran into what I gather was a University-sponsored alternative to partying on the Corner - a moon bounce, DJ and what appeared to be kids in giant sumo wrestler fat suits duking it out. Lots of kids were milling around, most of them carrying a plastic bag with what I took to be a souvenir t-shirt of the event. I ran past the first-year dorms, each festooned with RA-crafted banners proclaiming their dorm to be “the” place to be. I thought of a colleague of mine whose daughter had just moved into one of those dorms, and wondered whether she was in the Corner crowd or the moon bounce crowd.

I eventually made it back to my car, narrowly missing being run down (for the 3rd or 4th time) by 3 guys who were zooming around on their “crotch rocket” motorcycles. They seemed very impressed with themselves, but somehow I don't think that view was held by many others.

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