Wednesday, September 16, 2009


I’ve enjoyed my first month at the family cottage. For the most part, it’s just the dogs and me. And a chipmunk that loves to scamper across the deck and ruffle the dogs. My exercise regime has been excellent as I rotate my workouts through going to the gym in town, swimming, cycling and jogging.

As a jogger, I go for consistency. I’ve never tried interval training, speed drills or other structured sessions. When I go for a run, it’s always the same: ten kilometers—no more, no less.

Last night, I did something completely different. For starters, I picked a different venue. I drove into downtown Ottawa (about an hour’s drive), parked the car and met a group of Frontrunners, a gay running group, outside city hall. That’s a huge change. I’m not a social person when I exercise. While some may get hot and bothered over guys working up a sweat, I just think people in a sweaty, stinky state should be left alone. (Of course, there is an exception for shirtless hunks, but they’re the ones who think I should be left alone in any state.)

There were five people clustered near a side entrance when I arrived. The group leader immediately introduced himself and the woman by his side. I then said hello to a guy standing near them. He looked startled to be acknowledged, his eyes popping out like a deer in the headlights. (I’ve been told many times that I have a knack for portraying the same deer.) The other two guys, while aware of introductions, kept to themselves carrying on their own conversation. Even in a group of five a clique exists! Ten minutes went by and I awkwardly stretched and looked around while people chatted two by two. The deer stood on his own, our talk ending after about sixty seconds of in-depth dialogue.

My idea of getting “out there” to meet other gays was a bust. I was ready to bolt and do my own run. My complete lack of any sense of direction stopped me. Running along a country road is simple: run 5K one way and then turn around. In a city I don’t know very well, I would never be able to get back to “Go” on my own.

A few more people arrived, the leader facilitated introductions, shared some announcements and advised folks to look after the new people—myself and Bambi.

And then we were off. Immediately, I was on my own. Hello?! New person! Who’s looking out for me? People were running different distances and the route involved crossing over a series of bridges from Ottawa to Gatineau, Quebec. I followed a couple of guys in front of me as they ran and talked. I felt like I was eavesdropping or being an annoying shadow. Moreover, the pace was too slow.

I became bold. I ran ahead and joined Jean-Marc, a regular in the group who was running on his own. Perhaps I was intruding on his private workout, but I was desperate, already confused as to our starting point. Maybe Jean-Marc feared I was a stalker because in the first minute of our conversation, he threw out the “WE” twice, as in “We live near here”, as in I am taken so back off, horn dog!

Good to know. Not at all unexpected. If there is a group of gay guys, ninety-nine single and one taken, I always find Mr. Married. Call it an inner safety mechanism or a subconscious desire to flog myself. I didn’t expect to hook up with my future life partner based on one outing, but there’d been a faint hope. If it’s gonna happen, it has to start somewhere. Not here.

The run was terrific. It was a sunny evening and the temperature was comfortable for running. The pathways along waterways and the views from various bridges were spectacular. I absolutely loved it! As for exercise, things came up short. The pace was a tad slow and the course was only 7K. I put a positive spin on the fact that I want to go farther and faster. My fitness level is as good as it’s ever been.

The group met for coffee after the run. Normally, I’d zip home, shower and change first. Not an option when “home” is an hour away. So I sat there, sweaty and aware that my big hair was now frizzy, humongous hair. I tried to get into the conversation, but it’s tough when you don’t know anything about the group. Should be easy, shouldn’t it? A blank slate. Unfortunately, small talk has never been my thing.

Two guys talked about telephone technology for about five minutes. No point of entry there. The one guy’s phone tracked is distance and speed during the run and broke things down into intervals. I don’t even know how to initiate a text message. (I can reply; just can’t start it. Story of my life, really.) Then a guy started talking about sugar sculpting. What? Actually, it was interesting, but once again, I nothing to contribute. Posed a question or two at least.

When someone asked where I was staying and I named the local town, the reaction was typical. “Did you drive in just for the run?” Yes. Does that make me desperate? Somehow that’s how it felt. I see it as being pragmatic. A flock of gays isn’t going to land on my dock, ready for a tea party. I have to put myself out there, even if it requires a tank of gas.

I could feel myself getting antsy. Ready to return to my remote den with the dogs. Thankfully, conversation wound down and my exit coincided with the group’s full dispersal. It was dark on the drive home and I had no choice but to shift from any woe-is-me, forever-single thoughts to full attention to the road. I’ve seen too much roadkill since I’ve been here and the local skunks, raccoons and porcupines deserved my focus.

Will I drive in again for a short jog? Perhaps. I now know what to expect. And what not to expect.

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