Wednesday, September 15, 2010

So I'm running across the bridge when . . .

This past weekend, my wife, son, and I went to Duluth. My wife and I met there while attending the University of Minnesota-Duluth twenty-three years ago tomorrow. We love Duluth and used to go up for a weekend every year after we moved back to Minnesota from our years in grad school in Indiana. It was a lot of fun and our son loves going to the shore of Lake Superior and throwing rocks into the lake. A good time had by all. Well, most of the time was good.

Saturday morning I ran 8 miles. Not a big deal any longer, nothing special, just a good 8 mile run to start the day. We were staying in Canal Park, which is a tourist-sort of area on Lake Superior, just off downtown Duluth. Part of the appeal of Canal Park is its proximity to the Aerial Lift Bridge, used by residents of Park Point, the 7 mile long sand bar jutting out from the city into the lake. The bridge allows access to and from Park Point, but, as its name suggests, will lift up to allow freighters, sailboats, and Coast Guard cutters to pass from the port to the lake or vice versa. It can take three minutes for the bridge to lift about 200 feet. It can take several minutes for a large freighter to pass through the canal and under the bridge.

Needless to say, the bridge is not something you want to be crossing when it is supposed to go up. Like I was crossing on my way back to the hotel finishing my run. There is a loudspeaker announcement that the bridge will be raised and clear the area. I was about 2/3 of the way across when I heard the bells go off and the voice telling me the bridge was about to go up, possibly with me on it. I sprinted, fast. I made it off the bridge, although the bridge operator scolded me on the loudspeaker, telling me to stop running. Right, I'll just do that and you'll have an hysterical 45-year old man who's afraid of heights, doesn't trust bridges, and can't swim standing on a hunk of metal rising up on 80 year old equipment (I know it's been updated, but the idea holds). I didn't look back as I came off the bridge, although I did walk to catch my breath. The rest of my run, all 4/10 of mile of it were uneventful.

I kind of wish I'd been running during my years in school there, I might not have panicked so much. Nah, I would have no matter what.