Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I'm Running. Please, Just Leave Me Alone. - Or, Why I Tweak People.

So I'm a woman. A smallish woman, in fact. And an oldish woman, depending on how old you are. I don't run very fast, nor do I run very slow. I do run. I do not jog. And I try not to get in the way of others as they go about their business. Let me do my thing and I'll let you do your thing. I'm someone who holds doors for people behind me, and I like it when people say "thank you". I always say "you're welcome". I am also not the type to turn a blind eye to something I find egregious or just plain rude. This tendency (or personality defect) leads to conflict.

As a college philosophy instructor I subscribe to a fairly common definition of "Liberty": Each is free to exercise a liberty to the extent that all others may also exercise that same liberty. So basically, you can do what you want as long as you're not messing with the liberty of someone else. This is a fairly liberal view (argued for by the likes of John Stuart Mill and John Locke - and the founding fathers of the US). It allows for a lot. But, there are certain behaviors that it clearly rules out.

How does this apply to running? Well, I spend a good deal of my life running around the Boulder area - on roads, sidewalks, trails - and I see many many others recreating, commuting to work or school, doing errands, etc. each and every day. All those hours spent running allow for a lot of thinking (perhaps too much) and a lot of observation. So here's my question: Why won't people just leave others alone? I do not get in the way of others. I try to share, fairly, the space we have. On trails I move over when others approach. On the road I obey traffic/pedestrian laws.

A couple days ago I had an experience that is not an uncommon one. I'm running alone on a trail early in the morning. It's a beautiful day and many people are out and about walking their dogs, running, and just enjoying some fresh air on a warm January day. I come up behind a woman walking her pug. She stands looking at me in the middle of a single track trail. She does not move. Her dog steps out of the grass and steps right in front of my landing foot. I stop suddenly to avoid stepping on him. The woman laughs. No "excuse me", no "sorry", just laughs. Okay. I run on. The dog decides that what I'm doing looks like fun, so he proceeds to chase me and start nipping at my achilles tendon. I stop, concerned that the little beast will get tangled up in my feet and we'll both be face down in the dirt. I turn back to the woman and ask her to call her dog. She says, "Just go on". I say, "Excuse me, but your dog is required to be under voice control". She says, "He is. He's coming back. He's small, you're big. Just go on". I challenge her definition of "voice control" at which point she begins emitting a series of high pitched screeches (BTW, I am a dog lover and owner/guardian. My 14 year old Aussie/Samoyed mix still runs with me on occasion and ran 50 mi a week with me for the first 10 years of her life). Okay, she's totally nuts, I say to myself as she launches into a screaming tirade punctuated by screeches. I run on, shaking my head in disbelief and disgust. A quarter mile down the trail I can still hear her screeching.

The next day I am waiting at a train crossing for a train to pass. On the other side waits a large group of cyclist. The train passes and I run. the cyclists are spread out across the entire street and sidewalk, so I weave my way through them (I am doing a pace run, and want to get back on pace). One of the cyclists says "bite me" as I pass on the sidewalk. What? Excuse me?

I am not trying to be the "trail/road/sidewalk courtesy police", but every time I assert my right to some equal space on this planet it seems to piss people off. Am I just supposed to stand and wait for others to allow me to pass? Well, I won't do it. Please share, and please be nice. Treat others as you would wish to be treated.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

2011 - It's Now or Never - Maybe

Like most people, I have been considering my running (and other) goals for this year. While reading "Born To Run" I started thinking about one of the claims made by one of the researchers in the book: basically the claim is that runners steadily improve between the ages of 19 and 27 and then slowly decline - returning to their 19 year-old equivalent at the age of 64 - Yes, that's 64. Yeeha, I thought, this gives me hope, this gives me time. I figure I'm still somewhere in the 25 year-old runner range. So, what does that mean for my running goals - hmmm - Here I go: qualify for Boston AND New York City (because I'm tired of waiting to get in via the lottery). Ok. Off for a 15 miler. Time will tell;)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Frosty's Frozen Five and Ten - January 15, 2011

Frosty's Frozen was, thankfully, not frozen at all. What a wonderful day for a race in Colorado, and what a nice, well run race this was. This was my first experience running a Winter Distance Series race (http://winterdistanceseries.com/ ) and I will be back for more. The day began with the five mile race, and I arrived just as the first runners where finishing. The ten miler was set to begin at 10:15.

Parking was easy once I found the right place (across from the south end of Arapahoe Community College) and then it was a quick jog to Hudson Gardens, where there is a nice garden house complete with roaring fires in several fire places. This was a very nice place to stretch and relax, with (indoor bathrooms!!!) and only steps from the start.

The ten miler was an out-and-back course along a bike path weaving its way through Littleton. There were some icy spots, but the course was generally in good shape considering the wintery weather we had earlier in the week. This was a fairly smallish race (286 for the 10 mi./527 for the 5 mi.). However, bike paths tend to be narrow, and I don't know that this venue would work well for a larger race. The course was scenic, if you kept your gaze to the west and the mountain backdrop. To the east runs the highway and a good sized auto junkyard. Well this is an urban race. Pick your view. The course itself is fairly fast with nothing more than gentle rolling hills.

So, overall, great race and great job on the part of all those at Colorado Runner. http://www.coloradorunnermag.com/

Now, a small gripe: IPods - Okay, I know I'm in the minority on this, but I was pushed off the course twice by men running with IPods. Here's the scenario: It's the beginning of the race - everyone is jockeying for position, and there's lots of passing going on as runners settle into their paces. A large man passes on the left. He does not pass me completely and remains at my knee lift. He then proceeds to drift to the right. But wait, that's where I am! He does not hear me when I try to inform him that he's running me into the snowbank along the path. I had to either surge ahead and to his left to avoid sinking into the snow or slow down and let him slide in in front of me which meant that I would have to slowdown. But I'm just trying to run. I wasn't doing the passing. If he wanted to pass he should have: 1) passed completely, and 2) been aware of other runners around him. A bit further, another IPod toting runner passed me and quickly moved right in front of me - again, seemingly aware that I was right there. This time I had to respond quickly or end up face down on the cement. I just don't believe that IPods have a place in races. I feel some sense of satisfaction in that I ended up passing both of these runners farther on in the race. That may not be very nice, but there you have it.

I can't wait for the Snowman Stampede in February and I'm hoping for unseasonably warm weather again!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I have a little Problem

I have a little problem - I like to run just a little too much - and I'm a little too old for such nonsense. So be it...

I am a runner, a mother, a climber, and a philosopher (as in, I like to think about and examine questions that are difficult, if not impossible, to answer). These are the four words that I believe best sum up the central aspects of my life. They all came to me and stuck, and I became them.

I've been a runner for 25 years - Well, actually much longer than that - I ran my first race when I was 8 years old, the only girl in the pack, and that was it, I was hooked. But over the past 25 years, running has been a constant in my life - through all the changes of life - I remain a runner.

I was a fairly serious road racer 20 years ago. I then took an extended break from racing and ran to run and to think and to breath and to live. Three years ago, I suffered what I believed was an overuse injury due to running 50+ mile weeks pushing a baby jogger the whole way. The Docs looked at my knees (MRI) and told me that my running days were over. Strangely, my pain was not in my knee and so I set off on a journey to find an answer that made sense. After 10 months of no running I stumbled upon something that at last resolved my tendinosis. Since being told I was "done" and there was nothing that could be done for me, I have run two marathons, many 10ks and half marathons. That injury is no more. But, I realized that there are certain things I want to accomplish before the true end of my running days (if that day ever comes).

I'm also a rock climber (and climbing coach for 13 years), for nearly 20 years, a mother of a daughter, for a little more than four years, and a college philosophy instructor, for 12 years. All of these define who I am and what sorts of things I'm interested in.

So, what is the point of all of this? Chronic Runner is the name - Some think I have a little running problem - but running is like eating to me - it allows me time to think, to make sense of the world around me - things will come up that I find interesting, perplexing, disturbing, outrageous, hopeful, etc. Just important subjects and questions to chew on...And, of course there will be running, running, running...

The Things That Change Us

“The dangers of life are infinite, and among them is safety.” ~ Goethe Sometimes we never "go back" to what we were before....