Sunday, June 3, 2007

Jewish Guilt, or Runners Have No Manners

First off, it's SHOUT OUT TIME...
thank you so much!!


If you visit my Fred's Team website, you will see that my stated goal is $2500. In reality, it's $5000, but it's one of those things where if you pledge it, you have to raise it, and in case I can't raise it, I can't afford to donate that much cheddar. I haven't sent out all my fundraising pleas yet, and you may recall I can get pretty persistent once I start (!) but at the same time, because I'm in school and not working I don't have the kind of access to people I did last year. But slow and steady, may not win the race but it'll get you across the finish line just the same. So THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to all you lovely people out there reading this, and supporting me.

Did you look at the right side of the page? They are called "sidebars," I think, and they're courtesy of Buckeye Outdoors, a site that caters to all your obsessive training-logging needs. I thought it would be neat to put my training schedule and race records up. It will certainly keep me training, knowing that people will be checking up on me. The one that reports on races just gives a race countdown, doesn't report the race itself. Ah, well.

So today's race was both a really good one and a really bad one, all in one. The good part first -- even though it was a hot and humid day in NYC (my two least favorite conditions to run in) and even though it was 8 in the morning, I managed to clock what was for me an amazing time for a 4-mile race -- 35 minutes and change. I was not expecting to do that well in the heat, and I frankly felt pretty good most of the way, not too winded or anything, although the sprint at the end did leave me a little queasy for a minute or two.

And the bad part? To sum it up, here's an excerpt from the email I sent to NY Road Runners when I got home:

I want to bring up an issue that I know you are all aware of, but I feel I need to add my voice.

About half a mile into today's Japan Race, I almost crashed into a pack of three walkers,
as well as the people also trying to avoid them. As I made my way around them I muttered,
"Start with the walkers, dammit!" One of them said something back to me, but I didn't catch
it. They weren't Galloway runners on a walk break, they were walkers. I felt bad about
snapping at them. It was the wrong way to react, but it was in the heat of the moment, a
bunch of people almost got hurt, and I got mad. And it's spoiling a race that was one of my
best, I set a PR.

(A "Galloway runner" is someone who follows the Jeff Galloway marathon (or any race) training plan, which involves periodic walk breaks.)

The letter goes on to talk about the problem of people not lining up at their proper pace time and creating dangerous situations because folks are wiping out trying to pass them.

I blither on:

These races are getting more crowded, and while I'm glad that so many people are
discovering running, they don't have any understanding of race etiquette. Do you think
there is some way to teach these people a little running etiquette, to make these races a
safer, and less frustrating experience for everyone else?

And then I list a couple of suggestions about how to try to accomplish that.

Anyway, I totally over-reacted, I think. Which is eating at me in the same way that every mistake I've ever made eats at me constantly. Jewish guilt -- nothing like it. Except maybe Catholic guilt. Or (insert religion or ethnicity of your choice) guilt. I feel bad, I do, in a lot of ways it ruined the race for me, and I ought to be really happy. In that kind of heat, it was a personal record, and I can't believe my last mile was an 8:13. For me, that's like the freakin' wind. There are some people who talk about running a "nice easy 7-minute mile pace." I couldn't run a 7-minute mile if I was being chased with a pickaxe.

But back to my guilt. It's so funny that this happened, because I listen to this running pocast called Phedippidations, and there's a web component and a Google group (oh my God, I really AM a running geek!) and the last podcast was about RUNNING ETIQUETTE. I was on the message board, reading about people's race gripes and such, and I posted about something my Team coach saw at the last race -- there was a woman who had clearly lined up with the wrong pace group and she was creating a bottleneck. Someone accidentally bumped her as they went past and she said something nasty. Well, this guy turned around and went back to the slow runner and YELLED at her, "If you don't want to get bumped, line up with your own pace group!" And there I go and do it. And even though I'm sure it came and went for those walkers, and even though I'm probably not the only person to mutter something to them, it upset me that I behaved like that. So that's why the cloud of sadness looms overhead.

Bizarre side note: There are some, for a lack of a better word, "interesting" people who come to these races, like Larry the Lighthouse (remember him?) Today, as I was walking to the race, I saw a guy walking with his lady friend. I noticed him because he had an enormous afro and was wearing a colorful shirt, he sort of looked like the Crab Man for you "My Name is Earl" watchers. He was also smoking a cigarette and drinking a beer. At 7:30am. So, a few minutes later, as I'm heading to the starting line, there he was again -- with a RACE NUMBER. He was in the race! AND HE BEAT ME! I ended up next to him in the finisher's chute. I almost said something to him but he started retching (wonder why?) so I moved away.

There's more, but this is a long entry and I've got to go to rehearsal. I'm doing "Broadway Bares," the annual strip show that benefits Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. I must have done really bad in a past life to get myself involved in all these charitable events. I really do enjoy them, though. I'll sneak a mid-week report in and give y'all the down-low on school, races, and repercussions.