Running in a Type A City

6 Aug

One of the things about New York is that we have the best of the best here.  I’m not saying that we have all the best people in the world but that, in almost any walk  of life, any academic or athletic pursuit, basically anything at all, we have some highly talented people and, unless you know someone or are really good at whatever it is you do, you will have a hard time competing.  For an example just look at our women’s roller derby team, The Gotham Girls, who routinely trounce all their competition.  As a person who considers herself to be more or less average — although I did just manage to accomplish a feat I never thought possible:  I cut my forearm on a not-very-sharp table corner because I was mindlessly leaning on it while reading pointless articles about women’s gymnastics on the internet rather than working on my thesis — New York could, potentially, be frustrating and disheartening.  Luckily for me, I am not Type A.  Not even close.  I am a steady-goes it, low-stress, often-running-late kind of a gal.  And, honestly, I like it that way.  What I do not like, however, is when my blissful Type B day gets invaded by some Type A nutjob in running shorts.  And now, story time.

This morning I did what I do most mornings (or afternoons, depending on the amount of farting around I engage in):  I laced up my running shoes.  I then proceeded to waste about 1/2 hour, meandering around the house, complaining to no one in particular about how hungry I was.  Once that ritual was completed, I headed out the door for my loop around the park.*  Up I went, following my normal path.  Over and up, over and up.  I got onto the main running road and assumed my slower-than-normal pace because, due to my new and theoretically better plan which is explained in the below asterisked portion of the post, I have become significantly less fit.  No matter.  At some point either approaching or ascending The Big Hill I came upon a man in his mid-60’s.  I approached him from behind, breathing more heavily than normal, and assumed I would just cruise by him.  But no.  He sped up.  I hate when people do that.  Whatever.  I didn’t let it bother me.  At the top of The Big Hill I decided to give the man some space so my running experience wouldn’t be negatively impacted.  I pulled over next to a tree to stretch.  I was joined, moments later, by a friendly speed-walker who, when I greeted her, dazzled me with a thick accent reserved for Jewish people born and raised in New York City.  We chatted for a minute or two, I wished her a good walk and carried on.  Not too much later I caught back up with the older man.  Clearly, he had fallen off the pace he had earlier assumed in order to not allow me to easily pass him on The Big Hill.  I chuckled to myself.  As I approached him for the second time that day he did the thing I hoped he wouldn’t do but which I knew deep down he absolutely would do:  he sped up.  Ugh.  Annoying.  As we covered the final .8 miles of the park loop, the man kept slowing down to the point where I’d come up over his left shoulder and then, when his Type A Spidey Sense alerted him he was about to be caught and passed by a girl with boobs and hair, he sped up again.  So I decided to do what any normal person would do:  I controlled my breathing and pushed the pace because you know what?  If he is going to get all competitive and annoying and take the fun out of my run, then I am going to make him want to vomit by forcing him to run faster than he is comfortable doing.  So, slowly but surely I continued to speed up.  He followed suit.  When I came up to the final 100 meters of the run, more or less, I decided to do what I often do, sprint to the finish and, wouldn’t you know it, he started racing me.  I mean, really?  Rather than stew in sweaty silence I called out to him

Is it really that important to out sprint me?  Do you feel good now?  Thanks for ruining my run, jerk.

He looked over his shoulder with a scowl that expressed anger, embarrassment, and shock.  I had called him out on his poor Type A behavior and he was not happy about it.  I ran home, feeling less cleansed than usual from my running experience.  Damnit.

But seriously, this sort of thing happens all the time and, I would like to point out, the annoying party is always male.  Always.  Never do women seem insulted by being passed by a runner who is (A) faster (B) having a random really awesome running day or (C) doing some sort of a tempo run.  So I want to say to all you Type A runners out there, please leave me be.  I am out there running not to be faster than everyone else in the park, but to have fun and clear my mind.  Running is the one hobby in my life that has been a constant for me.  I have picked up and dropped so many other activities — trumpet, tennis, gymnastics — but, for whatever reason, this is the one that has stuck. I love it because I can do it in my own time and on my own schedule.  I love it because it’s something that I do just for me, not to be better than anyone else, not for bragging rights, just for my own happiness.  And I love it because it allows me a small bit of time to be outdoors without a huge, heavy shoulder bag, more or less alone.  So please, please, if you see me running, don’t try and out run me.  Don’t try to prove to me that you’re faster.  Honestly, I could care less.  All I ask is that you let me continue, unchallenged, doing what I love doing.  Just let me run.

And one last thing.  Get a life.

*Recently I decided that I would try and run just one loop around the park, about 5 1/2-5 3/4 miles, 6 days a week rather than put pressure on myself to run more miles slightly less often, thereby lessening the pressure quotient and making running more fun.  Pressure takes the fun out of things for me.  The problem, however, is now I have put pressure on myself to run 6 days a week, which effectively dissuades me from actually running those 6 days, resulting in less weekly mileage and more difficult (read: less enjoyable) sometimes-daily runs.  I think I need a new, pressure and commitment free, plan.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: