Friday, May 8, 2009

Being "that runner guy"

I work virtual office, which has its benefits and drawbacks. I work in sales and when I'm travelling a lot and out in front of customers most days, it's fantastic to not also have a commute to deal with. But recently I have taken on a new role that, at least in the early stages of getting ramped up, has resulted in me being in the office a lot more than I'm used to. And I'm going a bit stir crazy. And my kids are driving me nuts.

Today the cleaning people were coming and so rather than try to talk on the phone or do web conferences with the vacuum roaring or a mop slamming against my office door I decided to flee to the "Starbucks Office."

So I'm standing at that little counter where they keep all the goodies--sugar, milk, those little wooden stir sticks, etc.--and a woman in sweats and a Red Sox hat says, "Do you run a lot?"

"Uh, yeah, kinda," I answer, taking a quick look down just to make sure I'm not wearing any running clothes or a race t-shirt. Hmm, nope--jeans, button-down shirt, normalish shoes. Crap was it the watch? Stupid timex ironman is a dead giveaway.

"I thought so because I see you out running all the time," she says.

Ah, yes. Normally when I get this it's from someone I kind of know, or used to know and they see me running every day from their car as they whiz by in a blur--one hand on the wheel, one hand texting, one hand shoving a muffin down their gullet, one hand holding an extra large coffee from Dunks up to eye level--and they get to reconstruct how and why they know me over many daily sightings. And so when they finally corner me at the grocery store or at my kid's softball practice to them it's as if we've seen each other every morning for a year. Except I haven't seen them in 20 years because--and this may come as some surprise--I can't see let alone recognize anyone through the early morning glare off the windshield of an SUV going 45 mph the other direction while I'm hugging the shoulder just looking to keep a safe distance from their front quarter panel. It has resulted in countless awkward moments...but at least I wasn't expected to recognize this woman.

"Oh, yeah, are you a runner or do you normally see me from your car?" I ask knowing the answer.

"Uh, no, I'm usually driving," she says.

And then begins the obligatory 15 minutes of her telling me about her fits and starts with running, her knee troubles, how she ran a marathon in 2000 but has had 3 kids since then, and then of course, "Have you run must run marathons, right?"

Ugh. Despite my initial instinct to scream that there's more to life than marathons, that marathons are stupid, that any overweight jogger can run a marathon, that I hate marathons, I simply say, "Yeah, I've run a few."

And on and on it goes. And she might run the Falmouth Road Race this year, and have I ever done that? And her knees, and her three kids, and she'll be 40 soon, and oh I'll be 40 this year? Wow. But how many kids do I have? FOUR? Wow, and shoes, and treadmills, and the gym, and okay nice to meet you, and thank God can I now just find a seat in the corner and drink my coffee and do some email? Please?

I'll never understand the phenomenon of non-runners feeling the need to tell runners every detail of their running/fitness/weight loss/health/diet history complete with a laundry list of excuses as to why they don't "work out" more. For starters, why assume I care? Don't get me wrong, I appreciate and enjoy running for its full spectrum of benefits including health, weight control, stress relief and everything else. But to be clear; even at my hobbyjogger level I long ago crossed over the threshold of the amount of running one would sanely do if it were really about that. I train to race. I race for sport. It's an athletic competition. You wouldn't start talking up some golf nut about your walking regimen would you? So start talking about calorie counting and weight loss and spinning class (what's that now?) and my eyes glaze over. But more importantly, would you offer all that info up to a non-running complete stranger? I dunno. Weird. But it happens all the time when you're "that runner guy."


  1. It's cause you're so damn handsome...all the ladies just want to see what it takes to get to the MikeyMike.

  2. Do you run a lot?

    Umm, yeah, kinda.

    That was funny. Enjoy blogging while in your office at Starbucks getting away from the people that clean your house.

  3. Point taken, Lank. Hey I never said I wasn't an EP, however the cleaning people only come every 2 weeks and we can't afford them. Plus all I got was a tall coffee for $1.76.

  4. As you know, my runs max at about 5 miles on a good day ... but I keep doing them in highly populated areas in the hopes that, someday, someone in this town will say, "Hey, I see you running all the time!" so I can know what that feels like.

    Glad to see the blog. Welcome to my universe.