Saturday, December 8, 2012

How 'bout Just a Friendly Wave

"If you run 100 miles a week, you can eat anything you want - Why? Because: (a) you'll burn all the calories you consume; (b) you deserve it; and (c) you'll be injured soon and back on a restricted diet anyway."- Don Kardong

Several months ago (maybe years, who knows?), I was running on the Lakeshore Greenway with my buddy Moha, and this runner comes up the opposite way. Being the jovial, friendly runner that I think I am, I give a hearty "Good Morning" as my runner-friend zips hi, no wave, no grunt. Moha saves the day with a "Good Morning Al". I immediately answer with a "Good Morning Moha". Ever since then, this has become pretty standard between us whenever a greeting to another runner goes unacknowledged....Good Morning Al...Good Morning Moha. I had to let out a laugh the other day when I was running with my training group on a long run. Moha didn't make it (read: slept-in, hung-over, too cold, etc) and when a runner coming in the opposite direction failed to even notice my "Good Morning", one of our new trainees stepped right up to the plate with a "Good Morning Al". Perfect! 

I remember, way back when in the olden days of yore, when two runners would pass each other, they would exchange cordial hello's, waves, or some other greeting that would convey that we are each members of the secret Society of the Running Brotherhood. The unusual thing was when a runner lumbered on by and didn't say anything. Boy, when that happened, it really would frost me! I always took that junk personally. Of course, I would just let steam blow out my ears, but my old sidekick, Bill Tucker, would dog-cuss the old fool. Yeah, Bill was quite the piece of work! Can't count how many times we had to put our running skills to work to keep from getting chased - I remember we were running early on a long training run one Sunday when these yahoos in a pickup truck, probably returning from an all-nighter at the Fuzzy Mule, whistled at us. Without hesitation, Bill yells back "Your mother loves it!". My initial reaction was "crap" as brake lights lit up and the truck doing a u-turn. All I remember was running through back yards, down alleys and up a wooded hillside to elude Bubba and his buddies. You know, they say a good friend will bail you out of jail...but your best friend is sitting next to you in the cell saying "man, that was fun". Geez!!!

Ok, where was I? Oh yeah. These days, we runners hardly ever exchange verbal greetings anymore. At best, we'll give a slight wave, or my favorite, the-serious-game-face-nod. Still, we are better than cyclists. Usually, it's nothing at all, BUT, if I'm lucky enough to get any recognition at all, it will more times than not be the standard, secret cyclist club wave - four fingers extended downward from the unmoving hand positioned on the handlebar. Quite subtle, but in the right light you can catch it! That's what you get from a "friendly" cyclist. I must say, when I do yell in semi-anger, it's usually more at a cyclist than a runner, I guess because I know he's moving away from me at 20 MPH and probably can't hear me. Actually, I must admit, there are several times when a cyclist will go whizzing past me in the opposite direction at 20MPH and yell "Hey, Al", but honestly, with sunglasses and a helmet, I haven't got the foggiest idea who it is. I do good enough to remember folks names when they're standing next to me, not moving at all, undisguised. My standard default..."Hey buddy"..."Hey Girl".

Ok, let's get back on track here. About 6 months ago,  I was running along with another of my running pals, Mark, and I greeted this oncoming runner with my usual "Good Morning" and was answered with a lively "Thank You"! Still don't have a comeback for that one except "you're welcome". Then there was the time recently when a runner beat me to the punch and rather sheepishly said "how-ya-doin?". I was so surprised, in answer, I very enthusiastically said "Let me tell you, I am doing GREAT". I know he thought "What a frickin' nutcase".

Ok, I'm finished letting off some steam about 21st Century runners. It's not really a big deal, but then again, what is? No sense getting all steamed about something I can't control. I think I'm probably exaggerating some and really most runners are happy to initiate or respond with some form of Hello to another athlete in misery agony training.
If I see you running along one morning and I say "Good Morning", for Pete's sake, at least give me one of those serious game-faced nods. For sure, I'll see you on the roads - AL

"One child lost is too child saved can change the world"

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