January 14, 2008

I am (still) an angry runner.

Well, it's a year to the day since I had one of the best runs of my life, the Houston Half Marathon, which I wrote about in this post.

Today was a very different kind of run. The weather was similar - cloudy, threatening to rain, perhaps a little cooler than Houston was - but the run itself was short and terribly awkward with lots of walk breaks. This just wasn't my day. I feel like I've just done a recovery run after a major race - I hurt even more than after half-marathons and this is very unusual.

I didn't wake up with sore legs - that appears to be a problem that evaporated overnight - but I sure felt the run, especially in my ankles. And though my PRE (perceived rate of exertion) was higher than for most of Sunday's run, my heartrate read 10 bpm lower. It wasn't until I had a shot of adrenaline on the route back in my last mile that my heartrate really jumped.

Steve at Phedippidations often rails against the careless and seemingly murder-intent drivers of Cambridge, MA, where he runs. The same can be said of a portion of the drivers here. I have to give credit - most of our drivers are actually quite good; courteous, attentive, and watchful, they drive at a reasonable rate and have good reflexes. They also give a wide berth when approaching runners on the street. (Where I live, the street is sometimes safer than the sidewalk along some routes...or it is the only path, as the sidewalks are often blocked by delivery vehicles and such.)

But a handful of the cage commanders are real assholes who are either unattentive, distracted, just plain lacking basic driving skills or knowledge of the rules of the road, or - the worse kind - actually intent on being jerks. Thees are the drivers most easily spotted and so it seems like there are more of them than there actually are - they're the ones doing U-turns at any point, who don't yield to pedestrians, and who will shout at runners from their cars, swerve near them, or throw cigarettes at people on the sidewalks. Almost universally, these drivers operate shitty machinery; their rides are in poor shape.

As I jogged my route home, a guy in a white car shouted at me as he passed by from behind me. Keep in mind this was a block that is one-way, but with a very wide street - plenty of room for both of us. But he insisted on cutting it close and hurling some invective at me as he went by. I was startled, and then pissed off. Without having to increase my speed, I caught up to him just after the next light. He'd made a left onto 5th ave near Greenwood Cemetary and was now caught in traffic. I got his attention from the sidewalk and then stalked over to his car, asking him (in a gruff and unpolite way) if he had a problem with me running the street? Did he yell at me as he went by? Well, he put on his innocent face and said no. I muttered "you better not have" and returned to the sidewalk and my jogging. In hindsight, this was not very smart. He was bigger than me and not alone - he had a friend in the car. Had this turned into something bigger, I would have come out the worse, I'm pretty sure, but I really wasn't thinking about that at the time. One of these days, I'm not even going to ask "if", I'm just going to take whatever offender it was, haul them out of their car, and start wailing on them. It won't be premeditated; I'm just going to snap. At those times, it doesn't matter what the odds are or what the outcome will actually be, I'm just not in complete control of myself.

This isn't the first time this has happened, either, but I think it's the first time I've written about it. I could avoid all this by running in the parks and along greenways, but I still have to cross a lot of ground to get there. As an urban runner, I will always be exposed to the cars - and they will always be exposed to me.

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