Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Things that I notice...

A few days ago, my amazing athlete wife, who twice represented the US in world competitions, and was once ranked fifth in the world, and was twice the Maryland state Triathlon champion, decided out of the blue to run a half marathon.

So on Sunday she ran the Parks Half Marathon, which starts in Rockville and ends in Bethesda. Even though she hasn't competed in over a decade, she still managed to beat her predicted time by almost nine minutes and finish in the top 10% of runners..

But that's not why I'm posting this.

Over the years of both running and (more recently) waiting at the finish line for my wife, I have perfected the art of people watching, or in this case, of runner watching.

I have noticed a new, unique class of runners, that I must comment on, but first a little side story.

Anderson and I get the the finish area (corner of Elm and 47th Street), and it's pretty crowded, but I noticed about half a block of sidewalk on the inside line that's all empty, and thus we walk over some orange cones and stand there to cheer the runners and wait for mommy.

A race official comes over and warns me that the owner of the house behind me has been coming out and shooing people away from "her sidewalk."

I thank him and shrug my shoulders. After all, this is the People's Soviet Socialist Republic of Montgomery County, and last I've heard, everyone (except David Gregory and apparently this lady) knows that public sidewalks are public property.

Surely enough, soon a nice lady comes out of her huge dacha and asks me politely to get off her sidewalk.

I look at her, sensing that a learning moment for this otherwise Bethesda progressive... cough, cough... is about to take place.

"This is a public sidewalk," I say, also nicely, and pointing to the sidewalk areas that extend beyond the facade of her huge, massive house.

"It's in front of my house," she responds.

"That is obvious to the most causal observer... so it's that park," I note, pointing to the park across the street, "But it is still a public park... and so is this sidewalk..."

"Please get off my sidewalk," she re-affirms, her face full of indignation.

"No," I say, and then add, "Are you aware that it is probably some sort of misdemeanor to claim and usurp public property as your private property?" I say nicely to her. She looks a little puzzled.

"Maybe I should get a nice policeman and ask him if it is some sort of an offense for a citizen to try to kick another citizen out of public property." I start looking around.

She looks a little concerned, and I can tell that my use of the word "citizen" has kicked some dust in her Bolshevik brain... but then she turns around and leaves in a huff... probably returning to her favorite MSNBC show.

Immediately several other citizens, until then crowded in the other side of the orange cones, begin migrating onto "her sidewalk."

Back to my initial observation about runners.

Over the last few years I have detected a whole new "class" of runners whom:

(a) don't usually "look" like serious runners (gaunt, and sunburned, and wearing alien-looking sunglasses, and really expensive running shoes that always look new, because they only run 500 miles per shoe set before replacing them - I know this) and

(b) come to these organized races looking like they're getting ready for WWIII.

They have the most amazing and latest Under Armour outfits: compression socks, glow in the dark running shoes, Batbelts with ten pounds of super-Astronaut food stuff in all kinds of compartments, water camels on their backs, Ipods strapped to their upper arms, really expensive watches that can pinpoint your location on planet Earth within inches, etc.

They looks like dressed down Borgs on PT day!

Funny thing is that the winners of these races are usually long-legged, sleek, beautiful African runners in tiny running shorts, regular running shoes and little else!

Just sayin'