An open apology to the Jersey Shore Bro I ran with on Philadelphia’s Wissahickon Creek Bike Path this weekend.
My regrets for the anguish I recently put you through. I did not drive to Pennsylvania with the express purpose of making your Saturday run on Forbidden Drive absolutely miserable, but you deserved it.
Here’s what I noticed when we passed by each other the first time on the Wissahickon Bike Path:
- Your knee-length basketball shorts. In all fairness, I was wearing shorts that openly advertise my high school lacrosse team, so maybe I shouldn’t talk. But knee-length basketball shorts – coupled with your Jersey Shore demeanor – signify to my judgmental side that you were probably only out for a 3 or 4-mile run before hitting the gym to get swoll. Just so you know, I was running nine miles. Justttt so you know.
- Your initial pace. When we passed by one another the first time, you were shuffling and appeared to be suffering intensely. When you turned around in the other direction to pass me, you were suddenly sprinting. I may not be a fisherman, but I caught that.
- Your refusal to acknowledge my “Runner’s Hello.” Just so you know, fellow runners not locked into the intense focus required by a speed workout will often give one another a nod or wave as they pass by. It is an acknowledgement of our shared understanding of the task. An implicit, “You, fellow runner, understand my suffering and also my enjoyment of something others might peg as drudgery.” This is also known as simple everyday politeness. I gave you the nod and all I got in response was a curled lip and a glare. My mistake for the misread. You’re not in the fellowship.
Shall we review the incident?
As I was enjoying my jaunt along the back paths of this fine city, debating lyrics for my next country hit and noting from the cloud cover that it is not, in fact, Always Sunny In Philadelphia, you shuffled by me in the opposite direction, committing the aforementioned faux pas.
Fifteen steps later, you abruptly turned around and headed back in the same direction I was going. You blew past me with mincing, angry muscle-boy steps.
Then, you made the fatal mistake of turning your head to check out how much distance you’d put on me.
Just so you know, this was all the invitation I needed to inflict physical and psychological torture on you for the remaining mile and a half before the bike path reached its end.
You, sir, invited the hunt, and how silly of you to assume I was not going to answer a challenge from somebody who looked like a sliiiightly less roundhouse-kick-worthy version of The Situation.
Unfortunately for me, you were in relatively good shape – at least, good enough shape to avoid having me completely embarrass you over 1.5 miles.
Unfortunately for you, I was in good enough shape to embarrass you anyway. You turned around every 24 seconds hoping that I’d faded back, but instead, there I was, breathing down your neck and pressing your pace even further. Didn’t expect that, did you? (Just so you know, next time you’re being run-stalked you can just turn down whatever awful music was blasting on your iPod — that way you can hear my footsteps instead of having to turn around and look back repeatedly, which, A. makes you seem nervous and foolish and B. just reinforces my desire to press the pace.)
Well, it turned into a full-on race. To your credit, I don’t remember the last time I ran 1.5 miles that fast.
When you finally flew up to the stoplight that signifies the end of the path and thanked God the light was red, you promptly bent double, hands on your knees and wheezing, giving a subtle check to ensure I was still behind you. Well, just so you know, while you stopped at the light for a rest and then hobbled through the crosswalk, I made a right-turn and headed up a mile long hill for the rest of my run.
All I’m really trying to say is thank you, and sorry I was being rude by blatantly employing your insecurities to conduct a bit of impromptu speedwork.