Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The People You Run Into

One of the things I really love about running is that it can, and should, be social. I have pretty much always run with other people - first my mom, then my high school team, then my college team. Wherever I go, I seek out running friends - while working at summer camp, studying abroad in Niger, moving to a new city. 

(I'm not exactly sure what this says about me...the fact that I can only spend so much time alone with my own thoughts...)

But finding a good running buddy/workout partner can be hard. People you love in every other context can become your worst enemy when they start pushing the pace half-way into a tempo run. Or the opposite, someone you hate may match your stride exactly in every repeat, keeping you on pace but not pushing too hard, and lead you to your best times ever. 

Through my many running encounters, I have identified certain characters. You probably know some of them, and you may even be one of them!
Chatty Cathywon't shut up. I love these people as running partners because they provide endless mindless babble to entertain me throughout my runs (and I'm pretty sure I can be quite the Chatty Cathy myself on occasion). I did a treadmill tempo run last winter in the storage garage at the indoor track (aka the most booooring location ever! Me + tennis balls + hurdles = not exactly visually stimulating). In said storage room, there were 2 treadmills. So while I sweated out 4 miles at 6:10 pace, my teammate on the treadmill next to me treated me to all the details of her online dating escapades. Thank you Chatty Cathy. 

Tired Tinas are always tired. They always feel like garbage. They're always under-rested, over-worked, and still recovering from that workout/long run/night out. 

Beat-You-Anyways-Bettys are the much more toxic version of the Tired Tina. BYA-Bettys will go on and on about how tired they are, how they're going to be really slow today, how they're so out of shape. And then they will beat you anyways. Because I'm pretty sure they're really not that tired. How to respond to this? Once I've identified a BYA-Betty, I just ignore them. Do not, under any circumstances, show any sympathy. 

You: "No, no, I'm sure you'll be fine"
BYA-Betty: ""Ugh, no, I am so slow right now!"
You: "You always say that, but you always run well."
BYA-Betty: "Well, maybe I'll just run with you today, since I'm so tired"

And then she beats you anyways. Bitch.

Drafting Drews run right behind you. I'll admit, sometimes I am one, not because I want to be, but because a) I'm bad at pacing, and b) sometimes I am forced to be (see Step-Ahead Susans in Workout Mode). Basically, running in lane 2 sucks. I just won't do it if I don't have to. 

Winning Wendys have to win each rep of every workout. If they're faster than you, then they just lead and win. If not, then they're all about the Drafting Drew plus a sit-and-kick. Regardless, you'll either be left in the dust, or sprinting the last 100m. I learned early on that it does not matter who wins the workouts. Just bring it on race day. 

Step-Ahead Susans will always be just one stride ahead of you. I HATE running with these people. (My mom is a SA-Susan, and I refused to run with her for a good solid 4 years. True story. My own mama.) You're running behind one, and you realize that you're running the exact same pace. So you speed up a teeny-tiny bit for just a stride or two so that you can run next to eachother. And SA-Susan then speeds up a teeny-tiny bit for just a stride or two so that she will stay that one stride in front of you. So you think, "hmm, ok, that's obnoxious." And you try again a few minutes later. And THE SAME THING HAPPENS AGAIN! 
At that point, I just stop. Literally. And wait for this SA-Susan to get far enough ahead of me so that we're not even running together anymore. Trust me from experience, it's better to run alone than to run with a SA-Susan. 
Step-Ahead Susans in Workout Mode are even worse. I hate to be a Drafting Drew, but SAS-Workout Mode will not let you pass them to lead the damn thing! So you end up either running in lane 2, a half-stride behind,  as Ms. SAS-Workout Mode picks it up a teeny-tiny bit every time you try to pass, or you are a Drafting Drew. (Or you workout solo until you can beat SAS-Workout Mode at her own game.)

Confused Carlas are usually harmless, but just don't know what is going on. They tend to ask a lot of questions. They show up late and unprepared. "What's the workout today?" "Where are we running?"
If you usually workout on Wednesdays, they always seem very surprised when there is a workout on Wednesday. 
Some Confused Carlas take it to the extreme. I've been asked all too many ridiculous questions,
For example:

CC a couple hours pre-race: I haven't eaten all day, what should I do?
Me: You should probably eat something.
CC: Ok. What should I eat?
Me: I don't know, what do you normally eat?
CC: I don't know...
Me: Well, why don't you go get a bagel?
CC: Ok. I'll go get a bagel. What should I put on it?
Me: Um, how about peanut butter?
CC: Ok, I'll go do that now then. 

Seriously??? Yes.