On Saturday night, I came home from 10 days in Kauai. Unfortunately, it seems that I forgot to bring my brain home with me — my mind has been replaying the tapes of my experiences on the Garden Island nonstop. One thing in particular was something that happened on one of my 5 mile runs.
I had headed out on my run around 9:00 AM, a bit later than I had wanted to as, after 9:00, the walkers, stroller pushers and cars, which ironically, seem to move at a slightly slower pace than the stroller pushers, come out in force. My run took me past an attraction called Spouting Horn — think Old Faithful but not really — and to the end of a road that provided some pretty spectacular views of the Pacific and of Kauai’s southern coastline. To get those views though, there is a bit of an uphill that needs to be tackled. In reality though, the uphill isn’t much of an uphill, it lets you know it’s there and little else.
So I’m running with my typical gazelle like stride, or anteater like plod, you be the judge, up the steepest portion when I saw three mid 50’ish people walking up the same hill. The road was a bit wider than a one car dirt road but these people had decided that they did in fact own the whole darn road. So, as I approached, I said “On your right…” to remind them of their obligation to share the road. The woman on the far right, roughly 18.73″ away from the plant life (and Cane Spiders) that line the road, jumped in an abrupt, startled fashion and looked back at me like I was some deranged crazy man on the prowl for white legged tourists donning socks and sandals. Upon further inspection, they decided that I was most likely harmless and let me pass.
As I passed the woman on the left commented about me to the man in the middle and the woman on the right, who obviously had a really bad case of tourette’s, “I feel like I’m about to die just from walking, how is it that he’s running!”. In a moment of inspiration that could have only been inspired by the the wisdom of Solomon, the man replied, “He’s a runner. This stuff is easy for them!”. Never have I wanted to punch someone in the face so badly. And, before you judge me too harshly, keep in mind that I was running in the morning (translation: before morning caffeine) and, when the adrenaline kicks in, it’s anyone’s guess as to what words will come out of my mouth. But here I am, out of my element, running up a hill in 138% humidity and the thermostat spiking at 157 degrees F, and he’s saying that, just because I happen to run in a climate that is much more hospitable, running in conditions rarely experienced outside of a sauna is a piece of cake?
Honestly, I wasn’t in bad shape at all but the comment kind of irritated me. And, out of all of the comments that went through my head, the one I chose to voice was something like “Ya, this stuff’s a piece of cake!”. I refrained from adding, “Why don’t you join me and it can be easy for you too!”.
As I put some distance between myself and them, I obsessed on the comment for a bit — yes, I’m that weird — and I started to realize that the perception of us, we who chose to plod along mile after mile, though flawed, isn’t really that negative. So, to the guy in the middle of the two women, “Darn right, I’m a runner and running in those conditions was easy for me.” Ok, it wasn’t exactly easy, but I ain’t tellin’ him that!