There’s an old Runners World column by John “The Penguin” Bingham (my kind of runner) in which he chats about messages on running shirts. For a photo shoot for a NYT story on running, he wore a shirt that proclaimed “I’m slow. I know. Get over it.” (See, REALLY my kind of runner.) He describes some other shirts he’s seen out on the road: “Will Run For Beer” (I happen to have this declaration on a headband) and “This seemed like a good idea 3 months ago.” As Bingham notes, anyone who has trained for an endurance event has to smile when they see that. As much as I enjoy actually participating in half-marathons and triathlons, sometimes I think the actual participation isn’t nearly as fun as seeing the brochure or magazine ad for an event, doing the quick calculations as to whether you’ll have enough time to prepare for that distance, and making the decision to train for it. Setting that goal is nice rush.
Another shirt he describes says “On the seventh day God did an easy three.” A non-runner wouldn’t get that but I’m glad that I do. It means an easy 3-mile run, which is the standard recovery or beginner distance and which I did last Saturday morning when I started my training with the delightful Rogue Running for the Zooma Half-Marathon. Most of the folks at Rogue/on Earth are far faster than I am, but no one seems to mind (at Rogue anyway; I know the rest of the planet hosts some who are bitter on this topic).
Anyway, I’m happy that I get runner jokes. I’m glad that I’ve persisted in this running nonsense, despite my non-aerodynamic build and preternatural slowness. Most of the running community is made up of the bird people, the light-framed narrow-hipped folks zipping around me on the path. I’m one of the ox people: large, lumbering, and stubbornly moving ahead one plod at a time till the job is done. We’re a much smaller group, but we have a place in the running community as well. Running doesn’t come easy for us but we do it anyway and I think that kind of behavior is good for humans.
I remember when I first started to learn bike humor as well, after getting into triathlons in 2009. I was volunteering at the packet stuffing session for a triathlon. Two lines of packet assemblers faced each other across a line of tables. At the end of the line, the gal across the table from me and I were completing the last step of packet assembly for handoff to the bag stuffers, trying to keep up with the assemblers ahead of us and keep the bag stuffers busy. She said “we need to go faster, huh? Or I guess I should say increase our cadence.” I said “yeah, let’s try to keep it at 90 a minute.” We grinned at each other, and I was happy to get/make an RPM joke that I would not have been able to get/make before that season.
When I spend time stuffing packets or handing out water on a race course, I feel like I’m giving back to the endurance athlete community, and I’m grateful to be in this community, grateful that I have the health and strength to complete these events despite my lack of athletic talent and also that, with very few exceptions (coughRunTexcough), the community is so welcoming to both the bird AND the ox people.