When it comes to races, some people enjoy the larger events with the big group of runners and cheering crowd. Me, I like to feel like I’m on my own little run until I get to the finish line where there is hopefully a shiny new medal waiting. Don’t get me wrong, big events are thrilling and the race-swag is nice. However, with a larger group of runners comes a bigger chance of running along side some annoying people.
The Stony Creek Distance Run is a small, week-night 5K and 10K race that takes place on the trails of Stony Creek Metropark. It’s also cheap, which made it a perfect choice for me. After a nerve-wrecking drive from Birmingham to Shelby Township in rush-hour traffic (it should be mandatory punishment for sex offenders to drive M-59 at rush hour every day for the rest of their lives), I happily awaited a pleasant run on the trails. Oh, and pleasant it was- perfect mid 70’s temps with no wind gusts or humidity. Pleasant, that is, until I ran into Annoying Jerk.
Commonly during a race I distract myself by focusing on other runners and assigning them names and character traits. For example: “Wow, Blue Shirt Girl is fast. I’ll let her pace me for a while. I wish I had her butt.” Or, “Ooh, Tattoo Guy sure has some dreamy eyes…” are thoughts often going through my head. For the first two miles of my 10K I focused on Old Iron Man, an older-looking fellow with an Iron Man logo tatooed on his ankle. I assumed that meant he had completed a full Iron Man and therefore he was instanly my hero. I ran close behind him for a while, until I was finally accosted by Annoying Jerk.
Annoying Jerk came from behind around mile 2.5 and began running my exact pace, nearly shoulder-to-shoulder. Since we were running on a narrow trail, and I’m claustrophobic, and who the hell does that shit anyway, I tried to surge ahead to lose him. In doing so, I passed Old Iron Man. “Great job!” he said to me. Awww. I dropped Annoying Jerk for a while until he caught up with me, again running practically on top of me. I tried to express my annoyance in civil ways, such as sighing heavily and surging ahead several more times. But each time I did, Annoying Jerk would come sprinting from behind to run my exact fucking pace.
Now, if Annoying Jerk had been a good-looking shirtless guy, I may have enjoyed the company. “Why doesn’t he just pass me?” I kept thinking to myself, until finally I decided to lose him for good. With a 2 miles left to run, I sprinted ahead and never saw him again. I was then able to enjoy a solitary run through the beautiful trails until I crossed the finish line.
As I stood around after the race waiting for results to get posted (2nd in my age group, woo-hoo!), Old Iron Man congratulated me on a good run. “You kept a great steady pace! Good for you!” Old Iron Man also won his age group! I want him to be my grandpa. Then I saw him. Annoying Jerk was coming right at me. “Hey there! Good job!” Well, you would know, you were practically running on top of me THE ENTIRE RACE. But I didn’t say that. I thanked him. He then proceeded to explain how he had an hour drive to the race, and how he could’ve run faster had he not been so tired. Dude, don’t give me your bull-shit. I beat you and that’s all there is to it. Go home and cry into your Annoying Jerk beer.
In the end, the crazy antics of one inconsiderate runner weren’t enough to ruin my race. I went home, cleaned the dirt off of my shins and relaxed with some red wine. I’m running another 10K on Saturday- the AdvoKate in Rochester. Let’s hope there’s more Old Iron Men than Annoying Jerks (and some shirtless guys wouldn’t hurt).