I would never consider driving the wrong way on a one-way street. And since my daughters ran in high school, I’m aware of the traditional counter-clockwise flow of a track meet. But there is a very nice park 1.5 miles from my house that makes for a convenient morning run along a rambling circular trail. While I like and need regular exercise, I am not a fanatic, and this park path has several steep hills going the usual left-way around. Now, I’m not contrarian by nature, but if I run in the opposite direction…clockwise, those slopes are all down-hill. Much easier. Which, of course, presents some problems for other joggers and walkers who thought they were on a sort of a one-way street and were surprised to look up from their ear-plugged, runner-induced coma to confront oncoming traffic.
But if you ever had a streak of class-clown in you, you might appreciate the opportunity to startle someone out of their self-absorbed ‘zone.’ It’s a highly specialized comedic challenge, mind you, to trip a sense of humor in the split second of passing another runner (okay, a little longer in my snail-paced slog). You can imagine the fail rate.
I have learned not to take it personally if fellow runners, passing like sheep in the night, don’t react to my impromptu japes. Although, one guy just this morning, walking his tea-cup pooch on a pink leash, did snicker when I remarked that I wished I had a dog to pull me along. It doesn’t happen every time, but that line can get a rise. The secret however, as for any comedian, is to know your audience and not hit them with the same joke twice and also to make eye contact, which if you can imagine would be very difficult if you were running in tandem…another reason for facing traffic. Oh, and another gag, sometimes I look over my shoulder and ask, “Are they gaining on me?” Sometimes that gets a smirk.
This jogging is grim business and somebody has to lighten it up. I, for one, find the one-in- ten who cracks a smile, worth the effort. Anyhow they’re not even going my way and I’ll probably never see them again unless they lap me on the next round.