Tuesday is my day off. I have nothing to do, except run. So, naturally, I put it off until the mid-afternoon.
The temperature outside has dropped as Boston’s spring goes into yet another false start. I don’t notice the wind whipping as strongly until I hit the reservoir–and even then, only after I reach the more exposed side of it. Something in the combination of the wind directly in my face, and an allergy-fueled cough, and some aches and pains from running puts me in a very strange moment of tunnel vision. I see the road ahead of me, and I know there are at least two other runners, but I can’t really focus on them.
One of these runners I believe is doing a Couch to 5k, or similar program. She and I have been passing each other for about two thirds of the reservoir circuit. I have lost track of her, and she suddenly pops up in my periphery again. This is when I realize something isn’t quite right. I marshal my senses and press on until I reach somewhere where the wind is at a different angle. The C25k girl has perched on a stone staircase and appears to be doing stretches, and I zip behind her toward the path to the road.
But, I am already starting to think about slowing up and walking the rest. “Just to the edge of the park,” I tell myself. Then, “to the intersection.” I manage to push myself for another few blocks, for a 25-minute run, before I let myself fade out and give up. I am still not quite sure what to make of the tunnel vision. It sapped my energy somewhat, whatever it represented. I am feeling better now that I have slowed, and am walking back to my apartment.
When I return home, I shower quickly and make last-minute plans with my girlfriend (the date went well). I aim to head over there as she completes her run, then cook her dinner while she showers (She started a C25k program a few days earlier, and has been reading my blog; I am kind of pleased with myself about these two facts). When I arrive, she is stretching on the floor, and quite agitated.
“I think I’m going to write an essay about the feminist perspective on jogging,” she says over the footboard of her bed.
On a previous run, men had called out to her while passing them on the street. They had apparently done more of the same today. I asked what had happened, and at first got a snarl, before she explained there was more of the “Hey baby, work that ass” type of calling while she was out mere minutes before. She stands up, wearing baggy grey sweatpants, and a black martial arts T-shirt, rolled up at the sleeves. A look she calls the “Jogging Metal-head Grandmother.” It is not her sexiest look.
I hug her, and suggest that the problem could be Mission Hill, but could offer no better advice.
This incident brought me back to my previous thoughts on encouraging passing runners. Generally, when I am in a good mood, I also want to encourage other people, even when I’m not running. I have also had smiles and encouragement from other runners, and it has kept me going. But I also can’t shake the feeling sometimes this comes off as creepy. But when in doubt, I keep to myself.
She also asked whether any of my female running friends had advice on how to deal with it. Ideally more helpful than “Run somewhere else” and “Ignore it.” As most of the runners I know read this blog, I throw the question to you all.