Guest Blogger Eric Jorgensen
I don’t know what it is about running, but it often colors me shy.
I live near rural trails and roads and could avoid human contact when I choose. However, I’ve seen Deliverance, 127 Hours, and recently the trailer for The Grey, and now irrational fear oozes from my wide-open eyes when I venture off the beaten path. So, I tend to run in the city.
This brings me back to my approaching conundrum: I’m running on a sidewalk and this guy in front of me doesn’t hear my footsteps. I’m betting he won’t see me until I pass into his peripheral vision, at which point he should jump wildly and gasp. That is the reaction 50 percent of the time. Sometimes they don’t react at all; I’d say 45 percent of the time. But there’s five percent who scare me. Their initial reaction to being startled is self-defense.
If you’re like me, it’s with these people in mind I start acting very strange. I give a little cough for starters, which escalates into a grunt, and then to foot stomping. At this point I’ve made up my mind to pretty much run a circle around them. I stomp and parade and look and feel like a fool.
The moment of truth… I run past them, and as I assumed, they react like a cat hearing a crashing noise. Sorry, dude.
It’s not just this moment when I become an awkward teenager asking a girl out for the first time. Have you ever waited at an intersection, and then been waved across by a driver in a car? Have you then run with a form you’ve never in your life used before? When presented with this situation, I tend to put my chin into my chest, bunch my shoulders, and then prance like a show pony across the road as I give a tiny wave of gratitude to the driver. I mean, running normal would look out place, right?
Seriously, I cannot act normal when I run. It’s during runs I think about those hilarious moments that are only funny to me, so I start randomly laughing, much to the curiosity and judgmental looks of bystanders. I also have to pee, like, nonstop.
I hate when I see a runner on my path who is much faster than me. Here’s the thing: I’m a decent runner, but I’m not that great, so there are plenty of these faster runner types. When I see them, I become very competitive and try to keep pace. This is a mistake from which I never learn.
My friends have an inside joke about me. I always say that my first rule of running is, “Sprint the finish.” They say it’s, “Sprint by girls.” I literally cannot stop myself. I could have been running for hours, but if I’m approaching a female, my legs instinctively and independently from my mind decide to speed up, because out-of-breath, sweaty men sprinting through random parts of town impress women, obviously. I hate running where there are lots of women, because I can never catch my breath.
Take everything I’ve told you, now imagine what I look like running a marathon. I’m all over the place—totally unpredictable. During last year’s San Francisco Marathon, I stopped for two restroom breaks, laughed it up with my running buddy, trotted like a fool in front of cars, and, after accidentally injuring my knee, still sped up when I saw a group of girls with signs cheering for us runners. After all that, I still loved the race.
Even if you’re awkward like me, please don’t let that stop you from running. It’s great practice in becoming less self-conscious.
Eric Jorgensen is a magazine editor and blogger from the Kansas City-metro area. He once had a Coca-Cola commercial made about him for being one of the craziest college basketball fans in the country, which he still is (Rock Chalk). He has run a road race in full hipster garb, and has yet to drown during a triathlon. His first marathon was the 2011 San Francisco Marathon, which he live-Tweeted. Friend him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter.