Today’s post is a break from my normal talking about whining about training and an ode to my anonymous running friends. I love my anonymous running friends. With all my heart. They make my day. You know who they are… they’re the people who run on your same route, at the same time and say hi to you each and every day. And, at a time when I feel like we’re getting unfriendly and isolated as a society, my Anonymous Running Friends remind me that we’re not too insulated to so hi to strangers or take a minute to smile at a stranger.
And even though I don’t know any of their names, where they work, if they’re married, single, divorced or if they’re nice people they’re almost as critical to my day as my coworkers, friends and family. So, without further adieu, I’d like to introduce you to each of my anonymous running friends:
- Red Hat Man. I adore Red Hat Man. He’s probably 70 years old (maybe mid-60s) and obviously, he wears a red hat. He was Orange Hat Man until Christmas and then he got a red hat. He runs laps at a park where I like to run and I get a “hello and good morning to you speedy!” every single day. He’s consistent. He smiles. He’s a good runner and I don’t know a single thing about him, but a morning without a good morning from Red Hat Man doesn’t feel right. I think he runs marathons and has been running a long time. There’s something something about this guy I just like. I have the feeling he’s a really good man. I mean, he gave me a hug, congrats and a bottle of water after a race even though I don’t know his name!
- Fast Spandex Dude. This guy is SERIOUS. He’s so fast, wears long spandex and usually waves at me but he’s generally moving so quickly that it’s kinda hard to tell. He has a baby face, the body of a serious runner and his speed inspires me. He must run for something more serious than fun and exercise.
- Hot Track Coach and Older Coachee. I see these guys at the track (duh). Hot Track Coach is hot but ignores me which makes me want to run faster so he’s impressed by my work ethic and speed (hahahahaha) and Older Coachee reminds me that age is a number and speed is earned. Hot Track Coach is seriously ridiculouslygoodlooking. Maybe some day I’ll hit up the drinking fountain when he does.
- Long Run Buddy. Okay, this is a great story. During Dec-April I’d been doing my long runs early on Sunday mornings rain, fog or shine. Alone. Cold. I’d always see the same guy coming the opposite direction and wave and smile (I wave and smile at everyone on the bike trail. It makes me happy) and we’d do that every week. Then, I saw him at a race in my hometown (100 miles away!) and both of us sort of gave each other the, “what are YOU doing here???” smile. Then, at my half-marathon in March we ended up running together for a few miles and chatting. He ended up passing me (booooooo) but we found each other at the end. Apparently he and his buddy I see running refer to me as “the trouper” for running alone all the time and in the rain and make bets about where I’ll be, how fast I’ll run and when they’ll see me. Under normal circumstances it would be creepy but as it turns out he’s such a nice guy (we’re totally facebook friends now!) and so hilarious that I just took the compliment of being a trouper. Also, I aplaud him for creative long-run mental games. Anyway, we chat each other up at races and because we’re similar speeds we end up pacing each other from time to time.
What’s great about my anonymous running friends is that they’re people I wouldn’t meet (ok some of them I haven’t technically met yet!) or see if I wasn’t out pounding the pavement early in the morning. And even though we don’t exchange words in a traditional way, each of the people I see regularly has a way of encouraging me to keep running even when I’m tired, even when it hurts or I’m feeling lazy. I mean, I can’t have Red Hat Man or Fast Spandex Dude thinking I’m getting soft out there! In that spirit, I hope that a smile and a wave from me and a “good morning yourself!” is enough to keep their spirits high when the going gets tough.
And you know what? I don’t think I want to know Red Hat Man’s real name or the reasons Older Coachee runs. A little mystery is kind of fun and it’s a little bit like we’re all members of a secret, early morning club and knowing that it’s John from Accounting would ruin it. And so, Anonymous Running Friends, I salute you. I salute your dedication, your smiles, your encouragement without knowing it and your ability to make my morning.