The Connection Runners + [running]

In a Perfect Running World...

Daydreaming gets me through a lot of hard times. Lines at the grocery store, hours of proctoring state standardized tests, awkward family functions. Yet it's when I'm running long, hard miles that my mind tends to wander the most.

Sometimes, if I'm lucky, I downright black out a little bit and "wake-up" a half-mile or so later, happy to discover that I'm that much closer to being done with what is probably a really crappy run.

I daydream about a myriad of things while I run: what I'll eat when I get home, where Charlotte will go to college, what it would be like to make as much money as a pro sports player but without all of the drama like cheating on my wife or shooting myself in the foot.

But mostly I dream about a world that unfortunately only exists in my clouded head, a perfect running world where all of the following things might happen:

  • A lady ringing a cowbell would be present at every race and every long run I complete. Back in the mid-90's, the sound of a cowbell used to make me want to cut people as a lady at my brother's baseball games used to ring one incessantly. Since I took up running, however, I've found the cowbell to be hilarious and motivating at the end of a race.

  • Sweat wouldn't accumulate in the most awkward places. Why does it always look like I've peed myself?
  • Walkers would line up correctly in start-line corrals. Hey, it's fine if you're going to start the race by walking and talking on your cell phone (true story from the 2010 Crim 10-Miler), but next time don't do so in a pack of runners who're looking to run the first mile really fast and then burn out by the time they hit the Bradley Hills, damnit. On the other hand, if you're a racewalker, please line up right next to me so I can spend the entire race trying to figure out how you've beaten me with your Gumby-like stride.
  • Old people wouldn't cause me so much anxiety.

    • Elderly Exhibit A: Grandma Josephine wouldn't block the sidewalk/street with her mint-condition 1996 Buick Park Avenue. Listen, lady, I know you've got a bridge club or church meeting to get to, but I'm trying to maintain marathon goal pace right now, so turn down the classical station and look out for those of us still aware of the bottom half of our bodies.

    This photo has nothing to do with the words I'm writing, but these wrinkles look so excited to be learning about AOL and Microsoft Word.

    • Elderly Exhibit B: I'd actually feel sorrow in the final 200 meters as I sprint past the 78-year-old man in American flag shorts who's running his 50th marathon. In another life (circa 1972 maybe), he and his waffle-iron originals would've put me to shame, but in those final steps he's just another name that will appear under mine in the overall results.
  • People who choose to run in small groups would adopt a formation other than a straight-across-the-course line. Last I checked, I'm running a road race, not playing Red Rover.
  • Aid station etiquette would be taught in pre-race seminars. Taking water? Stopping to eat some Gu? Quick check over your shoulder, pull off to the side, and slow down or walk if needed. Runners who make sudden stops in the middle of the station should be treated to this instead of fuel:

  • PRs would come easily, thighs wouldn't chafe, sports bras would support, the post-race beer would always be free and plentiful, and this post wouldn't happen because everything would be filled with kittens and Strawberry Shortcake and happiness.

Your turn: In a perfect running world, what do you wish for? (i.e., what complaint would you like to thinly veil in comedy and bold-face type?)