He was there again today.
He’s got the tan you acquire by running 80 gazillion miles a year. Race T-shirt. Tiny shorts. Bright orange shoes. Legs that appear to be two-thirds of his body.
If you were a tennis player hitting against the wall and noticed that Federer was hitting on the next wall, what would you do? OK, you’d let your racquet slip and whack him in the head. Bad example. But this guy is an ultrarunning GOD. And he’s on a recumbent bike three feet behind me.
At least I THINK it’s him. What if it’s NOT him? I will appear to be an idiot. Actually, I AM an idiot, but try not to blow my cover any more than is necessary. It’s GOTTA be him, right? And what if I’m not ME? Running is supposed to be my time not to think. This is not going well.
I panic. I go through a mental checklist to see if I’m acceptable. I’m wearing my 110s. ok. New Balance shorts. alright. As luck would have it, the San Francisco Skophammer 12-hour race shirt that is clearly labeled on back. Yah. Desert rat baseball cap, backwards. ok. I’ve accidentally got some cred going.
Then, disaster. I realize I’m watching “Friends” on my treadmill. Joey is trying to kiss Chandler. This is not something Serious Runners do. I panic and switch to the Rangers game. Maybe he wasn’t looking.
I run at an easy 12-minute pace, in case he saunters over to strike up a conversation. He does not. He eventually goes to the ellipticals, a couple of rows away. I don’t know what he’s watching on TV. He’s just moseying around in that I’ve Already Done 80 Miles Today And Just Stretching Out kind of way. I’m guessing he won’t be impressed by my 3 miler.
I continue my run, thinking how weird this is. Why must I be such an introvert? I could just walk up to him and say hello. I have admired you for 25 years. I can rattle your accomplishments off the top of my head. You’ve done the races I’ve dreamed of doing. You’re the runner I always wanted to be. I cannot believe I’m in the same gym as you, working out at the same time. Do you think there would be any harm in Joey giving Chandler just one little kiss?
But, of course, I don’t. The Shy Code does not allow for social interaction. Or saying hello. Or eye contact. The Shy code kinda sucks.
I finish my run. When I turn around to leave, he’s back on the recumbent. I walk past him, an arm’s length from one of the greatest ultra runners ever to grace our planet.
No hello. No kiss. No nothing.
It sucks to be shy …