Admittedly, much of what I have to say today has to do with where I live: In an over-55 gated golf course community, perfect location for a runner whose ambition and obsession seem to baffle the rest of the residents. In the mornings, when I head out for a run, I meet armies of walkers and bicyclists and dog-walkers, all with cheery greetings of "Good morning!" I can assemble a variety of running routes with only minimal repetition (at most, two) to achieve the long distance miles needed to train for a half-marathon, even a full marathon.
So it's to be expected that I'll hear some well-meaning but misguided comments from my neighbors, most of whom are older than I am - some much older - and for whom a 1 mile walk is "serious exercise."
"Can I give you a ride?" This comment came from a kind and friendly older resident in our enclave. She was heading toward the Carriage House (our large and beautiful community center) in her golf cart. It was raining, sometimes raining very heavily. I was in mile 8 or 9 of a long run and was totally soaked but thoroughly enjoying myself. I love running in the rain. "No thank you," I responded. "I appreciate the offer, though."
"How many miles will your next marathon be?" This was asked of me by a very nice fellow while we were standing back-stage during rehearsals for the musical South Pacific. My neighbor had shared with the group that I ran marathons and half-marathons in response to a compliment one of them had paid me for being so slim and fit at an age old enough to collect Social Security. This question always gives me pause to consider how to answer nicely. "Well, a marathon is always 26.2 miles."
"We just added the new Jane Fonda "Walk" workout DVD to the library. You should borrow it, it's very good." This was offered by a nice older woman after I exited a stall in the ladies room at the Activities Center, mid-point in one of my long runs. Seeing my sweaty attire, she asked if I had been using one of the treadmills in the fitness center and I replied that, No, I'm not using the treadmill, I'm running outside. This is what solicited her well-meaning yet persistent suggestion regarding the Jane Fonda DVD. I politely thanked her for that information as I washed my hands and splashed water on my face, and then headed back outside to finish my run with a smile of bemusement on my face.
"I bought you some chocolate to reward yourself." A fellow neighbor was backing out of his driveway as I ran by and we waved. He returned about half hour later and saw me still out there. About 30 minutes later he headed out for another errand and passed me again as he exited the enclave. When he returned from that errand, he passed me yet again. At this point his curiosity got the better of him, so he turned around and, as he approached me, powered down his window and asked, "How many miles are you running?" To my answer he replied, "You go, girl!" and, rooting around in his shopping bags, came up with a Hershey bar and insisted I take it as my reward. I thanked him but had to decline, as I had nowhere to put it while I finished my run.
And then there's the priceless comment made at a recent get-together of fellow MTF members at this year's Founder's Feast: "Never ask a skinny runner if a place is within walking distance."