In the bag…
Outside a friend’s running store the other day, I noticed a woman wearing a 2009 Boston Marathon shirt. It’s hard to miss ’em since they are neon yellow. The label “2009 Boston Marathon” down the sleeve is a clear sign, too.
If you know me even a little than you know that Boston is one of my favorite races. Me and Heartbreak Hill have history. And I like the city, itself. I roll with the potholes and love that Dirty Water. The only landmark I can’t find is the Old North Church.
I wondered if Boston was special to her, too. Since it was a nice day and I was feeling friendly, I thought I’d ask. I rolled up to her, pointed at her shirt and politely queried, “How did you do?”
Simple question. Or so I thought.
She straightened up, pulled her shoulders back, looked down on me and began an absolutely amazing, five minute, “it’s-all-about-me” soliloquy response…
“Well, this was my t-h-i-r-d Boston and I nailed it this year. I did my first two Bostons to see if the course really was what it was cracked up to be but this year I ran it just knowing it was easy. I finished faster than ever so you might say I mastered the course. I easily qualified for next year but I don’t know if I’ll go back. I don’t really think it is everything people say it is.”
So why are you wearing the neon yellow long sleeve shirt on a hot Saturday afternoon in a strip mall parking lot?
Oh yeah, I didn’t realize you were a Kenyan marathon champ either.
I know some runners have egos. Lots of athletes do. Self-confidence is as important in sports as it is in life but there is a fine line between being self-confident and overtly flaunting cockiness and achievement.
And stupidity. Did I mention we were in a random strip mall?
I tried to give her a break. Maybe I was being a bit too overly Beantown protective for my own britches.
What really got to me was that as she was finishing her pontification, she asked me, “Is the Boston Marathon something y-o-u might like to try someday?”
Sure, I’ll admit I had a fruit smoothie balancing on my lap but come on lady. You cannot seriously ask a question like that and not expect to get a reply rammed down your throat now can you? I know I’m in a wheelchair but do I look totally malnourished and withered? Game on.
“Well,” I kindly replied, “I was in Boston this year, too…Let’s see, it wasn’t my best time nor was it my worst. After doing it seventeen times [pause here for emphasis on the number seventeen], I was happy with my race and even more excited to enjoy the city. Boston on Marathon Weekend is simply incredible, isn’t it?”
She didn’t get it. I wasted a perfectly pointed sarcastic attack on someone with a big mouth and no ears.
So when I realized this really wasn’t a conversation and she really wasn’t hearing anything I said, I came in with a nice parting shot. “You know, this year’s shirts really do make you stand out in a crowd. I saw you from a mile away and I’m sure that wasn’t your intention. Maybe I’ll wear mine so I can stand out. I’ll have to open mine first…I think it is still in the bag.”