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  • The Runner’s Hi

    Posted on July 23rd, 2013 Michele Sun No comments

    During one of my Sat runs at Stevens Creek Trail, my running buddies and I came face to face with a biker (cyclist not motorcycle biker) as we exiting Bear Meadow Trail, and that’s quite amusing as it usually would be the other way around. I often found myself got singled out by pack of bikers whenever I do my long runs, whether they are MTBs at trails or speedy road bikes on road.

    I like the solitude of running alone, especially on my long runs (12+ miles); there is something very cleansing and zen-ish about the whole experience. Covering the pavement or dirt surface with my own feet makes me feel extra strong, and I can focus on everything around me without distraction of conversation. It’s also a great 2, 3 hours of declustering my mind. Of course this is just my personal preference, and I think most runners like to run with friends for it’s less boring and also helps to improve your speed.

    I also like to run in very early hours, and sometime I would come across another early solo runner coming from the opposite direction, on the other side of the road, or passing me on the narrow trail; I would wave my right hand and slightly nod my head. Sometimes I would add a “Hi” and smile if we happened to engage eyes contact.

    This kind of friendly exchange take place often, and I always thought it’s the same everywhere. Runners are just friendly people!! But as my circle of running friends got expanded, and my running routes go 2,500 miles outside of SF Bay Area, I found things are not quite the same.

    I think Californians are generally more friendly than people elsewhere; we are just warm and open toward others. So whether I am running in Los Gatos Creek Trail or on Diamond Bar Blvd, other runners will nod and say “Hi”. I have runner asking about “you have extra GU?” at track. After I did my 13 miles near Santa Anita River, another runner came up to me and asked about which race I was training for. He eagerly shared tips about running Long Beach Marathon with me, and advised me how to deal with race day morning traffic. I have had runner saying “Morning” to me across a 6-lane street in San Diego.  And it’s not unusual a thirsty runner getting water from another runner, even at races.

    But I do notice when running in other cities like Atlanta, Buffalo, Paris, Tokyo.., runners don’t always return my friendly “Hi” or nod. They totally ignored me, and I wasn’t sure if they were shy or they thought I was nuts. However, I did find a way to impose myself, haha!! Whenever I was on a business trip out-of-town, I would look up local Road Runners Club and join their group runs. Not only it’s safer for girl, also a great way to meet new friends, break the ice, and find out interesting local races or running stores. I have done my “mini destination runs” with runners in Canada, Germany, Taiwan, Korea… this way, and got invited to stay for post run “pint” after running 7 miles at Central Park or yummy brunch in snowy Calgery!

    Bikers are a little different though! Bikes usually come up from behind and pass me really fast, and 90% of the time I can expect the courtesy call out of “Bike!” or “On your left”. Of course I acknowledge them by raising my left hand, so they know I have heard them alright.  Occasionally when going uphill while the bikers are coming downhill, they will stop for me at the top of the hill and give me “good job, girl” when I slowly charge up and make my way to the top. If it’s a narrow  trail, I will move to the side and let bikers pass first, and I can almost guarantee you that they always say “thank you”, “have fun” when we pass each other. But I have heard that bikers don’t greet another biker the same way though. So I guess that we runners are nicer people and that positive friendliness is contagious 🙂

    How about encounter with runners when not running?

    Runners are easy to spot even when we are in our “normal cloth”. I was asked “Are you running (as racing) tomorrow?” in the elevator at a hotel in D.C. while I was in business dress and high heels; apparently there was a race the next day morning and they came in for that. I remember a guy asked Max “are you a runner?” at a sushi bar once, and within 30 seconds we started sharing our opinions about Garmin, Adidas, success of Max’s most recent race…etc. Somehow we must send out that universal runner’s Hi that only runners pick up 🙂

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