Don’t Honk At My Taper

The week before my first marathon, I expected to be bubbling over with anticipation, posting ad nauseum about the mundanities of tapering and preparing for race day.  I did not expect my preparation to include a 60+ hour work week that left me with a desire to look at anything but a computer monitor once I finally found my way into my pj’s each night.  

I’ve heard horror stories of athletes turning into angry, frustrated, bloated jerks during their taper and I was fully prepared to become one of them (even apologizing to my husband in advance for any undue masochistic tendencies that might crop up over the upcoming weeks), but surprisingly, and in spite of my long hours, I have been wholly embracing this taper thing.  A couple of months ago, I was having a hard time managing my one rest day, but here I am, a full two weeks into my taper and I’m noshing on Stromboli, sleeping late and loving every minute of it*.   In fact, the only thing that I’m not anxious about, is the fact that I’m not anxious.

Some might say I’m in denial, and just so you know, I’m not arguing. 

In my oodles of spare time away from the office, I’ve been pecking away at a post on drivers who honk at runners–a ubiquitous pastime of the uncivilized that got me particularly incensed this past weekend.  Apparently, not everyone is feeling as lighthearted as I am these days, as evidenced during my last “long” run on Sunday, when the drivers on the road were a better fit for the taper stereotype than I was.  Over the course of my 8 miles, I was honked at 3 times–4 if you count the air horn some jackass blasted 5 feet from my ear.

Why, oh why do people honk at runners?  I wasn’t running in the street, or wearing skimpy clothing.  I wasn’t even wearing spandex!  I was just minding my own business on the sidewalk–bum knees be dammed. 

I’m not sure why it irritates me so much, but the honking truly rubs me the wrong way (more so than the creepy guy who slurred, “Baby, you don’t need to exorcise” around mile 6).  I think it’s because I can’t figure out how all this honking is ment to be received.  Do they mean for me to take it as a “Hey, baby,  How you doin?'” a la Joey Tribbiani,  or is it more of an assertation of the  “Atta girl!” variety?  I’d be much more appreciative of the tonal high-five rendition of the automotive honk (if that’s the case, perhaps the air horn was more an “up high” interpretation?).

The real issue is this:  If I don’t know how a honk is intended, how do I know how to respond?  Instinctively, I want to give the offender the proverbial finger, but if the driver is merely offering kudos, clearly flipping the bird is not the ideal response.    And yet, a smile and a wave of thanks is hardly the message I want to be sending to some sleaze-bucket who’s puffing up his tail feathers and trying to get in my pants.

Scott Douglas published an all together different theory on why drivers honk at runners called The Mystery of Honking.  His whole philosophy is rooted in the belief that honking stems from anger.  Be it anger at the runner for hogging the road, or anger at themselves for not being as physically active as their object of abuse.  Personally, I’m hoping Scott’s way off base, because if he’s right, that air horn was probably laced with foul-mouthed resentment.  And who needs resentment messing with the bliss of their taper? 

All I know is this:  Tomorrow I’m headed to the starting line to race my first marathon, and the only air horn I want to hear is the sound of the gun at the start.

* Well, clearly not every minute….

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14 Responses to Don’t Honk At My Taper

  1. erika says:

    Good luck on your big run this weekend! I feel you on the taper thing…I’ve actually kind of enjoyed it (well, maybe it’s because I’ve been so stinking busy!!)

  2. Pam says:

    This is a topic that has intrigued me since I started running.

    Are they honking because they know me? (I work in a public position, so people may recognize me from work.)

    Are they honking to be an asshole?

    Are they honking because they think it’s funny to watch me jump?

    Are they honking because I’m so totally hot?

    The world may never know…

    GOOD LUCK TOMORROW!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Aneta says:

    i hate honkers too.
    my usual (instinctual) response is to give them the finger. tho a few times, i gave the finger to a friend by mistake. haha. but ppl should learn not to honk. its rude and disturbing and annoying.
    and totally kills my running buzz.

    good luck tomorrow.!

  4. Erin says:

    Ahh–I don’t usually run down streets (or I’m not that hot;) )so I don’t deal with the honking issue! Good luck tomorrow! I hope to see you and well for you–but I will be wearing hot pink and orange instead. Still bright, just sufferer colors 🙂

  5. abbi says:

    Maybe the whole working way too much during taper thing was completely planned by your employer so you didn’t worry/stress too much during taper?!? I hate the honkers too. I tend to stereotype based on the vehicle with the look I give – guess that could be a bad idea.

    Have a fabulous time tomorrow! Best of luck…will be thinking about you and can’t wait to hear about it next week!

  6. Jaime Runs says:

    Glad to hear that taper has been treating you well.

    I never know how to respond to honks either so I don’t do anything. Usually I ignore and pretend my music is too loud to hear. However, sometimes the honks scares the bejesus out of me and I jump! That makes me mad.

    Anyway, GOOD LUCK tomorrow! You’re gonna rock it!!

  7. AHHHH GOOD LUCK!

    I will be thinking of you ALL day tomorrow! Can’t wait to hear how it goes!!!

  8. Jamie says:

    Good luck this weekend! Even though you had a lot of work happening it may have been a bit of a blessing so you didn’t have time to focus on the taper 🙂 You are going to rock the 26.2 miles!!!

    People who honk make me want to flip the bird. It is so annoying! Do you think honking at me will get me to jump in your car?!? Who knows what they are thinking!

  9. sarah says:

    Oh wow! You’re running right now! Expostfactogood luck!

    I am actually in full concurrence regarding honking. Although I don’t really care for catcalls, I like that I know who they’re coming from (the dude in the contractor truck), why they’re coming (they’re dudes who like looking at anything with boobs), and what they’ll amount to (usually, nothing). With honking, it’s more often passive aggressive a-holes who don’t like the idea that they have to share the road with ANYONE, who are convinced that slowing down .8 of a second to pass a runner will totally put a cramp in their days.

    Further complicating the fact is that I am pretty easily startled, meaning my reaction to every honk while I’m running is a sorta-screamed, “WHAT?!” It’s just weird. I don’t even think to pull out the bird.

  10. lindsay says:

    good luck!!!!

    i strongly dislike horn honkers. i have never thought they were supposed to be ‘nice’ honks. i always assumed the LAME driver is out to purposely give you fright. I DON’T GET IT. why would you honk at someone you don’t know and who isn’t in the way?!? uggggh.

  11. BostonRunner says:

    GOOD LUCK TOMORROW!!

    I totally agree with you on the honking thing, my biggest issue is that I don’t know how to respond, so I just end up awkwardly ignoring it.
    P.S. Loved the Friends reference : )

  12. Erin says:

    Thanks Olivia! It was a PR–by about a minute. My knee was not taper related–so I’ll take it. I looked for you on the course but never saw you! I hope you had am awesome run! Can’t wait to read about it!

  13. Deanna says:

    I’m just reading this now, and I hope you had an awesome race!

    Take the rest that you need and post when you can; can’t wait to hear all about it!

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