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….