Yesterday, I became the thing I hated.
A couple of years ago, I wrote a rather long tirade (back when MySpace was my repository for such things) about men who ran shirtless. I was not commenting on male shirtlessness in general or any aesthetic qualms I have with that state, but just on some bad racing etiquette I'd seen in a few guys who happened to be running topless (I've pasted the full rant at the bottom of this post).
My plan yesterday was to take a break from running to rest my joints for tonight's Zoom Through the Zoo race; I figured 30 minutes on the Y StairMaster would stake out a nice Via Media between no workout at all and the pounding of road running.
When I arrived at the Y, however, I realized I'd packed my shorts, shoes, and towel, but no t-shirt. My first thought was to simply wear the shirt I had on and then go home for my shower before returning to work, but the idea of spending 30 minutes on a StairMaster while wearing a cotton polo shirt was less than appealing.
So, with no other options immediately coming to mind, I headed to Sea Isle park and ran. Shirtless. Like Anakin Skywalker, I'd become the very thing I'd fought against, complete with labored breathing.
(Though much, much pastier.)
And though I was a hot sweaty mess afterward, I quickly threw on my polo shirt as soon as I returned to the car, rendering the shirt a hot sweaty mess as well but covering my shame, and my blinding paleness, most effectively.
Running log: 3 shirtless miles at Sea Isle.
Beer log: Dos Equis at El Porton for the joint birthday celebration for my wife, my sister-in-law, and me.
The Curse of the Shirtless Dudes
I like running longish distances. It makes me feel good.
I also like healthy competition. It also makes me feel good.
The upshot of those two facts is that I like to run in distance races.
Running plus competition--the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup of sport for me.
But I also try to be a Good Sport.
(Those who knew me growing up know that has not always been the case. But I'm trying.)
So when I get toward the last stretch of a race, and I see someone ahead of me busting his or her butt who has been ahead of me pretty much the entire race,
I consider it bad form to blow by that person right before entering the chute at the end of the run.
To me, that person earned the better finishing position.
Being a Bad Sport does not make me feel good.
Not everyone seems to take that stance.
Three different times this year, I have held back and not passed someone right in front of me at the finish of a race
And then have watched as someone else makes a mad dash and passes me right before I reach the finish line--
Even as I'm consciously NOT passing the person in front of ME.
The Good Sport part of me knows I should just let it go
And I think the Good Sport part would win out easily
Except for the fact that the dude that passes me at the end
Is inevitably running Shirtless.
On paper, that may not be a big deal,
But when one runs one's first half marathon,
Like I did last spring,
And finally gets to view one's Official Race Photo
And then finds that one is barely visible in said photo
because a 45-year-old Shirtless man is
(1) Eclipsing one photo-wise and
(2) Passing one at the finish
Well, let's just say one decides NOT to shell out the twenty bucks
for said Official Race Photo.
It should go without saying that
That did not make me feel good.
Anyway, to add insult to injury today
(figurately--I was not injured, thankfully)
Not only was I once again passed by a Shirtless Dude
Right at the finish of a race,
But the man in front of me from whom I respectfully kept my distance at the end
Was also Shirtless
And the Passing Shirtless Dude passed me
And then passed In-Front-of-Me-Shirtless-Dude.
And then when we were standing around right after the finish--
Me breathing easily, but the Shirtless Duo gasping for air--
I heard Passing Shirtless-Dude say to the volunteer
Who was handing out the finishing-order cards,
"Be sure my card reflects the fact that I finished in front of those two guys"--
Meaning me and In-Front-of-Me Shirtless Dude.
I still think I made the right call
And was a Good Sport
In not passing In-Front-of-Me-Shirtless-Dude,
And I'll most likely make a similar decision
The next time I approach the finish line
Just behind someone I believe has run a great race.
That would still make me feel good.
Except if that someone is Shirtless,
In which case
He's gonna be wiping my dust
Out of his chest hair
If he has any.
And that would most likely make me feel