Friday, January 27, 2012

I Am Not a Racist

Here's the deal: I go to Run Club at the Y every Thursday night. In theory, Run Club is supposed to have exclusive rights to the track from 7 to 8 pm, but there isn't anyone there to enforce it, so we invariably end up sharing our track with others.

Last night, it was hoppin'. 

We had 8 people show up for Run Club. There were at least four other people on the track, possibly more, including a guy in his late-50s who was wrapping up his workout with dynamic stretches (lunges and karaoke), an Ironman (you could only discern his Ironman powers by his IM tattoo, his IM t-shirt and his IM headband; he was pretty discreet*) and a woman that is two days older than Christ and in rehab. It takes her about 20 minutes to complete one lap (13 laps = a mile, you do the math) on the track. And she looks like she could fall over sideways -- or just die -- at any given moment. 

And then there was the other guy. The guy who was running in the opposite direction of everyone else on the track.

To be clear, there are signs on the track -- with arrows -- to explain which direction you have to run on certain days. When the Y rebranded a few months ago, the first signs posted only used words such as "left" and "right' which was really confusing (because you didn't know if it was 'your' right or 'their' right. Was it 'right' if you were facing the track, or 'right' if you were facing the sign?).  The new signs with the arrows, I think, have made it pretty straightforward. As long as you know what day it is, you just have to follow the arrow.

But not this d-bag. 

So in addition to the four+ people already on the track, our group of eight started our warm up jog. As Can't Follow the Arrow Guy ran past us, our coach said, "Sir, you need to run the other direction." 

He kept running.

So as he's approaching us again, our coach says, "Sir, this is the Run Club, you have to run the other direction," and he yells back, "I'm not in the club."

No, asshole, you aren't. And you're seriously fucking up our running juju, here. Go home.

Coach, still running (in the correct direction) tells him again, "You have to follow the signs."

Now I'm angry: between the 9,047-year old woman who is shuffling (barely) her way across the track, Captain Lunge, Zippy the Ironman and Can't Follow The Arrow Guy, our chances of a good speed workout are dwindling.

Within another 1/4 lap, one of the higher ups at the Y happened up on the track, saw he was running the wrong way and pulled him off the track to explain the arrows.  

You know, because arrows are so confusing.  

As we see this, I raise my right arm and point back at him and the Y person and say in a not-so-indoor-voice, "I hate those kind of people." And as the word "people" is forcing its way out of my mouth, I realize that I'm saying this and pointing to Can't Follow The Arrow Guy, who also happens to be African-American.


I had not even pulled my arm back to my side before my wide-eyed and slack-jawwed face turned to my coach and said in disbelief, "I'm screaming, "I hate those kind of people" at a black man."

I am not a racist.

I am, however, a bit particular about track etiquette and if people are being assholes on the track, I do not care about their gender, age, ethnicity,  religious or sexual preference. But god damn, you better follow the rules on the track. Run as the arrows tell you to run, and if you're walking, stay on the inside lane.  Easy enough, right?


There isn't a single day I run on that track that I don't want to push people over the rail and onto the basketball court 12 feet below, hopefully to their death.  The fall would have to kill them, actually. Otherwise they'd show up a few weeks later on MY track, gimping their way down the middle of the two lanes to fulfill their rehab requirements. 

The people I hate the most are The Mabels. They're a group of 3 or 4 women who are in their mid-60s. They get all geared up -- they even keep a rolled towel around their necks -- and walk (Yes. I said walk) side-by-side, slower than I walk when I'm getting groceries. 

I hate The Mabels. 

But I am not a racist. 

I am also not a fool. As much as I felt like I should tell Can't Follow The Arrow Guy as I pass him again (because he's actually arguing off to the side with the Y woman) that I'm not a racist, and black people are great, and I know black people and I even own Dave Chappelle's Season 1 on DVD, I realize that saying anything else will just be like jamming my sparkly new Mizuno's into my privileged, white mouth. 

Sane Me: "Just don't say anything else."
Crazy Me: "But I don't want him to think I don't like him because of his color."
Sane Me: "Just stop talking."
Crazy Me: "But I need to be clear that I hate him because he's running the wrong way. Not because of his color."
Sane Me: "He probably didn't even hear you. Leave it alone."
Crazy Me: "But what if.."
Sane Me: "Shut. The fuck. Up."
Crazy Me: "Okay."

I have a 1.5 hour long-run scheduled for tomorrow. I don't think the weather is supposed to be awful, so I'm going to try to do it outside, because I'm guessing 1.5 hours on the track will throw at least 2 assholes and 5 Mabels my way.  Better to stay on the streets and just hate the people that don't clean up their dog shit or the street thugs that walk side by side, hogging the sidewalk so that I have to run on the muddy, snow soaked grass.  

But I'm still not a racist.

*I like IronMan athletes, but this guy gave off a bit of an AssHole IronMan vibe. However, when I was running my last 400 at a fairly good clip (It was a good clip for me: I was at an 8 min/mile), he ran past me and said, "Good work."  So maybe he's not that awful.


  1. A dick running the wrong way is still a dick running the wrong way, whatever colour, gender or sexual preference.

    May I suggest The Samoan Sidestep next time?

    Speed up, drop shoulder, brace for impact.......

  2. You hate Samoans, don't you, Andy?

    :) JK!

  3. Least racist, most track-crazy post ever. Brilliant.

    I sooooo want to run at your Y.

    The Mabels would drive me insane. It's the same with people walking on a treadmill - I'm sure seeing them doing their thing impacts my heart rate more than the cardio I'm doing.

  4. I didn't even tell you about ... let's call him Hank. Hank looks like Buffalo Bill from "Silence of the Lambs" and wears women's running shorts.

    And he wears a tankini in the pool.

    Hank is not an awful runner. And I sure as shit run faster when I'm on the track with him. I just keep hearing him say "It puts the lotion in the basket..."