Saturday, January 23, 2010

Unfriendly

Today I had my first workout back on the track and it was a challenge, for many reasons. I also had a fun running clinic with some of the members of the English Bay Triathlon Club.

I arrived at the track nice and early to get warmed up for what would be 10 times 400 workout with 200 recovery. I felt slightly sluggish on my warm up although drills felt good. I became quite short of breath on my strides which I will attribute to what I feel is a cold beginning to develop. By the time John had arrived at the track I was ready to go. The first 4 intervals went well up until the last 100 meters of the 4th. This is when lactate acid started to hit and my legs turned to jelly. I was a bit concerned as I was running under pace and I had the feeling this workout may become a crash and burn. I was able to 'suck it up' on the 5th interval and follow with a very good effort over the last 4 400's. I ran very consistently on 64 pace for the majority of the workout. I am pleased with this first effort on the track as I have residual fatigue from Thursday night and I had to work through a tough spot after number 4 interval.

Following the workout I had a great time leading a bit of a running clinic with EBTC. We went over some drills and strides and I must say that the coordination of the athletes was impressive. I have seen some ugly drills in my years of running so I was happy to see some triathletes learn quickly. It is fun to share my love of running and some tips and techniques that may lead to others loving this sport as much as I do.

My eye contact test is still going strong and I am finding it quite comical. Yesterday I made eye contact with 2 people. One was a pretty though slightly overweight blonde and the other was a pretty brunette. I will hypothesize that they are either single or in a bad relationship to make eye contact with me. The eye contact I garnered with them was within 1 block of being home so they totally rescued my eye contact day. Sometimes I have to giggle at the lengths people will go through to avoid eye contact. I almost ran into someone in a crosswalk and they still did not make eye contact. I felt like stopping them and shaking them to see if they would look at me. Even the overtly gay men walking down the street avoid eye contact at all costs. Or if they do make eye contact it is fleeting and followed by a look of shock. That must be the emotion I stir in the homos, total shock.

If my eye contact experiment makes me think Vancouver is less then friendly then an experience on the track today makes me think this city is unfriendly. I may be wrong to assume such a preposterous supposition, but I was led to believe that running tracks were for running. The problem with Saturday morning track workouts are the soccer games in the infield. The actual games themselves are not much of an issue, it is the clueless parents who are watching. There is a constant stream of distracted and self absorbed parents crossing, meandering, strolling and standing on the track, in the way of the workout. It requires constant yelling and prompting to get these human obstacles out of the way. When one is running fast it is very hard to stop to avoid a stupid and clueless moron who cannot quite understand that people are actually running on the track. Most of the people will move out of the way, yet we still encounter those who believe by the sheer fact that they exist in this world that they have a right to do whatever the fuck they want regardless of the purpose of a facility. I encountered one such prick today.

I was on interval 7 or 8 when this little incident occurred. I had noticed a man, a bit on the shorter side, balding and wearing and over sized Adidas soccer coat, watching the soccer matches in the infield from the track. Occasionally he would wander close to the track and I had to avoid him a few times during my warm-up. As I was coming around the bend to home, in the last 100 meters of my interval, I noticed him walking slowly, squarely in the first lane of the track and meandering towards the second lane. I yelled 'track' which is the standard command one yells when on the track. He did not move. I yelled 'look out' as I got increasingly closer and he did not budge an inch. Remember I am running fast, very fast, and at this point in the workout I am tired and starting to struggle a bit. By the time I was on his shoulder and in the process of passing he finally responded with "Fuck Off!" Welcome to Vancouver. Of course this is my fucking track as much as it is this little asshole's so I yelled right back. "Get off the fucking track!" In all my years of running, the very many tracks I have trained on from one corner of Canada to the other. From St. John's Newfoundland to Victoria, BC, I have never been told to "fuck off" for trying to run a workout on a track.

I have been harassed and berated more in this city then any other place I have lived for merely trying to live an active life and make myself a better athlete. I am repeatedly catcalled, made fun of and criticized while training. And now I am told to fuck off by some suburban asshole while I am using a track (which my club help to build) for it's intended purpose.

I believe that it is the people who can make a city great. Being from the Maritimes I understand this concept very well. Per capita the Maritime provinces will donate more to charity then any where else in the country, despite being the poorest of all the regions. There is no fancy infrastructure nor is there much money, but the people will welcome you into their home for a hot cup of tea and sweet if they get the chance. People will stop for you to cross the street. The car horn is to say hello rather then fuck off. Here in Vancouver if one stops to let someone cross the street there is the risk of getting hauled out of your car and beat up. Vancouver has so many wonderful aspects from the soaring mountains to the beautiful facilities to the amazing glass architecture that defines the downtown. I feel more and more fortunate every day that I met some great people in my time here in Vancouver because if not then I would be moving away as soon as the Olympics are over. If it is true that it is the people who make a city great then Vancouver is one of the worst cities I have ever lived in. It is unfortunate that a happy smiling face is met with revulsion and suspicion rather then friendliness.

This has been a very critical take on the populace of Vancouver and it has been born out of a few years of very frustrating interactions. I am more determined now then ever to put my best foot forward and smother people with joy and happiness and friendliness. I will not put the mantra "if you can't beat them join them" into practice but instead I will try to lead by example. Again, I hope they do not put me into the psych ward!

Mileage
Friday: 5 miles
Saturday: 10 miles

Happy Training!

4 comments:

  1. Loving reading your blog jay and totally empathising with your guy blocking the track incident. Few sidewalks in Banff mean that I try to run trails but on occassion I run roadside. Just yesterday I was running (facing the oncoming traffic) and so few cars moved over. Instead I had to move onto the snowy and icy verge. I mean it's icy - I could then slip into their path! All good humoured til one guy in a 4x4 honked so loud right as he went past me I jumped out of my skin - intimidation tactics for sure! Anyway, rant and rave over! Good to hear you are running strong :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sorry you had a bad day. I'm never sure what the best approach to dealing with these types are. When I try courtesy, I am often made fun of or ignored and I just can't bring myself to be rude!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for the comments. I feel that an asshole needs to be yelled at, especially if they are wrong. It seems like everyone is concerned with being lenient with people who terrorize everyone else. I am sick of being bullied and will fight for my rights with my voice at the ready and my skinny little fists ready to go. Gosh, fired up.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Terrific post, Jay. I'm not sure I would've handled that George Costanza-esque little pube on the track any better. There really is nothing you can do for those people. They're miserable and mad and life will never be enough for them. You're out there getting everything you can from life, and Vancouver still, and you should keep doing it. I'd say quit the eye contact thing though. I tried it for a few weeks in early September and by the end of the month I was pissed. We already knew what we'd get before we started...nothing. It's the same thing I get when I say good morning to other trail runners...nothing. But I guess I keep trying. If we all quit, then this place really would suck.

    Great blog and happy track next time.

    ReplyDelete