Why the world needs ass-flags…

Posted: 05/31/2012 in Uncategorized

  • Alternate Title: Why I won’t be your running buddy
  • Alternate Title: Why I love my running group
  • Alternate Title: Trust me when I’m not lying to you
  • Alternate Title: A rare sighting of the running Fasthole
  • Alternate Title:  I hate it when shit turns out just like I thought it would.
  • Alternate Title: Another long-ass running post. 

In case you can’t tell by the titling, I’m kind of struggling with this post. I’ve got a lot on my mind about it and it just won’t come out clean and pretty. Probably because I’m kind of pissed off and kind of sad and kind of appreciative. No clear cut emotion on a thing can make trying to write about it kind of clunky.

So clunkity, clunk, fuck, clunk.

 I’m a slow runner. I’ve been running off and on for 7 years now, more on than off for the last 3, and I’m slow. I’ve improved from ‘is she walking or running? I can’t tell’ to being a slow runner. An improvement I’m really damn proud of because trust me, I have worked HARD just to be slow, but I’m still slow. And writing that I’m still slow makes me wince even though I like to throw jokes out about it from time to time. It’s still like a secret confession that even though I’m proud of my progress, I still feel embarrassed about. 

Hello, my name is Cynthia. I’m run an 11-minute mile and I put the ram in the ram-a-lam-a-ding-dong. Please don’t judge me. I like rams. 

This is why I won’t run with you. It’s not you, it’s me. And the rams. 

You see, runners being the social group that they tend to be, it never fails that as soon as I make a new running friend, they start on the ‘we should go for a run together’ and I start on the ‘um, why don’t you join me at running group’. 

I evade. 

I will say I’m slow, we’ll talk paces for a second. They’ll tell me they don’t mind running slower so that we can run together. I’ll tell them that I know running slower than your normal pace is about as fun as running a lot faster than your normal pace – it’s not. It’s miserable and frustrating and unsatisfying. Then if they’re smart, they’ll say ‘Okay, I can see how that wouldn’t work. Maybe if I get injured and lose a leg and need a slower recovery, we can run together.’ So great, now I can hope they get injured. Not. 

Though, if they’re really smart, they’ll say – ‘Maybe I’ll give the group meet-up a shot and we can have beers after’. Because even though I’m not fast, I’m still cool to hang with and my running group ROCKS!!! no matter what your pace is. They have coaches and people running at all kinds of paces, including mine. (And really fun people drinking beer after the runs.) I’ve brought several friends into my running group over the past 3 years and no one has mentioned a regret. Come to my running group with me and I’ll hook you up with people that are YOUR PACE, while I do my own thing with my appropriate pace group. Then we can both have a good run and still hang out and I’m not alone with you in the event you’re an axe murderer/camouflaged zombie. Besides, I don’t really talk while I run. Too busy not dying. You giving me CPR is not the kind of running bond I want to form. 

But every once in awhile, I get a runner that just won’t believe me when I say I’m slow. They won’t give up the ghost on the ‘I’ll run slower, it’ll be okay” argument and won’t take the hint on the ‘we aren’t a good running match’ response – which is my polite Plan B ‘No’ answer. I don’t know why this is. 


And that’s who I found myself up against this week – the Non-Believer. A person I’ve been evading for awhile who decided to take me up on the group invite – but then didn’t take the hint on my pointing out the faster coaches and saying ‘you go with them, see you at the finish’. Nope, wanted to stay locked into running with me and the experience went pretty much exactly how I thought it would if I ever accepted an invite to run 1:1 with someone WAY faster than me. 


Instead of doing my coaching assignment the way I should have, I pushed got dragged bitching and repeating ‘just go’  my pace too hard at the opening (@ 9 m/m) and ended up crashing, while NB shit-talked the entire time about how slow I was. Except that we were in a group of MY running friends WHO RUN SLOW TOO. So the shit being talked wasn’t just hitting an awkward spot with me. Quite a few people around me, who I know and care about, were wincing as they overheard him.

This, my friends, is a slow-runner’s nightmare. Trust me. We know we’re slow. Also trust me that we WANT TO BE FASTER. I’ve never met a slow runner yet that didn’t wish they were Kenyan. Usually, we’re doing our best. We’re fighting the good fight to try and improve. Shit-talking to tell us how f*ing slow we are, makes you a HUGE ASSHOLE, will not encourage friendship. In fact, it pretty much sings front-man for the choir of negative voices we punch hard in the throat every time we lace up our running shoes. That choir DOES NOT need a front-man for the band. And egads! – you do not want to be the person that brought the shit-talker into the fold. There isn’t a pothole big enough to trip you and suck you in when you can guess exactly what demons you are bringing up for the people around you with every step that person runs next to you. Luckily, after I hit the hard tone in my voice, NB decided it would be best to race on ahead of me so I could handle my crash alone until the rest of my pack caught up. 

In getting it out of my system, I’m going to say there should be some kind of law, that when you’ve already got runner’s block, been shit on by a coach (not my coach), and have actually said out loud “maybe I just need to not race anymore”, all in the same week, that when a non-believer gives you shit about your pace and the pace of everyone you run with – you should be able to just kick them in the shin as hard as you can. It’s not assault. It’s a public service. De-asshole-ization.

There should be a flag or a whistle, like in football. 

  • Non-Believer: You run all the time. You should be faster than that. I didn’t realize you couldn’t hang.
  • Me:  I told you I was slow.
  • NB:  I thought you were joking. No one’s that slow. (at a table with a group of people that are that slow)
  • NB:  What?
  • Me:  I’m throwing an ass-flag.
  • NB:  What?
  • ME:  You’re being an ass. I’m throwing an ass-flag.  Penalty – hard kick to the shin.
  • NB:  OUUUUCH! WTF?!!!
  • Me: *smiling*
  • Everyone else: *smiling*

Unfortunately, I’m not into assault and my friends didn’t have tar and feathers are real damn polite.

No one said a thing. 

People, there are sooooooooooo many conversations in this life that could be helped by an ass-flag. Oooooh – and THEN – if they don’t back off after the first ass-flag, we could institute a double-ass-flag penalty.

  •  NB:  I’m going to post on Facebook the point where my garmin shows you breaking off and me speeding up to my regular pace.
  • Me: DOUBLE ASS-FLAG! *kicking him right in the nut sack*
  • NB: sputters and dies

Just kidding – but he is required to turn blue and STFU.

It would be worth making a whole ass-flag code of justice just to be able to say DOUBLE ASS-FLAG PENALTY!!! proud and out loud in a crowd. 

But alas, I’d probably get out-run by some of the fastholes I needed to kick…

*Tee-hee* Fastholes. I just came up with a new running word. I love it! 

Folks – be kind to your slow runners. They are trying really fucking hard and giving it all the heart they have to give. Just because they’re slower doesn’t mean they aren’t working just as hard as you speedier types. Everyone has a different level and their own personal goals. I promise I will cheer just as hard for you getting your 3:30 marathon as I will my friend getting her 5K PR down to a 12:10 pace. Because your run is about what is important to you, not about what someone else can or can’t do. Peace.

*Disclaimer: I know the Fast-hole is an unfortunate outlier to the running community as a whole. The overwhelming majority of the running community, as I know it, is the most supportive and welcoming body of people I have ever met in my life. Regardless of pace. This was proven to me once again by the very fact that my (slower) friends did try to be welcoming and make conversation on other topics with this person at beers after the run, despite some hurt feelings. And some of the best encouragement I have gotten along the way has come from the sub-7:00 and sub-8:00 m/milers in the running group who have never looked down on my efforts to be a better turtle.


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