Usually when I run, I put one foot in front of the other at my own pace. I keep that zen frame of mind, not trying to catch the person in front of me or stay ahead of the person behind me.
But yesterday, as I ran down our little street that meets with a bigger street, I noticed (out of the corner of my eye--and that's the second time I've used that phrase today) two women in candy-colored jackets. They were twenty or so yards behind me. I ran. One foot, the other. Wondered how it could still be so cold. Thought about how many minutes would pass before my hands thawed.
Then I heard the chatter. Women's voices, talking, only I couldn't make out the words. Just the pitch. And it was constant. I ran a little faster. I thought, what if they pass me? It will affect me badly. My run won't be as fun if they pass me. Maybe if I run faster, I can get out of range of their voices.
But, no. These two women in their bright clothing kept pace with me. Talking and talking. No matter that I was winded because I was running faster than my normal pace. I was probably running a nine minute mile! But they weren't out of breath. I knew that because they talked and talked and talked. How nice for them that they had someone to talk to. Of course, I was glad I didn't, because then I WOULD HAVE LOST. There was no way I could have kept the pace and chatted.
So I got to my turnaround, where there is a water fountain. I drank. I walked a little. And when I rejoined the path, there they were again. It was their turnaround, too! One of them was taking off her jacket and tying it around her waist. She was very thin and muscular, and had a cute cross-back tank. She was tanned. She probably went somewhere on a trip recently, and was telling her friend all about it.
Just as I was passing them, they started running again. This threatened to be awkward, all of us running at exactly the same pace, but me gasping, and them talking about Aruba or Jamaica or, maybe, spray tans. Which I have nothing against, actually. Spray tans rock.
I dodged off, down the hill, to the little dirt path closer to the lake. Now, not only was I running fast, I was running cross-country. Up little inclines, down. Around curves. Skirting dog-walkers.
I could still hear them. Their voices reached down and tickled my ears in a way that was vaguely goading, and I ran faster. Even when I got to the hill close to home, I still ran. Up the hill. Gasping. Muscles straining. I didn't stop running until I got to the top. They kept running, down below, on the main road.
But I knew I had won. I put my hands in the air, my fingers V'd for victory. Ha! You may have muscles and cute jackets, and maybe you go off on exotic vacations, and you can chat and run at the same time, but I beat you!