Sunday, July 09, 2006

Butt Sweat and Beyond

Disclaimer: I hesitated before writing this entry into my blog, not primarily for the embarrassment I might feel (my threshold is quite high), but more for the embarrassment my friends, family and loving boyfriend might feel “by association”. So to those people, I apologize in advance.

Motorcyclists wave at each other on the road as they pass. It is an unwritten rule – the greeting to acknowledge that we share a passion, a lifestyle or, at the very least, a pass-time. Runners do this also. I find that we keep our eyes fixed on the pavement or steadily in front of us until we’ve calculated that the eye contact between ourselves and the person we are passing will be of a socially comfortable duration, and then we smile politely, lift a tired hand or nod our head.

Runners will agree that this happens, but they will be less quick to admit that a judgment also passes between runners crossing paths. However, we all do it. We think, “Is she running faster than me?”. And if she is, we wonder if she is perhaps younger or maybe she is only on her first kilometer and we are on our seventeenth. If she is wearing a Garmin (watch, GPS system and heart rate monitor), we automatically assume she is hard-core or very technologically savvy. Perhaps she doesn’t have a water belt, or maybe she’s got Gatorade AND water AND gels attached to her middle. All this information tells us a bit about her journey, as well as her running status.

Now don’t you shake your head at me – even if you won’t admit it, there IS a running hierarchy. Not exactly a caste system, but everyone glances at someone else during a run and ascertains in his or her mind whether that other runner is a new runner, a 10k runner, an age-category winner, a veteran, a marathoner, a half-marathoner, an ultra-marathoner, a triathlete etc. Whether we could out run them or whether we could out last them. We all wonder.

Last week, I was running with a friend. We passed an older runner who was coming from the other direction. He was wearing light gray shorts and he had the MOST glaring butt-sweat I have ever laid eyes on. Now sweat is just a natural part of running – unavoidable, something to be proud of even. However, this butt-sweat was truly awe-inspiring. It formed a V of dark gray from his waist band downwards, but even more hypnotizing was the crotch sweat which formed a V upwards from, well, you know…

My friend giggled quietly as we passed and as soon as we were out of earshot, we marveled together. How on earth does a person not realize they’ve bought shorts that will highlight to such a magnitude their crotchal area? Don’t running stores test their technical fabrics for wicking abilities? Aren’t these the types of incidents that are to be avoided through the evolution of the technology of running equipment? How DO you end up with clothing that DOES this to you?

“Was it cotton?” my friend speculated. But no, it seemed to me to be legitimate technical wicking fabric. “I guess gray is not the best colour to buy,” my friend concluded.

This morning, I woke up early to go for a long run along Lakeshore in Oakville. I dressed quietly in the dark so as not to wake up my boyfriend. It was going to be a hot day, so I grabbed my pink shorts from the drawer. They were a gift from a couple of friends of mine for my birthday. I love them because they are made of very light material and they hardly feel like I am wearing anything.

I ran for an hour and fifteen minutes. I came back exhausted and hot. The day had heated up and I’d neglected to bring water with me. I stretched in my back yard then went inside for a shower. In the bathroom I peeled off my running clothes and then something caught my eye.

I slowly bent down and lifted my pink shorts off the tile floor.

I held them up to the light and turned them around.

“Well, how about that.”

3 comments:

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