It’s a cold winter day, and you really, really don’t want to run. Somehow, you force yourself out the door and head for your go-to winter running path—you know, the one that’s plowed and, consequently, very popular among fellow diehard runners.
You pass by other trail users, smiling and nodding. With each nod and nod-back, there is a silent exchange of words: Howdy. I see that you’re running, even though you probably didn’t want to. Yeah, I didn’t want to either. But that’s why we’re so much more awesome than everyone else.
Your ego inflates to gargantuan proportions. If your ego were a bubble, you would look like the Epcot ball floating down the path. You feel snug in your runner self-righteousness. Running is definitely the best decision you’ve made all day—better, even, than the whole grain Pop-Tarts you had for breakfast this morning. (Because hey, anything made with whole grains has to be healthy, right?)
In the distance, you see a group of runners heading your way. They’re all bundled up in Helly Hansen half-zips and Under Armour compression tights. Their wardrobe, along with their synched, effortless strides, tells you that they are for serious.
Suddenly, your self-esteem is threatened. These guys are way too cool for you. Your heart skips a beat as you adjust your posture and try to appear as legit as possible. As they draw nearer, you stifle your heavy breathing and quickly try to decide between giving an up-nod or a down-nod. Up-nods are usually reserved for bouncers, football players and Jersey Shore cast members. I don’t want to look like an asshole. But a down-nod implies that we are somehow on the same level, which clearly, we are not…
Before you can make a decision, you give an involuntary full-body up-nod as your legs slide out from under you. Your butt hits the ground on top of a thin sheet of black ice—a booby trap of embarrassment.
Assuming there is absolutely no chance that they didn’t see what happened—and trust me, there is absolutely no chance that they didn’t see what happened—you have three options at this point:
1. Sit on your butt, looking pathetic and helpless, and hope they take pity on you by not ridiculing you (to your face, anyway).
2. Quickly get up, recover, and pretend like nothing happened, hoping they will do the same.
3. Flip a 180 and take off in the opposite direction as fast as humanly possible so that you won’t have to face them.
Not that I would know anything about this, because this definitely did not happen to me recently, but I’m kind of leaning toward option No. 3. If you’re fast enough, there’s a good chance they’ll never get close enough to identify you, which means you won’t have to drive across town to run for the rest of the winter. Also, it’s a good way to mimic the fight-or-flight adrenaline most people experience on race day.
Just make sure you watch out for black ice.