Friday, 5 April 2013

Karen writes: Good and bad

I can see the sea from home, but there are days when I realise that I haven't glimpsed the water at all.  That is because I haven't made the effort to look out of the window. Running is the same, you can go out, and see nothing, you have to look around, look out the window as it were.

Last night I went for an excellent run and saw plenty, some good, some bad.  I saw  a runner in the distance and caught up with and said hello. We ended up running together for a good 4km chattering away, commenting on what was around us and our experiences and goals. Perhaps the pace was a tiny bit faster than my usual but I didn't really notice because it was just so nice to share a moment in time with someone else.  She was doing more training than I do (ever) for her half marathon in August. I said she could do a marathon with that amount of effort, she hadn't thought she could.  She was also mountain biking, why not look at triathlon?  I felt quite sad when we parted at Beachlands, she was finished, I wasn't yet halfway. I kept going pondering that brief but enjoyable interaction and I knew I would probably never see (or recognise) her again. I got to my turn-around point and headed back home.

I first saw the couple as I approached a cross-road intersection, I was running down one road, they were cycling the road perpendicular to mine.  The first thing I noticed was the male not wearing a helmet, that annoys me immensely.  My children have to wear helmets, it is for the protection of their precious heads and I hope it will become a lifelong habit, why do some adults think they shouldn't be setting an example?  The woman was following along, straining to pedal on the oversized bike, she was helmeted, but staring fixedly ahead.  They turned down the same road I was headed for, I followed and eventually caught up with them at the entrance to the park leading to Te Puru.  I only caught up because the man was lifting, yes lifting, her bike over the rail fence. Obviously using the gate or the purpose built fence-style wasn't in the picture of masculine endeavor he wanted to portray.  Ah I thought, a mating dance. I had to stop so I stretched and pretended not to watch this small but entertaining circus, then when their wheels were finally back on the ground where they belonged, I followed them through the style.  As I passed I caught his sweetly patronising explanation regarding changing gears down to go uphill and up to go downhill. I wondered who the audience was meant to be for that meaningless bit of communication, her or the small crowd now gathered.  Then came his falsetto "oh, you want to go that way do you" at a junction which I took to indicate she didn't want to go 'that way', so much as not want to tackle the steeply intimidating downhill which was the other choice. So they pedaled off on a sideloop and I kept running, feeling ever-so-slightly yuck and telling myself off for judging anyone I didn't know, quite so harshly, without knowing the real story.

Beachlands end of track to Te Puru
I had run perhaps a kilometer further down the track when they caught up with me, the man sailed past with the setting sun reflecting delicately off his uncovered head, she creakingly followed, sweat soaking her blouse which was more suited for a work-day, she didn't respond to my "hi". Over a small bridge there are two tracks, one easier for cycling with a wide concrete path and moderate hills, one a narrow and uneven dirt trail with some serious inclines.  He rode up the dirt trail and stopped while she pushed her bike up.  He stood on the clifftop with his hands on his hips. He watched, not her, he watched me, and he had this funny little smile which could have meant all sorts of things, none of them nice. I scowled at him, and took the other path. When I got a little further on I turned off down yet another track, this one I was sure wasn't accessible for cycles, I didn't want to see either of them again.

As I ran along I sent my secret thoughts into the beautiful quiet of an evening made for enjoyment. One of my thoughts was that when the woman got off her bike she should perhaps climb into her car and drive home tonight, and the other thought was that I would not want to run into him in a position of power, for example in Inland Revenue.