Ah yes, they abound here, those Boulder moments!
These two particular ones happened on the same day last week, within hours of each other. One made me feel (briefly) like I actually belong here, among the fleet and the svelte, and the other brought me quickly back to reality.
The first happened at boot-camp class. Every now and then the rec center brings instructors who are trying out for jobs with them to sub for our class. The bosses and our regular instructor, Chris, watch them as they lead our group, presumably evaluating them on how thoroughly and appropriately they kick our butts. On the day in question, the substitute instructor's name was Michael. Like all of them, he looked fit and, like many of them, was a good talker. He mentioned that he used to work as a salesguy for Nike, he worked us out well and at the end he showed us a stretch that felt really good to my tight hamstrings.
Afterwards, I told him about my sore lower back and the resulting tightness in my hips. He showed me a few more stretches and suggested that I do leg swings, front-to-back and laterally, before my workouts.
And then came the happy moment: "Are you a runner?" he asked me. "Because you look like a runner."
I was stunned. I have never been told that I look like a runner by anyone. Especially not anyone in Boulder, Colorado. Because, really, I don't. This must be why Michael was a salesguy: he's good at saying what people want to hear, true or not. Nonetheless, I think I floated out of the rec center after my shower that day.
But such feelings are never meant to last. Later that day, I went to Boulder Running Company to pick up some more Nuun tablets, a hand-held water bottle and some Sport Beans (I'm still trying new, hopefully easy-to-digest options on my long runs; something has to work eventually, right?).
When I buy Nuun, I always buy a ton because I drink one before every workout, and often after, too, especially the Saturday long runs. I'm a big sweater. Nuun has been the difference for me between having and not having uncomfortable exercise-induced headaches. I also bought three packs of the Sport Beans (why I don't know; I didn't really expect them to sit well; maybe it's that at this point I'm desperate to find something that won't make my gut unhappy). And I figured I might as well pick up two of the bottles, one for each hand. The long runs on those hot summer days will require lots of liquid.
Now, I like Boulder Running Company. It was their man who put the neuroma pad into my new shoe a few weeks back, before I even had that as my diagnosis, and they've been helpful and nice to me every time I've gone in there. But one of my co-workers--an excellent runner, by the way; she's one of the ones who smoked me in that corporate challenge relay last summer--has said they make her feel unimportant when she goes in there, presumably because she's not one of the elites. She now goes to another running store in town that she describes as more friendly. But I've never seen any evidence of snobbery at BRC (believe me, if I had seen it, I'd never go in again), and since it's closer to my house, I've been buying my shoes there since we moved to Boulder five years ago.
So anyway....I carried my haul of bottles, Nuun and Sport Beans up to the counter, where three sales guys were gathered. One of them looked at my stuff on the counter and said:
"Ah, I see someone is getting ready for an ultra."
Geez. Was I really buying that much? Had I gone overboard on the Sport Beans? Are they something only runners of 50-plus-mile races should purchase? That was it, I thought, feeling the inevitable blush creep over my face (why did I have to be born a blusher? It's so undignified, and so unpreventable!). I felt like the little girl played by Abigail Breslin in Little Miss Sunshine when her blowhard dad suggests that beauty queens don't eat ice cream, and there she is with a bowl of the chocolate good stuff on the way.
I mumbled something about my runs "getting longer" and got out quickly, my "looking like a runner" balloon deflated. This little incident alone isn't enough to make me stop shopping there, but I do think I'll be ordering my Nuun and other food products online from now on.
Here's what I've eaten so far today--it's not exactly Ash Wednesday fasting, but so far so good:
Whole-wheat bagel with lox, a small bit of cream cheese, two tomato slices and a few capers
Glass of lo-sodium V8 juice
A PBJ sandwich (made with natural PB and "simply fruit" apricot preserves)
Two mugs unsweetened green tea
Three strands of black licorice (this is courtesy of our security guard at work, Lorin; I have to learn to "just say no" to licorice)