August 21, 2008

Runners -- a surly bunch

[By Merry]


Did anybody notice anything different about this week?

Abducted by aliens whilst undergoing rehab

Whaddya mean nobody noticed that I've been gone? Poor Crabby has been stuck carrying the whole blog for over a week and nobody noticed?
Be that way.

I was going to write up a big dramatic story about being abducted by
aliens, or going into rehab, or going on strike, but the heck with it.

Crabby goes camping, Merry starts carping

No, I don't mean fishing for carp. I'm whining because work has been
taking up valuable time that I could have spent dating, dining, dancing,
or dallying on blogs. There's been no time for such frivolities. But I
still have been making time to go to bed each night.

Sleeping with Bob Costas
For the last week or so, I've been putting myself to sleep by watching
the Olympics. I go to bed with Bob Costas, and wake up with Matt Lauer.
(Not the image you wanted? Sorry.)
Didn't mean to churn your stomach with that image...

Research, that's what it is. I've been tirelessly researching how cranky Olympic athletes can get.

Those gymnasts are so perky and positive that it's scary.
Happy, happy, happy day!

They all hug and congratulate the evil scumbag rival athlete who just beat them out of a medal what were the judges thinking by a fraction of a point. The swimmers pound each other on the back after a match, rather than trying to shove the opponent's head under the water for a few hours seconds. Real or Memorex, they're all at least trying to be good sports.

Did you see the end of the women's marathon? The winner, okay, I'll give you that. She won, so it's understandable that she should wrap herself up in her country's flag and run another lap just to show off. Fine. Not sure why the 2nd and 3rd runners also felt they had to do a victory lap wrapped in their country's flag. But did you notice how isolated they all seemed? They waved to the crowds and smiled at the cameras, but completely ignored each other. At one point a couple of runners who were cooling off almost walked into each other, but even then they didn't make eye contact.

I'm not counting the relay teams -- they're one unit, essentially.


But while competitors in other sports interact with their rivals, individual runners don't. After a race, they face straight ahead, or up at the sky, down at the track, anywhere but at a competitor. They are alone. They are communing with their inner coaches. Or they are a bunch of surly anti-social bastards.

I knew there was some reason I like hanging out with you guys.

Runners are a surly bunch

What is it about running that makes it such an anti-social activity? At least anti-social at the Olympic level. People running a 5k seem cheerful enough. Maybe that's because they've been getting lots of perks and goodies. (Note: we need to check with our European researchers to determine the ratio of cheerfulness/goodies in European runners. Xenia was lamenting the lack of goodies in the races she's run in Britain. The phrase "cheap bastards" was used.)

Are runners at the Olympic level different from other other athletes? Or is it the whole track-and-field atmosphere that's somehow less jovial and jolly than the gym or the pool? Or even that Bob-awful endless beach volleyball. (It's always on! Every night! You can't escape it! It makes me want to use exclamation points! Excessively!!!!)

Anyone have any good examples of interactive cheerful runners? Please feel free to leave a comment saying "Merry, you fool! What about that runner who was cheerful and perky and went around hugging all the runners who just beat him?" I might have missed him whilst I was sleeping with Bob.

Okay, I did see one runner hug his compatriot who just won a race. Just one. But I consider this to be an anomaly designed to weaken what was otherwise a damn fine hypothesis. I haven't seen any cheerfulness or huggy behavior undertaken by one runner to another who was from another country. So there.


  1. What about women's water polo where they were actively trying to drown the other team!?

    Or do they get out of the pool and hug their competitors too as long as there's no easy way to kill them nearby?

  2. Hooray, she's bacccccckkkk!!!!

    Alas, I think I am the only human on earth who has not been watching much of the Olympics, so it's a good thing you've been sleeping with Bob Costas for the sake of research.

    I am not a team sport kind of personality, so I like the independent nature of runners generally--but you'd think they could at least FAKE the congeniality thing a little better when it's being broadcast to the entire world!

  3. I think they "got in to the ZONE" and couldn't find their way back out.

  4. I love the platform women divers as theyre SO CHATTY (well most of them anyway).

    they are ubersolemn.
    and are chatty cathys once they hit that post-dive waterpool thingy.
    but not as over the top frightening, as you pointed out, as the gymnasts.

    whats THAT about?

  5. I have not been watching the olympics either (so Crabby is not alone).

    Love the synchronized swim kitties though!

    That's really all I have to say.

  6. I also think its a "zone" thing with the runners. I've done one marathon (which I will never do again) and it was an odd high.

    Also wanted to add that beach volleyball is my favorite sport. Every sport should have rules about how much clothing the women are allowed to wear. Makes my day 10x better just to watch them jump around for a few minutes. :)

  7. There were two Chinese runners who shared a flag to wave around when they finished their marathon, and seemed supportive of each other.

    But I also saw a woman marathoner toss her water bottle over her shoulder (she was the leader of a pack of women, who then had to go around it).

    In the case with the marathon runners, it could just be that they went a few hours ignoring each other and don't know how to make non-awkward conversation

  8. Remember that scene in Top Gun with the guys playing beach volleyball? That's the only beach volleyball I'll ever need in my lifetime. *sigh*

    And there's something about the Men's gymnastics Rings competition that gives me a warm feeling in my innermost places.

    Um... I'm sorry, what were we talking about???

  9. Was going to post something about runners just being focused and that focused doesn't necessarily mean aloof but Jill's comment has left me feeling all fuzzy inside and now I feel compelled to go look up Top Gun videos on You Tube... mmmmmm.

  10. That's freaking hilarious. You are so right. And this whole post is making me lol. :)

  11. I didn't mind beach volleyball the first 10 or 12 matches. But it's on Every Single Night! Specifically In An Attempt To Make Me Mad, Mad I Tell You!

    Sorry. Deep breaths. Calm thoughts.

  12. I'm not watching the Olympics either. Thought I must be a damn freak!

    Field hockey players - now there are some surly women/girls (I used to be one).

    Now I'm a runner (5K level) but not surly at all. I live in the south and everyone on our trail is always smiling and waving. When I went up north to visit my family though, most everyone was grim and aloof! What a difference.

  13. You're not the only one, Crabby. I have no television, and NBC won't let me download their clips to my Mac, which has the wrong version of the software for their Silverwhatsit plugin, (even if I wanted to do that over dialup.) Grrrrr. I thought at last I would be able to see some equestrian stuff. But Noooo.

    (Runners aren't the only surly ones.)

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  14. I love Jill's comment!

    For a while I thought all UK runners were curmudgeons. It turns out they were only concentrated in this one park I frequented. Now I run around a meadow and everyone is super friendly. Those cheap bastards had given me a complex for such a long time. Evil Brits. ;)

    I've never run a marathon, but I suppose the solitary nature of the sport and the length of time needed to complete a marathon would cause someone to be rather aloof with their competitors. That's just a shot in the dark though.

  15. I watched some Olympics with the gang in the common room at Bard. They were interesting! Except for the momentous Mark Spitz/Michael Phelps interview which was so embarassingly and deadeningly boring I decided to go to bed right then even though the nite was youngish.

    As for the runners, maybe they just haven't been properly introduced...

  16. I think Xenia hit the nail on the head - running is a solitary sport, where it's all about pushing yourself to your personal best, so friendliness and hugging isn't really an inherent part of the sport, like gymnastics or volleyball (where they hug after every point, even if it's not theirs).

    I starting to like beach volleyball a little more, though I skipped all those initial pool rounds. But the last couple matches I've seen in the quarter and semi finals have been really exciting, so I'm a convert. Definitely love indoor volleyball (and man, is there some major man-candy on that team!).

  17. I cannot take any more Micahel Phelps... Please, no more... Oh MP has got himself a deal to be on boxes of cereals, oh, MP's mom just unboarded her plane from Beijing, ouh, look at this pic of MP wearing JUST his gold medals... rrrr....


    As for beach volley, yeah enough too. Though I have to say, their game against the Brazilian team who had BRA (brazil) written on their... well... bras... Nice.

    *sigh* men gymnastics... eye candy central.

    Now, on the actual topic of this blog entry, I think the solitary, focused and centered nature of marathon running makes it so the runners are not going to just cross the finish and break into idle chatter. But maybe they're just stuck up cardio freaks.

  18. OK, so where exactly is this pic of MP wearing JUST his gold medals???!

  19. You wouldn't know it from the size of their uniforms, but almost all Olympic-level marathoners carry a homemade shiv or shank on their person at all times during the race.

    Things get tense in the pack, and every race is mere moments away from an interaction that brings things from pushy to shovey to shanky in no-time, flat.

    Trust me, it's no sport for the weak-hearted. Or shankless.

  20. tk, I found this pic:

    Maybe it's just me, but I would've preferred a full-body shot with some of the medals covering over the parts you're not supposed to show on camera...

  21. I don't care for your accusations about runners. ;)

    At the end of the men's 200m final the US sprinter who initially took 2nd (Spearman?) went over to Bolt and not only hugged him, but picked him up as if to signify that Bolt was the champion.

    The problem for runners is at the end of a race many of them are doubled over or lying on the ground, which makes it hard to hug but I've frequently noticed runners offering handshakes or congratulations after races.

  22. This has got to be the funnest (yes, that's a word!) blog I ever encountered!
    Weebles to our long lost job person!!

    Yeah those runners are snobs, but who can blame em? Besides, they make the name of this blog proud!

    Hubby and the rest of the guys must be calling into China insisting on the ladies beach volleyball for EVERY DAY! Can you imagine having to watch the 6'5" hunk guys every night? *tries not to drool and almost forgets the rest of what she has to say*

    Oh yeah, it was fun watching Phelps swim like a super frog and look ecstatic, the excitement was contagious! But the volleyball games seem nearly endless/pointless after that hype!

    EQUESTRIAN EVENTS? WTF is with that? Next thing you know we'll have whale races and dog shows???
    I thought the olympics was about P.E.O.P.L.E.!?!?!

  23. It's easy for the swimmers to hug hug hug after an event cause they are clean clean clean!!! :-)

  24. Hey Dr J, are you keeping your head above water?

    Thanks Brenda!

    Vanilla -- I think this alleged videotape of runners shaking hands with each other should be checked closely to see if shivs are involved. And was he trying to congratulate that winning runner or was he trying out your pick-up lines for runners?

  25. Merry! You are more famous!!

    OK so far! Thanks for asking, Merry!

    I live in North Central Florida, so the storm is barely getting here today! There will be PLENTY of rain, maybe 15 inches or more. We are on high ground so flooding will probably not be a major problem unless we have to go somewhere! The winds wont be terrible this far inland, maybe 40 mph. The worry is all the large trees surrounding us, and if there is too much rain it can weaken their root structure and over they go. You can see a photo here from the last one I lost, at least it didn't hit the house! Thanks for your concern!!

  26. I haven't been watching the Olympics this year, but I have to admit . . . I love the happy, perky gymnasts! (I haven't watched the diving in FOREVER, but if they're happy and perky afterward as Miz says, I might have to start watching.)

    (Is it weird that practically my favorite part of the Olympics as a rule is not watching people win, but watching them lose gracefully?)

    (Yeah. I think that's weird.)

  27. My timing seems to be off this year, I can't watch the things I want to, so usually turn it off. That or they are only airing the really boring shit like the races....okay they have been running now for four hours already, show us something new.

  28. hubby's been recording it all! So hooked here!

  29. I immediately went to the pic of MP in only his medals, but, what a let down! Crabby, bring back the underwear models!

  30. " I love the happy, perky gymnasts! "

    Happy, perky gymnasts? Which gymnasts are you watching? I only see the steely-eyed wound-tight-as-a-spring gymnasts.

  31. Women's 200 - US Allyson Felix (silver) goes over to hug and congratulate Jamaica's Veronica Campbell-Brown who beat her for gold for the second time (Athens).

    Women's marathon - interview w/ Deena Kastor (US) whose broken metatarsal caused her to pull out just before 5k, in an interview the next day saying she was trying to get updates from the press on the sweep bus (which followed the women's marathon the whole way - imagine what that would have been like for those who pulled out) and she was pleased that Constantina Tomescu had taken the gold, that she was such a good person in the running community, Deena was so proud of her - a virtual hug, and very classy.

  32. Merry runs over to the judges for a consultation, then returns beaming

    Excellent, MJ!
    The judges award that 1-1/2 points. (For some reason they didn't allow as much for a virtual hug. I can only assume they're not used to the Internet.)

    I'm glad there were some divergences from the surly b. crowd :)

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  34. Omg. I am obsessed with that damn kitteh website. And then I end up taaalking like the captions and it's downhill from there!

    Thanks for being a partner in crime! ;)

    Edit: Whoops -- forgot to say, you probably saw but today the silver in the 100 m (I think that was it) went up to the gold and sideways hugger her. Not bad, right? :)

  35. mj mentioned the only one i saw with allyson felix.

  36. Why do the women Beach volleyballers play in what is basically a sportsbra and undies, and the men bvers in baggy shorts and a tank top? I'm with Noah, there should be rules about how much clothing these athletes are allowed to wear. Think of men's volleyball, ok gymnastics if that's what you like, in speedos!

    (Sorry, visual image overload, but I'm back) And,to get back to the subject also, runners in speedos, too.



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