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A Letter From a Runner to Her City

Dear Saratoga Springs,

Hi.  Remember me?  I know there’s a lot of us runners bopping around town, and you might not recognize me in my awesome new running gear.  I used to be the one running in the tattered brown zip-up and the bandanna, but now I’m the one in the florescent yellow-green fleece and the black hat.  (Thanks, Mommy-Daddy-and-Aunt-in-Law!)  Oh, and I’m the one who smiles a lot.  I figure maybe if I smile a lot, my body will believe that I’m having fun and not in pain.

I just wanted to thank you for being such an awesome city to run in.  There’s sidewalks everywhere.  EVERYWHERE!  I can run damn-near anywhere I want damn-near up to the interstate without having to navigate the dangers of the dreaded shoulder.  Most everywhere is well lit, and unlike the last five places I’ve lived, I never feel like I’m going to be mugged!  And everyone is so good about keeping their sidewalks cleared.  Until it all melted in the unseasonably warm weather yesterday, I could run my normal route with at least 80% of the sidewalks completely clear, and 90% clear of standing snow.  (Except that fucking quack chiropractor on the corner, who cleared none of the snow from his sidewalk.  He’s a dick.) But the point is that I can run as far or short as I want, depending on my mood, without having to worry about the condition or safety of my environment.  Which is badass.

I also want to thank you for having such nice motorists.  Most of the drivers in Saratoga are super-conscious of me, and will go out of their way to make me feel safe on the road.  I rarely have to wait for cars at stop signs, and some drivers will even pull back into their driveways so I can cross in front.   I never have people honking at me in anger, I’ve not seen the finger once, and I rarely get the honk and whistle combo.  I can bop along contently, listening to my music and daydreaming, without having to spend the whole run fearing death by car or angry asshole.  Which is also badass.

But as long as I’ve got your attention, there are a couple issues I’d like to discuss with you.  Nothing big, we’re not breaking up or anything, but just some things I’d like us to work on, okay?

To the Saratoga Drivers

Like I said previously, most of you are conscious, thoughtful, wonderfully kind people.  But some of you are Grade A asshats.  Specifically, those of you who like to wait at stoplights in the crosswalk.  Look, let’s talk frankly for a moment.  I have no illusions about our relationship.  You are much, much larger than I am, and moving much, much faster than I am.  If there’s even the slightest question I will always give you the right of way, because there’s no comparing the damage that I will do to your bumper to the damage that your bumper will do to my body.  In fact, unless I have a pedestrian walk sign, I will wait for you to wave me across, just so I can make sure you see me.  (Side note: when I smile and wave as I cross in front of you, I’m not just being friendly.  I’m wave as a way to say, “Hi!  See me?!  Thanks for not running me over!”)  But when I do have a walk sign, it shouldn’t be too much to ask that I not have to run out into the intersection because your fucking Jeep is parked across the crosswalk.  Extra points if you actually look up from your fucking cell phone and notice that there is someone crossing the street in front of you at all.

To Saratoga Pedestrians


Look, I know we’re all trying to share the sidewalk here.  And you guys have just as much of a right to the pavement as I do.  So I don’t mind having to dart around you, especially on the often-busy main drag.  After all, I’m trying to move quicker than you, and you might not hear or notice me coming up behind you.  But please, for the love of all things holy, pick a fucking side to walk on!  Right side, left side, even down the center, that’s fine!  At least I know where you are and where you will be and where I should go to get around you.  But for christ’s sake, some of you walk like you’re six shots deep in the vodka.  At 10 in the morning.  You’re walking down the right side, so I move to the left side to go around you, and suddenly you swerve to the left side, so I jump to the right to avoid you, but you are taking a big swoop to the right and I run into you, and then you’re mad at me because I’m one of those annoying running douches, but actually I was trying to stay out of your fucking way!  It’s like you’re trying to fuck with me!  Stop it!

To the Country Corner Cafe on Church Street

I’m on to you assholes.  I know for a fact that you fire up a big ol’ batch of bacon and pancakes right before I run by, so that when I do run by I smell all the yumminess.  You know that I’m turning the corner to start my last mile home and I’ve already got a couple under my feet and I’m feeling thrashed.  So that when I do smell all that delicious home-cooked food in all it’s greasy glory, it damn-near drops me to the ground and forces me to crawl across the street to one of your tables.  Well, fuck you, Country Corner Cafe!  You are the reason I don’t carry money with me when I run!  (Well, you and the Hot Dog Charlie’s on Caroline, but that’s another discussion.)

To the homeless guy who sits on the bench outside the shoe store

I very badly want to give you a dollar.  I see you everyday on your bench with your shopping cart, staring off into space.  You don’t look drunk or coked up or disabled, you just look…like you don’t have a home.  I would very much like to give you a dollar to see if it might make you smile, but part of me is worried that you’re one of those proud homeless people who would be offended by the charity.  Plus, by the time I pass by you I’m usually 2.5-4 miles in and super sweaty.  So I’m pretty sure that dollar would be all damp and gross.

To the older lady with the bright red hair who smiled at me as she ran by this morning

I want to be you when I get older.  Seriously.  You can’t be much younger than 60, you’re a teeny tiny little thing that looks about as big around as my wrist, and you were running at about the same pace I was.  But mostly because you look like a lady with a healthy dose of spunk.  And that’s the type of person I want to be someday.

To the high school boy’s cross country team that I’m pretty sure makes a sport out of passing me

Fuck you!  Just…fuck you!
{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Scott Dibler January 3, 2011, 11:20 am

    The Best.

  • Brad January 3, 2011, 12:10 pm

    But just think of how great it will be to see the CC boys pass you once it’s warmer…

  • Robert Demers January 3, 2011, 12:22 pm


  • Charm City Kim January 3, 2011, 1:38 pm

    I want to run in YOUR city! Despite there being tons of runners around Baltimore, I feel like most drives and pedestrians are still a-holes.

  • Sid January 6, 2011, 1:41 am

    Oi. Just love your little note to the high school cross training team.

    I’ve only ever gone jogging in CT. I think my city is quite jogger friendly, but I have nothing to compare it to. Going to Indonesia in March. Would love to see what my jogging experience would be like there.

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