This is the USC track. It’s a perfectly nice track. And, yesterday, (or two days ago, I’m not sure, I wrote this on the plane to Turkey — fyi, I’m in Turkey) I found myself running there, not because I particularly needed to do a track workout, but because I had some time between things and wanted to fit a run in and am trying to ease back in to training. The bronchitis diagnosis on Tuesday afternoon and subsequent medication is actually starting to clear up my month-long illness — really one illness + a secondary respiratory infection. Obviously, this meant it was time to start running hard-ish again.
The track is a weird place. Usually you go because it’s an honest place. It’s clean and hard and there’s a truth there. It will hurt and you will get faster. But, weird things also happen at the track. Because it’s a small group of people that choose to run circles, they want to bond and talk, and spectators enjoy making comments. This is probably why I usually run by myself, but that’s a whole other problem when you lose it a little bit and start swearing you can hear the telephone wires vibrating and taste the track in your mouth.
Yesterday, there were a handful of people running and walking around the USC track and more showed up as I ran. That’s fine. Normal. The university puts barriers in the corners across the inside three to four lanes when it’s open hours, which is really annoying when you’re running hard and trying to hit times. But, I’m not fast right now, so whatever. I started running on the edge of lane four and cutting in where possible. This older man walking back and forth in lane five yelled at me to stay in the outside lanes. Yeah, ok, that’s where I am, I thought.
I thought he was just being a local vigilante to stop people from using the inside three lanes, but as I came by him again he yelled and started waving at me that I could only run in lanes six, seven, and eight — while he walked back and forth in lane five. OK, fine, he wanted to use this 50 meters of lane five. I kept running my tempo in lane six when I was near him, to give him a wide berth, and then I’d cut in to lane four or five when I could. There were other people jogging or running or walking, some of whom I’d have to run around and some of whom were in other lanes. And, yet, I was perfectly able to get around them, because that’s how running on a track works. But, not him. He kept yelling at me whenever I came by, even though I wasn’t anywhere I shouldn’t be, and he kept pacing back and forth. Then he left the track, so I thought it was ok to run on the innermost lane that wasn’t blocked by the barriers — namely the edge of lane four. Oh, I was wrong.
I finished one of the shorter harder efforts and was walking/shuffling to catch my breath and he reappears to start yelling at me about disrespecting him and how he had to wait ten minutes to do one of his intervals. Intervals? Wait? Ten minutes? I’m pretty sure you don’t get to just claim an entire lane to yourself during open hours and throw everyone else out of it. And, I’m pretty sure I didn’t stop anyone from running.
It was so strange. And, so confusing. And, what was the weirdest part was that I was 100 percent sure that he was positive I was disrespectful. He thought I was just some little entitled USC girl, who thought she could do whatever she wanted. But, all I wanted to do was use the track the way the track is used.