I’m dead serious – I actually physically dodged tourists today on my run. Not just avoided one gently, or did my best to surf the wave of maps, I actually had to hurtle out of the way of a tourist. I’m not wading into the traveler versus tourist debate, I’m merely pointing out the fact that I was nearly clotheslined by a fanny-packed visitor while running on the embarcadero this afternoon.
Normally, I do my training runs during ‘local’ time, that is, on my way into work, or on my way home. During these dawn/dusk times, the majority of people I encounter are either runners or commuters, heads held high while striding forward confidently, or heads to the ground, mobile to the ear, bustling towards the towering concrete in front of them, or back towards the boats that ferry them back to their homes. These are my compatriots, my comrades; places to go, and not enough time to do it in (which is why I normally try and combine my running with my commute – efficiencies!). We understand each other: a fellow runner will nod my way (or not) and stay clear of my path, and a commuter will understand that I will run around them, and not the other way around. This delicate dance repeats every morning or night, and we get it.
Today (President’s Day), I did my short run at about 1 PM. I laced up, headed towards North Point, and made my way towards the Embarcadero. My pace was pretty fast, and I was determined to make this a short but sweet jaunt, the opportunity to run off a bit of antsyness I had coming out of the weekend. Around Alcatraz landing, the foot traffic congestion got bad – individuals wandering aimlessly, groups of four or five taking up the entire walkway, as entire gaggle of folks waiting for their tour bus. Nothing gets me more excited about where I live than overhearing someone exclaim “this is the coolest place on earth!”, but there’s just one habit of theirs that I can’t stand: erratic walking.
I developed my irrational hatred of erratic walking while living in New York, while I was struggling to do my very best to not be too wowed by the ultra-awesome city I was in.These habits are endemic: the shuffle, the absent minded gaze, the meandering across the invisible lanes that all good and decent people naturally aspire to operate within. When I first started traveling on my own, I learned pretty quickly that the first thing a “cool” traveler does before you get to a new place is to study up on your maps before getting of the plane/train/what have you, and then keep your eyes at eye level, ignoring the unfamiliar and potentially life-changing views. Who cares if you’ve never seen the sites before – no one wants you to think you’re a tourist or anything.
So back to today – I’m running on the Embarcadero at a
nine mile a minute nine minute a mile (lol) clip, doing my best to gauge the migratory patterns of the clusters around me. I made a choice, and ventured towards the buildings, going slightly upstream into what I thought was a perfectly placed void. At that moment, a wide-eyed traveler who’d crossed 20 feet in front of me saw something super cool on the bay, something truly awesome, and turned around to reach out to her mother. Utilizing my best catlike reflexes, I dodged away from a potential flooring, and nearly tripped over my own feet.
I heard a giggle and an apology behind me, and I smiled. There’s so much to see in San Francisco, and I’m glad that person took the time to turn back and share it.