Sunday, July 10, 2011

Ultras are not for the water cooler

I use "The Water Cooler" as a metaphor.

Water Cooler = Place where co-workers gather to brag about their recent accomplishments.

It is bad karma to use ultra running accomplishments as your "water cooler" moments. Ultra aint' about that.

Other similar sayings I have for these type of people are

"One and done-ers" = I just want to do one so I can brag to others the rest of my life that I am one of them.
"Belt notchers" = I want to get my belt full of all of these "accomplishment" so I can show the rest of the world how awesome I am.

Okay.... us as bloggers might be accused of this as well. Feel free to fire away.


So a few weeks ago I was on the road, eating dinner at a restaurant/bar. Minding my own business, reading Born to Run.

The dude I sat down next to asks "Whatcha reading?". I show him. He responds by saying (and kind of puffing up his chest) "I have run with that author".

I think the dude expected me to be in awe, but instead I responded with a "cool, well I am a trail runner so I get it". I didn't say that I know a bunch of people who not only have run with him, but know him. And, that I have met a some of the people mentioned in the book.

See.... this guys was showing his stripes as a "water cooler man". And he made the mistake of puffing up his chest more, and in his studliest voice say

"You know, I have run a 100 miler."

I am sure he expected oohhs and aahhss from me. Instead, he got an "awesome, me too". His demeanor changed a little bit. He was a "one and done-er". And he admitted he barely got it done on one of the faster courses with one of the highest completion rates. I said "Any 100 is a huge accomplishment. I have DNF'd more than I have finished.

I don't share my accomplishments, unless asked, as I know what was done yesterday has no bearing on what you can do today. But once he heard my resume (again, he asked), he paid his bill and left.

In Tom Wolf's I am Charlotte Simmons, Wolf describes a street fighter who was taught to always go for nose and knock the guy down who you are fighting. But, 1 out of 100 people you knock down will get back up and fight. Then you are in trouble.

Now, I am not a fighter, but it is a similar analogy. I think I was the 1 in a 100 he has bragged to who wasn't all that impressed.

PLEASE UNDERSTAND - I am impressed with almost all 100 mile runners, just not the ones who brag about it to strangers in a bar.

Okay, I am doing a little chest pounding. But I have to admit, I got a kick out of it. He actually understood what a Sawtooth belt buckle meant.


Joe Z said...

Good post.

mike_hinterberg said...

Snuck over here from another site, but great post, totally agree.
I've listened to many-a-tale of so-and-so's marathon or triathlon, sometimes without ever even mentioning anything about what I've done or been up to -- since they didn't ask. Sometimes my wife will get so frustrated that she'll blurt something out!

You learn more by asking questions and listening anyway.

Adam said...

Nicely done. I often tell people, I've run with Matt Patten. :)

Anonymous said...

My running leaves a lot to be desired, but when I mentioned I've crewed for both Adam and Matt they start asking if I can get either of your autographs. Bill P.

Matthew Patten said...

You guys are pretty damn funny.

... I think I have actually said "I have run with Joe Z or Adam", and the response was "were they running, or walking?"

By the way, I have "run with"
Khalid Kkannouchi and Paula Radcliff..... but they don't know it

Double said...

Don't you have like the Kettle 100 fastest time for an LPTR member over like the last 5 years? Just sayin'. Your big medicine down here. Big baller.