Slap Happy


Where was I the other day when I got slapped? Oh, yeah. Mile nine on a Sunday morning ten-miler.

I was pushing the pace a little, trying to negative split the second half by more than a couple minutes, knowing I had the benefit of a strong tailwind to amplify my efforts.

About a half-mile from home, I spy a young runner heading my way on the sidewalk.  Nobody else is out walking or jogging this morning. It’s just the two of us, in each other’s path.

I know from recent bad experience that this could be a problem. A couple weeks ago, during lap seven of an eight-interval hill workout on the steep Brooklyn side of the Williamsburg Bridge, I found my path upward suddenly blocked by an oblivious tourist dude walking up the hill with his buddy. The dude has drifted leftward, and with a gentle nudge—okay, kind of an aggressive nudge—from behind, I startle him as I worm past and carry on. When I come back down on my recovery jog I have to go right by him again and my earphones block out most of the insults the angry expression on his face tells me he’s hurling at me as I go by

Today though we’re not really in each other’s way. In fact, on this Sunday morning, there’s a chance to share a little moment. As we pass each other, I give her plenty of room as I also reach out with my left hand, palm open. She slaps me back and we don’t say a word, just share a smile and some skin, in the secret hand signal of our running tribe.