I’m a pretty easy person to get along with.
Sure, I may get a little pouty when I feel left out.
But for the most part, I just want people to be happy and enjoy life.
I mean, mostly I want me to be happy. But I like that for other people, too.
So, if you start chatting with me about trail running and mountain adventures, I’m gonna be all in on that conversation.
I’m gonna be awkward. Because it’s me.
But I’m gonna be all in.
And I’m gonna encourage the hell outta you to give it a try. And see if you don’t love it.
I don’t give a good damn how slow you might think you are. I’m gonna want you to do it anyway.
My tribe is pretty intense. I get that. I work pretty hard to try to keep up with them.
I’m absolutely not the fastest. Or strongest. Or badassest. I make no claims to any of that.
In any situation.
And the thing is, we know when it’s coming. Don’t we?
I’m out in the world minding my own business. Just happy to be able to breathe in actual oxygen in the actual outside of doors. Wearing my Mountain Junkies Run Mountains shirt.
And here he comes.
Smirking his little big bad man smirk.
Mr. Smug: “Nice shirt. Do you ‘run’ mountains?”
He didn’t actually use finger quotes, but I could hear them. That tone. That condescending, superior tone. Do you know how much of every ounce of restraint is involved in fighting back the natural human physical response to that tone? I work too many damn jobs to be exerting that kind of effort right now.
Me: “Yeah. I mean, there is some hiking involved, too. But yeah. I run mountains.”
Mr. Smug: “How often?”
That look. That condescending, doubtful look. I don’t watch a lot of Quinton Tarantino, but he is absolutely directing the fantasy that is running through my head right now.
Me: “Most weekends. Sometimes during the week. Whenever I can.”
Go ahead, Mr. Man. Let’s do this. I can feel it coming.
Mr. Smug: “You ever been over to the Peaks of Otter?”
This dude is trying to quiz me.
Me *thinking maybe he might actually challenge me*: “POO. Sure. Which trails have you done over there?”
Mr. Still Confidently Smug: “I’ve done that one over behind the Visitor’s Center a few times.”
Me: “The easy one? Yeah. I’ve been there.”
Mr. Kind of Surprised But Totally Trying To Recover And Prove His Manhood: “Is it easy? Oh. Yeah, I’m probably gonna try Sharp Top soon. You ever been there?”
Me: “Yes. My people and I ran Sharp Top and Flat Top last month.”
Mr. Starting To Question Why He Started A Conversation With Me: “In the same weekend?”
Me: “In the same morning.”
Mr. Desperately Trying To Find Something To Defend With: “Huh. A few years ago, my buddy and I went over to this one. What was it called…McAfees! You ever tried that one?”
Me *Unwillingly channeling my inner-GJB*: “You mean McAfee. There’s no ‘s.’ Yeah. Been there. Many times. This year. On my way over to Tinker Cliffs and Hay Rock.”
Mr. Questioning His Life Choices: “Hay Rock. Where is that?”
Me *Letting my awkward seep out – but we all knew I couldn’t hold it together for too long*: “Over in Botetourt County somewhere. Danville? Daleville? 220. I don’t know. It’s about 20 miles from McAfee.”
Mr. Too Distracted By The Idea of Running 20 Miles to Recognize His Opportunity To Gain The Upperhand With A Conversation About Locations: “You mean you did all of that at once?”
Me *Getting My Shit Back Together And Grateful He Didn’t Ask Me For Directions*: “Sure. If I’m gonna drive an hour, I wanna make it worth my time.”
And then because I was feeling really good about myself, I kept going just to be sure we were clear.
“This month we did Rock Castle Gorge down in Floyd and Hanging Rock down in North Carolina. As training for the Pilot Mountain to Hanging Rock Ultra we’re running in October. We’ve got a Spartan Super down on Bear Mountain in Asheville this weekend. Then a 30 miler with about 7,000 feet of elevation gain next weekend.”
For the record, I don’t think that the mountain we’re running Spartan on is actually called Bear Mountain. But it didn’t matter at that point. He was no longer looking for weaknesses in my responses.
He’d lost his condescending tone and superior look back at McAfee.
And he was just so obviously not the kind of man who handles losing to a girl well.
So, he decided to try a different approach.
Mr. I’ve Got Money So I Get To Eat At Fancy Places: “You ever eat at Frankie Rowlands?”
It’s cool. He totally wins the restaurant pissing match. Because I work in education. And juvenile justice. And nonprofit. Plus I spend most of my non-work hours in a pretty sweaty, smelly state.
I don’t see the inside of many restaurants.
Look. I don’t generally try to make people feel small about their accomplishments.
That trail over behind POO Visitor’s Center? Harkening Hill? It’s not easy. It’s a damn mountain. But if you’re gonna try to condescend to me about whether or not I’m a real trail runner, I’m gonna call you out on whatever bullshit I can. And we all know how much I struggle just hold to hold a basic conversation, so if I figure something out mid-convo, I’ve gotta run with it.
You’re doing a thing? Awesome. I love that. Go be amazing.
But I have zero tolerance for arrogant POS’s that try to make themselves look superior to others. Particularly by trying to make others’ accomplishments look small.
The people I run with range widely in their stamina, speed, and baseline ridiculousness.
I don’t even come close to most of them.
But every single one of us is a badass.
And every single one of us would welcome anyone interested in adventure.
Just save the pissing matches for actual pissing. Because if you’re hydrating appropriately, you might actually get to have one of those out on the mountain.