I do most of my running around Lake Merritt. It’s a nice little loop, it’s just outside my door, I like not having to wait for stop lights, and I can totally zone out watching the ducks dive for seaweed.
The lake isn’t exactly my own little private paradise, though. There are always other runners, joggers and walkers, people with dogs and strollers, occasional bikers, even kids on bikes. Time a run poorly on a Saturday and people heading to and from the farmer’s market flood the north-east tip of the lake (plus, half the run smells like rotisserie chicken and sugar waffles, which just makes me distracted and hungry). I get little bursts of speed work sometimes when I sprint to pass someone before on-coming traffic gets in the way, but once in a while the timing doesn’t work out and I have to walk a few steps before I can get around slower moving people.
I say all of this not to complain about the other people at Lake Merritt. After all, it’s not a dedicated running path, and they have just as much right to be there as I do. Oakland is a densely populated urban environment, and sometimes you just have to deal with other people. As long as it’s not dangerous or illegal, the fact that something irritates or annoys me isn’t really a reason for anyone else to not do it.
I do take exception, however, to people who insist on walking five abreast across the sidewalk and refusing to yield any ground while making eye contact, forcing me to run in the street with my back to traffic to get by them. I mean, Christ, what was that about? Visions of shoulder-checking flashed in my head, but, frankly, they were all bigger than me, and they outnumbered me and looked like they would have been thrilled to kick my ass (though it occurs to me now I probably could have outrun them!). What the crap was that about, ladies?