Sunday, June 21, 2020

Wind Sense and Sensibility

Today (Sunday) was my day for a longer run, about 12 miles...

I ran along the Baylands of course as I usually do for these runs.  It was a beautiful nice day with lots of birds out and about. A bit hot for running but hey...

On the way home, I passed over the highway 101 via the bike / pedestrian overpass, and then dropped down onto Oregon Ave. 

As I was running along, a woman with a buff walking her dog stopped, turned 90 degrees away from me and faced the hedge next to her. I was about 10 feet at closest approach.

About 10 seconds later she turned and shouted after me:  "Your are unmasked and breathing hard!" and some other words I could not hear.

I was already well past her when I heard this. I stopped and turned back and shouted back:

"I'm downwind of you!" and I continued running.

I was upset all the way home. Not because if what she said, but because I was very stupid to let this happen and upset that person. 

Yes, I  was running unmasked. I find it impossible to run with a mask and glasses. It just doesn't work. But I do other things that are not so visible.

In my life I've done lots of things that depend on or are influenced by the wind: 

I have flown kites, hang gliders, sailplanes (have license), model rockets, radio controlled gliders, paper airplanes. I have a bareboat sailing license. When I run marathons I have often drafted off runners to good effect (and let them draft off me too..drafting actually helps both the drafter and the draftee). 

Basically my whole life I have developed what sailors call "Wind Sense": 

At any point in time you can ask me and I can tell you exactly where the wind is coming from (assuming it's not light-and-variable)  Even if I'm not looking like I'm paying any attention to the world around me I always register and know where the wind is from. It's just hardwired in my brain. 

In these times of Covid,  this comes in handy. When runners are near me, if they are upwind when I pass through their imagined "downwind plume", I hold my breath for the few seconds I'm in there.  If I'm upwind, I pull up my t-shirt as a mask and hold breath too.

I can imagine the flow lines around the person or group and calculate the angle of the wind relative to my self and others and know where the plume of exhalations (mine and theirs) are going.

But: It was stupid of me to assume this person would know this. Instead I should have just moved well away the other side of the road, covered up my mouth with my tshirt  and turned my head away and made them feel safe and respected.

I wish I could apologize. I was a dope. 

Happy running!


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