Sunday, October 9, 2011

Running With Marie Claire

I’m a runner.  I’ve run for most of my adult life.  In parks, around the neighborhood and on countless  treadmills at home and the gym, I run.  At Luci’s suggestion, we began entering races awhile back and I discovered that I was actually good at running.  In our first 5000 meter race, I placed third in my age group.  That’s a nice motivator and now, many races later, my avocation has become one of my passions.  These days I run not only for health and fitness, but to achieve personal goals like improving my pace and participating in endurance runs.  And it just plain feels good when I win another plastic running man statue.
When something is important to you, there’s a tendency to assume that it’s important to other people, as well.  That might be the case.  But more often, probably not.  I discovered that little nugget of truth a few days ago.
Luci and I had finished our weekly shopping trip to H-E-B, which always ends in front of the free blood pressure check kiosk and the magazine racks.  So, while Luci was sitting in the chair taking her blood pressure, I scanned the shelves for this month’s edition of Runners World Magazine.
Runners World is the holy grail of information for amateur and competitive runners.  Each month it lists the major races across the country, offers reviews of running and training shoes, nutrition and training advice as well as some really good motivational articles from the running elite to keep us amateur runners focused and injury-free.  If you’re a runner, it’s one the best tools you can have.
I looked on the left section of the magazine racks, which contained the health and fitness titles.  A number of unnaturally buff guys graced the covers of Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, Steroid Monthly, Exercises You’ll Never Do Quarterly and Workouts For Gay Guys Pretending To Be Straight.  Hmmm.  No Runners World.
That’s strange, since last month’s edition was right there on the top shelf where it should be.  Onto the next shelf which contained men’s lifestyle magazines.  Maxim,  Esquire, GQ, HQ, IQ, Yachting, Guns & Ammo, Field & Stream, Bow Hunters Bonanza, Fishing For Fun and Profit.  Still no Runners World.
I turned my attention to the last shelf of that section.  The bottom shelf contained magazines for men who only leave the sofa to retrieve a snack from the refrigerator.  I doubted that Runners World would be shelved there, but I scanned the titles anyway.  Monster Truck Mayhem, six different NASCAR editions, Sports Illustrated, Military History and a couple of survivalist titles (or one survivalist title and one Big Foot expose.  I couldn’t be sure).  Runners World?  Nope.
Moving onto the right section, I’m into the women’s health and fitness territory now.  It’s gotta be there.  A dozen women’s health and fitness magazines but no Runners World.  Now I’m starting to frown.
Onto the balance of the women’s interest magazines.  Bridal Monthly, Bridal Quarterly, Bridal Yearly, Wedding Monthly, Bridal’s Yoga Monthly, Better Homes & Gardens, Even Better Yet Homes & Gardens,  Woman’s World,  Martha Stewarts’ Living, Martha Stewarts’ Living In Jail, Oprah, Oprah 2.0, Dreaming You Are Oprah.   There were lots of women’s magazines but no Runners World.
Luci finished taking her blood pressure and walked up to the magazine rack.
“Oh, look, there’s the first edition of HGTV’s new magazine.”  She pulled it from the shelf, excited to show me an article about a home in The Heights neighborhood of Houston.  “It’s their first month and they’re highlighting The Heights.  Isn’t that cool?”  Luci’s grandparents had lived in The Heights and she carries fond memories of those days and the special relationship with that eclectic, north Houston neighborhood.
I mumbled something appropriate, irritated that H-E-B  wasn’t stocking Runners World this month and then my eye caught it. 
“What?” I reached for the magazine and held it against my chest like a holy text that had been desecrated. “Do you see that?  Do you see where they put my magazine?  Why is Runners World in the women’s beauty section? “  Luci was thumbing through the HGTV magazine looking for the article on The Heights.  Clearly she didn’t hear me or she would be as outraged as I was.  “Look.”  I pointed to the shelf.  “They stuffed Runners World between Glamour and Marie Claire.  Are they nuts?”
“Here it is,” Luci said.  “The article on The Heights.  Isn’t that amazing that The Heights is featured in their first month?”
“Sure,” I responded.  “Did you see where they placed Runners World?  It’s ridiculous.”
Luci glanced at the shelf of magazines but she didn’t seem to understand what had been done.
Showing me the picture of a nice, mid-century, Arts & Crafts home featured in the HGTV spread, she commented again how impressed she was that the Houston neighborhood was the focus of a new national monthly.
“That’s nice.  The Heights are nice,” I said, looking at the photo spread.  I turned my attention to the magazine rack once more and shook my head.  “Oh, I get it.  There’s a picture of a girl running on the cover of Runners World this month, so they think it’s just for women.  So why didn’t they place it with women’s fitness.  Shoving it between Glamour  and  Marie Clare?  Seriously?  What dopes,” I mumbled.
We headed for the checkout and I carefully placed Runners World gently and with dignity in the basket.  “Dopey stockers,” I said again for good measure.
As we finished our transaction and made our way to the exit, I saw what appeared to be the manager, speaking to a customer.  I thought of taking a moment to explain to him that running was a sport, not a beauty treatment, and just because this month’s cover showed a young lady running instead of a photo-shopped picture of some muscle-bound steroid-crazed model who’s probably never run a race in his life, it was still a sports and fitness magazine, not a guide to the debutante’s ball and he might want to explain that to the genius in charge of the magazine rack, but I figured that it wouldn’t do much good.  Walking across the parking lot, we reached the car and began loading the groceries in the cargo compartment.   “I’d like to see the moron that put my magazine in the beauty section run a half-marathon.”
Luci smiled at me as I closed the cargo door.  “Wouldn’t even last through a 5k, I’m guessing,”
 she said.
I nodded and smiled back.  “Darn right.”   
“By the way,” I asked as we left the parking lot, “who the heck is Marie Claire?”

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