During a generally unremarkable six-miler along the Clive Greenbelt Trail, I heard the following warning from a rider: "On your right."
Nope, this biker wasn't offroading, or perfecting her precision by sharing a lane with me. I had once again broken a cardinal rule of rec path use and failed to stay in the right lane.
I'm a drifter. I can't help it.
Often, I can correct myself, if it's oncoming traffic, and swerve out of the left lane. But when the passer is behind me, I'm figuratively caught with my pants down.
(Figuratively is a key word here, because outdoor runners sometimes must do things that require their pants to be literally down.)
During one of my first Des Moines runs, I had a rather breathless conversation with a friendly older gentleman about this issue. Congenital foot problems, and why I still run despite those problems, aren't something one can generally explain in passing with an elevated heart rate, but I tried.
First of all, my bevy of foot problems are for once not to blame. In this case, my podiatrist in Rockford told me, it's that one of my legs is shorter than the other.
Not at a level where it's visible to laypeople or where it needs surgical/orthotic correction. Just enough to create the wobbly stool effect — which would mean my left leg is the extra-short one, if that's how I'm leaning.
Soon after my latest noob-in-appearance-but-not-mind moment, Mark Remy posted his ticket for running violations. I clicked on the link with much joy, because I love Mark Remy, but with much trepidation, because part of me didn't want to find out what else the veteran runners were hating me for doing.
Good news: Lane violations didn't appear in Remy's post or the comments section. The folks passing me on the right don't seem nearly as irate as drivers who have to pass on the right on the highway (not, um, that I would have ever caused that to happen).
Maybe this infraction isn't as severe as I thought. Or maybe everything else about me just screams rookie and my comrades feel sorry for me.
Regardless, if you're ever the passer in this situation, spare a little sympathy for that person who might be an experienced, but slightly physically deformed, runner.