Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Crazy Running Lady

Every now and then on my way to or from work, I see a very interesting individual. On a gigantic hill that is about 2 1/2 miles from my house, there is a woman who runs along the side of the road.

I know that this is not unusual. People are running all over the place, getting in shape for no good reason. The unusual part is the runner herself.

She is always dressed in corporate attire while she is running. Corporate attire from the late 1970's to be exact. I have seen her running in blouses, skirts, slacks, and even pantyhose. Sometimes she has a raincoat on. Sometimes she is carrying a shoulder bag or an umbrella. And she is always wearing dress shoes.

I'm pretty sure that she isn't running away from anything. And she probably isn't constantly late for the bus, since I have seen her going in different directions and on opposite sides of the street. So I guess that she must be running for exercise.

And make no mistake, she is running. Full speed. And she zigs and zags onto and off of the road itself. I don't know if she is working on her dexterity or what, but she crosses the white line on the side of the street like she is doing a pavement slalom.

She startled me the first few times that I saw her. That particular road isn't the safest place to burn some calories, and the grade of the hill would challenge many a professional athlete. I was just trying not to hit her with my car. But it became interesting after a while, seeing this skinny woman with Coke bottle glasses darting in and out of the three feet of berm that exists on the side of the road. All while being dressed up for a meeting with the client.

At some point I started shouting "crazy running lady! woooo!" when I would see her. It was like tapping the windshield when you go through a yellow light - I did it for luck every time she appeared.

Why "crazy running lady"? Well, she's crazy. I wouldn't go anywhere near that road as a pedestrian, let alone wearing a button-down shirt and wingtips. And she runs. And she's a lady.

Not the most inventive title, I know, but it pretty much sums up the character.

At one point on the way home, I saw a couple of police cars and an ambulance parked halfway up the hill. I thought that it might be crazy running lady. Maybe she zigged when she should have zagged. But it wasn't her. It was some kid that looked like he fell off his skateboard. (For the record, he was not wearing dress clothes).

A few weeks ago, I was driving through my neighborhood and I spotted someone running along the side of the road. I really didn't think anything of it, until this person made an abrupt step onto the street in front of my car. It was crazy running lady! She had run for miles and made a right turn to get there. And she was wearing a matching track suit and running shoes. What the heck was going on?

I didn't even have time to yell her name for luck. I wasn't ready for her to be there, so far away from her normal stomping grounds.

Had she heard me exclaim "crazy running lady" at some point even though my windows were up? And did she follow me home one day to argue about her sanity and/or riddle the Corsica with dents from her umbrella? I never thought to look in the rear view mirror after I would pass her on the hill - maybe she can run really, really fast.

As it turns out, nothing happened. She just kept on running.

I never found out what she was doing in my neighborhood that day. In fact, I haven't seen her at all since then. Maybe she found nirvana in her outfit that was made especially for running and she just kept on going.

If so, she's probably in South Carolina by now.

Go, crazy running lady, go.


Anonymous said...

Is this the same crazy running lady we used to see at lunchtime when you worked in town? I haven't seen her in a while and thought maybe she died. I used to see her running down by the Clemente Bridge and on the Boulevard of the Allies.

Speaking of crazy people? What ever happened to crazy drug guy? The one wh was always hanging out by Dollar Bank at the corner of Smithfield and Fourth? Or crazy swearing lady? The one who walks around screaming obscenities whereever she walks around town. I haven't seen these folks much these days. I know crazy cat lady (the homeless woman who had pet cats she kept on a leash) died a couple years back.

I love this city.

Anonymous said...

It is a different, and what I consider crazier, crazy running lady.

I think all of the crazies may have been hidden by the city in a mad rush to clean up for the MLB All-Star Game...

Anonymous said...


I've only seen her once, on the downtown side of Roberto Clemente Bridge. She's pretty popular with AIP students, it seems.

Anonymous said...

I work at Highmark and I see this lady a lot. One day we tried following her but we lost her in a crowd at Gateway center. I know a kid who lives out in the south hills who has heard rumors that she has pooped in someone's driveway in his development and that she got tackled by secret service for running through a taped off area a couple of years ago when GWBush was in town.

Anonymous said...

I work downtown and see "crazy running lady" everyday If anyone is interested in experiencing this inspiring athlete in person then just wait at gateway center by the McDonalds... Get there at 4:10 and wait around 5min... She will appear... It is subtle, but you can’t deny the power that passes over when she runs by...

Anonymous said...

It's true that the crazy running lady is popular with the AIP students. They even have a myspace site of her: http://www.myspace.com/crazyrunninglady
Not sure who runs the site though.

In any case, the backround story is interesting. It started a while ago, I'd say no more than 10 years when she wasn't just a crazy running lady. She stood on the side of the street shouting "The end is coming! The end is near!" with signs...the whole 9. A few years went on of that and then one day she wasn't there. She was MIA for a couple more years. Then out of the blue she returned as the crazy running lady. She used to run by me every now and then across the 6th street bridge and then heading up the path next to Allegheny River. The oddest thing I've noticed is that there's always an envelope held tightly with the one hand she keeps infront of her torso.

Someone should interview her!

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