Every so often I like to take a look at the local bulletin board postings, especially after a race, to hear what participants are asking - or complaining - about. Most of the time the questions are 'where can I find results to a race?' But every once in a blue moon a person complains about stuff that often can be resolved by either individual participants taking time to know the rules & read the fine print on the application, or by individual race directors taking the time to educate before, & enforcing on race day.
I have my own pet peeves about what should & should not be permitted on the race course, for a number of reasons usually codified in a rule book somewhere. That might be the part of me that's much like my late uncle; my mother claims I harbor a lot of his here are the rules, d*mn it, so follow them until someone in authority decides to change them point of view. If my father & my uncle had worked on the same law enforcement agency together any longer than they did, they would have made the perfect good cop, bad cop (by bad cop I mean playing by the rules 100-percent of the time) combination. My father knew letting my school friends' borderline infraction of the speed limits slide would lead to peaceable relations with their parents, many of whom were upstanding citizens in the community, business leaders, & the like. Uncle Ernie, on the other hand (bless his heart, as my wife would say), knew only one way other than the highway...the rulebook, statute or law. That was it. Suffice it to say my father probably has more friends outside of the law enforcement community than my uncle did while he was alive.
As coach, I have certain statutes & rules by which I have to abide. The national governing body under which I (voluntarily) labor says so. The other national running organization under which I voluntarily labor asks me to act in an ethical manner & work to help educate the local running community. Naturally, like every play by the book law enforcement officer & teacher, there is the feeling you're standing & shouting into the abyss. The persons who appreciate you let you know in private, the persons who would rather you stay the hell away are more likely to do it in a public manner.
My wife continues to remind me my labors are not completely in vain. That's a fortunate thing, because if I didn't hear it from her I probably would have packed it in years ago; more time to be spent with her, the d-a-w-g & the people I enjoy the most, as well as some flexibility in my own personal training schedule.
Every so often I pick up one of my college literature textbooks and thumb to a dog-eared page of poetry or two. Some times it's William Henley's Invictus when I feel the need to feel ten feet tall & bulletproof. But Rudyard Kipling's If often does the work. Kipling, with his prototypical British stiff upper lip reminds me to get up, or stay up, when the public smack talk comes a little too thick or hits a little deeper than a civil disagreement would/should:
If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs & blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, yet make allowance for their doubting, too.
If you can wait & not be tired by waiting, or being lied about, don't deal in lies;
Or being hated, don't give in to hating; yet neither look too good, nor talk too wise.
If you can dream, & not make dreams your master; if you can think, & not make thoughts your aim.
If you can meet with Triumph & Disaster, yet treat those two impostors just the same.
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools;
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken & stoop to build them using worn-out tools.
If you can make a heap of all your winnings & risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, & start again at your beginnings & never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart & nerve & sinew to serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"
If you can talk with crowds & keep your virtue, or walk with kings--nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you; if all men count with you, but none too much,
(N.B. My wife, the English major, paraphrases the previous couplet to remind me to "care, but not too much.")
If you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth & everything that's in it, and--which is more--you'll be a Man, my son!
So I'll head back to my corner & put some ice on the bruise. See you next round.