That "women-only" thing, again

 

Today’s run (treadmill): 26 minutes

Runner’s World ran a story on their site today that reminded me of a post I did in June 2012. The RW article is titled “Do Women-Only Races Still Have a Purpose?”and my post was titled “Are gender-specific races sexist?” In both posts, the point was made that the original reason for having “women-only” races was to provide a safe experience for women.

I didn’t write my 2012 post to debate that reasoning. I agreed that women-only races were a good idea back in 1972 when women were marginalized as competitors. Even worse, women encountered hostility from men who were clearly threatened by female competition. But in 2014, gender plays no role in the outcome of an open race and I have never seen hostility directed towards women at any event. In fact, in 2013, almost 2/3 of participants in open races are women (per the RW article).

I think what continues to bother me about women-only races is the tacit suggestion that: 1. women are still disenfranchised, 2. women have not yet achieved parity with men in non-professional competitions and 3. women need to be treated differently. This type of exclusion would not fly in other circumstances where a population’s civil rights have been restricted. Can you imagine if someone suggested a “gay-only” race to the LGBT community or a race that excluded all but one ethnicity? You can say this is different, but is it really?

Despite my arguments, I appreciate that many women seem to love the experience and the camaraderie of events like the Mini-10K and the Diva and Princess Half Marathons. But I still think it supports a double standard.

Four years emerging and a trail run to celebrate

Today’s run (Stillwell Woods): 4.2 miles

Four years ago today, I published my first post on the Emerging Runner. I had made some unsuccessful attempts to run in the past, but in 2008 I fully committed to running as a lifestyle. I’d also started a few blogs before that time but never managed to keep them going. My hope on that day that I published that post was to break that cycle. After four years, I think I can say that I did.

In the October issue of Runner’s World magazine, Captain “Sully” Sullenburger was featured in the section called “I’m a Runner.” The interview is short, but interesting. I especially liked this quote, “I’m not a good runner, but I’m better than someone who doesn’t do it at all.” That statement sums up everything I’ve written over the last four years.

Over the past four years I gone from being someone who faced every run as a difficult challenge, to a solidly mid-pack race competitor. I was talking to my brother yesterday about my four years as a runner, and how I struggled so hard on my first runs. I remembered hoping for the day when I’d be able to run and think of something besides discomfort and pain. Soon enough, my runs became my best process for thinking through any problem.

If not for Hurricane Sandy, I’d be spending most of this post recapping the Long Beach Turkey Trot that was scheduled for this morning. The hurricane devastated that city and destroyed the boardwalk that is almost half of the 10K course. I love racing in Long Beach for its ocean views and flat, runner friendly roads. I hope the community gets back to normal quickly, not for the runners, but for the sake of the residents. 

High visibility on the trails

Today called for a change from the neighborhood roads that I’ve run since returning home after our power was restored. Stillwell Woods was the perfect choice and I headed over with a plan to run my favorite two mile loop a couple of times. I’d recently bought a nice, high visibility running shirt at TJ Max for the bargain price of $7.99 and thought Stillwell would be the perfect place to use it.

The mountain bikers were out in force and most shared the trails very well, politely warning me when they were closing in. I’m sure the bright orange shirt helped them see me in plenty of time. I took it easy on the trail and was careful to avoid branches that had fallen on the path from Sandy. It was difficult at times to see the trail because the rising sun was hitting me head-on. I got whacked in the head a couple of times by overhanging branches but my hat protected me from any damage.

It’s been a nice fourth anniversary of my running/blogging life so far today. Later on, the Emerging Runner family is heading to East Northport to assist in an effort to get food to elderly and housebound people whose lives were disrupted by Sandy. Next week is Thanksgiving but I am thankful often, especially today when I am able to help myself and help others. The decision I made to run in 2008 has much to do with that.

The Emerging Runner turns 3

Yep, it was three years ago that I began to document my experience as a new or “emerging” runner. At the time that I started this blog, I was just getting back into shape after a number of years of inactivity. I used to run a little when I was was in college, but it was something I did to maintain fitness for more favored activities like karate. In the early ’90’s, when I lived in Manhattan, I’d go out every morning for a run through my Murray Hill neighborhood. Running the streets of NYC turned out to be a frustrating experience and I stopped that after about six months.

Even though I didn’t like the city running experience (at the time), I still liked to run. After losing weight in the fall of 2008, through exercise and a smarter diet, I was ready to try again. My love of technology helped me stay interested in progressing as a runner. Almost from the start, I used devices to track my performance. First it was the Nike+ chip and wristband and then the Garmin 50 & 60. Now I have the FR210 that captures the metrics of my runs via GPS. The technology improves along with the runner.

Over the last three years I’ve had many fantastic experiences running with friends, with my family and in races (22 and counting), on trails, through national parks, on roads and even back in NYC, which is now a favorite place to run. I love running gear, running shoes and running gadgets and I still look forward to seeing the new stuff when it comes out every season. But I’m happy to say that most of that matters less as time goes by and the experience of running itself matters more. Perhaps I’ve emerged a little since November 18, 2008 — but I still have a long way to go.

Weekend video report: running huaraches

Today’s run (street): 3.55 miles

No, I didn’t do today’s run using the Invisible Shoes huaraches but I did manage to get them laced up for a short run in the back yard. The website for the shoes provides videos with detailed instructions on how to prepare your huaraches. You can choose between full DIY, where they send you a square of Vibram Cherry material that can be cut to size, semi-DIY where you receive shaped soles based on a supplied foot measurement, or custom made huaraches created from a tracing of your foot.

I went the middle direction and had to punch a hole for the toe area and then lace up the shoes using the supplied material. Adventure Girl went with the custom options and she and I will be putting up our review of the Invisible Shoes huaraches on Runner’s Tech Review in the coming weeks.

After preparing the huaraches, I made a few rounds in the yard, running on grass. I think I understand why this form factor would appeal to barefoot wannabe runners, the 4mm soles deliver plenty of ground-feel while providing some protection from things that you may want to avoid with bare feet. While this is almost as minimal as you can go, I couldn’t get comfortable with the feel of the laces between my toes. I will do some runs in these huaraches to inform my review but I’m probably not a candidate for transitioning from running shoes to this platform.

When I put on the Hattori’s I couldn’t believe how luxurious they felt compared to my run in the huaraches. An ASICS Nimbus couldn’t have provided a better sensation of security and cushioning. The funny thing is that the Hattori’s actually provide no cushioning, but the way they hold and guide my foot makes it feel as though they do. The Hattori may seem to be a very simple shoe, but Saucony has put a lot of engineering into that design.

I did a relatively short run around the outside of my neighborhood, going clockwise to maximize the hill challenges I’d meet. Much of the run was shaded by trees and this was good because it was hot (82 degrees) and humid, according to the electronic sign at the local fire station. I’m planning on a long run tomorrow morning and, since we’re going out early, I’m hoping we’ll miss some of the heat. I’ll write more about the Invisible Shoe huaraches when I try more runs in them. But tomorrow, I’m going out with my much more comfy Hattori’s.

I’ve talked about 600 things

600 words about one thing

Today’s workout (elliptical): 25 minutes

As unbelievable as it seems, I’m coming up on my one thousandth Emerging Runner post. Based on my publishing frequency, that milestone should be reached some time in mid-September. What’s interesting is that post number 1,000 will also coincide with the third anniversary of my return to running. I guess that makes sense since I started this blog as an online journal to record my new experiences as a re-engaged runner.

A quick review of the site’s subject categories shows approximately 600 descriptive terms for the 950 posts to date. The most frequently applied tag is (no surprise) pace. 600 tags is a lot, and I think it shows that running is surely not a one dimensional subject. It would probably be interesting to create an actual taxonomy to reveal the true richness of the sport. But then again, I’d rather spend my time running.

What do you want to see on emergingrunner.com?

New look coming

At the advice of my wife I decided to forgo my usual workout this morning. I suffered through yesterday with cold symptoms and worried that it would turn into something major. I got to bed early last night and it seems like the extra rest has helped. I still have some vestiges of a cold but my energy level is much better. I would have liked to run a few miles today with the SRRs to work out the residual soreness in my legs from Saturday’s run in Northport.  Still,  another recovery day makes better sense.

#It’s still October but I’m coming up on my second anniversary of “The Emerging Runner” that will happen on November 18. Including today, I’ve put up 698 posts to date, my first post being a tongue in cheek declaration that I’m a real runner. Like last November, on the site’s first anniversary, I’m planning to give the blog a new look. My son thinks I should have a slogan for the site so perhaps I’ll add one. If anyone else has suggestions for new features for the blog please feel free to write a comment or send an email to editor(at)emergingrunner.com.

A year ago on The Emerging Runner

Dirty Sock 10K — “I’m having some anxiety about how well I’ll perform. I’ve run 6.2 miles and longer in recent months but that isn’t a regular distance for me.”

Frustrations with GPS apps for the iPhone — “The MotionX was completely off with the path showing me running through people’s homes and across lawns and through back yards. I thought in the early morning there would be far fewer things that would interfere with the signal.”

Workplace running partners — “It takes commitment to run during the workday because we don’t have shower facilities and few people are willing to go at lunch and come back to the office soaking with sweat. I had hoped that our division Fun Run would surface some running partners but no one has taken the bait yet.”

Yeah, I’m STILL a runner

One year ago I posted my first entry for the Emerging Runner website. The headline was “Yeah, I’m a runner” which was a bit tongue and cheek because, at that point, I was about as much a runner as I was a blogger. In that first post I said “Actually I’m not much of a runner at this point but I want to be much better…I’m going to use this blog as a journal to remind myself of my progress and my definitions of success in the early stages of running. I’ll talk about the technologies I’m using and the goals I’m setting.” One year later I can, without irony, call myself a runner and a blogger.

It’s been an amazing year since I first began documenting my experiences as a returning runner. Since November 18, 2008 I’ve participated in five races (plus a Fun Run), ran from NYC to Brooklyn and back, from NY to NJ over the GWB, followed the loops and the bridle trail in Central Park and traveled the Hudson bike path from midtown to Chambers Street. I’ve seen deer grazing as I ran the trails along the Old Croton Aqueduct and have been fortunate to discover great trail running close to home at Stillwell Woods, Bethpage and Belmont Lake. I’ve experienced the most beautiful ocean views during runs at Rehoboth Beach and on Cape Cod and I’ve seen Boston and Cambridge at dawn from the Harvard Bridge on the Charles River. I’ve run with friends and I’ve run alone and I’ve loved it both ways.

Along the way I’ve met great people through emergingrunner.com and through the Runner’s World Loop. My humble site has grown to include columns by the Sedentary Man and Adventure Girl’s Running Gone Wild. We even have a running product site with Runner’s Tech Review that has gained some good readership. So 378 posts and 11,000 visits from 84 countries later, the Emerging Runner dotcom moves into it’s second year. To commemorate that I’ve changed a few things because change keeps things interesting. It’s been a great year and I have many people to thank for that. I’ll start with my wife and kids for being so interested and supportive about both my running and blogging. They are great running partners in so many ways. I’ll thank Adventure Girl for everything she has taught me and for helping me make the city my second running home. Thanks to my brother who has been a faithful reader and commenter, to my dad for indulging me in my running stories and to my friends who make me feel good about what I am doing and what I have accomplished.

So a year has gone by and I’m still running. I ran today at 4:00 AM and enjoyed the peace and energy of the experience. The suffering not so much. I see running differently one year later but the core of it remains the same. Yeah, I’m a runner and I think that’s a pretty good thing to be.

Save the date

Although it seems much longer than a year, November 18 will mark the first anniversary of The Emerging Runner. I’ve been able to remember the date because it’s the day after my brother’s birthday. With the feeling that the years go by faster and faster (helped along by the increasingly early marketing of the winter holiday season) I’m pleased to think about all the nice time I’ve spent over the last year. It seems like a very long time since I hit the “publish” button and began to share my experience as runner returning to the sport. I’ll write more about this on the 18th. I don’t have any big surprises planned for the occasion but there are still a couple of days to go.