Gender Bender

113th Boston Marathon April 20, 2009, Boston, MA Photo by: Lisa Coniglio 631-741-1865 www.photorun.NET

Kara rewrites the narrative. Wear pink and kick ass.

The topic of gender in sport has been on my mind in recent weeks, and I have a lot of thoughts on the issue.

  • I always pursue equality in my life, whether in running or in general. We’ve recently posted about it on the blog, and while I think we all want the same things from our beloved sport, I come from a different school of thought. However, the one thing we can universally agree on is this: men and women are wired differently.
  • A couple weeks ago, I was in Seattle watching the ECNL soccer playoffs. At the tournament, I saw a lot of girls, from all over the U.S., playing soccer. They are the very best players in the country, and they proved that on the field. They were fierce, competitive and, yes, feminine. Their uniforms fit their bodies because they were women’s uniforms cut for a woman’s body. But my husband’s teams looked a little different. Their shorts were longer, the tops boxier. So I asked, and I found out that his girls wear boys’ uniforms. Wait, why? “To even the playing field.” Wait, what? What’s wrong with wearing a woman’s uniform? I mean, as long as it’s not pink. Right? But why is pink the enemy?
  • Isn’t the great equalizer being able to embrace our differences and share the same power? Why do we have to measure ourselves against maleness to be equal, even in sport? Why can’t wearing a pink tutu in a race be empowering, if that’s what you love? I don’t need to be like a man to feel strong, capable or competitive. I don’t need to set aside my femininity in any area of my life — sport, career or relationships — I am a woman and I seek equality by embracing who I am, not by setting it aside.

Fierce competitors, but not genderless.

  • I don’t think the world of sports perpetuates a specific “girly” stereotype to attract women. From my vantage, women’s sports are intense, powerful and exciting. Did you watch the Women’s World Cup? Have you seen Kara Goucher compete?
  • Parents don’t sign up their daughters for softball so they can wear cute uniforms. They sign them up to play softball because their daughters want to play softball. If appearance were the motivator, they’d probably sign them up for pageants. My gut tells me that these girls want to play the sport and be allowed to be girls. We can’t deny that girls like Elsa, so why not let them wear Elsa and play the game they love? Girls playing sports doesn’t lessen what is means to be a girl, and it doesn’t lessen what it means to play sports.
  • Then there are race T-shirts. We complained until we got the right fit for our shirts, but we now complain if they’re pink? It seems inconsequential to me. Sexist sayings aside, I see nothing wrong with the women’s tees being different than the men’s at the same race.

I think you can absolutely love your sport while absolutely embracing who you are, and if that means wearing an asexual outfit, great. But if you want to rock a pink shirt and tutu, you’ll still be a badass in my eyes. — Amie


Getting Away on a Getaway

Kara-GoucherUpon my return from a weeklong family vacation in Florida, Maggie asked me, “What was the best part of your vacation?”

I said, “This is going to sound weird, but it was the running.”

“No,” she replied, “that doesn’t sound weird to me.”

Allow me to explain.

Since my husband and I don’t live near our families, we take vacations to go see them. And while it does mean that we get to spend time with family on vacations, it also means that my family can help with our kids so my husband and I can have some rare alone time.

And for us, the best way to spend alone time is to spend it running.

1960011_10100712641797254_5360235824791002871_nOur last day at the beach, we rolled out of bed and headed to the beach for one last spin through the sand. It was a beautiful day with light wind. The sun shone brightly, and the beach was just starting to show signs of fellow tourists. We left behind the headphones, so our soundtrack consisted of crashing waves, squeaking seagulls and our own mindless chatter. We stopped to admire sandcastles, looked for silver dollars on the shoreline and even spotted dolphins dancing in the distance.

I was a pretty perfect little run.

I guess the reason I felt “weird” (re: GUILTY) about identifying this as my favorite part of vacation was because I had just returned from a really nice family trip. So I felt like a bad mother by pinpointing the time away as my favorite part.

But, as Kara Goucher wisely stated, “That’s the thing about running: your greatest runs are rarely measured by racing success. They are moments in time when running allows you to see how wonderful your life is.”

And that’s exactly how it was for me on vacation. Running was the time to myself that helped me appreciate all of the other things I lose sight of when I’m in the daily trenches. And for that, I am grateful. — Aidz


Hug a Runner!

G.O. H.A.R.D. is the clever acronym for Globally Organized Hug a Runner Day, which fell on Nov. 20 this year. The passionate runners at Run the Edge — which include Kara Goucher, her husband, Adam, and their long-time friend, Tim Catalano — built this concept from the idea that runners love each other almost as much as they love running. Running is one of the most supportive sports out there, and the mantra of this event is for runners and walkers to celebrate their fitness by embracing their challenge, embracing their journey and embracing each other. Running with heart. This is something I can get behind.

The event actually runs (pun intended) until Nov. 30, and participation is what you make it. It includes a virtual race, which has a real bib and medal! You pick the run you want to dedicate, then simply post a pic and spread the word. All proceeds from the virtual race fee go directly to Girls on the Run, a non-profit organization dedicated to the social and emotional well-being of young girls through the positive effects of running. Total win/win, people.

Group hug!

Group hug!

It’s not too late to Hug a Runner! Here’s how you can get involved:

  1. Join their Facebook group and follow along
  2. Register for the virtual race and go run
  3. Consider using a local race as your H.A.R.D. run (I’m doing the Thanksgiving Day 10K)
  4. Run your race and post a picture with your Hug a Runner bib and medal
  5. Spring for the T-shirt, it’s awesome
  6. Send virtual hugs to your runner friends — and don’t forget your supporters!

I’m excited to be a part of this celebration of running and camaraderie. One of the best parts of running is the sense of community it provides. We instantly connect with a total stranger if we see them struggling in a race. We hug each other when we record PR’s and hug a little harder when we don’t. And let’s not forget the hugs for the loved ones who drop us off at the start, rush like mad to see us on the course, and then meet us at the finish.

So, go! Run your virtual race, donate to Girls on the Run and give virtual and real hugs to the runners and supporters in your life that make it possible for you to chase your dreams. — Amie