I feel as though it is time to address the topic of "Chicking." Recently, we have started referring to it as being "Chick Fil-a'ed" because it just sounds cooler. Plus, there was a joke to go along with it but that's a story for another day. In any case, it seems to be a sort of recurring theme in running life right now.
I started thinking about it a few weeks ago when, during an especially slow span of time at the shoe store, one of the guys I work with brought up this little game called "Make It or Break It." Yeah I know. I didn't know what it was either and I felt totally un-hip and totally un-cool, but apparently these young people of today have invented some of their own games that are total knock-off's of the ones that MY generation came up with. This one is similar to Truth or Dare or Would You Rather, but entails one person presenting to another person an imaginary scenario that is made up of all of the ideal circumstances, but one aspect within those circumstances totally throws the whole thing off. For instance, would you want to live to be 150 years old, live in a Utopian society and never age, BUT you are blind for your entire life. Does the blindness break it or would you accept the situation in spite of it? Lame example but you get the point.
So I presented to this kid a scenario in which he met the PERFECT girl. I mean, Imaginary Girl was flawless: all the right personality traits, super attractive and so on. Oh, but wait, there's a catch...she's faster than him, sooo Make It or Break It, kiddo?
He looked shocked that I even had to ask. "BREAKS IT," he answered, without hesitation.
Seriously dude? Really? You just met your perfect soul mate but because she can out-run you, that's a deal-breaker?
Yes, apparently it is.
Then I think back a several years ago. I had this coach tell me un-jokingly that if I ever beat him in a race, he'd quit running. In thinking back, it made me feel kinda crummy because in my much younger brain it was comparable to having my coach tell me, "If you are ever more successful than me at this sport, I'll quit," I knew he'd have never dreamed of saying this to any guy, but who says that to their athlete anyway, regardless? You aren't competing against your coach for crap sake. Not to mention, I took it as a stab directed straight at me owing to the fact that while he may be a decent runner, he is no Olympian, and there are numerous women that I know who could easily outrun him. But then again, this guy, good person in daily life though he may be, seemed to harbor a very bizarre revulsion toward coaching females (apprently we are terribly frightening and may corner you and force you to talk about feelings), much less getting beat by them, so maybe I shouldn't have taken it so personally, but I did.
I don't get it.
And then I recall some of the many post-collegiate races over the last few years. There was this Turkey Trot in Wash Park a few years ago where Cassie was way up front, busy winning the women's race by about a half mile, and I was in second, running with this group of guys. This is a pretty big race every year, so there were plenty of guys to run with and tons of spectators. But from the sidelines, I heard a lot of:
"Don't let her catch you!"
"Don't let that girl beat you!"
"Hurry up she's right behind you!"
These were always accompanied by one of the guys putting on some crazy surge that lasted all of like 10 meters. I just thought it was great to have people to race with, way better than being in no-(wo)man's land. They, on the other hand, seemed to be fighting for their very lives. It's weird. I mean, WHY? Why is it so important to them? Help me out here.
Kind of like last weekend racing a 5k up at "The Rez" in Boulder. I was running with Nicole Feest, and there was this guy with us who kept passing us, then we'd pass him, then he'd come surging back, then we'd catch him, and I accidentally flat-tired him once and almost just straight-up took him out of action, and it went like this the whole. Freakin'. Way. If his breathing was anything to gauge off of, the poor guy--bless his little hypermasculine heart--was pretty close to having a stroke, so desperate was he to stay ahead. The final 200 meters, a spectator from the sidelines yelled, "STAY AHEAD! YOU CAN'T LET THOSE GIRLS BEAT YOU!" I might have given him a grumpy look had he not been, well, my boss's boss. So I didn't. But I still wanted to yell back, "YO BRO! HE'S ALREADY GETTING OWNED BY TWO OTHER ONES (Ellie Keyser and Rachel G-Ryan way up in front) SO WHAT'S TWO MORE?!" Ah, but there wasn't energy to spare at that time, so I refrained. But he beat us both by a wee hair anyway so I guess he'll survive another day...although he didn't really look like it at the finish line.
Now all of this isn't to say that I'm going to go all femi-Nazi and crazy and start protesting unequal treatment of women or whatever, I just want to say that I don't get it. I really don't. It's like men think that getting beat by a woman at anything is the equivalent of being neutered and I really want to know why this is. I even asked Make It or Break It kid the reasoning behind this and he didn't know either. I was hoping for some genuine insight into the male psyche to better understand this strange phenomenon. But he didn't know. Or maybe he's just not very good at self-psychoanalysis. Either way, being female, I can honestly say that while there is a certain satisfaction in out-running or keeping up with a person who has numerous physiological advantages over you, it pretty much ends there. It doesn't come with a feeling of superiority or anything, it's just more like, "Oh good, I worked hard enough to outrun some guys," and that's that. Whereas a guy who gets outrun by a girl acts like he's been totally emasculated for LIFE and cannot face another day in this cold, cruel, dark world. Like if you gave him the option of getting beat by a girl versus being swallowed alive and fully conscious by a Great Leatherback Turtle, whose mouth and esophagus looks like this...
...he'd take the turtle.
I can't be the only one who finds this to be strange. And it's not offensive really--to a certain degree it's even comical--just impossible to not notice. And I do wonder if men would be a bit more at ease with "chicking" if said chicks gave them a swift, healthy, slap on the rump upon passing. I think yes.
Welp, on that note, I haven't really got any other running-related things to say other than congrats to everyone who killed it up in Boulder and to everyone who took to the track at Stanford--big PR's for Bri and Mattie, yeeahhh buddy!!! Keep up the good work everyone.