Time to go?

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

When I was a freshman in high school, I started out running track during the winter just to stay in shape for soccer. I was decent, OK. I won some stuff, but they were small races. Then we had our very first big outdoor track meet, with lots of fast schools and faster runners. We were going to get our asses kicked.

Except I didn’t know that. I didn’t know I was supposed to lose now. The gun went off for the 800m at this big invitational and I took off. I came through the first lap leading and people were going nuts. Who the hell was this freshman? Shockingly, I couldn’t quite hold on to it and I ended up getting nipped in the last turn. I also ended up with the school record and a huge PR and the realization I could maybe be pretty fast at this.

But here’s the part you’ve probably heard before: I never ran as fast again the entire rest of high school.

Continue reading “Time to go?”

Why I Had An Arrhythmia Heart Procedure Done and Why I Don’t Want to Talk About It

I started writing this post three weeks ago, when I was easing back into training again post-heart procedure. I thought I’d explain what had happened, because I thought I was already past the worse of things and reading some of what Sam Warriner and Amanda Lovato and Erin Densham had gone through for the same diagnosis and procedure had helped me.

But then things got a lot worse and I didn’t really feel like explaining it and I didn’t have a way to finish that original post, and now it’s been long enough I don’t really want to answer the same questions again and again, actually I don’t really want to talk about it at all, so I’ve sort of just been ignoring everything. But then I end up just answering the same questions again and again one at a time.

So, here, this is my explanation. I’m only making it once. I am not taking opinions, advice or thoughts.

Continue reading “Why I Had An Arrhythmia Heart Procedure Done and Why I Don’t Want to Talk About It”

Week 33: See you in a few weeks

I’m not a breaking news reporter. It’s not my thing; I’m not great at it, although I can write fast. So because I haven’t been down in the grit of covering the increasing inundation of tragedies and shootings, I haven’t become as inured to it as some of my friends. But I have worked enough to see it happen more and more, the routine of tragedy become routine.

One of the jobs I do do is I manage a lot of online publishing and social media for different places. There’s this thing you have to do in the wake of a disaster or mass casualty event where you stop and take a “temperature check.” What’s the right tone right now? How bad is this? Should we pause scheduled coverage or change plans, because it’d be insensitive or inappropriate? It’s messed up, but it’s a thing you have to do. And I can tell you the amount of time before things go back to normal has gotten smaller and smaller. There’s even times now where you stop, do a check, and say, ‘Well, this tragedy doesn’t seem to be resonating as much with people.’ Horrific, but true.

I joked earlier this week that my off-season activity was going to be arguing with everyone who’s wrong online. People said all the things they always say in response to this. “Don’t feed the trolls.” “Just ignore it.” “Don’t read the comments.” “It’s not worth it.”

This advice is quaint and nonsensical, as if ignoring terrible ideas makes them disappear or absolves you of the consequences of them. I don’t know if you’ve looked around lately, but all the polite conversation, all the not engaging, all the ‘now isn’t the time’ DOESN’T SEEM TO BE GOING GREAT.

I fundamentally believe we have to talk to each other, even when it’s shitty or uncomfortable. I spend half of my life talking to lots of different people in lots of different places. And then I spend the other half of my time mostly inside my head, training alone. So I’ve had a good amount of time to think about things. And I think part of the problem right now is no one said earlier ‘hey, that’s not a good idea,’ or ‘why don’t we talk about it.’ We ignored and didn’t engage and now everyone’s just screaming at each other or plugging their ears.

I was on Facebook some weeks ago and an acquaintance from college had posted that she was in the car with a friend the other day and the friend had started yelling out the window at a cyclist to get off the road, but thought it was OK since it was a busy road and the cyclist shouldn’t be on it. And, until I said something, everyone on this Facebook thread agreed: cyclists shouldn’t be on the road anyway, it’s for their own safety, why don’t they stick to bike paths. But once I was like, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, that’s a really bad idea,’ all of a sudden all these new people agreed with me and other people actually stopped and thought about it. If I hadn’t said anything, then everyone who saw that thread would have gone away with the belief that screaming out windows at cyclists has unanimous support.

I fundamentally believe this is actually important. That we actually have to stand up for what we think and our experiences and beliefs. That our perception of the world is getting distorted by too many people ignoring the trolls. We start to think there are more trolls than people. But it’s also exhausting. Which is why it was going to be my off-season activity.

And I’m exhausted right now. And I’m still in season. One more big race. Next weekend.

So I’m out until after that. I’m taking a mini-internet break (except minus work, which will be interesting and a bit challenging). But I’m going to be pseudo off the social medias through IM Louisville + hanging out in Kentucky, which I haven’t done since Christmas a few years ago + visiting Chicago.

See you all in a few weeks.

My Plan for a Trump Presidency

I wrote a whole thing about being a woman in this moment and that “understanding” is not just a burden placed on people who live in cities to go out and find white rural voters to try to understand. Actually, the media did that a lot. But bubbles don’t only exist on the coasts. I wrote a thing about why sports matter and about how if the Trump voters I know knew the people who are being told “to get out of Trump’s America before the wall gets built” or that “a real President is going to abolish your [gay] marriage,” then maybe they’d have understood why some people are so upset and scared right now. I wrote about how more people voted for her and about how every woman (even the ones who didn’t vote for her) knows that saying she didn’t lose because she’s a woman ignores all the studies we have about how we perceive ambitious, smart, driven women. I wrote about what it’s like to be yelled at all the time and how you prepared to be yelled at again. I wrote about watching Obama this morning and always believing in the theory that the long slow arc of history bends towards justice. I wrote all that, but then I read this and it summed it all up better and I started laughing, which turned to crying, and then I couldn’t stop.

So go read that instead.

Let Lance Armstrong Run Local Races

Lance Armstrong raced a local 35K trail race this past weekend in Woodside. A lot of people think he shouldn’t have been allowed to, and it’s not like that argument isn’t without merits. I don’t think, though, that it’s for us to ban him from every local race ever.

Look, I get the argument for lifetime bans for dopers. I do. You want to raise the stakes, make the incentive to dope less appealing, because right now there’s way too much to gain and not enough to lose. (Plus, there’s increasing scientific evidence that there may be lifetime benefits to part-time doping.) So ban anyone who gets caught doping from ever competing in a race with a prize purse, from making any money off it, from WADA-sanctioned events. They violated the rules of their profession, so never again let them partake in that profession again. Fine.

But to argue that they should never ever be allowed to participate in any kind of recreational race just doesn’t even make sense. And in the vein of not perpetuating the insanity of the Republican debates, let’s try not to make vast proposals that are neither reasonable nor logical. How are you going to ban every doper from every small local event? It’s not possible. Here in Marin, we have these monthly pick-up running races that cost $5 and are definitely not sanctioned by any governing body. How would you even stop someone from doing one of those? You think there’s some kind of master database of every informal competitive gathering ever? People wouldn’t have even know about this race except that he’s Lance Armstrong.

What it really comes down to is if the individual race directors want to ban dopers from their individual races (assuming they’d know by name and be able to spot every doper who registers for every small race). To a degree, race director can let in or not whoever they want, with some obvious exceptions—you can’t not allow women, for example, or minorities.

What you’re fundamentally arguing then is that there is some line past which people are too terrible to be allowed the privilege of getting on a starting line. OK, fine. So you get to decide what that line is? And you think it’s doping?

Yeah, doping is cheating. Yeah, it’s really bad for the sport. But you’ve read a newspaper this week, right? You know that there are a lot of worse people than Lance Armstrong, right? And, yet, we aren’t banning racers based on the crimes they’ve committed. In fact, we acknowledge the ability of running races to help former inmates, former criminals. Either you believe in rehabilitation and you believe in the power of sports, of goals, to give focus and structure to people’s lives. Or you don’t. You can’t just believe in it for some people.

Would it make a difference if Lance was really really sorry?

Because, fundamentally, what it seems like is that people really want to stop being confronted with the conundrum of Lance Armstrong. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: when we vilify an individual, instead of actually examining the entire system that helped create that individual (which includes our role in that system), what we’re really doing is trying to get out of actually fixing the problem.

There was evidence for a long time that Lance Armstrong was not a good person. But people ignored it because they wanted to ignore it. They fed the machine that created the incentives for him to do what he did in the first place. To pretend that he did those things in a vacuum absolves us of our responsibility. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from watching so much Law & Order: SVU it’s that the line between victims and perpetrators isn’t always dark and straight. I don’t know exactly how many of those Russian athletes who were asked for bribes to cover-up positive tests were part of what is clearly a corrupt Russian system and how much they were the instigators. I think we now know that many of the Eastern bloc athletes were victims of their country’s system, and some weren’t. Yes, I think Lance Armstrong organized and masterminded much of the doping push within the cycling world at that time. But if you really want to fix the whole thing, then heaping punishment on one person isn’t going to do that. It’s only going to make you feel a little better for a little while.

Now, if I was Lance Armstrong’s PR person, I would probably advise him against getting back into competitive sports. I’d suggest laying low. But he’s clearly pathological and I’m not his PR person. So it’s not for me to tell him what he can and can’t do with his free time. I don’t have the right.

Three Articles All Over My Internet

1. Challenge Roth is instituting a ‘run loop of shame’ for drafters: Look, that’s cool and funny. And certainly part of why people draft is because the cost isn’t high enough to outweigh the risk. But as with ANYTHING where that is the case, that’s only part of why people do it. The second half of why drafting is so bad at big races is because there are so many people the same speed with nowhere to go. For me, and most women my speed, the biggest problem isn’t women drafting in packs, it’s trying to get through crowds of men who are slow or trying not to get caught up in men who pass you and then slow down. The problem isn’t that we need to be shamed, it’s that we need somewhere to go where these men aren’t in the way (or the men need somewhere to go). And anyone who’s been in a crowded short-course race, like Alcatraz, knows that there literally isn’t enough space to stretch all the participants from end to end with enough space between each to meet drafting rules. It would be longer than the entire course. So when you have courses and conditions that literally can not comply with the rules, shaming people for breaking the rules only solves part of the problem…

2. Serena Williams has muscles: Yeah, duh. But it’s actually a totally legitimate point that women have to balance body image with what they need to be the best as an athlete. Ridiculing the New York Times for pointing that out doesn’t make it not true.

3. Seriously, you need to sleep more: Like, for real. Like, science suggests that even moderately not getting enough sleep has massive effects on your health. Look I’m not super observant about myself. There is a reason by the time anyone realized, when I was 8-years-old, that I needed glasses, I was almost legally blind. It had never occurred to me that wasn’t how everyone else saw the world and that I didn’t just need to deal with it. Ask Steve about how bad I am at paying attention to details in training. (“I just thought I must be going slow?” When, no, actually my bike wheel had popped out slightly and I was dragging it behind me against the inside of my frame, so hard that I was wearing a hole in the fork. Didn’t even notice!). So, I don’t really notice how I feel most of the time. But I really notice when I don’t sleep enough. Even just two or three days of six hours of sleep makes me start to feel dull and slow. How do people not notice the effects of sleeping more (or less)?

Oh, look. They found three more slots for Kona. This is a pretty good open letter about some of the problems with the Women for Tri Board deciding that giving themselves three Kona spots is the best way to promote women in triathlon. I’d add as a question: Why didn’t you do a contest of some kind to give the slots to beginner female triathletes, who could have fundraised and been ambassadors to their communities in much the same way that is proposed but better?

http://www.somerandomthursday.com/an-open-letter-to-the-women-for-tri-board/