Monday, September 04, 2006

Understanding Women....or something like that

I know. This is a loaded topic. Will I be chatised? Will I loose my female followers? Will I begin to receive hate mail, advice or kudos?

Bear with me as I put my observations out there.

Let me step back to a long run which is the motivation of my post. Aimee and her friends were scheduled for either 20 or 15 miles in preparation for their respective fall marathons. Mind you each person has done at least 2 marathons. I owed them big time because they had come out to help at the Snakebite Racing sponsored road race. They all stood at intersections directing traffic while I sat on my butt driving a pace/follow car with the racers. So it was my duty to provide bike support. Usually bike support is just riding along for some conversation and maybe carry some extra water or a shirt.

Well it was raining that day. It was raining when we started and was intermittant all morning. I stuck with Mandie for most of the run. She is the fastest of the group having run Boston this past spring, she qualified at the Columbus Marathon, sub 3:40.

So I was riding with her chatting about all sorts of things. I rode ahead to get my running shoes on and finish the final 8 miles with her. I needed an hour run anyways.

The rain was not making the run very fun. Wet socks, wet shoes, high humidity, sand/grit in the socks.....Mandie was beginning to have a bad day. "This rain sucks". "These f!@#king socks keep bunching up". "My legs are starting to hurt". I was along for the ride and wanted to provide the silent, mental encouragement she was needing. Each time she started to slow down and stop I moved her forward. "Let's keep walking" I would tell her. I just wanted to make sure she kept moving foward.

I suggested we turn around and call it a day, " I can't." she would say. "I HAVE to run 20 today. I ran 18, then 20 and I have to do 20 today." I could tell she was starting to loose it for the day. I tried to rationalize with her that she has the base. She has been putting in good speed work. I didn't want her hurting herself either physically or mentally leading up to her marathon, which will be Columbus again.

I admired her determination but we had to stop several times, with the final stop half a mile from the trailhead. She had to release the frustration that had been building up during the final 8 of the run. I waited for her and tried to reassure her that it's okay.

That is the recap of my "inspiration" for this post. Now for my observations. And if I am totally off base please let me know. These are just my opinions and thoughts.

Women are hard on themselves. No matter what it is, women are their own worst critic. Of course we have society to blame for that. Women have been at the bottom of the proverbial pile for a long time.

Work: I'm no historian but women in the work place wasn't a reality until the 1970's. Yeah sure they were secretaries and typists and swithboard operators, but what about women in leadership roles? Slowly but surely when the education was provided to these highly motivated women they had to prove themselves in the "good old boy" network. I think that sucks, especially when a woman of equal ability and talent receives a lower salary than a man. I work with two women in my area that I would be potentially lost without. We make a great team because we all bring certain qualities and talents to the table. I feel that they are my equals, if not my superiors in the workplace. And I'm just fine with that.

Sports: Again women are considered inferior to men when it comes to sports. Traditionally thought of as weaker and more fragile, women are proving that they are a force to be reconed with. But why do they have to prove it? Why does anything have to be "proven". It's unfortunate the egotistical, testosterone driven male is somehow threatened by a woman who can take care of herself on the basketball or tennis court, field of play in football, baseball, soccer and on the track or road during running sports. And of course that woman is almost instantly labeled a lesbian because of her talent and strengths. I am just so sick of it all. Sorry I have digressed immensely from my original mind-set.

Back to Aimee and Mandie, two of many special people in my life. These two are serious about their running. If they have plans for a running race, they will plan, train and execute to the best of their abilities. No workout can be missed. No mile can not be run. And no matter what I may say, if it is not up to their expectations they have failed. But I see success. Success in setting a goal and following through with the sometimes difficult training that goes into the effort. Success is sacrificing time from family and friends to become prepared for race day. Going to bed early and getting up just as early to make time for the scheduled runs. The battle is not crossing the finish line, it's making it to the starting line.

And their goal oriented attitudes are not just in sport. I think the workplace also places a great deal of stress on them to be successful, to the point of perfection, in order to be accepted as an equal. Mandie works in information technology which is a male dominated field, but I feel that she puts her best foward at all times. Aimee is fortunate enough to work with people that recognize her contributions and compensate her quite well, both monetarily and emotionally. She is a valued asset in her workplace.

I've tried to make this post flow with some sort of intelligent stream of thought, but often I need to just do a brain dump and hope someone understands where I am coming from. And the longer I sit here the more I can think to add to the post, but then I might as well write a small book.

I doubt if "equality" will ever be realized in our world, be it religious, sexual, racial, economic. But I will make is a reality in my little piece of the world because that is how I put balance in my life. Sometimes the see-saw tips one way or the other and my balance is wacked out, but those around me help me get it back on track.

'nuf said, at least for today.

Game On.

6 comments:

Hak said...

Eric,

I work with some older women who grew up in a time when their only choices coming out of high school were: A) get married and make babies; B) go to school and be a teacher; or C) go to school and be a nurse. These women had a tough row to hoe and are now very successful. They also have a chip on their shoulder when it comes to men. Can't say I blame them. Can't say I agree with them either. After all, I'm not the guy that gave them grief throughout their careers, so all I ask is that they don't stereotype me in return.

Bottom line: Everyone should be judged on their abilities and character. Race, gender, financial status, etc. should mean nothing. Just about every major religion preaches the same thing when it comes to your judgement day. You account for your actions on Earth. I just don't know why we haven't applied that to the here and now instead of waiting to get our tickets punched at the Pearly Gates.

hak

Jodi said...

I think that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Enrollment in collleges is way up among women (>50% now) as are numbers in medical schools. I, personally, have never felt gender discrimination in my education (MD or PhD work).

I was watching a special on Billy Jean King this weekend. They were asking high school girls who she was. Most of them had no idea who she was or the impact she had on women in sports. They asked Billy Jean what she thought of this and she said it was wonderful. These girls have always had opportunities in sports. The fact that they take it for granted is a great sign

Look how far things have come in just 30 years! I think that it is amazing and we should be very optimistic about the future. :)

nancytoby said...

I don't know about the male versus female thing, but I know I can't do workouts with people (of either gender) who get too flipped out or upset over any one workout or any one race. That's just taking the whole thing way too seriously, not conducive to good health, and not a helpful training practice anyway. And no fun. Maybe if they were paying me as a coach I'd put up with it for a while until their attitude turned around, but not as a friend and volunteer.

TriSaraTops said...

Very interesting stuff. I think you probably could write a book on this topic! We have come a long way here...

Lloyd said...

Eric, I think you hit it on the head with the connection between women and the sport of running (or swimming, or triathlon.)

I recently read a quote in Amby Burfoot's blog that said that in these sports, more than any other, "there is unbelievable support for women on the playing field."

I find that true. I don't know of another sport like it.

Nice post.

trifrog said...

You understand women!?

"I can't change the world, but I can change the world in me."

Rock-n-Roll lyrics for $10,000, Alex?

Yea, I'm caught up on another blog!