Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Three point one, in numbers

Last Sunday morning, I ran my first 5K of 2015: the Renegade Race Series iTRY 5K.

Spoiler alert: I didn't win.

Anyway, since I like to actually participate in these kinds of events, I don't have any blurry mid-run selfies; you might refer back to this post to learn how I feel about that. I do, however, feel that numbers are an essential part of running and racing, so I'd like to recap the experience in quantitative terms:

3.1: number of miles in a 5K race

5: in pounds, the weight of a full container of laundry stain remover that I so elegantly dropped on my foot on the afternoon before the race

"I want you to fail," it seemed to say.

1: bruised right big toe

Less than 27: in minutes, my finishing time goal

2: number of geese along the course that appeared to be having a serious disagreement

Approximately 60: in degrees, the temperature at the start of the race (these brutal Southern California winters, man)

40: in seconds, the amount of time I went over my goal

0: effect that the Laundry Stain Remover Incident had on my performance

To infinity and beyond: about how much I hate wearing white running shoes (it's all they had in the Cumulus 16s, ok?)

Only four weeks old and already looking like poop.

At least 3: including last Sunday, how many times I've worn Spandits skull tights and placed in my age group

1: my ranking, in my age group

1: epitaph, pre-written: SHE PLACED FIRST IN HER AGE GROUP ONCE

Oh, hell yeah, prizes too.

1: delicious celebratory egg and sausage biscuit sandwich

Tons: amount of fun I had running outside in the hills and canyons of south Orange County. My entry to this race was comped because I'm a Renegade Rep so I'll try to keep the marketing-speak out of it, but seriously, what a fantastic race course. It had lakes (hence the geese), mountain views, some dirt trail, and clear route signage. For best results, though, I recommend wearing skull tights and dropping a blunt, heavy object on your foot about 12 hours beforehand. Totally works for me.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

A manifesto, revised

Sometime around the start of the new year, I decided I'd like to write more often. Specifically, for this blog.

Seeing as I don't make New Year's resolutions, this notion bounced around in my head and now here I am in February having written approximately zero posts. Part of me didn't know how to pick up where I'd left off; things I like to write about have evolved since I started this blog in 2011. So I went back to my first post for inspiration.

Back then, I felt there was a dearth of women-specific running and fitness writing that felt authentic, or that truly addressed the things that women care about. In regard to running, I care about things like setting time or distance goals, personal safety, and the camaraderie of other runners, but please, tell me for the hundredth time how to style my ponytail for a race. (For the record, I don't think there's anything wrong with having or wanting a cute ponytail. I just think there's a lot more to it than that.)

Nowadays, there's a lot more writing about running and fitness in general, meaning there are more substantive pieces written by and for and about women. But there's also the current crop of running blogs out there that use a what-I-did-today style of writing (spoiler: it's not a whole heck of a lot) accompanied by a slew of selfies and pair after pair of Important Corporate Sponsor running shoes. And, of course, the endless disclaimers: "This post is sponsored. All opinions are my own." Ha! Bullshit.

I don't want to read advertising copy disguised as content. I also don't want to write it. I'd rather offer my opinions on a piece of gear, or a book, or a supplement because I spent my own dough on it. I'd rather be a half decent writer with readers that appreciate my perspective, even if they disagree with me. And I'd rather buy my own damn running shoes, thankyouverymuch.

I hope you'll join me in this next adventure.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Trail running, a cruel mistress

Running injuries have a way of appearing out of nowhere. On the flipside, rehab time for an injury could very well be measured in geologic time.

That's how it went down for me, anyway. I ran 10k on some local trails on a Sunday afternoon in March and felt indestructible. That is, until the last half-mile when my right knee started talking to me. A couple days later, I didn't even make it one mile before pain set in. BANG. Injured.

It's taken me five months to build back up to a modest three miles. Five! I've acquired quite a taste for humble pie during this time, believe me.

Despite the fact that the trails were where all this injury drama began, I really didn't want to miss the last race in the Renegade Summer Trail Series, because the experience I had running it last summer was just so incredible. I'm also a Renegade rep, so my registration is comped. So I signed up, figuring I'd just walk part of the course.

Objects in photo are dirtier than they appear.

The first mile was flat with a slight incline; piece of cake. I started feeling more confident. So, when I approached the first major hill, I decided to run it. I'm pretty sure I heard the hill laugh at me. Nature always wins.

The next mile-and-a-half or so looked very much like this, repeating over and over...

...which is, admittedly, a gorgeous view and a nice distraction from the agony of running up, running down, running up, running down.

I got a second wind around the halfway point. I do suspect it was all in my head, since the big hills were now all behind me and I knew the rest of the course was a net downhill. Whatever; I was flying. I finished with that sweet feeling of exhaustion that I haven't felt in months.

I just don't really ever get those kinds of highs running on the roads. Let's not even talk about the treadmill; it's no contest. Like I said, nature always wins.

Runners and triathletes! Renegade has a bunch of upcoming late summer and fall events. Check out the lineup and get 10% off any Renegade event registration with code VERONICADISCOUNT.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

How to ride your bike and remain a dapper gentleman


Yeah, right; like we'd ever see a headline like that floating around the internet machine (a headline that's not pulled directly from The Onion, at least).

So how come no one tells guys what to wear to ride their bikes? Oh, they do; but it usually doesn't involve all this hand-wringing about looking "masculine" enough. (Maybe it's because those cycling shorts leave little question as to one's anatomy underneath? I dunno.)

Then why the heck did the Huffington Post find it necessary to instruct us ladies on what must be the absolute least important aspect of bike riding: whether we look feminine enough?
Our idea of bicycle attire has always been limited to T-shirts, shorts and sneakers. But alas, there's no reason to sacrifice our feminine style while taking a spin.
Yes, I know. The thought of having to wear—horror of horrors—a t-shirt has me collapsing onto my fainting couch.

The piece goes on to suggest a sundress for an "easy, breezy, beautiful ride"; for whom, I'm not sure. Because in my experience, sundresses are only easy and breezy when standing completely stationary and are indecent in nearly every other instance including straddling a frigging bike.

Then again, anyone who suggests (as the author does in this piece) to "wear white fearlessly," clearly cannot be trusted. Doesn't everyone know that for every white article of clothing, there is an equal and opposite blob of pasta sauce? The advice to swap wedges for heels was just as ludicrous. You mean to tell me I can trade heels for...more heels? Awesome.

You know what you should do "fearlessly"? Disregard idiotic gender policing disguised as fashion advice (because that's exactly what this is), and ride a bike for your own damn benefit, not someone else's. Now go!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Can spinning make you fat? Probably not, but reading Harper's Bazaar might make you stupid

I tend to read the "fitness" sections of women's mainstream fashion magazines with a certain amount of skepticism.

These are the same publications, after all, that present cosmetic surgery as a perfectly reasonable alternative to a gym membership. So when I saw this Harper's Bazaar article making the rounds, I figured it was the usual fashion rag rubbish illustrated by a completely predictable riding-a-bike-in-stilettos photograph.

I was right. It was so, so stupid. It was even stupider than I expected, and my bar was already set pretty low.

One of my favorite bloggers, Fit and Feminist, wrote a great post about this article, in which she admits that she would rather ride her bike and run and swim and risk being a person that Harper's Bazaar might deem "fat" because in the end, who gives a rat's ass what Harper's Bazaar thinks, anyway?
You know what I say? If you love something, do it. And if doing that thing changes your body in ways that stray from the beauty standard, then fuck the beauty standard.
Aaaaand...I couldn't agree more. Besides, the woman in the photograph is sitting on her bike backward. I may not have those impossibly long, tanned, slender legs, but at least I know which end of my bike is which.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Run like you stole something...but maybe don't actually steal anything

When I read the post from the race bandit blogger—you know, the one for whom it was beneath her to pay to run a local half-marathon—I thought that while it certainly isn't the worst thing a person can do, it's not that cool.

It's even less cool to take resources from said race, take photos of strangers without their consent in order to make fun of them, crack a joke about rape (seriously, what the hell?) and then take to your blog to boast about the whole endeavor. It's even less cool still to offer a non-apology by saying it was meant to highlight the city and the race when it was clearly just a narcissistic romp through the city streets for attention.

But it did give me an idea. I was registered for the Run Seal Beach 10k, but in the last few weeks I've been having some IT band problems. I didn't want to skip it altogether, so I decided to drop down to the 5k, walk most of the route, and have a little fun.

So, I give you Seal Beach in selfies (and a bunch of non-selfies because who really needs to see that many photos of me?):

1. The "check it out, I actually paid for my bib" selfie

2. The obligatory running shoe selfie

My blog isn't fancy enough to get me free shoes so I paid for these too.

3. The "I'm not very skilled at taking selfies" selfie

For the record, I felt like a complete tool. I'm not sure how people do this on the regular. P.S. Note the Renegade half-zip...representin'.

4. The quarter-mile mark "motivation" non-selfie

Hah. Well, it was true. Guys, thanks for keeping it real.


Not a selfie, not race-related, I just love this place.

6. The "I guess that's gonna be stuck in my head a while" non-selfie

Ohhhh, we gonna rock down to Electric Avenue. And then we'll take it higher. (Now it's stuck in your head!)

7. The "man, this place is paradise" non-selfie

Because who needs a stupid selfie when there are rows and rows of palm trees!

8. The "hey, you're cheating!" non-selfie

Don't worry, I still beat him.

9. The posing with the Big Guy himself selfie

He's friendly, but he doesn't say much.

So here's the deal: Run Seal Beach didn't put me up to writing this blog post. I just think they put on a well-organized race with a beautiful view and my opinions are 100% my own yada yada yada.

I do feel however, that bandit-ing a race is poor form. According to our blogger friend, THE ROADS ARE PUBLIC Y'ALL but here's the thing: the roads are so public that they allow cars on them, and those cars don't magically disappear on race day. Registration fees take care of stuff like police detail and aid stations. If everyone thought they were a special little snowflake exempt from the rules, then where would we be?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Sports and sexism

I know I say this a lot, but it bears repeating: Girls do stuff too.

Recently, a 13-year-old surfer from Australia picked up a magazine that calls itself "the surfer's bible," and was disappointed to find that it was similar to so many other sport-related publications: it was sexist as hell.

Instead of internalizing all that crap like I probably would have done when I was 13 (hey, things were different in the early 90s), this young girl named Olive wrote a letter to the magazine:
Dear Tracks Surf Magazine, 
I want to bluntly address the way you represent women in your magazine. I am a surfer, my dad surfs and my brother has just started surfing. 
Reading a Tracks magazine I found at my friend's holiday house, the only photo of a woman I could find was "Girl of the month." She wasn't surfing or even remotely near a beach. Since then I have seen some footage of Stephanie Gilmore surfing on your website, but that's barely a start. 
I clicked on your web page titled "Girls" hoping I might find some women surfers and what they were up to, but it entered into pages and pages of semi-naked, non-surfing girls. 
These images create a culture in which boys, men and even girls reading your magazine will think that all girls are valued for is their appearance. 
My posse of female surfers and I are going to spread the word and refuse to purchase or promote Tracks magazine. It's a shame that you can't see the benefits of an inclusive surf culture that in fact, would add a whole lot of numbers to your subscription list. 
I urge you to give much more coverage to the exciting women surfers out there, not just scantily clad women (who may be great on the waves, but we'll never know). I would subscribe to your magazine if only I felt that women were valued as athletes instead of dolls. This change would only bring good. 
[Emphasis mine]

Unfortunately, this problem is not just within the sport of surfing. And it's not just Tracks magazine. It's at the Olympics, it's in Sports Illustrated, and it's at the Australian Open. The message is crystal clear: it doesn't matter what you accomplish; all that matters is whether men want to bang you.

So having the guts to go against all that social pressure and sexist b.s. is truly awesome. Good for you, Olive. If you were my daughter, I'd be damn proud of you.