ZOOMA Napa 13.1: looking forward to bullshit-free running

When my family and I moved to the Bay Area from Chicago in December, a lot of things, obvious and not-so-obvious, changed. I will be the first to admit that I was a bit terrified about the move, and at the core, I was (probably) most anxious about essentially being the new kid at school for the first time in over a decade.

Yea, things look just a little different here.
Yea, things look just a little different here.

 

While I consider myself a pretty outgoing gal, and a fairly gregarious one at that, I also think I’m a bit goofy–as many of my people are–and wondered how the hell I’d meet people, make friends, and basically, figure shit out here in the absence of working outside the home and having lots of facetime with adults daily. Seriously, I have sometimes wondered if my being a SAHM has affected my abilities to seamlessly interact with other adults… but hey, being awkward can be kinda fun… the operative word here is “kinda”…

Anyway, shortly after we made the move, I began putting myself out there way more than I had in recent history in Chicago, again, in no small part because I felt like it was in my best interests to do so here in order to make friends. Of course, the easiest way for me to put myself out there, by being a stay-at-home mom, was through social media. I started writing more here and posting weekly training recaps for Oakland, stuff that I never thought anyone would have any interest in reading; I played on twitter more than I had been (but as usual, typically only during toddler downtime, or pre-predawn runs); I not only got on but also joined some groups on facebook (which, if you know me, is a BFD because I loathe facebook and deleted my account many years ago); and on a whim, I applied to be a social media ambassador for some Bay Area races, including TSFM, the 408k, and the ZOOMA Napa half marathon/10k.

When the various races (surprisingly) selected me to help promote their races, I immediately thought cool! Free race entry! Easy way to meet other runners in the area! followed by fuck! I’ve gotta come outta my cave! As I’ve written about elsewhere, it’s significantly easier to keep your (read: my) life and training and goals all clammed up in a space that you (me), and only you (me), is privy to; however, the challenge, and subsequent growth, I’d argue, lies in laying it all out there for people to take in for themselves–judgement be damned.

I’ve gotten to thinking about this stuff again recently because I’ve been thinking a bit more about the ZOOMA half marathon in Napa at the end of June. Though I don’t know for certain right now, it’s fairly probable that I’ll race it (!!!) and use it as a tune-up/gauge for TSFM a month later. I haven’t truly raced a half marathon all year (and really, in a long time… maybe since January ’12, if memory serves). I’m really excited about the ZOOMA race because I’m looking forward to seeing where my fitness is, post-Oakland and post-Newport (21 days from today, yeessh!), and more importantly, I’m also really looking forward to meeting the other Napa ambassadors with whom I’ve connected via social media over the past few months. These women seem awesome, and I’m excited to meet more social media buddies IRL…and yes, I went there with the internet acronyms.

logo_napa

Admittedly, I don’t often run women-focused or women-marketed races like ZOOMA, but when I do, I find them to be incredibly empowering and motivating. What stands out most to me about women-centered races is that, while they’re not necessarily a crazy-ass-competitive environment–and that’s cool, and really, totally a-okay–they’re quite supportive and downright celebratory of their participants and the work they’ve put in to get there. Every racer matters, regardless if she’s throwing down 6 or 16 minute miles. And personally, women’s races like ZOOMA are really awesome reminders for me to reflect on how far I’ve come in my running, as I witness so many women participating in their first endurance event, and I can get downright teary (no surprise) and giddy cheering for the other runners,  just about as much as I do running it, myself.

from Ragnar SoCal. Cheering for other runners brings me to my happy place, much as running does. (credit: Jordan)
from Ragnar SoCal ’14. Cheering for other runners brings me to my happy place, much as running does. (credit: Jordan)

For me, the running community is about so much more than just my racing; supporting and encouraging others is a big part of the puzzle as well.

Another distinguishing characteristic for me with all-women’s races, and probably the biggest selling factor, is the general lack of cattiness/stupid judgement/bullshit between female runners. I notice this shit all the time when I run and race. Rarely do I get a wave or an acknowledgement of my presence from other female runners while I’m running, regardless (especially) if I initiate the communication. Men, on the other hand, seem to have no problem whatsoever to reciprocate communication with me.  I’m not entirely sure what the root of this is, but I do know that, based on the all-women’s races I’ve run in the past, women are generally way more supportive and encouraging of each other in this environment than in others (and, sidenote: during Ragnar SoCal a couple months ago, I distinctly remember that it wasn’t until my final relay leg, when I was running against other women on the roads–women who weren’t running Ragnar but were just out for their morning runs–that they were suddenly encouraging and acknowledging of my presence and communication. During that final leg, I can’t tell you how many fistbumps, looking good, sister!, thumbs-up, and the like I got from these other, non-Ragnar women. In contrast, the women I passed, talked to, or ran near in Ragnar, the ones actually running the relay, couldn’t have given a damn about me or my efforts to connect with them. WTF, women. What. The. Fuck).

Anyway, suffice it to say that I’m getting excited for Napa. There are lots of cool sponsors who have been really great to the other ambassador ladies and me–thank you, Altra, Ultimate Direction, Cytomax/Muscle Milk, Ultima Replenisher, and more!–and I’ve since learned that RunningAddicts, one of the South Bay running groups to which I belong (and the folks responsible for my fun pacing gigs recently) will also be serving as the pacers at the race, so it’ll be fun to see some familiar faces up north. I’m expecting nothing less than a runnah love-fest.

just a handful of RA half and full pacers at Brazen Racing's Western Pacific races on 5/3/14. See me? :) (photo cred: Linh)
just a handful of RA half and full pacers at Brazen Racing’s Western Pacific races on 5/3/14. See me? :) (photo cred: Linh)

 

More than anything, I’m looking forward to being in a community of (primarily, though not exclusively) female runners and being surrounded by a lot of “sisterhood-driven positivity” (that sounds horrendous, but I think you get what I mean) for a change, instead of the same ol’, same ol’ inter-lady bullshit negativity and cattiness.

Goes without saying that, while I’m an ambassador for ZOOMA Napa, these views are mine and mine alone.

During your training or races, have you observed any notable differences between how men/women interact with you?  What do you think accounts for the differences/similarities? Surely I can’t be the only one who experiences this…

And hey… join me in Napa. NAMB8 gets you 10% off the 10k or the half. As my three year-old says, it’ll be “like super fast” or “like super fun!”

16 thoughts on “ZOOMA Napa 13.1: looking forward to bullshit-free running”

  1. I usually initiate conversations during races and the results have been a mixed bag. Sometimes I’ll get a receptive, happy go lucky chatter, and other times barely a nod, grunt or any sign of acknowledgement.

    While I haven’t any specific results based on gender I do find that trail races have provided more participants willing to share a word or a conversation, where as road races are often limited to a line or two of encouraging words or a quick laugh at best.

    1. Good points, Christopher. This would be an interesting experiment to try out on trails versus the roads. Of course, that’d probably warrant signing up for a trail race… cough… :)

  2. I can’t wait to meet you in Napa! I can tell we have an awesome group of gals and this will be my very first half marathon, so I am looking forward to the support from others :) I have a feeling there will be much love going around that day :)

    1. Yeaaaaa!! I’m super stoked to meet you and the rest of the Napa crew and am ridiculously excited to see you finish your first half! I will probably cry, just to warn you… :)

  3. I definitely notice the difference when running and crossing paths with men and women. Men will almost always acknowledge a smile,wave,hi etc. and women will look down or do anything to avoid you it seems lol Not all,but most that I come across.

    1. Man, Jennifer, you and me both! I don’t get it. I have that same experience with women significantly more often than I do with men. I really don’t understand…

  4. Nice entry! That Napa half looks heavenly. I’ve got to get out there. I don’t know about this cattiness thing. Maybe your speed is too intimidating. In the back half of the pack, I’m always chattin’ it up with everyone in sight, guys, gals, whomever. I guess we do have more fun back there. Maybe someday I should channel that social energy into, you know, actual running. :)

    1. Heeeey, Kelly! :) I don’t know. Speed is relative. Civility isn’t, ya know? A little can go a long way. I just think it’s super bizarre that, more often than not, I have to work (and still usually fail) to get women to give me the time of day, whereas with men, it’s a non-issue. Maybe this is like a weird little game that all of the women of humanity are in on, at my expense…

      1. Haha! They could definitely all be in on it. I think I’d be so glad to see your happy face that I’d be all “how’s your day going?” It’s cool you like to talk with people while running, so do I. Met some great folks along the way, especially training for Boston. Well if you keep trying, so will I. I’m not competing with anyone else but myself, I hope we all make it and do our best!

        1. :) you make me smile! I’ve also met people on the run (training, racing) because we decided to chat it up! No regrets :)

  5. I was an ambassador for ZOOMA Great Lakes in 2012, and it was a very positive experience!! I ended up renting a house with a bunch of fellow bloggers (many of whom were also ambassadors) for the weekend and it was a great time. But the race itself was great too! Sara Hall was there handing out the awards! And I was 2nd in the 5K, so I got a picture with her :)

    And I really really really hate cattiness. I don’t know why grown women think it is still OK to be catty. I just can’t. Seriously, if you have nothing nice to say, then distract yourself with something productive instead. Gah.

    1. That’s awesome you did it in ’12 and made a whole little experience out of it! I don’t even recall seeing ads for it in ’12, probably because it wasn’t in Chicago. And Sara Hall?! Now you’re talking… :)

      And yes, sister. Preach the good word. I don’t know how or why some women feel the need to sabotage. I don’t feel like I need to become BFFs with every woman or man I see or acknowledge when I run, but I think it ultimately just boils down to issues of civility.

  6. You’ve pretty much hit on why I loved going to an all-girls high school so much. A lot of people tell me it sounds awful, but it was such an awesome experience that I haven’t really been able to find with other women since. We weren’t just classmates there, we were sisters. I mean sure, there was some fighting because, you know, we were still teenage girls. But we had each other’s backs, and everyone was generally pretty supportive of each other. Something about not having dudes around seemed to bond us.

    I’ve done the Chicago Women’s races (5k in 2012, half last year) and ZOOMA, and it is a really cool environment :) Does ZOOMA still offer a PR medal? I thought that was so cool last year (I got one just for it being my first 10k!) – what other race celebrates PRs like that? Also, ZOOMA’s seemingly bottomless wine supply made for a pretty fun after-party.

    Also, now that I’ve been working from home like 90% of the time for a while, I feel just as awkward when I actually get to interact with people – it’s like I’ve forgotten how to socialize at times. Thank goodness I can interact in writing so much ;)

    1. Oooooo, interesting point about the all-girls HS. I hadn’t thought of that. I briefly considered Smith for college but quickly dismissed it because I thought it’d be a disaster. Now you got my thinking twice :)

      I didn’t do ZOOMA in Chicago last year, but I have done the Espirit De She and the FF races. They’re all cool. I wouldn’t want every race I run to be single-sex, but I do think it’s a nice change. I haven’t heard if ZOOMA is doing PR medals this year, though I’ll ask…

      And yea. Awkwardness :)

  7. Since I don’t train/run with anyone it’s hard for me to feel comfortable striking up a conversation with someone in the middle of a race. The 3 times I’ve run with people, I’ve enjoyed chatting when possible. I just think that when in race mode people tend to be really focused on their and I personally would hate to throw them off. But then again, maybe they’re looking for the distraction of chit chat to get them thru. Hell if I know. :\

    I’ve been thinking of doing the Zooma run. But logistics of either waking up REALLY early to drive to Napa or getting a hotel room for a night hold me back.

    1. Totally get it, Sonia. I agree. Sometimes I do think it’s just a focus thing… but sometimes I just think people are being assholes. :)

      And dude! Do ZOOMA! We could drive up together!!! (I’m totally serious)!

What'cha thinkin?