Saturday, September 17, 2011

My Girl

The last time I was here I said I was going to give my book review, but, I swear, I didn't think I'd take so long to read the book. Life happens.

I was eager to read the Run Like A Girl by Mina Samuels because it's an accumulation of inspiring stories about women in sports, but mostly running. There were several points in the book that I did not want to forget, and I ended up tabbing a few pages...

OK, so I tabbed more than a few pages, so sue me.  I did go through a few sets of tabs, especially to refer back to some of the finer points that resonated with me.

I found my head nodding over "shrink and pink."  Shrink and pink is where clothing and gear companies take a man's designed item, such as a t shirt, size it down and change the color to pink, with no consideration to a women's body, sizing or need.  You would kind of think that, by now, shrink and pink would no longer be an issue, but it is.  The last two half marathons I ran in gave out men's sized/fitted t shirts to everyone. Bonus points that they were tech shirts, points lost because both of my XS men's t shirts from those two races have no consideration for my curves and fit me rather large, even though those are both XS.  In both of those races the women outnumbered the men. "Shrink and pink" is so 10, (20 ,30+) years ago, but still an issue. 

Samuels points out that when women get together we rarely start a conversation with a list of our accomplishments, but with the tendency to bond though belittling ourselves, and dialing into the internal radio "KFKD," and, yes, it's exactly as it sounds. K- f**ked.  This got me thinking to a conversation I had with a couple of ladies from the track club, how the first things that we all talked about were our crappy run times, aches, pains, and other mishaps of the running week.  After a short while one lady piped in "hey, next time we get together let's talk about how wonderful we all are!"  Everyone laughed, but she had a point.  We needed to celebrate each other and focus on the good things, that we showed up for the run that day, that we ran, that we're together, that we are strong and awesome, etc...  It's time to turn off "KFKD" and tune in to "KGrrrT."

The book is chock full of stories of women who have overcome struggles in their own lives which lead them into sports, mostly running, and how their lives evolved from being involved in a sport.  What I took from this book was an over-all sense of empowerment from participating in a sport.   As a girl growing up in the 1960s  and early 1970s, sports were not encouraged unless the choices were dance, tennis or volleyball, and maybe basketball.  There's nothing wrong with any of those activities, but that's all there was and I wasn't adept at any of those.  I was rarely encouraged to find empowerment in sports, or anywhere else, for that matter.* There was no sense of empowerment from running because that was a considered boys sport, at least in my parent's eyes.  There was no girls track team in middle school or in the early years of high school.**   I often longed for that sense of empowerment in those younger years, but I'm glad that I can feel empowered from running now.  It's never too late.

Title IX is brought up a few times in this book, which is the education amendement, passed in 1972 stating:
"No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance..."
—United States Code Section 20, [1]
I'm not sure why, but there is a reference to Roe v. Wade in this book.  I'm not sure the context of which it  was meant, as I re-read that particular paragraph a few times over to figure it out, but I just couldn't wrap my head around the reference.  I'm not sure what Roe v. Wade has to do with running, and I felt the reference was rather unnecessary.

When I began reading this book I was excited to delve into the individual stories, but as I read I became rather complacent,  making the book a bit slow to read.  It's not that the stories weren't interesting, in fact they were interesting and very relevant,*** it's just that I felt certain points were made time and time again.  I became bored.  I'd read a page here and there, but would often put it down to take care of other business.  There was no desire to get back to the book until I realized I has been over a a month since I received the book and figured would finish reading it.  I began plodding through, just to give the book a fair shake.  I found a new eagerness to read this book once I made it to the last couple of chapters, and my interests were once again piqued.

Mina Samuels discusses the importance of friendships and bonds through sports, and how, as adults, we still needs play dates.  This chapter resonated with me.  I never really thought about running in the terms of "play dates,"  but she has a point.  Running can be a very social activity, and people can accept that you have no make-up on, you're sweating from every pore on your body, probably smelly, and, well, gross. Running friends are rather accepting of each other.  We help to hold each other accountable, or to be our cheerleaders. Yes, there is something to be said about having solo runs, where you can clear your head, but it's nice to have someone who knows about your training,  someone who you can talk about running with out the blank stares back and that that common bond of running that evolves into long term friendships.

I would recommend this book to an eager, new runner or any one who needs to rekindle the spark to get off of their butt and start doing something to put their body in motion.

If you don't mind, I have a play date to attend to.

Gotta run.

Song from Thursday, August 25, 2011
Take it all - Adele


*My parents were of the realm of "Leave it to Beaver" and I was supposed to grow up to be June Cleaver.

**FYI, I  graduated from high school in 1977, and the small Catholic school I attended was still playing catch up with girls in sports.  They finally had a girl's track team in my Senior year, but I had no transportation to or from practice, even though I did try out for the team.  My parents weren't quite caught up with Title IX.

***There were many inspiring stories of women who were top notch athletes, beginners, women who overcame disease, abuse, adversity, discrimination, struggles with weight, self-esteem  issues, finding love, separation, divorce, death,  losing, winning, and so on...


iJuls said...

It's important to acknowledge your triumphs and, perhaps your shortcomings too (if only to learn from them). I hope you and your run friends follow through.

As for Roe v. Wade...Lord only knows.

Deene said...

sounds like the book could have been a collection of any runner blogs. i'm not inspired to read it base on your review.

Anne said...

Maybe the Roe v. Wade case represented another big step for women, much like Title IX, which also was government ordered. I suppose reproductive freedom also played a part in women's sports. I'm just guessing.

I like celebrating our awesomeness instead of our aches and pains!