Sexual harassment at a (half) Marathon?

Or a case of (fully) super-sensitive spectators?

I’ve often spoken on Twitter and elsewhere about the “Outrage Prism,” which many (apparently) joyless people hold over their eyes 24/7, allowing them to find offense at any/all things they encounter in daily life.

But recently, the Nike Women’s Half Marathon was run in DC.  And, DC being DC, it managed to attract controversy.

Some company/product, “BareMinerals by Bare Escentuals” engaged in a viral marketing campaign where “Frat Boys” cheered on the runners with signs saying things like “You Look Beautiful All Sweaty,” and “Cute Running Shoes.”  As discussed below, according to women runners on the course, the “DC Frat Boys” were not obnoxious or negative in any way, and instead cheered the runners along their 13.1 mile course.

But one group doesn’t see it that way (cue Outrage Prism): 

Linky:  Trigger warning:  WTF-ness

The group “Collective Action for Safe Spaces DC” is focused on ending Street Harassment in DC, and certainly elsewhere.  They are focused on a noble cause.  But on THIS front, they’re just way off base, and provide a great example of the Outrage Prism taking hold. 

Notice that the people complaining on that FB page didn’t actually RUN the race.  The people complaining simply WANT the women runners to be offended. But one women commenter actually ran the race, and pointed out their folly:  

Katy Cavanaugh By mile 8, I want to see someone holding a sign telling me my shoes are cute and I’m still looking good. I ran the race. I remember seeing them. They were not acting obnoxious or violent in any way. They were cheering on the runners. Does this mean the women holding the “you don’t sweat, you sparkle” we’re equally as offensive? Pick someone else to be angry at this week. People out there cheering for runners one week after Boston should be applauded, no matter why they were standing there.


Katy makes a great point – you will see signs saying how “Sparkly” you look from the sweat all the time at Marathons, Half-Marys, and even some Triathlons.  Moreover, spectators shout “You look great!” to men AND women. They say things like, “You look awesome!” along with a host of other cheers, not just related to looks.
Are they saying it to harass?  To OMG INFLICT THE PATRIARCHY?  No.
They’re cheering on the runners.  Context, people.  Context.  CONTEXT.
Finally, let’s discuss the finish line at the race.  There were tuxedo’d men holding platters of Tiffany’s Medals, and lots of women gleefully grabbed at the men to have photos with them.  Also, I don’t see a lot of people protesting the “hot” guys giving out TIffany’s Medals.  
And let’s also point out the Diva Half Marathon in Myrtle Beach was that same weekend, which my friend Bang ran, and featured beefcake giving out medals.  No complaints.  Street harassment is one thing.  Getting pissed off because you don’t like how runners are supported is another.  Because CONTEXT.
In fact, I actually thought:  “Why don’t they produce RUNNERS who saw these men and were offended?  Hmm, I wonder what women who DID run the Half thought of the cheering section of (pretend?) Frat Boys?”
So first, I texted a woman I know who ran it.  She saw the cheering section, said that she smiled/waved, and didn’t give it another thought.  She felt like this was all a bit silly, and that was that.  But obviously, apart from her and Katy, I needed more women to survey and ask.

GOOGLE TIME!

I’m going to cite to some bloggers who DID run the race, and who also posted race recaps with photos.  I’ll link to their recaps, along with their Twitter pages.  But I’ll say this:  NONE of the bloggers I found mentioned, much less complained, about this oh-so-offensive cheering section (assuming they even saw it).

First, I did a little Googling, and found this race recap from Anne, who ran the race along with a friend.  I posted a couple of comments on her page, asking her take on it. 

Then, I did a little MORE Googling, and found this race recap from Molly.  I didn’t post any comments on her blog asking for her take, but I plan to ping her on Twitter and point her here.

Then then, I did even MORE MORE Googling, and found this race recap from Allie.  Same as Molly.  After I left the comments for Anne, it just seemed easier to get my thoughts out, and point them here to ask their views.

I did . . . well, you get the idea.  Here’s a FOURTH race recap, this time from Amy.

I plan to update this blog with their takes, assuming they answer me about the cheering section, and to see if they felt objectified/harassed or appreciated the attempt.

One thing you’ll notice in all their race recaps:  NO mention of the “Frat Boys” and their Evil Patriarchal Attempts to Objectify (cue thunder/lightning).  Again, the ONLY complaint I’ve found about this marketing campaign has come from people who DID NOT run the race.
I actually Googled to see if I could find anyone complaining about the “Frat Boys” cheering section.  The only links?  Complaints by . . . guess.

Oh, sure, there are complaints on Twitter . . . from people who (1) didn’t run the race, (2) didn’t see the cheering section, or, (3) weren’t even IN DC for the race.  Which is why I thought, you know, let’s ask women runners what they felt when/if they saw the cheering section. 

Of course anyone can offer their opinion on a matter, but it seemed to me that it would be helpful if the folks who actually ran the race, and who may have seen the cheering section could offer their input.  Because, you know, their opinion might matter.  In fact, it DOES.  If there is no groundswell from women who actually RAN the race, and actually EXPERIENCED the cheering (or “street harassment”), then maybe — just MAYBE — this group is off-base.
But there’s a happy ending in all of this . . . KIDDING!  There’s not:

Bare Minerals informed Safe Spaces that, due to their joyless bullying protest, they would stop the marketing campaign.  But, that’s not good enough.  Safe Spaces wants Bare Minerals to grovel.  They are demanding an apology.

Here’s the problem:  To whom do they apologize?  Runners?  The only runners I’ve seen have said they didn’t mind, didn’t see, or outright LIKED the cheering.  So Safe Spaces wants an apology to . . . people who didn’t participate in the race?  Who?  All women?

Outrage.  Prism.
 
P.S.  I wish Safe Spaces well.  I support their goals.  But nonsense like this protest, featuring utterly context-blind views on such an innocent matter, just undermines their credibility.

Update #1

Bang, of Run Bang Run has pointed something out to me in a Twitter DM.  What if these signs were held up by women?  Would this group protest it?  Sure!  If they were INSANE.  Realistically, of course they would not.  So, Bang points out, there is the question whether the words really offended them, or if it was because men were holding the signs.

Thanks, Bang!


Update #2

Allie got back to me — she didn’t notice the cheering section.  Thanks for letting me know Allie!


Update #3

I’ve now heard back from Anne.  She also did not notice them, but thinks this is all silly, and I’ll link to her own words on the matter.


Update #4

The responses are rolling in!  Now I’ve heard from Molly, who DOES remember them, and states (over two tweets):

—“if I remember correctly, they were after a long stretch of silence. I was begging for a cheering squad!  Didn’t mind at all that they were cute boys telling me I was beautiful!  Haha.”

I really appreciate all the responses!  I put up this blog post last night (it’s about 10-11 hours later as I write update #4), so I had NO idea what takes these linked bloggers would have on the matter.

Update #5

I had a real “V8” moment when I remembered my friend Cedric’s wife, Tisha, ran the Nike Half as well.  I asked, she answered:

—“yep saw them! I chuckled & appreciated the word play! Not offended at all. This is stupid.”

There are real problems in the world out there.  Street harassment is real.  But for a group like Safe Spaces to freak out over THIS thing just (1) discourages companies/sponsors from coming out to support runners, and (2) belies that this group is a “single issue” entity that views everything through (you guessed it) their own Outrage Prism.

Cherry Blossom 10-miler Race Report

 . . . or, “The Blossoms didn’t really come out, but I did.”

I’ve been over the “whys” and “hows” of losing time to injury, but fast foward to:

2 years, 5 months, and 1 week after my last race, I had trained for the Cherry Blossom, from doing the Thanksgiving to New Year’s Run Streak, all the way to regular runs through March. I lost a week in March due to Achilles soreness, but still hit 100+ miles for the month.  I felt ready.

In fact, I felt completely hyper. I wasn’t sleeping super well, I was evaluating, and re-evaluating my time goals, and all over my Garmin Connect account, studying my training runs.  I finally settled on two reasonable goals:

1.  Don’t die.
2.  Shoot to break 85 minutes, so long as you don’t run afoul of goal #1.  My PR was over 86 and a half minutes, so this wasn’t an easy goal, especially for not having run a race. But it was a soft goal, because, you know . . . Goal #1.

On race day, I was up (this is true) at 1:15am, freaking out that OMG I OVERSLEPT RACE OVER I’M FUXORED WTF.  It took me until 3:00am to settle down and sleep again.  I was up again at 5:15am, and out the door at 6:00am.  Bear in mind, I’m on Capitol Hill, maybe 5 or so Metro stops from the race start, and had NO bags to check.

So there I stood at 6:20am.  Shivering, wearing a purple MCM shirt from 2005.  I planned to sacrifce it to the Red Cross at the race start.

I figured that the corrals would be well-marked, and they were.  They were also quite empty.  I had a few reasons for showing up so early, but also ran into what proved to be a significant issue:

1.  I wanted to break 85 minutes, and had seeded myself at 1:25:00, which earned me a position in the blue corral
2.  Hitting 1:25:00 takes a pace of 8:30 — BUT —
3.  The 8:30 pace group was in the red corral.
4.  I was one corral back.  The blue one would start 3-5 minutes after the red.

Uh-oh.

So I figured I’d put myself as far to the front of the blue as I could.  But already I realized I would not be able to follow a pace group.  I tried to remind myself that this was just as well, because SEE GOAL #1.

Soon enough, 7:30 hit, and off we went.

Miles 1-5:

On the Cherry Blossom Blue Wave Start video page, you can see how close to the front I was, because in the first 10 seconds, you’ll see my purple MCM shirt go flying across the screen from right to left.  I didn’t hit anyone, and I think it actually landed ON the metal railing, almost like it was hung there.

Mile 1 was fast (for me).  8:22.  It was also gloriously uncrowded, and I just worked my position as best I could, aiming for good lines.  My heart rate wasn’t really taxed (except at the beginning, which had to be from excitement/nerves),and I had only 1 scare, early in mile 3 where my Garmin lost satellite reception under the Kennedy Center (it reaquired and recalculated quickly).

My 5 mile split came in around 42 minutes and X seconds, and I was feeling good.  It looked like I’d finish a little above 85 minutes (by mere seconds), but I hoped I could burst at the end to challenge that.  Still, I was already looking forward to just past mile 6, and the water/gatorade table, which meant a BIG slowdown.

Miles 6-8:

I pretty much lost my sub-85 minute goal here.  I passed mile 6 and slowed to a walk in order to take Gu and drink at the water station.  I just CANNOT run and drink.  I’m awful at it.  Once that was done, however, we were heading into Hains Point, and right into a headwind.

I think, with climate change being what it is, we are collectively just going to have to accept bigger extremes, bigger “swings” in temperatures.  So the nasty winds were expected, but still not anything I was pleased with.  Mile 6-7 was slow, reflecting my walking/drinking break, and I didn’t increase speed at mile 7.6 or so, when the course turned, and we picked up a tailwind. I sped up SOME, but not enough.  For some reason, I had in my head to wait for mile 8 and THEN calculate what I needed to do.  I could have used the remaining portion of mile 7 to really pick up my pace and go.

Miles 8-10:

I’m pleased by these last two miles.  They were my fastest of the race. In fact, mile 10 dropped below 8 minutes.  But, I was 17 seconds slower in my 2nd half of the race, and had a LOT of traffic towards the end (I almost ran over/through a MarathonFoto photographer as I tried to dodge a 4-abreast group petering out on the final uphill).  This whole section was also tough to run because Hains Point is quite narrow there, and it was the most crowded portion of the whole race for me.

One high point:  A couple dressed as ketchup and mustard bottles, imporing us to run “with relish.”  I would have hugged them both if I wasn’t trying to pick up speed. And really, who eats relish anymore?!

Anyway, I finished in under 85 and a half minutes, beating my 3-year-old PR by over a minute.

The Good:

–PR!
–Apparently, I can run again!
–My Garmin clocked in at 10.10 miles, so I only was “off” the course by a small amount (I have friends at work who came in at 10.4 or higher from their weaving).
–No serious pain that day or the next morning!
–I finished in the (roughly) top 25% of all runners, and (roughly) the top 41% of males in my age group.


The Bad:
I would have liked a couple of dozen more seconds, or even a few seconds more per mile, to get sub-85, but this is a TOUGH course to PR on.  Sure, it’s flat, but it’s quite crowded.  You really have to stake out a spot at the front of a corral if you want to minimize dodging.  I would have loved to have been paced by the 8:30 person, but the corrals gods apparently wanted me alive more.  😉  😛

The truth is, I really don’t have much to complain about.  It’s been so long since I pinned a number on and ran that I was just happy to be out there.  And posting my best-ever 10 mile time.  Maybe, if I get in next year, I’ll print pace bands to have an idea of how I’m doing, even with half mile splits.

But, the bottom line is this — as I said in my last blog entry about the Cherry Blossom — nothing tastes as a good as a PR feels.  Turns out that’s true.  😀

Eat my words

Greetings!  If you’re reading this, it’s not because I publicized this post on social media.  Instead, you’re almost certainly reading this because I, or someone like-minded, has sent you this link.

Why?  Because you likely just espoused some “Anti-GMO” position that I thought was wrong enough to warrant a response, but just don’t have the time for a Twitter War, or a social media conversation.

I let a LOT of stuff go by on social media.  Devout Theism (I don’t begrudge it at all, unless you want schoolchildren taught that the Earth is only 6,000 years old, and that Jesus rode a dinosaur on Noah’s Ark, or whatever).  Gun Control (I’m for it, but I recognize at least some of the arguments against it, and also want a focus on mental health).  Even the Designated Hitter (blech).

I also don’t fight over High Fructose Corn Syrup (“HFC”). It’s not the same as GMO.

But — some of the stuff I’ve seen, where people espouse Anti-GMO crap, along with Anti-Vaccination nonsense, is too much to let go.  So this entry is here to tell you, an Anti-GMO “advocate” why you’re wrong.  I supect this blog entry will add links as more pro-science authors shoot down the crap floated by people.

I COULD just point out that the American Academy for the Advancement of Science has shot down this nonsense recently, but I’m also going to put out my objections to your Anti-GMO stuff in 3 easy points:

I.  Norman Borlaug

First and foremost, any discussion of GMO must begin with the man who have saved over a BILLION lives, Norman Borlaug.  This man invented a way to make minature wheat, so entire countries could feed themselves.  He’s saved lives.  Mexican lives in this hemisphere, and Indian/African lives on our other hemisphere.

Months ago, some anti-GMO person said to me, paraphrased, “I’m talking about AMERICAN lives” in the course of telling me why GMO was bad. 

What.  The.  Fuck.

So because anti-GMO is grounded in the biggest of #FirstWorldProblems, we just let people die?  Of starvation?  “Sorry, Mobalage Singh Rodriguez, you could live a life free of hunger, but US schoolkids wearing Gap clothing are getting a little rotund in the middle”

That’s about as offensive an argument against GMO as I could have ever fathomed.  And someone made it to me.  Either GMO is safe (it is, and I’ll get to why), in which case the WORLD deserves it, or it’s not, in which case we don’t give it to 3rd world countries, like they’re lab rats or something.

Norman Borlaug crystalizes the #FirstWorldProblems attitude of many Anti-GMO people:

“Some of the environmental lobbyists of the western nations are the salt of the earth, but many of them are elitists. They have never experienced the physical sensation of hunger. They do their lobbying from comfortable office suites in Washington or Brussels. If they lived just one month amid the misery of the developing world, as I have for fifty years, they would be crying out for tractors, and fertilizer, and irrigation canals, and be outraged that fashionable elitists back home were trying to deny them these things.”

Norman Borlaug has actually used GMO to save more lives than Superman in any of his comics.  Without a cape.  Instead, he used the Scientific Method.

II.  Mark Lynas

Mark Lynas was a profound Anti-GMO advocate.  He has since changed his position, and outright apologized for his behavior, as well as the damage he’s caused.  He did so with class, which you can see/read for yourself here.

The Scientific Method is about getting to a result, and NOT trying to put English on the result you want.  If GMO is ever shown to be harmful, or Homeopathy to be anything other than WATER, or Ghosts to be real, I’ll be right there, carving “fancy that” on the side of my . . . self.

But most Anti-GMO activists won’t care what Lynas has to say.  They can simply say, “He was paid off,” without considering his points, because, after all, it’s easier than admitting you were, you know, agenda-driven and not concerned about the actual truth.

By definition, “Alternative Medicine” has not been proven to work, or has been proven not to work.

You know what they call “Alternative Medicine” that works?  Medicine.

III. Hey Liberals — you’re not helping

By most accounts, we see the most egregious attacks on Scientific thought coming from conservatives.  After all, even “Conservapedia” has plenty of Dinosaurs-on-Noah’s-Ark-level of crazy, but we almost EXPECT that of them.  There are plenty of them, and we’re used to it.  But, as Michael Shermer has pointed out, the Left is guilty of it too.

Chris Mooney, in my view, correctly points out that it’s not equal.  But, to be sure, Liberals do it too.  And every time a Liberal turns his/her back on sound science (usually because of latent crunchiness), you just feed into the (incorrect) notion that Science Denial is equal, which makes people shrug their shoulders and think it balances out.

That doesn’t help!  But I’m not coming at this as a Liberal.  I’m just pointing out the hypocrisy.

Personally, I identify as Centrist, because I’m progressive socially, moderate economically, and likely more conservative on foreign policy.  But I see plenty of my Liberal friends pat themselves on the back for being so much more “enlightened” on political topics than those goofy conservatives, but then move on to talk about “Frankenfood” or why they won’t vaccinate their children.

If you find that you’re lining up with the likes of Jenny McCarthy, Alex Jones, and Charlie Sheen, and the people on the other side of the line are actual, you know, THINKERS, you might want to re-think your positions.  If you’re brave enough.

Eat THAT.


========================================
Edit:

First update!

Today a saw someone refer to a story on “Natural News,” a website that peddles nothing “natural,” or “newsworthy.”

A funny writeup about it (complete with ACTUAL citations to concrete evidence!) is right here.  It’s amazing how off the rails it is.

But it’s also sad.  It has been ranked as the #1 most anti-science website on the internet.  THAT takes some doing.

If your answer to all of this is, “Well, they’re in on it!  They’re part of the conspiracy!”  Then you’re likely too far gone (and, I suspect REALLY not used to having someone disagree with you).  I’m not afraid to be proven wrong.  I welcome it.  But if your answer to everything is more of the same bullshit, you’re just not a critical thinking.  You’re actually prey.

Just Google the picture of Joesph Mercola’s mansion.  Yeah, but the doctors who are still in debt from Med school are all in this for the money.

Blossoming Tension

I love the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler.  It’s easily one of my favorite races.  Over the years, it’s served as a gauge for my health.  I last ran it in 2009, as I was in nearly year-long training for running the Goofy Challenge (or the Dopey Challenge) at Disney. In 2009, I ran it in about 86 minutes + change, or about an 8:40 pace.  I went on to narrowly miss breaking a 4-hour marathon in Richmond, which I took comfort in, thinking, “Hey, I ran in the after-winds of a hurricane, and I just did Dopey.  I’ll be back!”

Nope.

In 2010, I flirted with Tri training.  I forgot, however, a few points:

1.  I only owned a 15-year-old mountain bike
2.  I wasn’t much for biking fast, because I was sure I’d fall off a cliff (even if in the Sahara — I had an Italian mother growing up)
3.  I really wasn’t the best swimmer.

Off to do tris!

So, while BARELY training in two new sports, I was losing tons of running mileage, and also experiencing nagging knee pain.  I’d try to make up for lost running time by CRANKING when I ran, which aggravated the knee more.

Fast-forward to Halloween 2010, and I ran the MCM on one working knee, because I’d already signed up for the race, and the MCM Mock turtlenecks were black that year. 

Yes, I’m an idiot.

Anyway, January 2011 comes along, and by this point, I can’t walk without a limp.

Goodbye, 2011.  Hello, nothing but physical therapy.  Oh, and hello EATING EVERYTHING BECAUSE FEELINGS.  And, as a public service, when you hit 40, your metabolism really does slow down.  A lot.  So recoving from (this is true) visits to “Steak and Shake’s Happy Hour” (they really do have one) set me WAY back.  You can’t just run 40 miles one week and be back in shape again.

I’ve spent much of 2012 easing into running again, and doing some biking on a used tri-bike I bought.  I promised myself I’d hold off on racing until the Cherry Blossom, when I would have almost a full year of gently-amped-up running under my belt. Things were going well.  I’d lost almost all the weight I’d gained from 2011, and was almost liking myself again.

Returning from Maui, I found myself running faster.  I was actually thinking I could finish Cherry Blossom faster than my 2009 PR, which was particularly important.  Why?

The McMillan Pace Calculator suggested I should have run 2009 Richmond in about 4:01 or so.  If I could put myself in a position to finish the 2012 Cherry Blossom just a TEENSY bit faster than my old PR, the calculator was predicting a sub-4 finish.

Now, I realize it’s not an oracle.  Not by any means.  But, it tells me that, after losing the person I was for almost two years, I might be back.

Which brings me to now.

I have something — I don’t know what — going on in my left ankle.  Pain.  Kinda behind the ankle, so almost classic Achilles tendonitis.  Having learned from past mistakes, I’ve rested it this week.  But I feel the weight creeping back.  Still making better health choices, but also it’s not healing fast at all.  Which is making me plenty tense.  I can FEEL my cardio-fitness level falling.

I’m so close.  And now here’s the classic runner’s, “two steps forward, one step back” thing.

Pardon me while I wallow.  And ice.  But I will NOT eat my feelings.  Because THAT kind of blossoming would NOT be good for me.  Not anymore.

Nothing tastes as good as a PR feels . . .

. . . I just hope I get to find that out in three weeks.

Why I race, and do not just run

Recently on Twitter, Cedric lamented someone asking him, “Why do you have to do races, why not just run?”  If I recall correctly, he wasn’t quite sure of how to answer that.  When I saw it, I knew I immediately had to write something.  Fortunately, a long journey home from Maui has allowed me to do just that (check my Twitter feed for lovely sunset/rainbow pictures).

Why do runners do races, and not just run?  For me, the answers are almost equally valid, and all equal parts.

1.  Races test you better than some, if not all, training runs.

A lot of training runs are not at your race distance.  Marathons, for example.  You’ll infrequently run 26.2 miles unless you HAVE to do so. Sure, you COULD, but you won’t run as fast, because, as is well-documented, without sufficient support and nutrition, human bodies typically exhaust all stored glycogen after 20 miles (the usual max distance for marathon training runs).

Also, even if you’re training for a 10-mile race, why not just run 10 miles?  Actually, many people DO run 10 miles in training for a race.  So it’s not an either/or proposition.  So answer #1 is, “I do run the same distance as some races.  I don’t consider that I have to choose between them.  I do both.”

2.  Race support will always top a fuel belt of water, and some Gu packets.

At races, you have tables of volunteers passing you cups of water, Gatorade, Powerade, and even beer (sometimes).  You have bands playing music, celebrating your very public attempt to complete a distance that some people wouldn’t even consider.

Running on your own requires you to pack all that stuff onto your waist/back.  You still have to CARRY the bottles, even after you’ve had their contents.  You need to find trash cans after you’ve taken nutrition.

In a race, you actually GET to throw them to the ground (although, surprise, I’m type-A enough that I wait until the end of the volunteer lane and throw my stuff in the trash cans). You also get much more support than you would from a training run:  food waiting at the finish, medical attention right there if you need it, and sometimes even a UPS truck with your extra clothing waiting for you, which they’ve checked/stored for you while you raced.

So answer #2 is, you typically get phenomenally better run support at races than you ever would at a training session.  Pampering, almost.

3.  You will typically race faster than you will ever train.

Sure, we all do “Tempo” paces.  We run hard at intervals.  We also might even pick a bike/runner ahead of us, and think, “I’m going to keep at it until I catch/pass that one ahead of me.”  But, in the back of your mind, you know that you don’t really HAVE to do that.  Because it’s NOT a race. That person ahead of you could have just gotten on the trail, or might be finishing up a huge session.  There’s no real meaning to cranking up your pace.

But, in a race, it is Showtime.  Dress rehearsal and Table Reads are over (thinking of you, the Galadriel-eque Pia Glenn).  Every second literally counts.  You have a chip on your shoe/bib that’s tied to a clock, which will result in a public statement that, “It took [this person] X time to complete Y distance.”  Like it or not, for most people, this will be the fastest you will ever go compared to training runs.  You’ll push.  You’ll grind.  You’ll (try to) ignore pains.  Because regret will last longer than pain will.  And you WON’T have strollers, kids, cars, or whatever stepping in front of you.  The paths will be clear.

Answer #3 boils down to, “Racing prompts me to go my fastest possible, and ensures a clear, safe path, without interference.”

4.  Racing presents an opportunity to gauge yourself against others.

You might chat with people at a water cooler.  If you’re into “LogMyRun,” or “RunKeeper,” or any of the social running stuff that I see people post, that’s fine, and you can see how others are doing.  But, it’s not as accurate.  Because you’re reading about people of different sexes.  Different ages.  Different distances.  

A race will not only give you an overall finish time/pace, but it will also tell you how you fared in comparison to people of your sex and age group.  To what end?  Probably, nothing.  But if you’re genuinely curious, it will answer that question.  The good news is that except for a small handful of people, the front-of-the-pack runners get the same swag as those who just make it under the time deadline.

So it’s almost minor, but answer #4 is, “It allows me to gauge my performance compared to others.” 

5.  Races provide motivation for training.

You circle a date on your calendar.  The race looms.  You have told people you’re going to try to race it.  They’re going to ask you if you did it.  Why do people take on workout partners?  Motivation.  Why do we do races?  There you go.

Answer #5 is, “It’s an ominous/exciting motivator.  Plus, you know, I coughed up money for the thing, so I’m damn well doing it.  You can’t wear the race t-shirt until you finish the race.”

Note:  If someone goes to a nice restaurant, we don’t ask them, “Why did you go to that steakhouse?  You could just grill a steak, couldn’t you?”  Seems silly that we are asked these questions about racing.

6.  Races are akin to a public demonstration of healthiness.

We have protests for everything nowadays.  Protests to DO something.  Protests to STOP doing something.  Protests of things that hardly seem worth getting worked up over.  But a race is, to a curious degree, another demonstration.  

It’s an opportunity for people who are into fitness and health to say, “We are tacking this distance.  It’s a long way for a lot of us.  Some of us aren’t sure if we can even DO it, but we’re going to try.  Because we want to be healthy, and we don’t care who knows it.”

And it really is, isn’t it?  Some people collect shot glasses.  Others collect beer growlers.  Others collect SUPER VINTAGE ACTION FIGURES, OMG THEY ARE –NOT– DOLLS, MOM!  

Sorry.

Anyway.

My office has it’s own “ego wall.”  A couple of college degrees.  A law school diploma.  A bar license.  Even a personally handwritten letter from Janet Reno I’d received shortly after taking my Dept. job, discussing a law review article I’d written.  But it also has race swag.

[u]Prominent[/u] race swag.  For instance, it has side-by-side medals of the first two Marine Corps Marathons I’d ever run.  The ones where I’d barely trained beyond 8-12 miles at a clip, and then ran them faster than many people who DO train for them.  They were my first, and are some of my fondest.  I also have a substantial shadow box with memorabilia from running The Dopey Challenge (sometimes called “The Goofy Challenge” at Disney World).

What are those things?  Public affirmations that I put my money where my mouth is.  They aren’t just banners of sports teams I like, or signed jerseys.  They are things that say, “I am into this running thing, and sometimes even Triathlons.  I’m trying.  I’m not the best, because none of these are “1st place” medals, but they damn well show I finished.  And they show I put in the time/effort to TRAIN for doing these things in the first place.  In a pool.  On a bike.  On a running trail.  Or all 3.

So no, answer #6 is, “No, I don’t win any of these races, but I do finish them.  And I’m proud to show that I can DO these events.  How many mementos of finishing races do you have?  Are you able to do those things?  (Possible answers: “Sorry you’re unable,” or “So you just choose not to because watching tv is more fun?”).

This isn’t to rub someone’s nose in it.  It’s to say, “No, I don’t win these races.  But I’ll always place ahead of someone on a couch.”

That is, until they give medals for eating Doritos.

Thanks for the blog idea, Cedric.  Just send them here if they ask you again!

Deleting Twitter Replies, Part Two (includes dirty little secret)

One of my more popular posts involves “Why I delete my @ replies on Twitter” and still stands as my Twitter philosophy about keeping a clean TL.
It’s also done by social commentators (Ricky Gervais, for one), and plenty of Twitter comics, both successful ones and burgeoning ones.  But, as I pointed out before, you also see us rank-and-file Tweeps doing it too.  Our TLs are just rants, jokes, blog posts and RTs.  We are clearly in the minority, however.
Anyway, all of this is to say:
So the fuck what?
Really, what does anyone care how –I– use a –free– Social Media portal?  I recently had two examples (good and bad) of people’s reaction to this, which prompted this update.

But note at the end of the update, I will share a Dirty Little Secret(tm) of Twitter, so stay tuned!

1.  A twitter user, Kristy, noted that my replies to her disappeared after a day or so.  I linked my original blog post to her, as well as noting my About.me blurb, and she was fine.  I mentioned to her that I didn’t want to offend, and she just said, “Hey, use Twitter however you want.”  How enlightened!
2.  A different twitter user, “Mr. X,” complained.  I again linked to my system, and he disagreed, saying that Twitter might as well drop the “Social” from “Social Media.”  That might be true if my tweets were private, and I had zero followers.  Then it’s hardly social.  
But his flaw is that HE is defining what makes something “social.”  What if I don’t tweet that often?  Am I using Twitter “correctly” for him then?  What about Foursquare, GetGlue, or even automatic RunKeeper posts.  If someone does those (and ONLY those), I’ll unfollow, but I would never begrudge someone’s decision to DO the tweets. That’s because it’s THEIR account.  They’re communicating publicly (eek!  SOCIALLY!) how the WANT to communicate.
Twitter is, for me, a micro-blog.  A way to get stuff off my chest, whether it’s an attempt to be funny, to rant, or to just have a mini-say without turning it into a full-blown blog post.  Replies are, at their heart, a personal conversation that I don’t mind being overheard.  But they’re not someone’s RIGHT to have left up there.
If how I use social media bothers you, please unfollow.  Life’s too short.  But if you think I’m going to adjust how I use this free communication service to fit your view of how things should be communicated, you’re really overthinking this whole thing.  I’m having fun, what do you care if I am?
P.S.  I realize there is the notion of this affecting things like “Klout” scores.  To that, I say:  I’m sorry your parents didn’t love you. 
Ok, here’s the Dirty Little Secret I promised:
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V
People “Mute” on Twitter.
That’s it.  People MUTE some that they follow.  I don’t.  Hell, I don’t even use a Tweet app like TweetDeck, TweetCaster, or whatever.  I just use the native Twitter app.  I follow as many people as I can keep up with, just under 250.  Update:  I’ve downloaded TweetBot, so I can mute hashtag games, Foursquare, GetGlue, etc.
I see you out there, people who follow 800, 900, or even well over 1K tweeps.  You’re muting.  Because you can’t realistically follow that many people.  I laugh at the bots and/or “Social Media Experts” who follow me, and are following 5K, 8K, or (in one case) 26K (!!) people. Yeah, you’re interested in me.  Like I’m interested in each grain of sand on this Maui beach.
So if you’re going to go nuts over people tweeting chaff, or not tweeting at all (reading instead), why not go nuts over the people who, you know, AREN’T ACTUALLY FOLLOWING YOU WHEN THEY CLAIM TO BE?
I don’t care.  I actually FOLLOW the people/entities I’m following.  If I’m following, I’m interested.  When I lose interest, or if the person just tweets chaff, I’ll bail.  If I think that a person has me muted, and/or is only reading their own mentions, I’ll bail.

But here’s what I won’t do:  Go on Twitter and demand that they change how THEY use the service.  Because, whether my parents ever loved me or not, I have a life outside of The Internet.  And it’s spectacular.

My review of the Zombies, Run! app — good for casual runners, but NOT for avid runners

Zombies, Run! is an app for iPhone and Droids, and is essentially a game you can play while running.

If you’re already familiar with The Walking Dead, you know about the whole (modern era) Zombie Craze (World War Z seems to have spurred the whole thing).  I’m just “Meh” on zombies.  They seem like the Pabst Blue Ribbon of monsters — overrated, and favored by hipsters.  But, I do think The Walking Dead is a good show.  So, when this app, which retails for about $8, was on sale for about $4, I took a shot with it.

The app/game itself is a serial story, combined with an app for tracking your running speed/distance, and rewarding you for doing so, by giving you useful (virtual) items for your home “town” (outpost, really).  The more you run, the more stuff you are told that you have collected, and the more your town grows.  Then, as the missions get tougher, the better equipped you are to build up your town.

Along the way, however, you will receive notification of “WARNING:  ZOMBIES DETECTED” and you will be prompted to increase speed (or else the zombies will take your items, they never do bite you).  The app is designed that you can (1) turn OFF the chases if that freaks you out too much, or (2) if you walk only, the chases won’t start (there are minimum/maximum speeds for Zombie chases).

You can run your own music through the app, via your iPhone, for instance, and it will shuffle songs for you.  The storyline works itself in, pretty much in between each song.

So far, so good.  It’s fairly straightforward, and will remind you of the MP3 training programs that mix in a coach working you through interval training.  I know that years ago, Chris Carmichael did some interval training/coaching via MP3s (where he interviewed *cough*LanceArmstrong*cough*).

The trick with the zombie chases is that you’re supposed to REALLY speed up for about a minute.  BUT, if you’re already running fast, you will NOT attain the necessary speed to evade the zombies, and will thus lose the items you’ve dutifully collected while running.  For instance, if you’re running at an 8:30 min/mile pace, you need to crank all the way up to 6:00 min/mile, possibly faster at times, to evade.  If you run about a 10-11 min/mile, you can go up to 8:10-8:15 min/mile, and will evade them.

Now I’m all for “race pace equality.”  If you’re out there running, I don’t care if it’s 10 min/mile, all the way up to 13-14 min/mile, YOU ARE A RUNNER.  Pace is irrelevant.

BUT — bear in mind – if you’re running 6:00 min/mile, you’re going to look, unless you’re wearing Kenyan/Ethiopian garb, like you’re in a full-out, blazing pursuit (or fleeing zombies).  The PROBLEM with that is, let’s face it, you’re not actually doing that.  Ethiopians, Kenyans, and those people who weigh as much as the club sandwich I had for today’s lunch can go that fast with seemingly no effort.  Not “us.”

WE are likely on a running trail, with bikers, walkers, children on little bikes, and even dogs on leashes.  You do NOT want to crash into them and say,

“Sorry, I was pretending to run from zombies, and this app requires me to go WAY faster than I ever should in order to do that, but I didn’t want to lose this set of batteries.  What set of batteries?  Oh, they’re pretend too.  Why are you laughing?”

Or, we are (even worse) on a sidewalk, with cars, pedestrians, and hipsters with dry cleaning.  As much fun as it might be to plow into them, that’s again not practicable.

I can tell you that from my perspective, as a 181lb guy running on the National Mall, I turned a LOT of heads, not in a good way, as I was cranking in the 6:00 min/mile range trying to escape a zombie (and WTF failing?!).  The problem was that I had increased my speed earlier in the run to around 8:20 min/mile, and so the app thought I could/should go even faster.  But I already looked like I wasn’t training/running, so much as trying to catch a bus (or evade a mugger).  Or, you know, being over 180lbs, trying to get to a McDonald’s before they stopped serving breakfast.

So, what the app does is essentially require you to run slower during the “normal” times in order to keep your “chase pace” manageable.  Otherwise, you’ll just lose all your stuff.  Serious runners doing Tempo work, Strideouts, or even an LSR won’t find themselves in sync with this app.  It’s a lovely fitness idea for casual runners, who might be just trotting alone, finding their stride.  But, if you are ALREADY cranking out at a fast clip (I mean, a 9:09 min/mile pace will get you a sub-4 hour marathon, something only like 33% of marathon runners can even complete), the app requires you to (almost) double down, and crank up to extremely fast speeds.  That’s not only not realistic, you’ll quickly start to SLOW yourself down for the bulk of your time, as you try and “trick” the app into thinking you are a slower runner, just to have room to crank up when the app wants you to run faster.

The app appears far more aimed at casual runners shambling their way off a couch, than runners with full-on training plans.  If you’re looking for a way to shake up your training plan, this isn’t it.

At least it only cost me 3 bucks instead of the $8 they normally charge.

P.S.  One thing — here’s how to “cheat” at “Zombies, Run!” if you’re so inclined to do it.  It’s not MUCH of a cheat, but it’s a decent strategy.  First of all, let’s assume you’re able to run better than 10 minute miles  There IS a “minimum speed” you have to reach before the app will either give you reward items OR zombie chases, and that, in my testing, appeared to be 13:00 min/mile or better.  It could possibly be lower than that, but I went from 17-18 min/mile (walking) with nothing, to an attempted slow trot of 13:00.

(1) Anyway, you need to ignore what’s being said to you by the characters.  They’ll comment on your pace, exhort you to run like hell, and even say things like, “GO NOW!”

(2) Don’t go.  If anything, slow up a bit, and listen.  You want to wait for a little series of beeps.  Once that’s on, the Zombies are “chasing” you, and that’s when the app will task you to go faster, and what the app ususally does is “sample” your speed, then calculate how much faster you need to go.  THAT is when you want to kick it up to a much faster sprint (be safe, of course).  Hold that for about one minute, and you should be all fine.

What you need to be aware of is that if you were running at 8:30-8:45/mile/min, you’re almost certainly going to get “caught,” unless you can really get down to the 6 minute mile range.  That might be do-able on a track (it is for me), but who wants to go to a track just to play this game?

I think the bottom line for this app is, “The newer to running you are, the better.”  But after a while, you’ll want to run, not just run when some pretend guy tells you to, just because there are some pretend zombies trying to get your pretend goodies.

2010 Disney Goofy Challenge (aka Dopey Challenge) Race Report

Subject: My 2010 Dopey Challenge Race Report or, My 2010 Goofy Challenge Race Report, plus a 5K race the day before, because I’m an idiot.

Race Report of the Disney 2010 “Dopey challenge,” also known as the “Goofy Challenge.”  

. . . or, how I managed to enjoy a marathon for once. Despite getting snowed on. In Florida. Did I mention the snow? In Florida?


On to the report. Keep an eye out for “Tai’s Disney Race Tips(tm)” so you’ll have an upper leg on anyone (else) stupid enough to run 42.4 miles over a weekend!


If you didn’t know already, the Disney World Marathon weekend is made up of three races:

A 5K Friday, a Half-Marathon Saturday, and a Full Marathon Sunday.  If you run the Half and Full on Sat/Sun, you earn an extra medal for completing “The Goofy Challenge.”  

If you run ALL the races (so the 5K as well), you have done the UNsanctioned-by-Disney, “Dopey Challenge,” or as it is sometimes known, “The Dumbo.”

Anyway.
 

So the flight to Disney departed on a Thursday.  I had a slight bit of concern over reportedly super-cold temperatures in Florida, but didn’t give it much thought (NOTE THE FORESHADOWING HOLY CRAP ALREADY I’M LIKE HEMINGWAY).
 

The flight didn’t land in Orlando until a little after 5:30pm.  This was a little later than I’d hoped for, but, Disney has this service you can sign up for, wherein Disney will (this is true) pick up your luggage from baggage claim, and deliver it to your ROOM, using “Disney’s Magical Express.”  When you use this service from Disney (slogan:  “Buy More Stuff!”) you never see your luggage, it just gets delivered from the airport to your room, while you are on a separate shuttle bus to your hotel.
 

This leads us to Tai’s Disney Race Tip #1:

—The “Magical Express” is neither.

First, it’s a big ol’ bus, as in, one of those “Grey Line” giant types, but with way less retirees, and way more children (although, if you think about it, the percentage of people who crap themselves remains the same).

It also has a video player and many monitors. So, they naturally run videos, right? I bet you think they run a continuous video of . . . Disney movies? Nope! Disney TV shows? Nope! Try: An INFOmercial about how smart you were to choose Disney’s Magical Express, telling you crap you already know (such as, “Hey, you know how you’re on board this bus with no luggage? What? You left it at the airport? Ha! ha! You cretin! It’s about to be eaten by US Customs Guard Dogs! Ha! ha! No, just kidding, we’re delivering it to your room! What? You KNEW that? Well, we’re going to tell you that same thing 37 more times in this 5 minute loop, just in case!”


That’s the video.  Verbatim, because I got to watch it for almost an hour.

This is because, even though they grouped us by hotel, and even though we got on the “Magical EXPRESS to The Contemporary Hotel,” we still had to travel to 2 other hotels first. Total trip time on the bus? 42 minutes.  Maybe in a world where you wait 2 hours to ride Space Mountain, 42 minutes constitues “Express.”
We arrived at “The Contemporary,” which is one of the original Disney hotels, and I think was the first one that had a Monorail sailing right into the building. In particular, in this one, the Monorail sails over the heads of folks in the (many) in-hotel restaurants.


 

Which brings us to Tai’s Disney Race Tip #2:

—If you’re going to Disney to run these races, cough up the extra dough, and stay in a hotel with a MON-O! (Wow, I just came up with a great jingle, I’m just like Don Draper, except for the good looks, smoking, and no women throwing themselves at me). The Monorail in the hotel is a MUST if you’re running these races (or if you have a small child who takes afternoon naps). I’ll get to the reasons why the monorail is important when we get to the races (no, really, we’ll get to them!).


So the hotel room was nice, except for . . . no bags. But really, it otherwise had all the comforts of home (except for those comforts packed and put into bags, which, were probably still on the airport luggage carosel, being targeted by the aforementioned US Customs Guard Dogs for wee-wee’ing).

 

When the bags DID arrive, it was far too late to head to packet pickup, and time for bed.  The races are ALL at insanely early start times. 

Friday was the first race day. The 5K. Let’s get to it:

While I’d missed check-in/package pickup for the 5K on Thursday, unlike any of the other Disney races that weekend, they DO allow you to do late pickup of your stuff for the 5K. 

This leads us to Tai’s Disney Race Tip #3:


—PICK UP YOUR 5K STUFF LATE! There is NO line on Friday morning. There are ONLY happy volunteers. Way too happy for being awake in Florida at the crack of dawn in sub-freezing weather. Yes, you’ll miss out on the Expo, but you can get that crapola on Friday or Saturday.

Onto the race:

Friday (day of the 5K) Wake up time: 5:00am

Temperature at wake up: 31 degrees F. Temperature at race start: 35 degrees F.

So I woke up from a dead-to-the-world sleep, checked the temps, and realized I was only really prepared for ONE day’s worth of cold weather (out of the three races), because (FORESHADOWING PAYOFF) I hadn’t really checked the weather that carefully.  I mean, how cold could it get in FLORIDA?  So, I made the executive decision that, this only being a 5K and all that rot, that I would NOT throw away the extra sweatshirt I’d packed (normally, you wear some throwaway clothes on a cold-morning race start, and they donate the clothes to the homeless). In this case, the homeless would have to wait a couple of days.

So I went sprinting out of my hotel towards the bus that was to take me to the race (no monorail for the 5K). With luck, there were THREE buses out front! Woo-hoo! I went running up, so I wouldn’t miss the first one, when a driver said to me, “Sir, are you wanting to to go the race?” Um, well, yes, I explained. “Ok,” he said. “I’ll take you.”


Huh?

I got on the bus, and this is what I saw (actual photo):

 

 

Oh. 

So apparently I could have slept in a bit later? Either the runners got their packets on Thursday, or I would have a chance at a top-10 finish! (Assuming a race field of 8 runners)

We (meaning, the driver and me) headed off to the race, not before stopping at a couple more hotels. At this point, I’d like to describe the 2 primary groups of 5K racers I
encountered, who DID get on the bus:

1. Hard core “Dopey” racers, doing the 5K just to have done every race, and
 

2. People dressed in costumes that were complex enough to pass not only Disney characters, but for ANIMATED Disney characters.

Sure, I was running Dopey, but I’m hardly a hardcore runner.  I barely trained for my first two marathons, just missed sub-4 hours at Richmond, and was basically doing Dopey on a lark.  This meant I fit into neither group, and we’ll get to why this is an important distinction in a second. Suffice it to say that you had folks who REALLY got into the fact that they were at DisneyWorld, and have clearly consumed the yummy Disney Kool-Aid, complete with accessories.


The Disney 5K races of Marathon Weekend are always themed around a Disney movie, usually one about to be released on DVD.  One year was the Lion King re-release, I am sick about missing the one around time time of “Cars.”  The movie for my year, was “Up,” which I hadn’t seen at the time.



There’s not a lot to do pre-race, except you COULD stand in line to meet the fat kid from Up, and the Ed Asner-voiced Old Man as well:



 

I passed. The line was HUGE. Plus, if anything, I wanted to meet the Doggie, and I didn’t see HIM. Humph. So after I got my stuff, I went to the race start, which was about as populated as my shuttle bus:

There’s not a huge line of people near the front of the start, and this is seriously the closest I’ve –EVER– been to a start line prior to a race. The corrals were set up like this:


7 minutes and faster per mile,

7-9 minutes per mile,

10-12 minutes per mile,

12-14 minutes per mile, over 14 per mile + walkers.


For a 5K race, I’ll run about 8:20-8:30 per mile, but I knew I was supposed to hold back since I, you know, still had 39.3 miles more to go AFTER this race. The trouble was, this is how many people were in front of me not long before the race start (different picture):



 

Uh oh.

Then, fortunately, a smattering of folks started to file in around me. We’ll call these, “The Uber Runners of Doom Who Fear Nothing(tm)” This bring us to  

Tai’s Disney Race Tip #4:

—Wear some kind of clothing that exhibits that you are, in fact, capable of running a race. 

However, make sure the clothing is from a HARD race. As in, “I ran to the Moon and back, and all I got was this t-shirt. But at least it wicks.” If you don’t have clothing from a SERIOUS race, then for the 5K, seriously just wear something nondescript, and be ready to be looked down upon.

 

Remember, I’d gotten there REALLY early. And I was wearing shorts. But they were Marine Corps Marathon shorts, and I had a Parks Half Marathon hat on. So, as I stood there within sight of the starting line, as runners started to file in around me, I noticed they were wearing stuff like “JFK 50 Miler,” clothing. Some sort of Texas “50 mile + 50K” jacket, and there were LOTS of references around me to “Badwater.” (Note for nonrunners — this is the race out in the USA Western desert, where the runners have to cover 100+ miles, but they run on the white stripes of the highway, because otherwise — this is true — THEIR SHOES MELT). 

It takes a lot to make someone who has run a FEW marathons feel inadequate — WHILE WAITING TO DO A 5K.


Anyway, I’m standing there, and people start asking each other about their shirts/hats/commemorative satellite dishes. All of this is to show each other that that they had previously run races on broken glass, while punching themselves in the groin, covering distances comparable to those travelled by Magellan. One of them took a shine to me, and wanted to engage in showing me how Awesome he was, while we stood there, shivering, waiting for the 5K start:


Uber runner: “So.  Where’s the Parks Half Marathon?”

Me: “Oh, it’s in Maryland. A nice little course. Fast. Not too hilly at all.” 

Uber runner: “Aw, hills are good for you. Makes running worth it.”

Me: “Hills make me want to shoot myself.”

Uber runner: (thinking I’m kidding) “Ha! Ha! Right! Yeah, the higher the better!” 

Me: (attempts to figure out way to feign heat stroke in 30 degree weather)

Uber runner: “So, what, are you signed up for the half tomorrow as well or something?” 

Me: “I’m doing the Dopey.”

Uber runner: (Pause, not quite believing me) “Oh. Planning on any ultras this season?”

Me:  “Hey! Are they serving Michelob Ultra at the finish line this early? You bet! Ha! Ha! Um . . . ha?” 

Uber runner: (politely nods at me like a first grader has just told him a knock-knock joke)

He then proceeded to take off, and then put back on, his “I ran 50 miles for the fun of it” race jacket with about as much subtlety as Paris Hilton exiting a limo (simulated photo):

Anyway, I looked around the growing tight pack of runners in the corral I was in, NONE of whom were inching up to the “fastest” corral in front of us, and tried to decide how I was going to explain to people that I decided AGAINST the 5K portion of Dopey, for the sole basis that I didn’t want to be a member of the Uber Runners Club anymore. 

People were STILL talking about their ultra races. Who even KNEW there were so many water stops on the way to Pluto?!

At one point, I said something like, “I dunno, I might make this my last marathon, and give triathlons a go.”

You could seriously have heard a pin drop. My “buddy” uber runner sneered. I distinctly heard, from elsewhere, a chortle.

 “Bah,” said Uber McRunRun. “Too much bike maintenance. Even on the swim, your goggles can fog up. With running you just go.” He DID have a point about bike maintenance, but don’t you need to know other technical running stuff if you’re, you know, going to run up Mount Everest naked?

Through all of the front-of-the-pack posturing, the folks in the back of the pack are whooping it up like crazy. I kept hearing laughs, cheers, even CHANTS (seriously? What do you chant in 33 degree weather? “LET’S SET FIRE TO THE PEOPLE IN THE FRONT!” is my guess). 

Anyway, those folks were in more complex costumes than a week’s worth of Lady GaGa at an awards show, they’re singing . . . and they’re laughing at the hosts up on the stage making jokes . . . about us in the front.


Hosts: “Hey — who here is running ALL the races this weekend?” We at the front cheer . . . only to be interrupted by the host saying —

Hosts: “What is WRONG with you people?!” (People in the back of the pack point and laugh)

(Uber runners sneer, then set themselves on fire so they can run fast and put out the flames)


Meanwhile, I’m continuously taking my sweatshirt on and off (it’s over my race number, on another shirt), but I can’t decide what to DO with it. Toss it now? What if it’s cold tomorrow and Sunday? I’ll need it! I can’t wear it during this 5K, because it will cover my race number, and I’ll get no pictures! I can’t put my number ON my sweatshirt, because then I’ll get frickin’ hot. Wait! I know . . . I’ll carry it. Like a dork. And decidedly not Uber. Because, I should point out, I counted FIVE Uber Runners with backpacks, as they didn’t even plan to go back to their hotels at 7:30ish in the morning — they’d just brought their stuff for the day, and were going to run the 5K with it on their backs. This included my “buddy” Uber Runner, who said, when I asked about his backpack, “Ah, it’s just a 5K, I want the extra weight to make this a challenge.” Because, you know, just running the 5K FAST isn’t a challenge enough, apparently.  As if hearing my thoughts, he said, “I plan to run after this race anyway.”

Barf.


Finally, at this point, we must pause. To acknowledge one of the folks from a little farther back in the pack, who was brought up on stage. He was in full costume, as the fat kid from “Up.” Meaning, he was a grown man dressed like a Boy Scout in shorts. Holding a little triangular pennant. He was introduced as the fat kid’s “little brother,” (I still don’t know the kid’s name in the movie) and I seriously thought they were doing schtick at first.

Hosts: “So . . . (fat kid)’s little brother – what’s your name?”

Larry: “Laaaaaaaarrrrryyyyyy.” (At this point he’s kind of turning his upper torso from side to side, slowly. It’s like he’s being almost . . . shy. Like a little boy. Somewhere, Michael Jackson is REALLY pissed about being dead, and Catholic priests are fighting to get a flight to Orlando.


Hosts:  “Are you here to earn a merit badge, Larry?”


Larry:  (giggles) “I have ah-very-one ahl-reeeeady” (giggles)

I put my sweatshirt back ON, because I had the chills, and not from the cold. This guy was just another racer. So I had a choice of sitting up front with gravel-eating braggards or with Grown Men In Boy Scout Uniforms. I didn’t have to decide which to choose, because before I knew it, the race was about to start, and the wheelchair races were given the initial get-go.


At that point, I realized several things:

1. There were, at most, about 15 people standing in front of me. For the ENTIRE race field.

2. I had (stupidly) put my sweatshirt back on, and fastened my Garmin OVER the wrist.

3. My shoes were untied (no, really, they were).



So, having spent time listening to Fasty McRunRun, I’d lost any opportunity to go through a mental checklist.  I couldn’t just rip off my sweatshirt. It was locked on because of the wrist-Garmin, looking like this, which I’ve reproduced here:



Just as I was realizing ALL of this, there’s a “GO!” followed by LOTS of fireworks. I went down faster than Lee Harvey Oswald doing that Final Perp Walk.

First, I started to furiously tie at my shoes, while Uber Runners around me launched themselves into low earth orbit. “GAAAAH!!!!!!,” they all shouted, propelling themselves over and past me, “WE ARE RUNNING AN UNTIMED 5K FUN RUN, AND WE WILL THRASH ANY WHO STAND IN OUR WAY! GAAAAH!!!!”

Suffice it to say, I was practically tying my shoes while sitting ON the metal fence to my left to keep from getting jostled. While down there, I saw some amazing race shirts/jackets/commemorative cinder blocks fly past me. So I tied my shoes, and then ripped my sweatshirt off, forgetting it’s position on the OUTSIDE of my sweatshirt sleeve, which yielded this result:

I was left with this long, tubular extension (of an entire sweatshirt) on my left hand.  I furiously grabbed at it, and practically CHEWED it off of my wrist, so I could get to my Garmin, and hit the “start” button as I crossed the start line. But by this point, I was in the thick of some of the costumed fun folks. Right THEN, I heard it:


“Hey, great job Larry! Keep it up!” “Thaaaaaaaaaaaaaanks! *giggle*” 

I took off at a dead sprint.

The 5K race itself is really wonderful. It’s only in Epcot, but it’s pre-opening, so you have the entire park to yourself, along with a couple of thousand(?) other runners. Running the “Nations of the World” was really fun, because for me, Epcot is about as far out of the U.S. as I like to travel.  Seriously, not that I’m super xenophobic, I just like my comforts of home.  For a while there, when all the stories of drug cartel killings were happening in Mexico, I couldn’t walk by a Chi-Chi’s without hyperventilating.

 

So, I ran, carrying my sweatshirt, and generally looking as dorky as I expected:



That’s my camera in my right hand, and the omnipresent sweatshirt in the right. Oh, and I’m wearing “will run for beer” gloves. Uber.

 

But . . . SMILING! Because I was definitely NOT an Uber Runner of Doom, but also because I had left Larry in the dust. I was actually moving along at a good clip, even for someone carrying a camera, and a sweatshirt.

  

Anyway, after losing a full minute at the Great Start Line Screwup of 2010(tm), I managed to run the thing in 25 minutes and change, which turned out to be my best time for any 5K. At least it would be, except this was an untimed (unreported) Fun Run — just don’t tell the Uber Runners that!  I gladly accepted my (rubber!) medal.



 

I headed back to the buses, getting my bags from Bag Check (a seriously very well-run system), and hopped on a bus. Again, there were pretty much only Uber-runners on the bus, as the costumed folks were still line-dancing their way to the finish line, loving every second of it. The runners on my bus talked to each other about the next day (while they tried to figure out if they could pull the bus with their teeth — you know, to make the whole Friday 5K experience a “challenge.”).


At this point, my Race Report will take a Short Dramatic Turn. All good stories are supposed to have low, serious points, right? Sure, this isn’t a good story, but it will have one anyway.

For this, I’m referring to Friday evening. The night before the Half. Easily my lowest point, and candidly, one of the all-too-often-times I’ve been gripped with dread.  I had blown WAY too much time on my feet that day, post-race.


This bring us to Tai’s Disney Race Tip #5:

–TAKE A NAP. REST. You are NOT there to conga-dance with Goofy, Mickey, Harpo, or any other person in a rubber mask (insert your own easy joke there). You HAVE to rest.

Because that’s the dirty secret of this weekend — you get a LOT taken out of you. The distances are only half the course (dramatic pause for THAT pearl, thankyouverymuch!). The punishment you inflict on yourself also comes from being on your feet too much while you’re there.  I mean, you’re at WDW:  You want to see sights, right?  BAD MOVE.


I hadn’t napped during the afternoon (HUGE MISTAKE), and after walking around the Magic Kingdom, I was tired.  But by then, when I still needed to get my Race Materials and Bracelets for the Half and the Full, I had my first inkling of fatigue, and of not really making this easy on me.  

This is the real difficulty of doing Dopey over Goofy — you lose an extra night’s sleep, and it’s an extra day of fatigue when the lack of sleep, and extra fatigue are the LAST things you want before you tack on another 39.3 miles over the 3.2 you’d just gotten up at the crack of dawn to run that day.

So I found myself at the Expo on Friday evening, when I still had to get up at 3:30am for the Half the next morning (that’s not a misprint — Disney demands that everyone be on a Bus/Monorail by 4am so as not to be late). The Expo was nice enough. When I got there, I noticed that Dick and Rick Hoyt were giving a talk:



 

But no time to sightsee. I had to get my crapola, and hustle back to the hotel to sleep.

The Half/Full measuring system at Disney is simple enough, but effective. They give you a Silver Bracelet, which you wear (even in the shower) until you finish the Half. If/When you do finish the Half, and you’re signed up for the Full, they cut the Silver one off, and give you a Blue Bracelet. When you comple the Full, you can prove you’ve run “Goofy” (remember, the 5K portion constituting Dopey isn’t sanctioned by Disney). Here’s the bracelets:



Anyway, I got my bracelets, got my race numbers for the Half, and the Full, and then realized it was nearly 5:30pm. Still no dinner. At least 45 minutes back to the hotel on another bus, and then bed. Ugh. So I went and hauled myself to the little cafe area, and sat down, alone, to east some pasta. This was easily my biggest moment of self-doubt. I was down, depressed, and plenty worried. I couldn’t even get a hold of my daughter to talk to her at all that day (she was out to dinner with her mom and her mom’s boyfriend, so no contact with for me).


I was bone tired, hungry, and generally knew that I didn’t come close to the fitness level of the Uber runners from that morning, all of whom would be doing the Half (and the Full) the next morning. I really had NO idea what was going to happen to me at the Full.  I mean, I knew I could do a Half with little challenge, but really didn’t know how my body would react the day AFTER that, as my total weekend mileage started to hit the 30s and beyond.

I actually sat there, at the table, and said out loud, “Maybe I bit off more than I can chew on this one.”  If you’ve ever seen me eat, isn’t an easy task.  I just didn’t know what was about to happen to me.

This gets us to Saturday morning. Dramatic turn over, just a little of the personal doldrums/angst, but not enough to derail me by this point. Especially getting up at . . .

3:30am for a race!

Saturday (day of the Half)

Wake up time: 3:30am

Temperature at wake up: 26 degrees F. 
Temperature at race start: 28 degrees F.

Remember — this is FLORIDA.


So I woke up, took a few minutes to come to, and when I finally pushed aside the curtains, I looked outside, and said to myself, “Wow. It’s raining really SLOWLY this morning.” That was when I realized – that’s not rain falling from the sky.


It was snow. 

In Florida. It was SNOWING in Florida. 

Have I mentioned it was snowing? In FLORIDA?


Anyway, as I added layer and layer to myself, I passed on bringing a camera, since the pictures –I– took were so dark at the 5K, and I didn’t want my camera frozen/waterlogged. Off I went. I hit the monorail by 4am, right like they asked, and it wasn’t a super long ride to the start, which is near Epcot. Folks were all in pretty good moods (including the ones around me who mentioned that they had gotten up at 2am (!!) in order to get to the starting line in time). 

Packs of people were huddled under large floodlights, which were scattered along the way to the starting line, shining down. They stood in the floodlights for WARMTH, like they were little Under-Armour-wearing bugs. 

This brings us to some good news:


The good news: The snow stopped by the starting time. 

The bad news: It had turned to sleet.

This bring us to Tai’s Disney Race Tip #6:


—Disney will SWEAR up and down that you have to be on a bus/monorail by 4am, for a 5:30-6:00 starting time (I was placed in one of the faster corrals for the Half/Full, so I was looking at pre-6am starting times). I understand why they do. They have to move a zillion people from hotels, parking lots, bus areas, and probably Jupiter, all to the starting lines. 

So they tell you that you have to get there EARLY. For the Half, I believed them. I was on the Monorail by 4am, zipping over to Epcot, with a bunch of all-too-tired Goofy and Half-only runners. I didn’t do bag check, since I was right nearby at the hotel, and just stood at the starting line. 

And I stood (and stood). And, let me make this clear:  Stood.  In Florida.  Where it was snowing/sleeting.

I was in place well before 5am, watching the snow slowly turn to sleet, wishing I was back in one of the floodlight pods of people.

 

Anyway, there I was, in the snow, er, sleet. In Florida. Where it was, to be sure, snowing. And sleeting. I tried to keep warm as best I could, but there’s not a whole lot you can do but stand there and shiver. Meanwhile, the poor saps who drove were STILL in traffic headed to parking lots (why the heck would you stay off-site for this event? Because you WANT to get up at 1am and then run a marathon?).


So all this is to say that if you stay on-site, particularly at a monorail-based hotel, you can likely earn yourself back some time in the hotel before you have to leave for the start line.  I suspect the worst case scenario is that you start farther back in a corral.



Thankfully, the Half started, and we shuffled along. I knew that the key for this race was to run ridiculously slower than I would normally run a Half. 

So I did something I’ve never done in a timed race before: Deliberate, planned walk breaks. 

These are perfectly acceptable things to do for runners, with one slight issue for the Half: It was sleeting (psst! In Florida!). So the longer the race took, the LONGER you’re out in the elements, exhausted from getting up ridiculously early. The course was nice enough, taking us from Epcot through the Magic Kingdom, with LOADS of crowds in the parks themselves.


Still, it was a difficult Half, not because of the distance, but moreso because of the lack of sleep, the weather, and the sheer need to SLOW THE (blank) DOWN. Which isn’t your instinct, when it’s frickin’ freezin out there. 

In all honesty — I absolutely NEVER got warm on my race. Normally, for cold weather races, you’d of course expect to shed your hat, gloves, and maybe even a layer as you run. But in this case, I never went fast enough to run, and just kept feeling cold. Meanwhile, you’re getting sleeted and rained on, and there were a few water stops where the water contained (this is true) frozen bits inside it. Even the “Gu” they handed out was hard, like jolly-rancher candy-hard, and wasn’t really consumable, unless you warmed it in your hands as you ran.


Let’s talk about the course itself — the course is quite NARROW at times, which makes it even funnier, when you’re running along from Epcot, about to enter the Magic Kingdom, and there’s an automated voice saying, “Warning: Course narrows in the Magic Kingdom.” Um, how much closer are we supposed to run together? Initially departing Epcot is marked by numerous instances where the road gets VERY wide, but then narrows down to a noticeably smaller degree, often a single lane of highway. There really weren’t many times during the Half that I found myself somewhat alone. The parts of the race in between the parks do expand out quite a bit, even to the point where you might find yourself running on a 3 or 4 lane road. 

There were marching bands, cheerleaders, and other entertainment (including a LOT of Disney characters, at least in the parks). You could stand in line to hand a volunteer your camera, or sometimes they’d have an ASI photographer there was well to take your picture. I passed on any posed shots, figuring the Half was going to take me long enough running it slowly, and I was FREEZING the whole way.

Day finally broke. I am SUPER excited I brought my sunglasses (so I could wear them on my head for 13 miles). I’m nearly finished at this point, because the course takes you back to Epcot for the finish.

 
This is me, not being happy about being in Florida.  Where it was snowing.


And finally at the end. Soaked. Cold. But glad it’s over, and in possession of my Donald Medal. Two races down!

 

Race completed: Half Marathon:

Finishing stats: 2:21; Top 34% overall finishers.

For the Dopey Challenge, or Goofy Challenge, as you hit the finish line, you’re herded to a “Goofy” tent, where your silver bracelet is cut off, and a blue one is immediately put on you. 

This signifies that you’re in the middle of the Goofy challenge, and that you’ve met the first goal. But I REALLY wanted to keep that silver bracelet. It meant a lot to me, because I’d been wearing it for half a day anyway, and I hoped to keep it for the shadow box I was making. The woman cut it off, looked at me and said, “Do you want to keep it?” I practically cried and kissed her. So I got my blue bracelet, and headed back out into the sleet.

This brings us to “The Bus Ride Home of Doom”(tm).

You might have noticed my lovely gloves. They read, “Will run for beer.” I heart them. At least, I did. So I finished the Half, got my medal, and basically just tried to get out of the wind, the sleet, and the freezing rain. Yes, it literally “pre-cip’d” all over me for the entire 2 and a half hours. I was SOAKED. I was COLD. And I was in absolutely NO mood to stand around shaking hands with Chip, Dale, Zeppo, or whatever idiot in a rubber suit was calling himself. Because THOSE guys were WARM. So I skulked my way along the finishing grounds to the shuttle buses back to the various hotels. When I finally found the bus destined for my hotel, I watched it . . . drive off. More than half empty. 

So I stood in the (new) line for my (not-yet-there) bus, clutching my space blanket around me like I was Hester Prynne at a Witch Trial.


A bus finally showed up, and I climbed aboard, soaked cold to the bone with melting snow, sleet, and rain. I threw my gear in the chair to my left (leftover Gu, my “run for beer” gloves, and my bracelet), and tried to get warm on the bus.

With one problem — the air conditioning was on. As in, “the bus was blowing cold air.” So, at this point, I realized I was:


1. Going to die.

2. In Florida.

3. Of Hypothermia

4. While on land.

5. INSIDE A BUS.

I figured that a death like that is not typical for Floridians, so at least that was something. 

It was a race against the clock while the driver took the (maybe) 30 of us on this bus to our hotel. Except he got lost. A Disney driver got lost, at Disneyworld. Maybe the snow got in his eyes?


Regardless, he pulled up to a hotel (not mine), and announced that he was going back to the race finish, and that there was a monorail there for those of us who wanted to get to a hotel he hadn’t reached yet. So I leaped up and bolted for the door. Without the stuff on my left seat.  My cut, silver bracelet.  My gloves.



I made it all the way up to the monorail when I realized everything was driving away from me (all I had was my space blanket, and the medal around my neck). Ugh. However, because this IS Disney World, EVERYTHING (including my bracelet, which meant the most to me) was returned to my room later that afternoon.  Disney workers are magical, even if they’re not really adept at driving around their own theme parks.

I went to bed early again, and was still pretty worried, but figured that it couldn’t get much colder. It was Florida, right? How much worse could it get?

Sunday (day of the Full) Wake up time: 4:30am (lesson learned!)

Temperature at wake up: 24 degrees F.  (WTF?!)

Temperature at race start: 26 degrees F. (coldest start ever) 

Have I mentioned this was all in Florida?

A little wiser, I’d slept in this morning, then gotten up, put on what seemed like EVERY article of clothing I’d owned, and headed downstairs to the Monorail. 

I checked my medals (yes, I brought the 5K and Half Medals with me) at the bag check, and made for the starting line, which was alarmingly close to the front.


This bring us to Tai’s Disney Race Tip #7:


The Disney Races are typically a slow field. I say this because I was placed in “Corral C,” and the Corrals went up to, and past “Corral H.” I was WAY up front. This is actually a good thing, because the Disney races include a lot of newbie runners, who will really run along cluelessly, 3- and 4-abreast. While wearing costumes so elaborate they might contain Walt Disney’s DNA.


Anyway, pre-6am, the elites, followed WAY too quickly by my wave, got the gun, and off we went:
 

 

I then added the sweatshirt that had served me so well for 2 races to the pile donated to the homeless, here at the start of the 3rd race:



 

I waved to “The Big 4” as I hit the starting mat. 16+ miles down, another 26 to go, and this year-long planned event would be over:





There isn’t much to show by way of photos for the first portion of this race. It was really dark, and I was pretty quiet. I just wasn’t sure when the proverbial wheels were going to come off as I passed the 20 mile mark –for the weekend– at mile 4(!) of the marathon. But the crowds, including the cast at the Magic Kingdom, and “Main Street USA” were ridiculously supportive:



 

Above, you can see we are heading into Cinderella’s Castle. I was REALLY ticked that, after stopping for a photo in front of this place by the ASI photographers, it turns out it didn’t get recorded. Grrr. It wasn’t helping my stress level. Plus, I was seriously FREEZING. Hat stayed on, gloves, layer and layer. No rain/snow/sleet today, but bitter cold just didn’t warm me up, and I wasn’t about to test how much faster I could go with so many miles still to cover. But, finally, I started to sense that I was going to get through the day:



It was so cold that morning that I saw numerous people sliding at water stops, and unfortunately more than one person took a spill from the ice on the ground.  When I got back to my room, I found that I had Chocolate Gu FROZEN to my face.

Finally, I hit the halfway mark. Which meant that I’d hit the 30 mile mark for the weekend. After that, and after the sun was out in force, that I finally decided that I might actually finish this thing.

Anyway, by the time I passed the Halfway point, and was up in the 30s for mileage (and temps!), my mood picked up considerably, I tossed my hat, and I finally stopped more pictures.


This one is my favorite:



 

I also stopped for a less iconic-one, or at least less smoochy:
 

I hadn’t even SEEN “Up” at this point, but I was in love with EVERYONE by the last 5-6 miles of the race:

 

I had a great picture with Mike Wizowski, the green eyeball from “Monsters Inc.” but the volunteer dropped my camera, and it jammed for a few miles. But, regardless, 42.4 miles later, I crossed the finish line, slamming my feet on the mat, out of my mind happy:



 

It was the happiest I’d ever been, for what was EASILY my slowest marathon ever.

 

I’d never had so much fun running such a slow race in my life.

Race completed: Full Marathon

Finishing stats: 4:48; Top 38% overall finishers.

Overall Goofy Challenge Stats: Top 7+ hours total, top 36% overall finishers.

Overall Dopey Stats: Probably dead last, based on the idiots who were up at the front of that 5K with me. 

In fact, this bring us to Tai’s Disney Race Tip #8:

 

The course is NOT boring. Except for the parts where it is. Here’s what I mean by that. 

The course DOES take you through all 4 of Disney’s parks: 

(1) The Magic Kingdom, 
(2) Disney’s Animal Kingdom, 
(3) Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and 
(4) Epcot. 

But, there are significant stretches between each park where the road either narrows, and you run in a pack, or where you basically are just on a highway to the next theme park. Those CAN be boring at times. They do give some entertainment along the way. I came upon “The Florida Polka Society” at one point post-Animal Kingdom, and they did NOT take my suggestion for “Lady of Spain” very well — apparently, that’s music for accordion poseurs. 

I also came upon 2 “lost tourists,” who had maps, cameras, and ill-fitting shoes, asking all the runners for directions. I said to the lady, “You look just like my Aunt Nancy — except her mustache is darker,” to which she replied “Don’t you be funnier than me!” 

So Disney tries, they really do. I got a hearty salute from Capt. Jack Sparrow, when I called out to him (folks were in line to take pictures with him), and because your name is on your bib, people are constantly calling encouragement to you. All that’s great. You just have to be prepared for some VERY slow, boring stretches in between parks. And is a little quiet contemplation so bad when you’re on mile 35? Anyway, the chute between mile 42, and the finish line at mile 42.4 was marked by a choir singing and generally making sure that you were about to experience one of the most spiritually uplifting points of your life — finishing something you’d trained a year to do.


But, again, I was done. So it was time for copious picture taking and animal smooching and THIS is why you bring your 5K/Half Medals to bag check, which is NOT far from the finish line!  If you think ahead, THEN you get to have:

The next day, Monday, was time to walk around the Magic Kingdom.  It’s cultural at Disney that on the day after the races, you wear your medals.

42+ miles later, you bet your bee-hind I did!

I remain profoundly grateful for the support as I trained this past year, and was so happy to finish, even if I’m not uber.

It’s an incredible series of races, and one that makes you feel oh-so-proud of being oh-so-Dopey.

In fact, this bring us to Tai’s Disney Race Tip #9:

–Have fun. It’s the Happiest Place on Earth. You run for the love of it (at least, you better). 

–Have fun. It’s hard NOT to, even when you’re running deliberately slow and getting sleeted on.

Maybe I’ll try the challenge again another year. It can’t snow on me twice, right? 

RIGHT?!

Thanks for reading this nonsense,

Wub,

Tai

Chick-Fil-A is not horrible. Well, not horrible enough to legislate against.

Disclaimer before you assume I’m Christian:  I am (by the popular view of the definition) Agnostic.  Basically, everything Neil DeGrasse Tyson says in this 3 minute video is pretty much how I feel:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CzSMC5rWvos

Anyway.

Obviously, people are, or should be aware of the firestorm that was caused when the President of Chick-Fil-A, Dan Cathy, said that his company had donated $$ towards causes that rallyed against same-sex marriage.  He did so based on his (kinda silly) religious beliefs, but fine.

In an earlier post,  I laid out why (1) I support same sex marriage, but (2) would rather all governments just recognize civil unions, regardless of sex, to avoid equal protection problems.

So.  Let me get this “straight” (ha!):  Because I favor same-sex marriage, I should boycott Chick-Fil-A until THEY favor those marriages too, or at least until they shut up about not supporting them, right?

That’s so wrong.

I patronize many companies.  If I were to scrutinze each company’s social policies to match my particular viewpoint, I’d likely go hungry, not have as many cool gadgets as I like, and would almost certainly be pants-less.  And really, who wants to see THAT?  (Calm down, Marcus Bachmann)

Seriously, though — Nike?  Almost ANY clothing manufacturer?  Apple?  How about the recognition that MOST corporate CEOs are super conservative themselves, and no doubt direct the money they earn from their jobs to conservative causes?  How about toys for your kids?  Are any NOT made in China, a repressive regime that routinely works to undermine this country while owning us at the same time?  Do we have to boycott companies that use products made in China?  Do we have to boycott them all?  That’s wholly unrealistic, although it would delight me if a company promoted that their products were Made in the USA. 

By the way, at the place you buy GASOLINE(!?) do they also sell cigarettes?  How do you sleep at night, knowing you killing the environment/animals/air or whatever.  Is it fair for anyone to assume you HATE the environment because you buy gasoline (hell, or even tobacco?).  Or, just maybe, could it be a little much?

Anyway, this outrage over CFA is a little contrived:

First of all, who was genuinely surprised by CFA’s stance?  They’re closed on Sundays!  They make a point of saying why they are closed on Sundays (family, worship, apple pie, all that crapola).  Of COURSE the founders/leaders aren’t down with same-sex marriage!  You just figured that out because of the interview?

Next, the reaction by some political leaders to fall all over themselves telling CFA that they WON’T let them do business in their cities is outrageous.  Hey Rahm Emanuel, you have a drug/murder problem in your city, but you want to take a stance against a LAWFUL business?  A business that makes a point to serve anyone, without regard to their stance? 

I have friends who own guns.  Should I assume they support the NRA completely?  Should I assume they oppose ALL gun control?  What if they DID oppose all gun control?  I might think them mistaken, but the logical leaps I might choose to take over that single piece of info would be unwarranted, and decidedly unskeptical.  Gun ownership is LEGAL.  Someone choosing to buy a gun doesn’t make them supportive of all bad things OTHER gun owners say/do.  Why is it different with a chicken sandwich?

The forthcoming boycott/”let’s-all-go-eat-at-CFA” events (both happening on the same day, 1 August 2012) is just silliness a little much.  Eat there if you like the food, don’t if you don’t.  Or don’t if you don’t like how they spend their profits.  Eat there if you hate “teh gayz” and want to support them.  This is the United States, you have that right to act within the law.

The founder had the right to voice his opinion.  People have the right to boycott . . . but this business of trying to PREVENT business is nonsense.  THAT is what upsets me the most.

I don’t even eat at CFA that often, but if I were going to eat fast food, it’s the place I’d choose.  The chicken is tasty, the lower-calorie options are good, their restaurants are often SPOTLESS (can you say that about some of the shadier McD’s?), and their employees are straight out of a 50s comic book, although they are often of diverse backgrounds.

Which reminds me — are liberal groups going to target employees of CFA?  Why wouldn’t they?  Why wouldn’t we find store managers, folks who want to put food on their family’s table (pun, sorry), and accuse them of being “hate merchants?”  Why are they going to even let line workers off the hook? 

Because — that would be bad politics.  And that is what gets me — this boycott/exhortation to eat there is all about politics.  No one was surprised by the stance, but now that the company president spoke up, people want to fall all over themselves to show that they’re good liberals/conservatives.  To target some store manager, or line workers would create bad press, and undermine your position, despite it being consistent with the logic behind the reasons for the boycott.

So, no thank you.  I’ll eat there when/if I feel like it (which admittedly hasn’t been often at all, but my daughter does enjoy going as a treat, so that’s not going to change).  I’ll smile at the workers, they’ll smile back, they’ll say “my pleasure” EVERY time I say “thank you” (that’s gotta be a corporate directive), and my daughter and I will enjoy some chicken. 

Just not that often.  Back to training again, so the fast food has to be limited.  Just not because I don’t like where a company puts its money.

So if you catch me eating at a CFA, and want to ascribe a certain political/social bent to me because of that, you can be SURE I’ll pick apart everything you’re wearing or weilding, and we’ll see whose hands are clean (hint:  nobody’s).  Liberty means you get to eat at any lawful place of business you want.  If you can do so while wearing/using nothing from a company that does some sort of evil, enjoy.

Postscript:

Most of my friends online are left-leaning, so I will await unfriending/unfollowing/whatever over this.  I assure you — I will be sorry to see you go, but if you go to the trouble to “alert” me that you’re disassociating with me, I’ll just roll my eyes at your outrage and block you.  I have zero problem with your disagreement, but if you want to end the association because of it, just do it, and save the drama for your other friends.