Tuesday, June 26, 2012

On "Why Women Can't Have It All"

Have any of you read that article in The Atlantic by Anne-Marie Slaughter, "Why Women Can't Have It All"? 

It has sparked a lot of discussion on various radio / tv / newspapers and it's also sparking this blog entry.  I've actually wanted to write this for a while so I'm thankful to Ms. Slaughter for the inspiration. 

I'd like to preface this by saying that I'm not a particularly power hungry or non-traditional person in many ways.  I simply aspire to be happy and productive in my career and in my life.  Also, I know men have many challenges these days as well, but I can only write from my own perspective and you know....I'm a girl....

Stereotypes / Women in Math and Science

When I was growing up, my mom was strict about making sure that I didn't fall into certain gender stereotypes.  She would read children's books to me and point out that even though the doctor was a man in the story, that women were doctors too.  She would tell me that a book was sexist if there were too many passive female characters in the background.  As a token of her feelings towards prescribed roles, I carry her last name (which has caused endless confusion throughout the years!).  My mom, like many other women in her generation, wanted to make sure that I didn't grow up (as she probably did) believing that all women became wives, secretaries, or teachers. 

My parents also encouraged me and my brothers to work hard in my science and math classes.  Success in these subjects was the key to getting a good job.  I never really seriously considered studying anything else.  Just decide what kind of engineer you want to be.  

When I got to college, I met so many smart friends, both guys and girls.  My engineering classes were dominated by guys even though my field, chemical engineering is a relatively female-heavy engineering field.  I started noticing a gender gap though.  In classes I doubted my ability to succeed. True or not, the guys just seemed better at engineering as a whole.  Additionally, there was a lack of female role models.  In four years of classes, I had one female professor in a technical class. 

I graduated and out of the five girls who I graduated with, only one is still an engineer.  (Of course a lot of the guys aren't engineers either, but the attrition rate for women in engineering is pretty high.).  

Why is there still such a gap for women in math and science?  Why don't girls go into these fields at the same rate as guys?  In this crappy economy there's probably no better favor a 19 year old can do themselves than to major in something that has jobs and pays well.  With the huge rate of women going to college these days, there's no reason why women shouldn't be dominating math and science fields. 

As An Adult

Fast forward past business school and now I work in fashion marketing.  It goes without saying that I'm not a minority there. 

However the older I get, the more I notice two things:  1) The lack of women in higher management positions and 2) The amount of ridiculously smart girls who have, for a variety of reasons, deprioritized their careers.

I'll address number two first because I want to make sure I don't sound judgmental.  There's nothing wrong with deciding family is more important than a career and I actually find it to be a pretty noble choice.  I could easily make the same choice in the future and I understand that marriage and starting a family is a cornerstone of life.  I just get frustrated when I think of the great things that so many women would have done otherwise (because they are so talented) if they had pursued their original career dreams. 

The Lack Of Women In High Management Positions

This is a huge can of worms and I can't presume to understand every factor as to why this is.  The statement that annoys me the most when this gets addressed, however, is that "Oh those women grew up when there weren't opportunities, it will be different soon". 

I find that hard to believe.  Nothing is changing that quick, and I will be shocked that if in 30 years there is near equal representation in the highest positions in government and in business. 

I think some women take themselves out of the race to the top intentionally to spend more time on other pursuits - whether it be family or other interests.  Or maybe they are less aggressive when it comes to asking for promotions and raises. 

But I also think there's a social structure such that it's difficult for women to rise beyond certain levels.  Top business positions are often filled based on relationships.  While I'm not really at that level yet,  I'd like to be and I am pretty sure it's more awkward to go out for drinks or go golfing or whatever with a group of guys if you're the only woman.  And yeah that stuff matters. 

And women who do rise to these positions are often unmarried or without families.  It's like they had to choose one or the other.  

So where does this leave me in my rant?  

I don't really know.  I could go on about this forever.  It's also a conflicting topic for me because in my own personal life, I follow some gender roles happily.  I like to cook for Anthony and I expect him to open doors.  But I also want little girls to feel like they can excel in any subject and many women in positions of power who balance their families and careers.  I hope we get there one day. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Hey...where's the track party?

First of all, congrats to Jamie D. on winning the Mizuno Mezamashii Project shoes!  Thank you to everyone who entered.  I really wish I could give everyone free shoes.  I LOVED reading the Haikus especially.  Some of them were pretty hilarious.  

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Sarah and I have spent a while talking about how we want to run fast this summer.  Not fast like 10k fast.  Fast like track meet fast.

Which required finding a track meet. 

You know...like this one:

So Chiara, Kristina, Sarah and I drove up to Redondo in hopes of track glory.  Except the fact that Chiara ran 24 miles that morning (I KNOW...CRAZY!!!), and I had a little too much fun the night before.   And by a little I mean a lot.  (It was totally worth it). 

When we arrived in Redondo, we looked for the track at Mira Costa High School. 

And looked.

Surely this can't be where the meet is?

I'm not sure if South Bay track just played an unfunny joke on all of us, but there was no one there.  I tried to get some dudes that were playing football to race us in the mile, but to no avail. 

So we did what any four totally sane girls would do.  We ran a 4x800 anyways. 
And instead of passing a baton we high-fived.

Kristina started us off with a solid 2:46 and handed onto Sarah who ran the same time.  Both pretty great given that we were randomly time trialing ourselves and this was the first 800 they'd ever run.  I don't know what Chiara ran but I'm pretty sure it's faster than anything anyone should run after running 24 miles.

I "anchored" a 2:47 with an 80 second first lap.  That's a pretty sorry second lap.  I thought it was an ok time given that it's only 2 seconds off my high school PR until I looked up what I ran on McMillan.  Turns out...not such a great time comparatively to other distances.   But it did lead to a discussion of a new product that could revolutionize the world of running:

HUNGOVER MCMILLAN CALCULATOR!!!  Are you listening, Greg?

Not only do I need a hungover McMillan calculator, I need one for being sick, for being tired, overtrained, etc.  I'm telling ya, we may have just revolutionized the world of running.  Lame excuses now factored into all calculations!


Anyways, we finished up our 4x800 "relay" with a couple laps of a cool down and my lungs were still burning like they haven't in years.  It felt good to run a little faster, even if we were just time trialing ourselves. 

As we drove back down to the OC, we talked about doing more time trials on Track Party Tuesdays.  Which brings me to my next question:  Would anyone be interested in participating in an informal track meet?  I'd love to put one on if I can figure out the logistics. 

I'll make you medals out of construction paper and give you lots of high fives.

Let me know!  I'm pretty sure it would be ridiculously fun.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Getting comfortable with discomfort

I'm at home (well where I grew up home) in Northern Virginia right now!   Basically that means there are more trees and more bugs.  And lots of good friends.  Also, it is the residence of the original faster bunny, Fiver:

No of course she doesn't always lounge around like that.  She probably just got back from a 10 mile tempo run.

One more thing:  I've decided I'm going to start using ads from BlogHer whenever I get unlazy enough to install the ad code.  Basically I figure it would be nice to make a buck (literally one dollar given my readership!) off of this.  But if you hate the ads let me know.   I aim to please and stuff and don't want to make the reader experience go down the drain.  Also, I'll announce the Mizuno winner next blog entry. Sorry for the delay.

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When I was watching the Olympic Trials for the marathon a few months back, the announcer commented that (I believe) Shalane Flanagan had been working on "becoming a less emotional runner".   I remember thinking at the time "What the hell is he talking about?  Why would anyone be an emotional runner.  Running is the least emotional experience ever! One foot in front of the other, right?"

I didn't really think about this again until after the Ragnar ultra or Eugene Marathon.  I realized I spent the majority of the running part of both races making myself completely miserable.

Thinking things like "Why would I do this.  This sucks I want to stop.  I hate marathons...my legs hurt so bad".  Etc.  Grimacing, making faces, etc.

This is kind of my M.O. when I race.  In the words of Mason, I am the only person he knows who "has the ability to make mile three of a marathon look miserable".

Then I read something on Lizzy's blog about enjoying the discomfort that is racing.

At that point I realized I'm a very emotional runner.  One that freaks out at discomfort, is scared of racing and hard workouts, and when things get uncomfortable I want to fall apart.  I have no doubt these internal emotional outbursts do nothing to help my race and workout times and probably steal a lot of enjoyment from my running.  I'm trying to learn to enjoy the experience that is pushing myself rather than being afraid of the discomfort and feeling sorry for myself.

Eugene? Come on...it didn't feel THAT bad.
I've been trying to apply this philosophy to my day-to-day life as well.  I get upset and spastic about things pretty easily (you may notice this if you follow my volatile twitter), and I'm sure that getting easily upset does me no favors in my professional or personal life.  In fact, I've read various personality articles that say that people are more likely to be successful in business if they are even tempered and hard to upset.  Makes sense, right?

Work situations can be mentally tough and uncomfortable just like running hard.  Best to accept it and strategically deal with problems.  Easier said than done, of course.

In the words of Mrs. Tough love, Eleanor Roosevelt, "You must do the thing that you think you cannot do".  Or if I alter it for myself: 
"You must do the thing that you don't want to do.  Just get going and do it, damnit."  =)

So this is my new attempted life improvement for the summer.  If you see me complaining or being overly dramatic, tell me to chill.  Running can hurt, life can be tough, but if we've made it this far, chances are, this isn't the race or project that's going to destroy everything.  I'm going to try to look forward, relax, and just race.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Nuun Mile (The Oual Remix)

It all started with an email...

(sorry if you've already ready about this on Sarah's blog, but damnit I want to post about it too).

And now it's turned into an Internet sensation:

Ok fine maybe 626 pageviews is a little less than what Jbeibs gets on his videos, but it is my ambition to make The Nuun Mile the biggest viral running sensation the world has ever known.  Move over Carly Rae Jepsen.

To Run the Nuun Mile You'll need:
4 bottles that hold at least 16 ounces of fluid.  4 tabs of Nuun.  One track, and one strong stomach. 
It's just like a beer mile.  
Chug -->  Run --> Chug --> Run --> Chug --> Run --> Chug --> Run

Here's how it worked out for me (as produced by SarahOual Studios). 

Sorry if my voice / mannerisms are way worse than you imagined.  Can't help it.

Final Thoughts On The Nuun Mile:

Running the Nuun Mile was actually pretty easy for the first couple laps.  And I'm not much of a chugger either.  By lap three, shit got serious.  Seriously uncomfortable as well.  I ran the ultimate positive split of my first half in 4:21 and the last half in 7:46.   

But it was gloriously fun.  Although it was probably fun only because Sarah was there to be my pit crew.  Otherwise I would have just felt like a crazy person.  I'd like to try a beer mile to compare, but I'm going to need to do that after work for obvious reasons. 

A couple last things:  I want someone else to try this so that I can know whether my 11:57 time sucks or not.  Let me know.  And no cheating.  If anyone can legitimately break 9 minutes dinner's on me.  So let's see what you've got....


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Mizuno Running Shoe Giveaway! Also Desi.

Today is a big day.  I'm a fan of Devi Davila.  She's bad-ass, doesn't make a big deal over herself and is faster than wildfire on steroids.

Sarah and Alyssa have told me that I remind them of Desi (whoa flattering x 1000) and today Sarah took it upon herself to provide a side by side and twitter it to the world:

I loved it. 

Poor Desi was included on these exchanges as well and rather than blocking all of us on twitter and filing for a restraining order she TWEETED BACK AT US!!


On an entirely less self-absorbed note, I have a pair of shoes to give away!!  Mizunos specifically!

A couple weeks ago, Lori at Mizuno told me they were starting a new marketing project that would be more of a grass-roots campaign where their greatest fans (me me me) would be able to send shoes to people they thought would enjoy them!

The campaign is called the "Mezamashii Project". Mezamashii means "brilliant" in Japanese and the goal of the campaign is to "deliver more ecstatic, electric, wind-in-your heart running".  Hell yes I'd like that. 

I'm planning on getting the new Elixir for myself and already sent a pair of Inspires to Anthony because he is training for a 5k in July.  

I'd also like to give a pair away on the blog.  Whoever wins will get a code where they can go to the website to enter their code and then call a number to get almost any pair of Mizunos (up to $150 in value) they want for free!

Pretty cool huh?

There are three ways to enter the drawing:

1 Entry:  Leave a comment telling me you want new Mizunos!

2 Entries:  Leave two comments: one saying you want the shoes and one saying you've tweeted at me (@FasterBunny) and Mizuno ) about the Mezamashii Project giveaway AND followed @MizunoRunning.

You don't have to follow me if you don't want.  I don't want to subject anyone to that crap by force.     

3 Entries:  Write a comment in Haiku form and write a comment saying you've done all the twitter requirements above.  Yes you are DQ'd if you get the Haiku syllables wrong.

*edit - if you're not coming from your own blog please leave some sort of identifier like a last name / email / whatever so that your entry is unique and no one else with your name claims your prize!

Enter by Midnight PST next Thursday night (the 14th).  Good luck and tell all of your shoe deficient friends! 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

2nd Place Is The First Happy Loser (10k Recap!)

This weekend, I decided to to race a 10k. This was for a couple reasons:

1) There was a Schwaggle for running both the 10k and 5k of the Wrigley River Run 10k/5k in Long Beach.  I like Long Beach and I like cheap stuff so...

2) My 10k PR  (44:45) was one I thought I could most likely break since it was set when I wasn't very well trained. Rational or not, my running confidence has taken a beating lately so I figured this was a good way to build confidence and avoid having a giant running shoe bonfire.

Saturday morning, I woke up at 5:30 AM feeling surprisingly non-ticked off at being up that early. I was ridiculously nervous like usual and dressed in all of the running clothes I associate with good races. Superstition... can't hurt, right ?


I drove up to Long Beach, parked and walked over.  We were right in the middle of some busy streets with neighborhoods right next door so I'm pretty sure the people living there enjoyed the crowds waking them up at 7AM. 

At the start line, I scoped out the girls, and it didn't look like any were wearing racers.  Not that this is a 100% indicator, but I've found this to be the best indicator of spotting super elite talented people.   I'd say I'm ashamed of scoping out women at the start but I am not! 

We lined up and we were off!  For the first half mile I kept looking at my Garmin and seeing paces like 6:18 so I forced myself to slow down to the mid to upper 6's.  Preventing my sprinting at the start of races is the whole reason I own a Garmin.  

At mile 1 (6:40) there was a water stop and the volunteers weren't really ready for the crowds so I took like four cups from the table.  Then I frantically apologized to the volunteers who were understandably looking at me like a crazy person!  

That was also right around the time that the guys around me starting pointing out the woman about 10 meters ahead of me and saying "That's the first woman.  Go get her.".   I'm not one to say no to something like that and I felt pretty good so I passed her.  

I've never been in the lead of a race  (even a small one like this), and it was instantly a terrifying experience.  At that point you're just being chased down, right?   But a small voice in my head said "KEEP THIS UP AND YOU MIGHT WIN THE 1st PLACE $100 SHOE GIFT CERTIFICATE!!!". 

Mile 2 and 3 clicked off in 6:45 and 6:47.  A couple people said things to me like "First woman!  The second woman is close!".  Yikes.  

By mile 4, I was starting to get tired.  Some dude started running next to me and he sounded like he was near death.  He was making so much noise I could have sworn he was Chewbacca in another life.  

I kept looking at my Garmin and telling myself to keep the pace below 7.   But this was getting harder and harder to do.  Some other mantras I told myself through the race were "Of course you're hurting, dumbass!  You're running a race.  Embrace your discomfort!".  And more embarrassingly "Pretend you're a Game Of Thrones character!".  

Yes...I even race like a nerd.

At mile 5 (34:10ish split), I heard some heavy but distinctly woman-ly sounding heavy breathing behind me.  I was getting passed.  As she passed me, I said something like "Go get it, but I'm going to try to hang with you.".  

Hang with her I did not.  But still, as she ran further and further ahead of me, I tried to catch her for the rest of the race.  I have no doubt she pushed me to run harder than I would have otherwise. 

"Just one 800 left.  Pretend you're running an 800.  You do damn 800s in your sleep" 

So I ran in, and to my surprise, the clock read in the low 42s.  

42:22.  6:49 pace.  2nd woman overall.  (Which of course means...no free shoes.)

Who cares though, I was so happy.  I get that I'm not breaking any records, but according to the running calculators, this is the best race I've ever run.  I'm thankful to still be improving.  
I went to go find the first place woman and she was pretty cool.  I told her she'd won a gift certificate and she seemed pretty pumped about that.

A really cool thing about the race, is that there's a 5k right after the 10k and you can sign up for both for almost the same price!  So I lined back up for the 5k and took it as a cooldown.  It was pretty cool to be more relaxed, for once.  Turns out...#1 in the 10k went out and ran a 21 flat 5k right afterwards.  But who's stalking her?  Certainly not me.

You know what the best part of the race was?  

They are not playing around when it comes to the after race food spread!  Wrigley had countless oranges and watermelons (Monica you must do this next year) and delicious pizza.  Call me old fashioned, but this kicks the butt of the random nutritional stuff they serve at most races.  The greasy pizza and juicy watermelon was a dream come true!  

On a lark, I went to a couple of the guys in charge of the race and asked them if there was a prize for 2nd place.  They said something along the lines that I got a high five.  We all laughed and I appreciated them putting me a little in my place. Somehow that was the cherry on top of this awesome, old-school, and well-run race.  

So thank you, Wrigley:  You gave me a PR, renewed confidence, and a crapload of watermelon.  And really, that's all a girl like me needs.