Since my long absence from this blog, I have a few posts elsewhere that I'll be adding and updating here as I am able. This story is from November 2014.
A race report, wherein I shall complain at length about an event targeted at women but not very considerate toward women:
Saturday morning I had a 6k race that a coworker talked me into (because I otherwise avoid women's races like the plague).
The race website encouraged participants to take the DART rail, but I found out in the wee hours of the morning that the DART rail is closed in that part of town every weekend for about two months, and this has been clearly posted on the DART website for at least a month. So I got to drive instead and pay $10 for fucking downtown parking that I hadn't budgeted for.
I had NO IDEA how to dress to run in such weather (30°F), so I gambled with many layers. I always run in Vibram FiveFingers but knew my toes would freeze painfully, so I resigned myself to trying to run in my $15 Wal-Mart sneakers that I only use for walking and that I had to buy a size big to fit the width of my foot. I got to the festival area and found myself pleasantly comfortable standing around, so I stripped off my outer two layers and put the outer one back on so I'd be comfortable to run. I feel like I was REALLY lucky that this combination of gear worked for me. I got one moderate but manageable blister on one foot, and my toes felt OK. Perhaps I ought to invest in a pair of cold-weather running pants, though I've never needed them before.
The event was put on by a women's athletic clothing store called Six:02, which doesn't actually have its own clothing line but sells all the big brands. Its marketing is so bizarre: The copy on their web page goes on about "What's your six:02 moment?" and encourages people to post and tag their #six02 moments all over social media (through which I won a $100 gift card to the shop, which is cool). The "Six:02" moment is a moment for yourself when you do something just for you that makes you feel good, related to fitness. It seems to me as if the company is simply co-opting the idea of "self care" and trying to slap their brand on it. It irritates me that they chose such a random time and an even more random arrangement of letters, numbers, and symbols for their brand. The branding seems entirely gibberish.
On the one hand, if the concept works and attracts more women to fitness pursuits, that's great; on the other, the company has some serious problems with understanding its target demographic. The race was advertised as having "pampering" at the end, which sounded like it might be fun. So there were four stations set up: hair styling, makeup touch-ups, manicures, and massage. Guess which one had the longest line. Who would have ever thought that a bunch of sweaty bitches wouldn't want to get their hair and makeup done after running 4 miles? We stood freezing (~30-35°F that morning) in our sweaty gear for 20 minutes to get a stupid shoulder massage, and I felt REALLY bad when I saw that the masseurs' hands were bare.
It was cool that there were speakers set up along the course playing upbeat music and really NOT cool that the first song was about preying on a woman like an animal; and the last song as I left was the catchy and oft-criticized "All About That Bass." Creating a playlist of songs that don't demean women isn't that freaking hard. Women's empowerment: they're doing it wrong.
The swag bag and items they gave out to participants were surprisingly good, and I am curious about how much money they poured into the black hole of this sparsely attended event. Registration was not expensive, and compared to other races I've attended, it's clear they lost a lot on this one. We got a nice quality drawstring bag, hand towel, water bottle, tech t-shirt, and silver medallion necklace at the finish line instead of medals.
I *really* hope they compensated the stylists and masseurs well for standing in the cold 2-3 hours serving everyone with bare fingers. There was an impressive jumbo screen and a few top athletes clearly flown in to help promote the brand, and an impressive level of videography and photography going on for future promotional purposes. It was all very over-the-top for 259 runners.
The course wound through some cool parts of downtown and had minimal hills (but several people complained about how bad the hills were). I ran with two coworkers and we each thought the other two would surely take off and leave us in the dust, but we all pushed one another harder than we would have pushed ourselves and finished with an average 11:30 min/mi pace, WAY better than any of us hoped for. One had been struggling with her C25K training and had only run a 5k race once before. The other had given up on training for several weeks or months, and I've been a solidly slow runner: I struggled through a sub-40 3-mile treadmill run earlier that week. We had a really good time together.
I understand that this was a record freeze for Dallas that swept in the same week of the race so they were caught off-guard. They were REALLY lucky that the location and course weren't windy. Could they have bought bulk hand warmers at Sam's Club to offer to participants? Could they have sent out an email with tips for dressing and running in cold weather, especially since there are so many first-timers at this event? Maybe offer leg and feet massages? A foam rolling station and knowledgeable demonstrator? A bag check so we could bring enough clothes to be warm before and after the race and not have to run while carrying all that cool swag? A friend suggested: "If you wanted to do something 'make-uppy' how about parifin treatments for windburned hands? That would be warm at least. And MORE massages, in a heated tent of course, and on a 'take-a-number' system so people could mill about and drink hot things instead of standing in line."
*Edited to add: I also remember hearing a shitty country song sung by a man crooning about a woman's boobs busting out of her bikini top.
I also forgot to kvetch about the HUNDREDS of helium balloons lining Katy Trail, many of which had popped and littered the area before I passed. Helium is a limited resource (and at a worldwide shortage) necessary in medical and other science fields. Latex is a common allergy, and littering a nature trail is fucking shitty.
I hope there's a post-race survey, or I will find another way to offer constructive feedback.