Running the Nike 10K on International Women's Day
By Colleen Kinder Original Print Publication: April, 2009
It easily could have been an illusion: the red carpet, the limousine, the men in tuxedos. After all, I was dizzy, dehydrated, and ready to vomit. Was I seeing things? Hallucinations, though, aren't likely to speak to you in a second language: "Felicidades," said one of the tux men, holding up a pouch. So this was happening: at the finish line of a 10k race, a man in Oscar attire handed me jewelry.
Six thousand women ran the Nike 10k. At the finish line, they were handed jewelry by men in Oscar attire.
Happy Day of the Woman. Six thousand females, wearing identical aqua t-shirts, poured into Chapultepec Park to race. I coaxed a friend into entering in the spirit of female solidarity. But by the start line, something already felt wrong. The loudspeaker voice cued us to stretch and go through motions that felt as juvenile as jumping-jacks, turning the crowd into a mass aerobics class. I stood there, still as a statue, wondering why I felt embarrassed, and wishing someone would just fire the gun.
"You're way too competitive to enjoy this race," my friend said, pityingly. She was half-right. The only sport I've ever been competitive at is running, and after years of league and state meets, I can't enter any race without, well, racing.
I pushed through the crowd until my toes were touching the start-line, then looked around for the usual power-houses: women with veiny arms, long legs, expressions of stone. Instead, I noticed cosmetics. My competitors had applied makeup. The official race pacers were dressed in short, black skirts. Looking my fellow women up and down, I felt like a jerk. A jerk about to dominate.
But I'm far quicker in my memories than I was on March 9, 2009. My first kilometer was speedy, but it only set me up for 9K of deceleration. I couldn't even catch the Gatorade girl, a runner wrapped in a lycra dress sexier than all my swimsuits, let alone catch the spirit of this women's race.
What--other than getting trounced by women half my height--was my problem? I had a full fifty minutes of running to wonder, and my first clue came from the crowd: "ANIMO!" yelled spectators with deep voices. When six thousand women enter an event, that doesn't leave many of their sisters to cheer them on. Our race course was lined with men. "Venga! Venga!" yelled boyfriends, husbands, dads, cops. I started to feel like a woman on parade. A parade with too many patrons.