When I was running the 2011 Divas Wahine Half Marathon in Honolulu, there was a portion of the course where people had written words of encouragement and drawn funny pictures in chalk on the road. Pretty similar to what Nike did for the Tour de France a couple of years ago. It was unexpected and helped to pass the miles as it was part of the course that didn’t have much in the way of scenery.
Most of the “chalk talk” was encouraging, “You can do this!” or funny, “Donuts at the finish line!” But then there was one that almost made me stop in my tracks. I don’t remember exactly what it said, but it was along the lines of “You bitches got this thing.”
I’m not against swearing – I can swear with the best of them, thanks to 6 years of working in a manufacturing company. And I realize that words that were considered naughty when I was growing up have become more mainstream over the years. But here’s the thing – when I was growing up, our moms were ladies, we aspired to be women, and bitches were female dogs and girls who tried to steal our boyfriends. So despite the ubiquity of the word “bitches” I was a bit taken aback that some random stranger would (1) call me a bitch and (2) think that it was encouraging to me.
As if to reinforce the omnipresence of that word, on campus last Thursday, a young man in front of me called out to a young woman, “Hey there, Melissa, my little bitch.” I can only assume that they were friends as his tone seemed friendly enough and she responded to his greeting.
My goodness. How the world has changed. How the bar for civility and courteousness has dropped.
On Facebook I created an interest group of running and fitness pages that are a mix of fitness articles, motivational quotes and pictures, health and nutrition articles, etc. Imagine my surprise on Thursday morning when I saw this picture posted by the MotivateHopeStrength page:
In that same group, there’s a page called I❤ to run. Again, there are a lot of fitness-related (mostly running) posts, article links, and motivational memes. A few months back, I browsed the website and was on the verge of buying one of their running calendars and a 13.1 sweatshirt for my brother and then I saw this:
These things struck me as discordant because to me, “Namaste” does not belong anywhere near “bitches.” To me, as I was taught in my yoga practice, Namaste is a word that means peace, honor, spirituality. According to about.com, “Namaste” is a greeting that means, “The God/Goddess Spirit within me recognizes and honors the God/Goddess Spirit within you.”
How does “Namaste my bitches” honor anything about me, about you, about any human being? How does calling someone a “bitch” honor that person? According to dictionary.com –
There is nothing in that definition that even hints at the word being honorable or positive.
If that post had been on a humor page, I might have had a different reaction – grimace and move on. But the fact that the post was on a fitness page that is meant to motivate, inspire hope, and strengthen people made me react differently. We don’t motivate each other by calling one another “bitches.” We don’t inspire hope by calling someone else a “bitch.” And you certainly don’t strengthen someone by calling them a “bitch.”
Remember that rhyme we used to say when we were growing up? “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” We’ve learned over the years that it’s not true – words can hurt. Words do matter. Choose them wisely.
And the thought processor churns on…
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”
Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)
You know the standard distances:
- 5k (3.1 miles),
- 10k (6.2 miles),
- half-marathon (13.1 miles),
- marathon (26.2 miles), and
- ultra (anything over 26.2 miles).
And the not-so-standard distances – 5-miler, 12k, 15k, 10-miler, and more.
But what the heck is a mini marathon?
Apparently some people are trying to get others to call the half-marathon distance a mini marathon. According to wikipedia, a mini marathon is any distance less than a marathon, from a half-marathon all the way down to a 5k.
I don’t like the idea of calling a half-marathon a mini marathon. “Half-marathon” is descriptive. “Mini marathon” is diminutive.
I like the idea of calling a 5k a “mini marathon” even less. A 5k is a 5k, not a mini marathon. A 5k is 3.1 miles, a marathon is 26.2 miles. A marathon is nearly 8.5 times the 5k distance. Don’t diminish the marathon distance by calling anything with less mileage a mini marathon.
The Rock-n-Roll race series, which I love, has developed the annoying habit of calling the shorter distances that they add to a marathon or half-marathon event “mini marathons.” The San Jose Rock ‘n’ Roll half-marathon added a shorter distance race in 2012. It’s a 5 mile course and the Rock ‘n’ Roll race series calls it a mini marathon. The Los Angeles Rock ‘n’ Roll half-marathon also has a shorter distance race that it calls a mini marathon and it’s not even 5 miles, it’s a 5k. The Chicago Rock ‘n’ Roll half-marathon has a mini marathon event, as well, and – you guessed it – it’s a 5k.
What’s wrong with calling it a 5k? What’s wrong with calling it a 5-miler?
Is it so runners can call themselves marathoners without having put in the sweat, tears, and miles that goes into marathon training? Is this another sign of society dumbing things down in an effort to level the playing field for everyone? Trying to drive out every vestige of competitiveness? In elementary schools now, everyone gets a trophy or medal for something, even if only for showing up. Is this the adult version of that? Call it a “mini marathon” so that people who don’t want to commit to a marathon can call themselves marathoners?
If you run a 5k, be proud that you’ve run a 5k. A 5k is a tough little race, whether you’re running to place or to set a personal best. A 5-miler is nothing to be ashamed of, either. When I reach the 5 mile long run in my training plan, it’s a huge milestone. Running a 10k or any of those other distances is nothing to hang your head about, either. There’s no need to call them “mini marathons” to dress them up and make them seem more than they are. Your non-runner friends might be impressed because they don’t know any better. You runner friends…well, I don’t know what your runner friends would say, but I know what I would say.
Be proud of your accomplishments. Don’t be deceptive.