Title IX turns 40

I grew up before there was Title IX, graduating from high school the year before Title IX became law. What was it like back then (okay, way, way back then) for girls and women in average small town America? Where I lived, there were no high school sports for girls. If you wanted to “play” a sport, you could be a cheerleader. Except, you had to be cute, little, peppy and popular. That left out me, and most everyone else.

What to wear? There was very little sports apparel made for women. No sport’s bras  – not invented until 1975, and not perfected until much later. No athletic shoes – unless you count good old canvas sneakers, aka Keds. The only women’s sport’s apparel widely available (besides those darn cute cheerleader outfits) were for sports that highlighted individual women, who needed to look good while playing. You know – tennis, golf, swimming. Individual sports that required fancy equipment and lessons, so not open to just anyone.

Even though many of us did not benefit from Title IX in childhood, we all benefit today. Now women’s athletic gear is widely available to everyone, from  the pros to the weekend warriors. I even have a women’s specific bike AND a women’s specific tire pump. Women can compete in most sports in the professional and amateur levels. Women are no longer relegated to just being peppy cheerleaders, that is, unless they want to.When you watch the Olympics this year, think about the US women competitors who benefited from Title IX.

Huffygirl, all decked out in women’s athletic gear


Run Diary, part II

Mama’s got a new pair of shoes!

(Huffygirl’s run journey continues: see Part 1, posted May 8, 2012)

Day 1: After spin class, I get on a treadmill and run a little bit. Walk five minutes, run two minutes. Not much of a run. The walking shoes I’m wearing keep catching on the treadmill belt. I have to change the treadmill speed when I go from run to walk and back again. I keep pushing the wrong buttons and had to jump off several times when I made it go way too fast. But for a few minutes, I ran.

Day 4: Repeat of day 1. This time my legs feel like lead. I run maybe a minute for every 5-10 that I walk. The gym fan is whipping my hair in my face, but it’s still too hot. Me, the person who spends 99% of my life wearing two sweaters, is hot, melting hot. Why should running make me soooo much hotter than biking, especially when I’m not even doing that much?

Day 5: I’m rubbing my shoulder all day. For some reason, running is aggravating my surgery shoulder. Must be the bouncing. My boss asks me why my shoulder hurts. “Thought I’d try a little running,” I say. She gave me that look, the look that says “you’re not 25 any more, what were you thinking?” I decide it’s time to keep this running thing to myself.

Day 10: Despite the fact that I’m not making much progress, I decide I am a real runner now, and order a new sports bra. And just for good measure, some compression shorts, because my old hamstring tear is aching every time I run. Actually, all my old injuries are aching every time I run.But hey, I’ve lost two pounds, and I have to keep up with Susan at Coming East.

Day 15: I come home from work and see my new sports bra has arrived. It’s a beautiful hot day. I decide it’s now or never – to run in public. “I’m going out for a little walk” I tell my husband, as I don new sports bra, running shorts, running socks, heart rate monitor, and my heavy walking shoes. “Looks like you’re planning to do a little running” he says. Guess the secret is out. I step off my driveway and begin. Six long blocks and four short blocks is one mile. I decide to walk a block, run a block. One mile down. This is so much better than running on a treadmill. I don’t feel so cramped and don’t have to mess with any buttons. By the time I’m near the end of the first mile, I look forward to the end of the block when I can lapse back into a walk. But one mile down and I’m still alive so I keep going.The second mile is a little easier, but again I’m melting hot. I’m thinking that this sports bra is enough like a top that maybe next time I can run without a shirt. Don’t the Olympic women do that? My final time is 14 minutes for the first mile, 13 for the second. There are plenty of people who could WALK a mile in those time, but I’m ecstatic. I decide it’s time to buy running shoes.

Day 16: I wake up to realize that everything aches. Knees, shoulder, neck, IT band, feet.”It’s because I don’t have running shoes” I rationalize. I take spin class in the morning, and end up hot and tired, just phoning it in. Later I go to the premier running store in my town to buy running shoes. Kathleen, a marathoner who waits on me, is helpful and encouraging. She tells me my walk a block, run a block plan is the best program ever – that’s what ALL the new runners do. I ask her if it would be silly for me to sign up for the big 5K run in three days – after all I just walked/ran two miles, and 3.1 is not that much more. She assures me that should be just fine. Maybe I’ve fooled her into thinking I’m much better than I am.

Day 17: Two days before the 5K run I try out all my new gear. I look great – like I really know what I’m doing. The compression shorts are a job to put on, but I’ve decided I’m going to wear them every day for the rest of my life. They hold in all the flab and make me feel slim. (found out later they’re great right up until you have to go the bathroom.) I do my two-mile run from my house again, in a gentle rain. I discover that the second mile is easier after I’ve beat out all the pain and stiffness in the first mile. Hmm – does that mean I have to run four miles in order to feel good running three? I did each lap in just over 13 minutes – a little better than last time. I decide I’m ready to do the 5K in two days as a walk/run race.

Day 18: It’s packet pick-up for the race. There are lots of people and hoopla because besides the 5K run and walk, there’s a half marathon and full marathon. I fill out the late registration and wait in line. I see a few people I know, and no one says “What are YOU doing here?” so I take it as a good sign.

That night, I wake at 3:30 AM from a disturbing dream. In the dream I get delayed getting to the race, and by the time I get there all of the runners have already taken off. I decide I’ll try to run anyway, but I don’t have all my gear and I’m not sure where to go. Now here’s the really disturbing part of the dream. While I’m trying to collect my gear and get ready, I’m visited by three people: one from my childhood past, one from the recent past, and one from the present. This clearly Dickensian warning disturbs me so that I wake up in a panic. What are they trying to warn me of? The uncanny resemblance of the three visitors to the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future tells me that I must heed some kind of warning or suffer a dire fate. What have I gotten myself in to? It takes awhile before I fall back to sleep.

Day 19: It’s race day. My husband and I watch the marathon start, then line up for the 5K race. He tells me he’s planning on going nearly as slow as me, about a 13 minute mile, because this is his first run after back surgery. “Whoa, better be careful I don’t beat you,” I say. The race begins. My husband takes off  like a shot and I never see him again. Thirteen-minute mile indeed. I run most of the first mile and find it’s not too hard at my slow pace, with race-day adrenalin helping me out. By mile two I’m still running most of the time, just stopping for a few steps here and there when my heart rate gets too high. I’m encouraged to see that I’m surrounded by other runners going at a similar or slower pace, and many more behind me. No matter what I told people my race goals were, my real goal was to not be the last runner, and to not have any of the 5K walkers pass me. So far, so good.

The third mile begins at the base of the only significant hill in the race. I decide to take this hill walking. I want to save some energy for the end so I can at least run the last 50 yards at the turn towards the finish line. I end up alternating running and walking for most of the rest of the race, but still running more of it than I thought I would be doing.

At the finish line, I end up meeting my three goals: I ran the approach to the finish; I was not anywhere near the last 5K runner; and no walkers passed me. Turns out no dire consequences (unless you count hurting everywhere except my hair) and success on my first 5K run in 30 years. Finishing time: 39.11, 12.31 minutes per mile. Hurray!

© Huffygirl 2012