Sunday, March 6, 2011

I ran for women's rights

My highschool was close to a athletics track, really just around the corner. Therefore it often happened that our gym class took place there, to much moan and complain of course but in hindsight it wasn't that bad. We did sports such as hockey and handball. We distant-jumped and we jumped high. I wasn't, considering my lack of height, bad in high-jumping. We also played softball which introduced me to the highschool law that when you're good at sports you're in the running of being popular. I was good at softball to everyone's surprise, mine included. I'm a mean batter, I ran a lot of homeruns. This made me like softball. It didn't really make me popular, but at least a bit more. And of course, there was a lot of running. The track was famous for Nelli Cooman running a few world records on the 60 meters. I wasn't very good at sprints. I'm really not an athlete. But I was surprisingly doing well on long distances. I remember very well running a 1000 meters and being in front the entire time. I was winning. A teacher who was running with us wasn't very keen on being outrun by one of the school's classic outsiders and overtook me in the last 100 meters. He did that on purpose, what's the point in a teacher winning from a student at 1km running during gym class? He became my history teacher later on and we never got along, he even told me in the first week of that year that I should consider myself lucky that he wasn't my mentor that year or else I would have had a tough year. Ah, highschool...

Fast forward a good 17 years ago (take or leave a few years). I haven't participated in any sports since. I do a fair share of cycling. My home-work distant is over 10km long and I'm doing that every day on my bicycle, no matter the weather condition (if it's truly awful one of my colleagues do take me home). I've stopped running for public transport unless I need to catch a connecting train or whatever ever since I squashed both my knees in order to catch a subway that leaves every 5 minutes. I caught the subway. Ever squashed a knee? It hurts, it's blue and you can't bend your knee for a good week at least. Now take that condition for two knees and try sitting on a toilet. Not worth catching that subway for.

So much for my sporting life. It's pretty much none existing though the thought of take on running has crossed my mind a few times. Never seriously. What made me decide taking on the Mokumse Vrouwen Loop is still a little mystery. Mokum = Amsterdam in old-Amsterdamsh, Vrouwen = women and Loop = run. I think it was the cause, the profits went entirely to MamaCash, the oldest international women's fund, which helps women all over the world in their fight against violence, discrimination and poverty. And, I quote, "They strive for equal rights, economic justice and a safe environment for themselves and their communities - often with little financial means and with admirable dedication. Mama Cash supports these women because she believes that everybody - women, men, and children - benefits from investments in women's rights and bettering the position of women. In other words: Mama Cash believes in the power and ability of women to change the world." This foundation was established in the Netherlands in 1983. I read it in a local newsletter and thought "Hey, I'm going to do that." There was a choice of running 2,5 km, 5 km and 7,5 km which could also be taking as a walking course.

In the end I was sensible and chose 2,5km. Again, I have no walking training. The weather was lovely today and I signed up, got my number and a chip that would track your time. When I got there I started to get intimidated. Those women looked like they're running every day. Good running gear and everything. I looked at the track. You had to run a bit on the track before going into the park. I decided to at least make it to the park. I approached another woman who would walk the 2,5km and she told me she wasn't trained either and nor was her friend. I felt better until they both mentioned they did use to run and this was a catching up thing. Oh dear. Nonetheless I decided to stay close to these two women, to at least know how fast I should start running. What's the worst that could happen? Taking part in this was already a good thing and that is true.

I will not review my run, that'll be boring. But I didn't stop once to catch my breath or anything, I kept running. I didn't crash down after finishing. I didn't need medical attention. Not that I would have been able to run another 2,5km at that point but I felt reasonably fit. My side only hurt the last 200 meters. I actually ran 2,5km! I did it! I amazed myself. I ended 6th or something with a time slightly under 12 minutes. The pain will come later I suppose.

Will I take on running on a daily basis? No. On a weekly basis? Probably not. But just to know I can do it is a nice feeling altogether. And I got a nice little bag to remind me of this day filled with a bit of beauty products samples and a night cream. Which came in hand as mine is almost finished. It's a women's walk after all.