Today was also a free neighborhood clean-up day, meaning that the city filled up a local vacant lot with dumpsters and garbage trucks for four hours and invited everyone to get rid of any non-hazardous garbage they had lying around for free - the sorts of things that don't fit into garbage cans for regular weekly pickup. I took advantage of it to get rid of a damaged folding chair, a broken vacuum cleaner, and most importantly, four chunks of concrete each about the size and shape of the blocks at the head of the parking spaces in public parking lots (or maybe slightly bigger: when stood on end, they were above waist height on me). The concrete had originally formed a border around my southern magnolia tree, but I didn't care for the look of having a gigantic tree imprisoned in a tiny concrete box, so back when I first moved in, Susan shattered the concrete with a sledgehammer and I hauled the pieces twenty feet away and lined them up along the fenceline to await eventual disposal. Last night I hauled those same four pieces of concrete to the opposite end of the back yard (bear in mind here that I live on a more than quarter-acre lot) and around the side of the house and lifted them into the trunk of my car. I carried the first two chunks of concrete all that way by hand, but after staggering under their weight the whole way, I decided I simply could not possibly carry the remaining two that way, so I emptied out my wheelbarrow and used it to transport the remaining two chunks. This morning I took everything to the vacant lot, where four large men collaborated to transfer these four chunks of concrete four feet from my car to a dumpster for me. The men exclaimed over the size and weight of the concrete, and one of them asked me, "How the heck did you get those into your car?" And I replied, "It was hard!" But I don't think they guessed anywhere near how far I had to transport them. I'm glad they're gone now.
Surprisingly, my arms are not sore today. [Edit: Oh wait, they kind of are . . . it's just not noticeable unless I try to use them for lifting things.] My legs are sore, though, and this time I think it's mostly from running rather than planting. My running has been in a holding pattern ever since the race a month ago: I've yet to exceed my best practice times from the days immediately preceding the race. I keep coming close, then falling back to much worse times, then gradually improving until I again suddenly fall back to much worse times again. I've taken extra rest days, I've occasionally shortened my route, I've tried various things to try to get out of this pattern . . . but so far, no luck.
In more tangentially running-related news, I recently discovered a blog by a Skirted Running Man. What interests me most about it is that he doesn't seem to be choosing skirts as any sort of expression of gender identity but simply as a matter of practical applications for the purpose of running. Specifically, he explains on his older, pre-skirt-wearing running blog that he became interested in running skirts due to freedom of movement ("How many times have you been annoyed by the material of your shorts riding up your leg?"), temperature regulation (he was planning to wear running skirts that didn't have attached shorts and figured they'd feel cooler in the summer than shorts), pockets (apparently running shorts don't tend to provide as good of pockets as running skirts?), and modesty (he was averse to wearing compression shorts without something looser over them for modesty, but he wanted a compression shirt to prevent chafing, which meant the shirt wouldn't help with modesty, and looser shorts would ride up his legs too much). I highly approve of this willingness to explore the practical benefits of skirts. Skirts are very practical clothes! Men are being unfairly deprived of opportunities to wear them, and it is only right that men should rise up and rebel against such gender-based restrictions.
Meanwhile, a lot of women seem to think the only possible reason for wearing skirts is to conform to gender roles . . . to "look cute," as it seems to be most often phrased. For example, the author of 'Why Running Skirts Are Sexist and I Would Never Wear One" states, "I just couldn’t take myself seriously while donning a frilly skirt all covered with sparkles and shit" - blithely assuming that all skirts are by definition frilly and sparkly, as well as assuming that there's something about frills and sparkles that makes anyone wearing them unworthy of being taken seriously - and then goes on to assert that skirts create a sexist atmosphere, because, apparently, it's bad to upset men by taking pleasure in running past them while wearing a skirt, and it's somehow better to upset men by taking pleasure in running past them while wearing shorts. No, really, she doesn't explain it any better than that. Another author, in the article "Does This Skirt Make Me Look Fast?" on Jezebel, asserts, "I don't want to look cute while kicking butt." This confuses me. If you agree that skirts are cuter than shorts or pants, and you can't seem to name anything about them that you find to be any less comfortable or less practical, then why not wear one? We're not talking about some time-consuming beauty regimen like, say, applying makeup or shaving your legs (at least one of which, statistically speaking, most of the women complaining about not wanting to bother looking cute by putting on a skirt are probably doing); we're just talking about putting on clothes. Which you'd have to to anyway, anytime you leave your house. If you think shorts or pants are cuter, great! Or if you think shorts or pants are more comfortable, also great! But I don't understand the assertions that skirts must be avoided simply and precisely because they look cute.
But a comment on the Jezebel article seems to help explain this. Someone calling herself SurplusJ commented, "I know this comes out of the same evil societal ideas that give us the running skirt, but I *like* looking less ladylike when I work out. It's probably partially what you talk about - focusing on kicking butt rather than looking cute - but looking kinda butch makes me feel a little more badass. Wearing a skirt to work out would just make me feel daintier, more ladylike. And now I'm gonna go sit in a corner and think about why ladylike and strong are mutually exclusive in my head."
YES. Yes, please, more sitting in corners and thinking about that. Yes, please. (And maybe if you think about it enough, you'll realize that running skirts don't have to come from those evil societal ideas.)
I mean, in the past couple of months, I've dug out a big section of my lawn while wearing ankle-length skirts, chopped down a tree with a chainsaw while wearing an ankle-length skirt, planted several dozen new plants while wearing ankle-length skirts, lugged huge blocks of concrete all the way across my more than quarter-acre lot while wearing an ankle-length skirt, and of course, trained for and run a 5K race while wearing various shorter skirts. Skirts are just clothes like any other clothes. Not all of them are great for all athletic activities, but some of them can be better for some athletic activities than any shorts or pants are. And I'm glad to see some men daring to wear them for those reasons.