What's a Woman to Wear?

By John A. Dodds
(Photos by Steve Pero)
(Respnse to this Article by Deb Pero)

Deb from BehindI got an email from Deb Pero the other day saying that there was one problem with my report on running in SNP with Gary and Jaret. The problem was that there were no pictures of her although she did admit there was no mention of her in the report. My first thought was why would I want to include a picture of a half-blind, noodle-snorting, "buckle-chasing babe" in my report. I have to first admit that "buckle-chasing babe" is not my expression; I heard that for the first time from a woman at the Catoctin party this past weekend. The Catoctin party takes place every August in Gambrill State Park in Maryland. I got there around 2 p.m. Although I'm not exactly sure, I think there's some kind of race before the party.

Before I forget, I just want to mention that the potatoes served at the party are not home fries, nor are they German potato salad. According to the RD, they are "exploded potatoes." They are excellent; in a word "Dynamite!" Which may very well be how they are cooked. They are what brings me back to the party every year.

Anyway, the pictures in this report are of Deb. And I'm going to mention her again as well.

Outfits.In her Hardrock report, Deb said that the first part of her "race strategy" was deciding which "outfit" to wear. Steve said men don't wear "outfits"; they just wear "running stuff." Steve is right. An "outfit" connotes a sense that items "match." Girls like to match; men don't care. If a guy has on running shoes made by the same company, regardless whether they are the same model, he is doing good. For example, if a guy is wearing one Vitesse and one Leona Divide and someone asks him what kind of running shoes he has, he answers, "Montrails."

Deb PeroMen really don't care what colors they wear either because, unless they are dealing with the primary colors, they don't have a sense of what matches what. Then there are the guys, particularly the older guys, who wear shorts or tights with about 20 different colors in them so that no matter what shirt they wear, it will "match" one of those 20 colors. Women, on the other hand, can easily match colors like purple, fuschia, and teal. But get this: women will absolutely refuse to admit that they choose "matching outfits" (except Deb, of course). If you were to point out that a woman's water bottle carrier matched her bandana (purple), she'll say, "Oh, really? I just grabbed the first bandana out of my bandana drawer. It's just a coincidence that I picked the purple one out of the 50 bandanas that I have."

Buckles. I want to go back to the "buckle-chasing babe" subject briefly. Not exactly defined at the party, the implication was that a "buckle-chasing babe" is one of those highly-competitive women who actually train and run hard in search of the glory that comes with earning a highly-coveted buckle in a 100-mile race. And what do these women do with these buckles? Hopefully, they wear them. A buckle is a stigma. No, I think I have the wrong word there. A buckle is a symbol. Of achieving one's goal, perseverance, and on and on. Mine are testimonials to how much misery I can endure.

Anyway, I was surprised (and somewhat disappointed) to read an article posted on the web written about someone who may fit the "buckle-chasing babe" description (and let me be the first to admit that I don't think this is a negative term). What did she say she did with the silver buckle she earned at Massanutten? She put it in a drawer! Gary used to entice me to run MMT saying that I needed another buckle for my drawer. I think he was kidding. I used to keep my buckles in a drawer until I found a great place to buy belts. Mike Bur used to do the same until he figured out a way to get me to buy a belt for him at the same place. And speaking of Mike, here's a joke I read in a "Readers Digest" magazine while using a heating pad on my knee (from my Bighorn injury) in the physical therapist's office:

Before shipping out to Europe with the Army Air Corps during World War II, my father loaned his buddy $20. The two were assigned to different units and lost contact. Months later, my father's plane was shot down. Bleeding from shrapnel wounds, he bailed out and was greeted by German soldiers, who took him as a prisoner. After a long train ride, little food and days of forced marching, he arrived at the assigned stalag. As he entered the compound, he heard a familiar voice. "You cheapskate. You followed me all the way here for a measly $20?"

I just want to say that I'm not going to chase Mike around for a measly $22 for a belt. And just where is Mike anyway? Kerry said he's going to run Leadville, and she will be his pacer. Kerry is getting to be quite the pacer. She told me that at Vermont, she started a "competition" between Mike Burr, Mike Broderick, Quattro Hubbard and Linda Poteate. First one to mile 68 would "earn" her as a pacer. Now I know what accounts for the slower than expected times for those runners. (Kerry, can you try to get my $22 from Mike while you're in Leadville?)

To close the loop, if Bethany is reading this, she should really try to get a belt for that well-deserved buckle.

Jog bras. In the parking lot at Catoctin, I heard a woman standing behind her car say, "Damn!" I asked her what was the matter. She said she forgot to pack a dry jog bra to wear after the race (so I guess there was some kind of race after all). I gently suggested that she could just not wear a bra. She gave some kind of excuse, part of which involved the words "Catholic upbringing." While we're on this subject, I just got another catalog from Road Runners Sports that devotes 5 pages to jog bras. In addition to the varying technical specifications, women can choose from such colors as turquoise, peach and lavender. Men's underwear gets one page, and you get your choice of white, gray and black. Final item: at another physical therapy session, I picked up a woman's magazine called "SHAPE." According to one article, eight of ten women wear an ill-fitting bra. Of the five signs of an ill-fitting bra, the first one is "spillage." I took an informal survey of a few select guys, and they didn't seem to think this was a sign of an ill-fitting bra at all.

Shoes. Deb, in case you're reading this in your New England isolation far from the trendy Virginia mountains, I just wanted to let you know that Teva running sandals are becoming de rigeur for women at the post-race festivities. Sure, there are women who still wear regular sandals or flip flops, but their days are numbered.

Deb againNail polish. As usual, women have a fascination with painting their toenails (or the places where their toenails used to be). The favorites are blue and green, although at Catherine's party (I think there was a race there, too), one woman painted her toenails lavender to match her lavender flip flops. But the coup de grace was putting her chair in a little patch of clover so she could match the flowers, too. And let's not overlook the fingernails. At Catoctin, the group consensus (although I have to admit that my vote didn't count for much) was that gray fingernail polish didn't quite make it.

Photos. Well, Deb, I hope that brings you up to date. As far as the photos, I'm sure that you'll recognize that they were taken by Steve and they're on your web site. If Steve could run faster, we just might have some pictures of you from the front. Maybe Steve could take one of you wearing one of your buckles.