Two days ago I woke up angry. At *least* as angry as I had been for the three previous days. If I had written this post then, the title would have been something like, “(Sour) Grape Flavored Nuun” and you would have been gifted a treatise on inequity and disappointment and an anger-sadness that I just couldn’t shake. But it’s two days later and though those feelings were bound to subside on their own, they were helped along on their way out the door by a pretty cool thing that happened late Friday afternoon.
So, I mentioned once or twice that I was applying for Nuun’s Hood to Coast team, right? I submitted my application in the wee hours of April 5 and then waited (with a surprising amount of confidence) for the next 19 days to find out if I was selected to run on one of three Nuun-sponsored teams. At no point did I think I was a lock, but I really thought I had a good chance. When the team was announced this past Tuesday at noon I was sitting in a four hour – no joke – meeting about how to conduct meetings. As soon as that abomination ended, I grabbed my phone and saw the “Thanks, but no thanks” email from Nuun. That was an unfun moment. And then I got back to my desk, read the official team announcement on the Nuun website and that’s where the real unfun began.
Running blogs abound on the internet. I only know about a fraction of them, I’m sure. And I get that, in many ways, blogging begets community among like-minded individuals. You write, you read, and sometimes you cross electronic paths with those other writer/readers. And then maybe you decide to meet in real life, like, oh say, at a race somewhere. Makes total sense to me. What I saw on Tuesday when I looked at the list of women chosen to run for Nuun were A LOT of those ladies. In addition to eleven returning runners from last year’s Nuun team, I saw several other names from what I have come to consider (and I may be wrong about this) the female running blogger “inner circle.” As I went down the list, my thought process was, “She ran last year. So did she. Yep, of course SHE got in. Okay, she’s new, but I know she’s good pals with that other one. Oh yay – I like her and her application rocked! And another yay – her video was AWESOME! Seriously, ELEVEN alums?!” So it wasn’t all sour grapes – several of the women chosen had applications that I really loved and even those that didn’t, well I’m sure they are truly thrilled to be chosen and will have a blast in August. It’s not that I think Nuun picked people that won’t appreciate and enjoy the experience. It’s that I think the way they went about picking those people could have been better.
So I seethed for a couple of days. And wondered if I was just a big baby who didn’t like losing. Yes, probably. But then I discovered that I wasn’t alone. See, rejected runners who blog have a forum in which to express themselves – their blogs. I started reading some posts from other non-Nuunies and realized that they shared my feelings. And more importantly, other people were upset for the same reasons – NOT the rejection, but the perception of Nuun’s process. This post, at Falon Does Marathon, was the best that I read. I loved it for its clarity and brevity (I could take a lesson from her, I know) and unapologetic frustration. And then I saw that the CEO of Nuun commented on the post and included his email address.
Which brings us back to Friday morning and closing in on 72 hours of unabated rage. I wavered off and on all day and finally, late in the afternoon, shot off five paragraphs to Mr. Mason Reay. Among them:
I want to be clear that while my disappointment stems from not being selected to run with Nuun’s team, my anger does not. I’m not angry that you didn’t pick me. While I maintain that my Nuun spelling bee themed video was a strong and creative concept (albeit lacking in high production value both in general and compared to other entries), I don’t think that I was necessarily deserving of a spot more than anyone else. It’s your team, your rules, your selection criteria. If my idea and presentation didn’t meet those criteria, so be it. What I’m angry about are the ways in which your call for applications, selection of participants and defense of that selection don’t match up.
I guess I’m just left feeling like this was never a fair fight from the start. With eleven alumni from last year’s team and several others who are well-entrenched in the runner blog scene and all seem to know each other, it appears you’re not quite getting the diversity you claim to seek. Again, to be clear, some of my favorite applications belong to runners chosen for this year’s team. You have some truly creative women representing Nuun and I’m really happy for them. But wouldn’t it have sent a more inclusive message if you’d also chosen a fair number of lesser known running bloggers as well? Lesser knowns with killer applications, sure – and hey, maybe I STILL wouldn’t have gotten chosen, but that’s not my point. My point is that I applied because I honestly thought I had a chance at getting selected. If I hadn’t gotten picked but looked at the list of those who had and saw women who I identified with that just submitted WAY better applications than me, that would be one thing. What I see on your team this year are runners who are probably all awesome ladies that will enjoy and appreciate the experience they have in August, but who (for the most part) don’t represent those of us outside the inner circle.
I hope you don’t write this off as just a long winded case of sour grapes. I love Hood to Coast. I love and will most likely continue to use your product. What I don’t love is how this whole thing has played out.
I felt pretty okay after I sent that. I felt even more okay an hour and ten minutes later when I received Mason’s eight paragraph response. I was floored. It was thoughtful, respectful, detailed and clear. He explained a bit more about how Nuun approached the selection process and asserted in a wholly believable and genuine way that the list started blank, without any presupposition. It was really awesome. And diffused my anger instantaneously, in a way I have never before experienced. All that frustration from the last several days? Just… gone. We exchanged another four emails about Hood to Coast and running in general and by the time I left work, I was thinking, “You know, I might give this whole Nuun thing a shot again next year.” Turns out, sometimes a person just needs to know that they’ve been heard.
So that’s over with. Nope, I didn’t get on the Nuun team, but given my deep and abiding love of all things Hood to Coast, I haven’t given up hope that I’ll find a team to join in the next five months. And if not, there’s always next year.
As much fun as righteous indignation can be sometimes, resolution and forward motion are infinitely more satisfying.