Blog-Righteous Indignation

If you’re a regular blog reader (in general, not just OUaL) and have a keen sense of traditional race recap lineage, you might be wondering where the “what’s next” post from me is following Ventura. I’m here today to address that. Sort of.

I said I wouldn’t be returning to the marathon for a while. Two+ weeks post-race and I still stand by that. Steadfast on the “probably someday, not anytime soon” claim.

But I’m not off running altogether. I’m still riding on healthy legs and an above-average fitness base, and I don’t really want to let that go. But without a goal race on the horizon, working out has been more of a maintenance than a “Holy crap let’s get to work! Time to get better/faster/stronger!” which you know, is kind of cool.

back bayback bay2

a lovely early AM Back Bay loop with K this weekend – 10 miles just because, why not?

My raceplace.com browsing would indicate I’ve got a 5k/10k pain train coming my way, but I haven’t found one that seems right or fits into my schedule. Isn’t that the beauty of short races though? You don’t need to plan months in advance! When the urge gets strong enough and trigger finger can’t be contained anymore there can be a bib on your shirt mere hours later.

One race that has been on my radar that a few of you have also sent my way (super cool of y’all to think of me for it) is a supathlon. That’s like a triathlon, but running and Stand Up Paddleboarding.

I KNOW, RIGHT?! PERFECT!! SO FUN!!!

So why haven’t I added it to the schedule? Let me get a little first world blogger problems on you for a second…

I pitched a social media partnership to the race company, like I sometimes do. Lots of times they’re on board, seeing the value of authentic exposure and a ‘sticky’ race recap for future race seekers to find. Sometimes they offer a discounted entry, or a “get xx people to use this code and we’ll comp you” deal. Sometimes they say no. It’s all good, and like they say, it never hurts to ask.

But for some reason a no response – from multiple addresses – irks me more than anything. It’s probably my customer service/sales background, but Lord have I’d rather be told “No” a million times than be ignored.

So in my self-righteous indignation, I’m not registering. I realize the race will neither falter nor succeed based solely on my participation, just let me play my drama card and feel bigger and more important than I am.

Alright gotta go find a race to actually run and reply to some flagged emails so nobody can accuse me of being a hypocrite.

Sarah OUaL

p.s. I don’t care how ridiculous any of this is. I’m exercising my right as a female to completely blow things out of proportion and take a stand against something completely irrelevant to the world outside my little bubble.

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53 thoughts on “Blog-Righteous Indignation

  1. One of the things that turns me off most about fitness blogs is stuff like “Garmin sent me x to test”, or “donning my media badge they sent me”, etc. Honestly, that will get you removed from my feed faster than anything. I don’t know why, I guess it’s because I have paid my way my whole life and expect that I will be treated fairly, and clearly I am not. Anyway.

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    • That’s fair, I agree blogs can get very infomercial’y. Slippery slope with companies seeking product content outside of their own channels, and people with platforms to showcase it that like getting free shit ;)

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  2. haha, that’s how I feel with Oiselle after spending thousands of dollars on their clothes and supporting them on twitter and then being told no to team. I still have a grudge and it was 8/1 when I found out….

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      • I’ve stopped spending money on them and definitely stopped singing their praises. There team is selection is totally based on who knows who and whose friends with who on team not really who loves the products. Totally what you see through social media.

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        • I’m a grudging reject as well. I get people to buy their stuff, volunteer for Girls on The Run..but I have virtually no Twitter followers. I was naïve to think it was about the kind of runner you are v. your marketing reach. It was silly for me to think otherwise…but I can still stomp my feet!

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          • I’m sorry you didn’t make it, that’s a bummer, but I’d have to disagree with the reasons. I made the team this year, and I didn’t know a single person on the team or that worked for Oiselle beforehand. I’ve built up my twitter followers a bit over the last few months, but probably had less than half of what I have now when I applied. They also make it no secret that being engaged in social media is important to them, but it seems like they have people on the team with all different levels of followers – whether it’s twitter, blogs, facebook, etc. I’ve found the best part of the social media engagement with the team isn’t about marketing for them, but the support before and after races and being able to get meetups going for runs with local teammates organized. Just my two cents. If you love the brand, I’d say don’t give up and try to apply again the next time it opens up.

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          • Sorry to hear about these disappointing experiences with applying for the team. I wanted to chime in because I don’t think the critiques presented here are fair. I made the racing team this year and admittedly, I don’t have behind-the-scenes info about their selection criteria. But, I didn’t know anyone at HQ and had only met an ambassador runner a few times through local events. Basically, I had zero connections to Oiselle aside from being an avid fan of their work. Second, I do believe social media engagement is important to them, but I don’t think it’s as simple as having a certain number of followers on twitter. I didn’t have a twitter account before joining the team and I stated that in my application. While I am active on facebook, they never asked me about my reach on fb. What I bring is engagement with my local running community – I participate in community runs and am a volunteer mentor for a marathon training group at my local Fleet Feet. I have no marketing reach otherwise. I am passionate about running and building running communities, and I love that Oiselle – a business, no less – supports these things. From what I’ve heard, the number of applicants who applied this time was really large; it seems like a lot of tough decisions had to be made. I read that one member who got accepted this year applied 2 times unsuccessfully previously, so I don’t think you should give up if you really believe in what Oiselle does. Don’t let this setback discourage you from trying again and definitely don’t let it overshadow all the good things that made you love them in the first place!

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      • One of my good friends in real life is on team oiselle and she doesn’t have a blog, barely facebooks, and doesn’t have twitter, so its not based solely on how has the biggest following :)

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  3. I don’t know this for sure, but I’m basing it on the fact that I’ve just started to hear about SUP as a ‘thing’ (granted I live in one of those Great Lakes Rust Belt Cities that I know you are familiar with, but still, just started hearing about it in the last 6 months or so) . . . this is probably the first or second year of this event and its probably pretty low-key. They may not have a person to respond to these types of requests. It could just be one guy or gal in the basement cranking out flyers and figuring out logistics. I would cut them a break and register and pay if it sounds like fun.

    It does make the eyeballs a little tired to see all the free stuff bloggers get and pimp themselves out for, so I don’t particularly feel bad for you in this situation. Its nice to get a response, sure, but truth be told, one of your best [blogger and real life] friends ignored my direct email regarding a very, very long race that was happening in my neck of the woods without so much as a simple “thanks, no thanks” response. Not trying to be catty, just saying, its a common thing and not limited to this one company / person.

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    • I hear ya. The SUP race is actually in conjunction with a marathon, in it’s 3rd or 4th year, but there isn’t much press about the SUPathlon. For an up-and-coming sport and a fun event I think it could use some exposure. But sure, people are busy and maybe it’s not their priority. Nobody’s world is going to stop spinning if I don’t participate (on their dime or my own) Thanks for sharing – catty or not ;)

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      • It does sound fun, though. I have never tried SUP (just got into yoga about 12 years after the trend) and its doubtful that its offered anywhere around here.

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  4. if it’s the race i’m thinking, and i’m pretty sure it is, i’m not surprised by this. i’ve emailed them before to get questions answered and gotten nothing (about logistics of the race). also, i met them before the first year of their races, and if its the same people, i’m not surprised at all about their lack of response. they were perfectly nice, they just seemed a little… flaky? might not be the right word, but they didn’t seem focused/well organized. might be different race/different organizers now, just my experience from a couple years ago.

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  5. I discovered that a local 10K stole a personal photo (snapped by my fiance, not an official race photo) from my blog recap of that 10K from the previous year to use in their email advertisements for the race. Repeated angry emails to the organizers of the 10K went unanswered. I finally tracked down the marketing company that was helping promote the 10K, called the company, and even they “didn’t know” who put together the emails or where the photos used in them had come from. Yeah… sure.

    So, completely different thing, but I understand your anger in receiving no response!

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  6. Sarah, I love your blog but I disagree totally today. You made a cheeky request (which I have no issues with at all, if you don’t ask…totally!). But they clearly thought it was too cheeky and didn’t bother replying. Fine – no-one’s hurt! I agree a reply is polite and would be nice. But you can’t moan in public that they didn’t reply to your cheeky email! Come on!

    I sound like your mother, don’t I :)

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  7. Eh, I have a strict personal no-comped-stuff policy on my blog, mostly because when I find out a blogger has something sent to them to test or a comped race entry, I tend to trust the review less, even if the ‘conflict of interest’ is declared! And I feel like it becomes harder for the ‘regular person’ reader, who pays for all of his or her stuff, to relate.

    I figure races cost money for a reason – road closures, drinks at support stations, marshals, medical tent. Honestly, if the SUPathlon sounds fun enough(here are two things you love!), you should just do it anyway; you don’t have to post about it if you don’t want to :)

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  8. I think you need to give the race directors some benefit of the doubt here. Have you ever directed a race or been in the front-lines planning process at all? If its a not for profit race then chances are there are multiple people putting in as much volunteer time as they can between real job and real life responsibilities.

    I say this as someone who has been directly involved in planning more than one race – all of which were simple 5Ks, not elaborate, multi-point duathlon like races. Its not easy, instead it tends to be a complete cluster – especially if its the first time they have done this. I don’t think you realize they are dealing with much more pressing issues than a free entry – like sponsors, city permits, volunteer coordination, police/emts, etc. – stuff that has to happen for the race to happen.

    Have you ever considered offering your experience to help rather than bashing them online?

    I’m not trying to be a troll or bitch about this – I’m just saying, from personal experience, there are better ways to go about this without hurting feelings. I get that it is frustrating they haven’t responded, I truly get that, but that doesn’t mean they are doing it to be bitchy. I’m just saying, not hating.

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    • I appreciate your insight! No, I have not been directly involved with putting on a race, and I am sure there are a billion things that go into it. This is an established, for-profit race that’s been around a few years, and has some notoriety for disorganization (as other comments imply). My proposition to them was to bring exposure to a newer sport and event, in hopes to generate some good (/honest) buzz about it. As any proposal should be, there was X in it for them and Y in it for me. I’m glad I did not directly link to them, because bashing them was not necessarily the purpose. I stand by my claim that a “no” or automated response is hugely better than no response, but may consider editing the post to make the culprit less obvious.

      Thank you for weighing in!

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      • That is a lovely point.

        I’m very involved in training and competing with dogs. (running only enables me to compete in dog agility better, it’s a means to an end for me)

        We dog club event-runner types get a lot of criticism from folks about a wide variety of things. I always say, step up and help out! You might find it’s a lot more difficult from the other side of the entry table. Step up and help out! Non-profit events are run by volunteers and everyone should give back to their sport.

        :)

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      • If its an established, for-profit organization then I am more understanding about the entire thing. Then it really does feel like a blow off.

        I get where you were coming from as a blogger offering up exposure, a legit purpose. It just irked me a lot at first because of my experience working with non-profits. But then, I’ve been on the receiving end of “poorly organized” races so I get the frustration there too!

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  9. I agree they should respond, regardless. Can’t say I agree with your stance. But I’ve over-reacted way worse about way less so I don’t hold it against you. However, I wish you’d do the race anyways because it sounds right up your alley and think you’d have a lot of fun.

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  10. I think it’s funny when readers are upset/annoyed when blogger’s get things for free to review or for exposure. I feel like it’s back in elementary school and someone’s jealous of the teacher’s “pet”. You put yourself out there, took the initiative to start a blog, and have the option of doing/saying what you want, just like a reader doesn’t have to read your blog if they don’t want to. Not to say that I’m not insanely jealous, but my husband thinks I take enough pictures and talk enough so I don’t think he’d be too excited if I started a blog so that I could support my running habit, plus I live in farm-land, boondocks WI, and no one wants to hear about cow tipping with a side of cheese curds, beer, and Packers….

    ANYHOW!! Common courtesy says to respond!

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  11. Yay! Controversial post time!!!!

    Here’s my take:
    1) Blogging can be a pain in the ass (hence why I don’t really do it any more). Thus trying to get free shit in exchange for your work / influence is totally cool.

    2) Race planning is probably also a pain in the ass so not being able to respond to everything is probably completely fine too. Sometimes I get emails at work from bloggers, etc asking for things. Sometimes I don’t reply more because I see the email at like 9 PM at home and forget the next day bc it’s not my top priority.

    Anyways, whatever. Let’s all just smoke a joint and relax.
    (just kidding don’t do drugs)

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  12. I feel like the race director kinda needs to be called out, though. One of my good friends was the director of the SUPathlon last year, but was shafted in some way/shape/form (I didn’t ask for the deets), so he is not doing it this year. Then, when my girlfriend wanted to switch from the half to the full, she emailed them with the request, and it took them SEVERAL WEEKS to get back to her! I’m sorry, but that’s unprofessional. There are a butt-ton of other races out there where I’d rather put my buck/social media time where the athletes are appreciated (Fuck, man. These races keep getting more and more expensive!). I am tempted to ask to defer to next year after finding out that my friend isn’t directing the SUPathlon, but I’m almost certain that by the time they get back to me, it’ll be March, and I’ll be drinking ICBs somewhere up in Mammoth.

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  13. I work for a company doing marketing and I get emails from people all the time and can not possibly answer them all. Most of them are from sales people wanting us to do something for them, but if I answered everyone I wouldn’t have time to do my actual job. I honestly feel bad not answering them all, but I do answer some that actually catch my eye, even if it is to say no.

    What you are doing is a sales pitch. Sorry, but that’s what happens when you are in sales. In this case you are trying to sell yourself. Sometimes you have to send out hundreds of emails to get a response. It’s about hard work you can’t expect to always get an answer.

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  14. Well, I learned how those race discount codes work now… I’ve paid for each of the ~30 races I’ve run over the past few years with the exception of 1 race entry won off a blog, and 1 race entry comped to a friend to me (it was karma: I spent the day volunteering at an ultra put on by the same race director a few months prior). I guess it means I’m a sucker for paying for the race and writing about it on my tiny blog.

    A no response is nice, but absence of response is the same as ‘no’ in my book. Or maybe a ‘not yet.’ I just say that because personally I’m bad at responding to emails in a timely fashion. I’m partial to that race you speak of because a friend was able to run a PR/BQ on that course last year after they opened registration last minute to those registered for the NYC marathon. I get that you’re miffed by the No response, but how many supathlons even exist for you to try this cool event out??

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    • Most discounts are straight up, some come with caveats or back-end offers. I’ve only come across one or two and didn’t take them up on it. I’d rather the code just be there for people who want it than feel pressured to hit a quota, ya know?

      >

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  15. Whatever I feel about this post, I have to give mad props for keeping it real. I didn’t feel like you were saying “you didn’t give me free sh!t, I’m going to DESTROY YOU ON MY BLOG” vibe. I think if this were a company you had a bad CS experience with in a different situation, there would be no qualms about you venting, say if WF advertised free stuff for a promotion and you went there and they were out like 10 minutes in and then ignored everyone. Maybe not exactly a congruent argument, but I believe at the root of what you stated, you had a cogent point. I didn’t necessarily feel like you were, for lack of a more eloquent term, “butt hurt” because you didn’t get free stuff, I feel like you were venting because of bad CS.

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  16. Ummm so this is what I missed by skipping run club last night?? Damn it.

    So, I feel like AS A CUSTOMER, absolutely everyone deserves and is entitled to a reply.

    However, you’re approaching them as a sales pitch – you’re selling yourself, in exchange for something. And I don’t feel like sales pitches can/should be regarded the same as customers. I was not in a high profile position previously, and received dozens of pitches a week from a variety of vendors. The quickest way to lose my attention and get a quick click to spamsville is emailing multiple times.

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    • I agree. I work in marketing and represent small- to medium-sized businesses in the San Francisco Bay Area. My work involves monitoring a few email accounts, and I see sale pitches all the time.

      These sort of emails simply do not have the same priority as customer (read: those who will pay) inquiries, and unless the client is keen on the vendor’s services the sales pitch is not going to get a response. Small companies don’t have the manpower to respond to every single email, though I doubt large companies would take the time to respond to every sales pitch as well.

      I also do part-time work for a race company that holds events benefitting nonprofits. Our team is really small, and although the race director works hard to respond to every customer inquiry, she is just one person, and I doubt she responds to every sales pitch. We ARE interested in working with bloggers, and I’ve given free entries in the past in exchange for social media coverage. So I do understand your work, the exposure you provide and why bloggers with large audiences should be compensated.

      That said, I truly think you are doing yourself a disservice with these types of posts. I know it’s your blog, and you are entitled to post whatever you want. But obviously you are also using the blog to promote your services.

      The blog has become a bit of a business for you (even if you don’t see it as one). And while I cannot speak on behalf of my employers, as a marketing professional and someone who works for a race company I would be dissuaded to work with a blogger if she wrote a public rant about a company that didn’t respond to her emails.

      I still enjoy your blog and am really rooting for you to succeed with your race, running and professional goals. I find you fun and relateable, so posts like these do surprise me. … Just thought I’d give my two cents since I work in marketing and race management.

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