I bit the bullet. Whipped out the Visa. Bought me an airline ticket across this land of the free to NYC for the Shorty Awards on April 20th.
The Shorty Awards are like the Oscars or Grammy’s for social media. I found out about them when people started posting their nominations for me in the “Athlete” category on twitter. Thanks by the way! Turns out they’ve been around for seven years now, and they’re kind of a big deal. Which is why I figured there was no possibility I’d be voted a finalist. I take social media seriously and everything, but I’m in a minor sport, and I’m not a celebrity. My approach has been to motivate, educate, lift people up, have fun, and be real. And whenever I catch myself feeling pressure to be more vanilla, or afraid that honesty will earn me a hand slap, I work extra hard to be myself. Sometimes I screw up, and feel like a piece of shit about it, but most of the time I really enjoy it.
Social media is kind of part of my job. It helps me connect with fans and friends of the sport, gives me a platform to share the ideas, products, and events I care about, but for the stuff I mentioned earlier, the honesty bits…that is what has made social media something more resembling a “practice”. As ridiculous as that sounds to take something digital and turn it into something yogi, it’s true. As your audience grows, as more people tune in, you face more fear in being yourself, and can eventually end up saying nothing at all. Ironically, the tools meant to amplify your voice can end up silencing it. So social media, for me, has been a helpful tool in working towards owning who I am, no matter who’s looking, who’s verbally abusive, or who’s applauding. And speaking of applause, It’s also a good exercise in learning not to live for it. I love when people positively engage with my posts, (who doesn’t?), but following the applause can lead to what Jesse and I call “the dancing monkey,” inspired by Derek Zoolander.
Another reason I like social media is because my community there is very real. I’ve bagged on all things digital in the past for being a distraction from “real life,” and yes, it really can screw up relationships with 3D bodies in front of you. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a legit, unique, community too, always evolving based on how you choose to engage, or just as importantly, not engage. Twitter is how I connected with all my support crew; it’s not only how I launched Picky Bars from my kitchen, but it’s how we make decisions about what’s important to our customers and adjust our plans accordingly; it’s how I keep people in the loop with my running adventures and misadventures so that I don’t feel alone out there every day; it’s how I learn what running means to other people, which helps me grow; it’s where I go to give high fives and support others; it’s where I go to learn about new fields, and find new heroes to look up to. Someone once told me, “The difference between who you are now and who you’ll be next year are the books you read and the people you meet,” and I see social media as a digital iteration of that.
Plus, it’s fun.
So thanks again to those of you who nominated me. It led to my selection as one of SEVEN FINALISTS in the Athlete category, which led to an invitation to walk the red carpet (!) and attend the awards show. Which of course led to me saying, “To hell with it, I’m going to New York.” We tried to find a way to justify Jesse coming with me, but it’s a terrible idea during his peak training two weeks before attempting to defend his title at Wildflower again. Two all-day travel days, and a day devoted to an awards show and social events is not a good idea for any athlete, frankly, but this is one of those once-in-a-lifetime things I think I just have to say yes to. If I were ready to rock a sub-15:00 5k at Payton Jordan, different story. But this honor is a bright spot in a tough time, and damn it if I’m not going to jump into it!
Without my handsome +1, I called up my fab duo at Oiselle and asked them if they’d be game. I got a YES faster than I could get out the details. So now it’ll be me and my +2: The indomitable Sally Bergesen and Sarah Lesko. Fittingly, two women I met on twitter who changed the course of my life and are pretty much weaved into my capillaries at this point. We’ll walk the red carpet as a trio, dressed like I have no idea because Sally is in charge of that. Hair did. Makeup did. Legs shaved. Teeth brushed. The whole bit. We’ll watch the show from our VIP theater seats, and cross our fingers that I win, in which case I’ll have to give a tweet-length speech in front of way too many people. We’ll attend the after party regardless, and hope to get invited to Elton John’s after-after-party. And then we’ll get up the next day and fly home, hopefully with some really good stories.
I’ll post updates on fun stuff, wardrobe, etc, as we get closer. Until then, thanks for reading, engaging, and being awesome. Looking forward to some racing adventures in June. The achilles is coming along! I’ve been posting a fair bit of my training on Strava if you want to check it out.
If you’re in NY and want to come to the Shorty Awards, you can buy tickets. You can also tune in to the live stream of the show. What are my chances of winning? Well you’ve seen the finalists. But just for fun, submit ideas below…
If I win the Shorty Award I will ___________________.