Monday morning, I was discussing with my runner friend and teammate, Patrick, the weekend in the professional running world. Last weekend was the U.S. marathon Olympic trials, in which the top 3 runners from each male and female fields qualify to compete at the Olympic games this summer. There has been some controversy in the running world, more prevalent this past year, about a group of runners who have been accused of doping, giving them a clear advantage in competition.
These runners represent Nike and their popular coach Alberto Salazar. “Al Sal” leads the charge, specifically an athlete by the name of Galen Rupp, who won the men’s marathon this passed weekend, qualifying for the Olympic team in his first marathon he has ever run.
Many believe they are guilty, but this has not been proven yet to the extent where their best athletes have been suspended or banned from the sport.
One veteran by the name of Kara Goucher, a great competitor and big name in the game, placed fourth this past weekend in a heartbreaking fashion, missing the cut for the U.S. Olympic squad. Her post-race interview was difficult for her as she fought through tears and frustration. Toward the end of the interview, she expressed honest, blunt feelings of her perspective on the group that Al Sal coaches, one in which she once ran for as a Nike athlete.
I had, unfortunately, only seen the clip of her expressing these blunt feelings. It came across to me that she had been a poor sport. So, in response to this and discussing with my friend Patrick, I decided to throw a tweet out to her because why not? So, like most of my mindless millennials, I tweeted. It read, “@karagoucher, not really a fan of you or your post-trials interview #ruppNATION #ruppman #alsal your son is cute though.”
The truth is that I don’t really follow professional running like some of my peers do. I literally don’t care. I was being facetious by taking a stance on this weekend’s headline that most people would seem unpredictable and stupid, which in fact would be funny to my close friends. I have a weird sense of humor like that, and I’m not always proud of it. Who cares though, I only have 125 followers and I thought it would go unnoticed by most. Wrong.
Suddenly during HR 370, I had received a notification not only from Kara Goucher herself with a fair response, but also her army of her loyal supporters. Some of the messages I got were so mean that it was funny. That got old though. About every thirty seconds, I was facing criticism from running moms. I couldn’t even enjoy my chicken pot-pie dinner without my phone lighting up saying I was an idiot.
I was faced with a few options: 1) delete my Twitter 2) block everyone 3) issue a heartfelt apology via Twitter. I chose 3. It turned out quite well. She accepted my apology ending it with “#wegood.” I think we are friends now. We might even go for a run next time she is in Northeast Ohio. Phew.
Learn from my mistake: Exercise free speech however you want on Twitter, but be ready to be called an idiot hundreds of times. Going viral is overrated.Your fan base will never be as strong as Kara Goucher’s.