I am woman, hear me brag about running eight miles last weekend.
When I entered the world of road races a few years ago, I didn't aim to establish an identity as a "female runner."
Running was fun. It helped me release stress and burn calories. Any broader gender significance was secondary. Yet I noticed my growing interest in running coincided with a local, and possibly national, trend. Race bibs were becoming popular female accessories.
The observation holds true, and it's based on more than anecdotal evidence.
In 2011, there were more than 200 "women-only" running events in the U.S. meeting the criteria of 95 percent female participation or more, according to Running USA.
"Women-only events have surged in the last decade meeting the growing demand of female runners," the organization notes.
The interest isn't confined to gender-specific races. Last year, 59 percent of half-marathon finishers were females, Running USA reports.
When I interviewed "Ultramarathonman" Dean Karnazes a little while ago, he confirmed the trend. "Not only are they female, but they are kicking some serious booty," Karnazes said of women who participate in organized races.
Run in a local road race and you might see the Stroller Strong Moms, or the women involved with the Columbus Roadrunners or the Jeff Galloway Run-Walk-Run training program. Not to mention a fair share of female newbies.
Retailers and race organizers have responded accordingly.
Big Dog Running Company, 1104 Broadway in Columbus, on Thursday will host its 2nd Annual Ladies Night. It will include a fashion show, a bra clinic and fittings, refreshments and more. The event is 6:30-8 p.m.
Then, there's the Girls Night Out 5K, a women-only race scheduled to take place in downtown Columbus Oct. 19.
What's driving the trend? Women cite factors ranging from convenience to stress release to "me time."
A sense of sisterhood never contributed to my initial desire to run. After all, running isn't a team sport. But as my interest progressed, I met female friends who coached me through long runs and posted finish times that inspired me to push my limits.
Amid the complexities of female friendships, the inviting, impartial pavement is a welcome equalizer.
Sonya Sorich, reporter, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 706-571-8516. Visit ledger-enquirer.com/sonya to read her columns.