I don’t remember most things that happen at 4 am–it’s either too late or too early for me to be fully awake–but I do remember a particularly early Saturday morning while sitting on a school bus with 30 other runners en route to the start line of an otherwise pretty forgettable 50 mile race. I had my head against the window and was desperately trying to catch a few more minutes of sleep before the race started when I heard this rather obnoxious man next to me talking about pink shoes. And not just any pink shoes. My pink shoes. And he wasn’t just talking about the color or the style of my shoes, he was talking about me. He was mocking me and my pink shoes. More importantly, he was mocking my ability as an ultra runner based on the color of my shoes.

Upon realizing that he was mocking me, I hastily sat up and looked glared in his direction hoping to signal to him that a) he was annoying b) I was trying to sleep and c) he needed to shut up before I leapt over the seat in a crazy grumpy rage. Instead, my look sent him into a fit of giggles and he started in on my tank top…and then he went for the jugular…my hair. The last thing I remember hearing was, “she even has pigtails!” Oh no he didn’t.

I shot up at once and said, “why are you so concerned with what I’m wearing or how I’m wearing it? You’re the one in a fanny pack and you don’t see me stressing.” A few laughs from around the bus and he was quiet for the remainder of the ride. I gave myself a pat on the back and tried to go back to sleep.

As the bus pulled into the lot, he tapped me on the leg and said, “come on pinkie.  Let’s go race.” His smirk said it all. He didn’t think I had it in me to race. He wasn’t just challenging me, he was doubting me for no reason other than how I was dressed and wore my hair. Instead of another snarky comeback (possibly due to the 10 minute nap), I decided I’d just own his ass out on the trail that day.  I had made up my mind and that was it. He was going down.

During the race, I couldn’t stop thinking about why that man bothered me so much.  It definitely wasn’t the first time someone had criticized or underestimated me because of the way I look, and it definitely wouldn’t be the last.  And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was bigger than me.  Tough can, does, and should come in every color. Kicking ass is kicking ass– whether you do it wearing mascara, wearing pink shoes, or even pigtails. And with each pink step I took, the more powerful I felt.

Sure, I’m a girly girl.  I take forever to get ready in the morning. I don’t like to leave the house without mascara. I love pink things. I own a closet full of clothes but never have anything to wear. I listen to Britney Spears. I am deathly afraid of creepy crawly creatures.

But I’m also a badass. I love to run and can run far.  I love the outdoors. I like a little mud on my running shoes. I can go without showering for a week and be totally okay with it. I drive a pickup truck. I do pull-ups and push-ups on a regular basis.

I sweat pink and I sweat it proud.

Oh and in case you were wondering, I beat that obnoxious man. I passed him on a steep hill, one pink shoe in front of the other.  I said, “nice job runner” as I went by to which he replied, “you too–you’re one tough cookie, pinkie.”

Damn straight.