Chicago Sun-Times
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Ramble with Storm: Men & Women

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storm3x Mulling things on my morning ramble

with Storm, the family's mixed Lab.

No sense thinking small in life.

There are differences between men and women, and the comparisons generally don't favor the guys.

I write for primarily a male audience. Depending on the subject, guys make up 90-95 percent of the readers of my outdoors writing.

Put this way, as I have a couple times: For every Eve Chong and Rita Somen in Chicago fishing, there's 10 of Carl Vizzone, Ken ``The Lakefront Lip'' Schneider and Ray Hinton.

The exceptions in the outdoors are fly fishing (around one third women), camping (I would guess 60-40 guys to women, maybe even 50-50), backpacking (probably similar to camping) and some of the fringe shooting sports (cowboy shooting has about a quarter women).

Wonder how I drifted here?

On Sunday, I covered the Chicago Triathlon.

It was just a devastatingly hot day, brutal even. It was brutal simply walking around from site to site, or even standing there in the sun doing interviews for the story in the Sun-Times.

All and all, I was surprised the heat didn't take a worse toll on participants. But organizers seemed prepared and there was plenty of fluids and medical staff for a day where parts of the course heated into the mid-90s.

But even the pros suffered.

Male winner Mark Fretta crossed the line on wobbly legs with his eyes going glassy. Medical staff clustered near him and race staff quickly gave him a chair, wet towels and lots of fluids.

I was standing behind him, sweating my butt off, and thinking, ``Sheez, this is going to be a great interview.'' But 10 or 15 minutes later, he had come around fine and was wonderfully cogent and insightful on his biggest victory.

As a 5-8 guy, I truly loved his theory, one he shared with second-place finisher, Kevin Collington, that smaller guys did better in the heat than big guys. Less area for the sun to punish, if I followed their reasoning right.

But I truly noticed is that a quarter or so of the male pros finished on very wobbly legs and/or glassy-eyed. They all came around relatively quickly. There's a huge difference between a well-conditioned world-class athlete and the rest of us.

And there's a big difference between men and women, even at the most elite athletic levels.

Only a couple women pros finished wobbly or glassy-eyed.

Women's winner Sarah Haskins agreed that it is probably because women are tougher. She said it is a discussion she and her husband have often and in particular note women are tough enough to give birth.

As somebody who helped with the birth of all our kids, I know of no guys, none, that I could say for certain could go through childbirth and be conscious.

But it is more than just physical toughness by women.

I think women may know their bodies better than guys do, as the triathlon seemed to show.

Guys will push to the point where they are at loss of control, while women generally have the sense to back off just before the tipping point.

In other words, women are more sensible as well as tougher.

To bring it back around, I am not sure what that grand generalization means in terms of the outdoors.

Other than it explains some of the extremes that happen in the outdoors: duck hunting in a 25-degree freezing rain, goose hunting on a 0-degree day or pushing a boat into 8-footers simply to catch a few good fish.

Those are pursuits almost always done by guys, rarely by women. Not never, but rarely.

Not sure knowing that changes anything I do in life, other than note the difference.

And it seems like a good enough excuse to link to the wonderfully apt, if slightly dated, Fabulous Thunderbirds' ``Tuff Enuff.''

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on August 30, 2010 1:29 PM.

Chicago fishing: Monster brown trout was the previous entry in this blog.

ICF: Youth scholarships is the next entry in this blog.

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