I blog about running for the Erie Times-News over at Runner’s Notes. I don’t pretend to be an expert on all things running, nor am I the fastest runner, but I’ve been doing it long enough to know of what I speak, er, write.

Last week, a friend suggested I do a post about winter (low-light) running since the days are getting shorter already. So, I did.

The next day, I found this in my email box:

Writer suggests reflective clothing and chooses photo with black pants.

Fancy ID Tag? Not! Stick a note in your pocket.

Serious runners run alone most of the time. It is difficult finding a partner available on your schedule.

This person read an article about running but does not walk the talk.

The biceps on the photo are not  those of a serious athlete, but those of a sedentary person.

K. W., Triathlete

How ’bout them apples? (sigh).

(By the way, she signed her full name. It’s my choice to use just her initials.)

K.W. was obviously referring to my flabby arms because the photo used to illustrate that particular blog post didn’t show any biceps.

Talk about hitting me where it hurts.  (My arms are my No. 1 body insecurity and most loathed body part.)

When I finished reading the email, my mouth agape, I hit “reply” and started to fire off a nasty email right back. But I’ve been in the writing business long enough to know better than to immediately respond to criticism, even personal attacks.

I always wait 24 hours.

I did, however, immediately forward the email to all my running friends to see if any of them knew who K.W., the triathlete, was. I Googled her, and I searched for her race results. I felt better when it became apparent that she wasn’t local.

She didn’t even know me.

And, yet, it’s not OK for her to do that. It’s not OK to be mean. We are not Junior High (and it’s not even OK then).

After 24 hours, I wrote back:

Are you from Erie, Kim? Your name does not sound familiar to me.

I assure you that I am a real runner. I not only walk the talk, but I run it. I’ve been running for a dozen years now and I’ve raced at every possible distance from 1 mile to marathons.  Pointing out that my biceps aren’t ripped and suggesting that that means I’m not a real athlete is just mean (and inaccurate). Who are you to define what an athlete looks like?.

I wear black tights all winter long — it doesn’t matter when you have a reflective top. And, indeed, “serious” runners run with friends and, in fact, know that it makes them faster when they run with others who challenge them to run harder than they would alone.

Did you think there wasn’t a real person behind that “article”?  (It’s a blog post, by the way, not an article.)

I’ll admit there is some passive-aggressiveness in my response, but I said what needed to be said and stood up for myself and the flabby arms genetics gave me (that, by God, I’m striving to love).

I’ve spent my life accommodating, dodging, avoiding and dealing with mean girls, and, at 40 years old, I’m done.

I’m just done.

Women need to support each other, stand up for one another and cheer one another on.

No matter what.

Apparently, I got through to K.W.  She later responded with an apology.

While I felt vindicated and, on some smug level, satisfied, the whole thing just left me sad.

Think of how powerful and strong we would be if we all stuck together and stood up for one another and refused — absolutely refused — to talk shit about each other.

I’m game. How about you?

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”  — Mahatma Gandhi