Making friends with women is so good, and so important. Explaining myself to other women is often fraught and so difficult.
This morning’s conversation was peppered with the women around me discussing how unhappy they were with their bodies, how they might improve them, how they might punish themselves for not “behaving better.” I sort of tuned out for awhile, playing on my phone.
As the only fat woman at the table, I sometimes feel guilty about being the one who is the most comfortable in her own skin. Society tells me I shouldn’t be so happy in this flesh, and when I’m in the midst of a Mean Girls scene and all I can think of is “I have really bad breath in the morning,” I sometimes feel like I am checking out of the experiences and feelings of other women around me. By not participating in collective complaints about our individual bodies, I feel like a gender traitor, like I have turned on the women around me, by not hating myself.
Ain’t that some shit.
So, I explained to my friend and her co-worker today about how I “just” actively choose every day not to blame my body for appearing in a socially unacceptable manner, to accept all my bits and pieces, to love my whole being. To reward it with all the food I love, beer, and sweat.
It’s not been an easy road to radically love myself; by and large, society tells me that I am too big, take up too much space, am too squishy, have too much cellulite, etc. It’s a road that I am glad I have explored and traveled though, and I wish I could get more people to join me in the journey, but I can’t love other people’s selves for them… I just try to model good behavior and be an example of what loving one’s self without condition looks like, but the reminders of how rare unconditional self love is are mind-blowing.
I wasn’t going to post a recap of Sunday’s Rock and Roll Half Marathon, but I do have some strong feelings about how it went, and I got a request from one my dearests, so here goes.
I went to the expo Saturday, got a sparkly purple sweaty band, Gu, and my race stuff. I walked up the stairs at the convention center and thought, “well, now that I can’t breathe, tomorrow should go well…”
There was no backing out, though, so I went home and started hydrating with mostly water and a few beers. I had spent the evening before drinking and eating inefficiently and was surprised to not wake up hungover Saturday, so I took it easy back at the house, eating good food and pumping myself up for the next day.
I went to bed early and woke up before dawn Sunday to be at the start line for the 6:15 wave. This was the wave for people who were expecting to cut it close on the four hour course limit. Being untrained and unprepared for hills, I was anticipating a 3:45 half time, but I wanted to start even earlier just in case something went wrong. My one goal was to finish without being picked up by the sag wagon.
We started off as the sun slowly rose and the colors of the ocean changed. I got diverted down a street I walk often, but did not expect to run at the very start of the race. Closing streets down in SF is a bit of a controversy, so they split the runners a few times for efficiency’s sake, I guess. I turned right, and thought I WAS NOT EMOTIONALLY PREPARED FOR THIS TURN. I was expecting my roommate, who was in the proper first wave, to pass me with a friendly ass slap & encouragements, but I didn’t see him by the 3rd mile, when we estimated he would overtake me.
Waiting for him kept me from slowing down. I wasn’t going to pause to remove my zip up, or get some Gu out of my spibelt and be caught standing around so early. So I kept pushing. I walked the major inclines, took serious advantage of declines, and alternated running and walking otherwise, according to the song, or the mile, or whatever felt right.
When I saw the sign just before the 5k mark that warned, “You’re about to earn your view” (or something like that), I dug my heels in for the longest and steepest incline I’ve experienced since that one time I was actually capable of running most of that hill - the time I trained for my first Half in San Francisco. The hill was hard but it wasn’t unforgiving. The views were some of the most breathtaking I’ve seen here. We were blessed with a crystal clear day unlike any other I’ve run on before. People were stopping to take selfies and using their iPhones to take panorama shots of the ocean meeting the bay, but I kept moving. I knew if I stopped, I’d lose my momentum. I kept listening to my music and moving forward.
There was another reason i didn’t stop for photos - the race organizers were right, I earned the view. I wasn’t going to bust out my phone, waste precious minutes and motivation, and share the view with someone who didn’t earn it that day. Maybe it was selfish, but it served me well.
"You paid for this" mocked us in sign form at the steepest part of the hill. I snickered to myself a little, because I did pay for it, and if it weren’t for $150 i couldn’t have recouped, I might not have shown up Sunday. Runners are dumb. We pay thousands of dollars for registration and travel and gear and wake up before dawn, subject ourselves to crowds and cold temperatures and rain and blisters and heat and sunburns and bugs in our eyes and mouths, forgoing sleeping in, staying up late, brunches and pizza, all in the name of tech tees and finisher medals.
When I got to the Bridge, I knew my runner-stupidity for what it is — worth it. The vistas, the privilege of running on a lane normally reserved for automobile traffic with 10 thousand of my dumbest friends. I was tired and approaching sore at this point, not even halfway done, and trying really hard not to yak up the Gatorade that betrayed me around mile 3. I had had a Gu on the hill, accurately assuming Chip was way ahead of me and removed my jacket. For the first time, I was glad to be sleeveless on the bridge. I walked the bridge longer than I had planned, but I was recovering from the hill and trying to store energy for the second half of the race. I finally saw my roommate, up with the leaders of the laymen pack, around my mile 4 - his 6 or so. It re-energized me; if *he* was already halfway done, and I’m almost halfway done, then I’m almost done! (Runners are very stupid)
But it worked. I dodged people who were slower than me (oh my god the lack of race etiquette!) and tried to stay out of the way when speedier folks approached. The halfway-done mark was on the bridge. From there, I just had to get to mile 10, where my friend was waiting to run me into the finish, and then 13.1, where A and my roommate and his girlfriend would be waiting for me.
Just past the bridge, I reapplied some stuff to my knee to ward off the pain creeping in, shot another Gu, and took off. I was slower and my stomach was grumbling (never trust a fart after mile 4, my roommate’s running mantra, repeated over & over in my head) but I kept plodding. Walking some, running some, enjoying the sights and sounds of the city and its runners. Around mile 8, I checked my phone and saw Tricia wasn’t meeting me at mile 10 but at 12. I was bummed, but it motivated me to get to 12 faster. From 8 to 12 was sort of all a blur. I had crossed the bridge, I didn’t really know the rest of the route, and I just wanted to finish. I kept checking behind me for the Sag Wagon but all i saw were other slow people, like me. I figured I must have been in good shape.
I saw Tricia at mile 12, where I got to bitch about the pinch in my hip I had stopped to stretch a few times, celebrate the minimal knee pain I was experiencing, and lament my sweatiness (the humidity is still not my friend). I got a side stitch, walked it out, and picked up the pace for us. I dropped it. I picked it up. Once the finish line was in sight, I felt relieved. I wanted to take off my shoes and kiss my boy and get a beer. Tricia told me she was going to amble off and not cross the finish line with me since she hadn’t run the full race, and then I saw the clock.
It was around 2:40 something. I started before the clock, so I figured I must have just been barely over 3 hours. My heart and my legs thrilled to it, so even though my lungs were on fire, I ditched Tricia at the fastest sprint of my life, craving a finish in just over 3 hours. That would be so much better than 3:45, it’s insane, I thought.
I ran as hard and fast as I could. I heard the crowd noise pick up as I took off, so I went harder and faster. I could barely see and breathing was forgotten. I didn’t notice any of my adoring fans (the roommate, girlfriend, A, or Tricia), or even bother trying to find anyone’s eyes aside from a cursory scan as I sprinted past.
I crossed the finish line thinking about what the announcer had said over 3 hours ago - “I don’t know why everyone behind you (the elite runners and first wave) is in such a hurry; you’re all going to the same place - enjoy the scenery!” and wanted to find my people.
Just over three hours. For an anticipated 3:45 and a hoped for 3:30.
I was elated. I was getting hangry and my feet hurt but I was elated. I didn’t hurt as bad as I expected and I managed to beat my own dejected expectations.
And little did I know, when the dust settled, I hadn’t finished in just over three hours. Despite my confidence I was slow and steady and pushing over 3, my official time was 2:59:30.
Just under 3 hours, with an expectation of 3:45, and a craving for 3:30. I had something to prove and something to achieve, and I blew it out of the water.
I wish I had believed in myself a bit more, but in a way, I’m glad it all went down this way. I proved myself wrong in the best way possible. I earned my view of myself that day, and managed to turn things around. I got my medal, my kiss, my beer, and my enough.
The next one is July 1st. It has a strict three hour time limit.
This time, I think I’ll make it. And I’m going to train for it. And I’ll remember that the running stupidity that makes me bad at time and good at showing up when I shouldn’t is also my biggest running success.
Y’all should know by now I’ve been on that coffee ish for awhile. If I have anymore I’m not gonna sleep tonight :(
You guys, I have 13.1 tomorrow and I haven’t pooped yet today. Should I take something to make that happen now or cross the hell out of my fingers that it happens tomorrow?
I have 13.1 miles Sunday and a finish line to cross and a time limit.
My only goal is to finish. To not get a DNF and to not have the pace car pick me up and transport me to the end.
I could feel each and every jiggly bit flutter with every step on my run tonight. I am unhappy at moving this much weight. It is too hard sometimes.
I have been complacent. I have been lazy. I think I have been depressed. Leaving the house seems like so much work and effort with so little pay off, once I am free from work.
I have races planned every month. Including Ragnar. My knee has been bothering me in ways that make me wonder if I should even be considering running again.
I am stressed at how much I care for someone who is going through far more than I am right now. I am afraid of the implications of our feelings, of our type of relationship, I am afraid that I am going to be constantly afraid of my insecurities threatening to divide me from this person.
My biological clock may have started ticking. I feel like I am blooming into a new kind of adulthood, one in which I am considering outcomes and futures that always seemed too intertwined with a person who would never exist. This may not be my person, but there may be a person, or several, for me to celebrate these milestones with.
He’s supposed to be at the finish line Sunday.
I can’t articulate how big of a deal this is to me.
I miss my family and friends back home. I miss the woman who taught me what “enough” was, and how to find it. I miss the closeness I shared with the desert dwellers and I miss the cacti and the sunset over the desert. Somehow, the sunset over the ocean tonight did not quite compare.
I’m not sure what any of this says about me. It’s mostly just a ramble. But here I am, and there are many other places I would like to be; but for now, I am here.
3 more sleeps til 13.1. Here’s hoping I don’t get hit by a car before then?