I apologize for how poorly written the last post was. I wrote "Arnie Love Bob" while battling the onset of a head cold that morphed from "just a scratchy throat" to "good god I think I have pneumonia" in approximately 20 minutes. Between the violent coughing fits and the cold meds that made me feel like I was underwater, I wasn't writing at my best.

Sure, I could rewrite it, gussy it up, make it mo betta, but I'm not going to. Sorry. I'm having enough trouble writing this post, which I've started five times and deleted four. I'm still kind of sick, and I haven't had much time to write in the past week.

I mentioned in the last post that we went to Steamboat for the race last weekend. As we rolled into town, we were temporarily mesmerized by the successive stream of uber-fit people that only Colorado mountain towns can produce. I'm serious - they would be the state's biggest export, except they never leave.

On Sunday morning, at the start of the marathon, I swayed nervously and counted Nike Tempo Track Shorts (I think every woman in the race was wearing them - including me). I was thinking that I should have bought new running shoes - mine were totally kicked. I was thinking that I should have trained more, that I might throw up. Normal stuff.

Except...it wasn't.

There was a time when I wouldn't have been nervous, when I wouldn't have doubted my training or my ability to dominate the race. There was a time when I set the pace for everything from neighborhood 5ks to half-marathons, but the trade-off was balance, and I guess I'm not willing to - or can't - forgo that anymore.

So, when I registered for the marathon, I wasn't thinking about goals or accomplishments or fitness - I'm already plenty fit. I was thinking about skinny, and about how skinny eclipsed pretty or nice or athletic or funny or kind. Skinny was the trump card, as it were, and if you played it, your other flaws were ignored.

And it was that that's how I found myself - once again unprepared - waiting for the gun at the Steamboat Marathon. Actually, I wouldn't say I was "unprepared." I put my time in this time; I did my long runs and almost always met my weekly mileage goals.

But it really wasn't good for me. It hurt. It was boring. It took up too much of my time. I didn't really want to be doing it, I just wanted to be the kind of person who would want to be doing it.

From 1997-1999, at 2:00 pm on Tuesdays, I went to my therapist's office and talked about that kind of person. When I first started going, I was anorexic. I'd sip what was likely my fourth diet root beer of the day and congratulate myself on weighing less than 98 pounds, while my therapist asked me questions like, "How skinny is too skinny?"

And in the early days, when I was running 100 miles a week on less than 1000 calories a day, I'd glare at the granny smith apples she kept in a basket on her desk and think, "There's no such thing." And last Sunday, standing, terrified, at the starting line, I realized that I still feel that way.

So when the gun fired, I started running, knowing even then that I wasn't there for the right reasons, and knowing that I'd never get through the whole thing (back to that "balance" issue). By the second mile marker I felt tired, and by mile five I was nearly in tears. It wasn't that I was physically spent, I just didn't have the mental fortitude to finish the thing. I made myself a deal: Run half of it, then you can stop. At 13.1 miles, you can stop running, crawl into the van and go home. And most importantly, you never have to do this again.

So that's happened.

And for the most part, I don't feel bad about it. I can say - with certainty - that I listened to my body and did what felt right. I knew I'd have some regrets, but honestly, I don't have many.

Really, I just don't care all that much.

I'm tired of feeling guilty for not running enough. I'm tired of feeling bad about myself for not being fast enough. I'm tired of comparing myself to other people; I'm tired of not measuring up.

It's been one week since I've laced up my running shoes, and I feel absolutely awesome. Yesterday, I climbed a route that I've been working on for over 5 months. Then I got on a project and did all the moves (not linked, but still...it didn't feel impossible).

I think I'll give running a rest for a while. Last week I went to several Nia, Zumba and pilates classes at my local rec center. I feel great, and I can't get over it. I didn't run a single step, and despite what I've been telling myself for years, I don't think I gained any weight (I actually feel leaner). I don't know that for sure, though, because there's no way in hell I can ever own a scale.

And even now, almost a decade after those Tuesday afternoon sessions, I still hate granny smith apples.


Erin said...

Katie--I struggled with eating and running to be thin all through college too (and even got a coach fired for it, but that's another story). Sometimes I feel myself sliding down that slippery slope again, obsessing about what I look like, what everyone around me looks like. I don't think I'll ever be happy with my size, but now I'm able to link mental anguish to obsession about food and weight and I've decided I just don't want to be unhappy anymore. But that took so many years of stopping right when I was even doing well because I was going nuts at the same time. I've finally set these newest goals because now they're just for me, for fun, to work at something I might be able to be good at again. But like you, I still cannot own a scale. . . I'm afraid to.

fastgrrrl said...

In our circles, if we cannot win, we're programmed to endure. To "just finish." Is that supposed to be noble? Maybe, but it's not. I'm so proud of you for Stopping. And for realizing Stopping does not equal Giving Up. You knew what was Best. And you went with it. Way to not run since. Way to climb well. Way to do what makes you Happy. You rock, friend. You rock and you are beautiful.

Paige Jennifer said...

You still ran more in one shot than I ever have in an entire week.

Thanks for sharing your life struggle at finding balance. I had a stretch of not eating - the result of combining pills with a depression fueled by a broken heart. I subsisted on iced tea and, um, yeah. And I remember a therapist telling me to do daily affirmations - I am pretty - while staring in the mirror. That was about as realistic as you eating a an apple in the middle of a session. Anyway, I'm glad you recovered and have gotten to where you are. I'm not sure if I've ever said this but you, my friend, are one of those athletic women I aspire to be. So hang your hat on that.

Kate said...

Good for you all around:) I finally tossed my scale after trying for a year to convince myself that it was ok for me to have it now (hmmm...kinda like an alcoholic who decides to start bar hopping;)When my pants feel too loose I can buy smaller ones - if they feel too tight I can pass on dessert. I am really looking forward to checking out a NIA class:)

Anonymous said...

nice post, seems like you dug deep and found the real meaning in the race.

i think you are beautiful just the way you are.