So I like to run. I do not run fast, not even close. I am sure I look like I am staggering down the road at times because I don't get enough rest (KIDS!!) and I likely drink more coffee than water so I get a bit dehydrated but I run. I do not run for weight management or weight loss. I do not run to give myself permission to eat whatever I choose ( I feel I am allowed to eat whatever I choose regardless of my physical activity that day). I run because it makes me feel good. Not just physically but mentally. I struggled with postpartum depression after both of my kids. It was not a great place to be living. But running helped. It was meditative for me. It allowed me time to take deep breaths, to look at the sun (or rain I kinda like running in the rain), to listen to music that had swear words (!), and to feel like I was moving forward at a time in my life when I felt stuck and alone. I have continued running since. In order for me to keep "moving forward" and not just give all my time to my kids I sign up for races. I have no expectation of winning and sometimes the goal is just to finish but I show up at these events knowing that the last 12 weeks of training for this was more for my mental state than the time I get when I finish.
Almost 2 weeks ago I ran in the Goodlife Toronto Half Marathon. For those of you that do not know the half marathon is 21.1km (13.1 miles). I had been sick leading up to it and was actually going to withdraw but I decided that I need to be a positive role model to my kids and finish what I signed up to do. So I went alone to Toronto very early on that chilly Sunday morning and as I waiting in my starting corral - the last one as I mentioned I am slower- I looked around at all the bodies standing with me. There were women and men of various ages and sizes standing all around me talking to each other. Many were talking about being nervous, hoping they finished, some talked about how chilly it was, 2 men were discussing the breakfast they were planning on having after in great detail (sausage, bacon and eggs if you are wondering) but one woman's voice stuck out to me. I heard her say to her (I am assuming) friend that " I didn't lose enough weight to be here". I almost screamed "WTF! You are about to be a total badass and run 21.1km down one of the coolest streets in the world. How can your last thoughts on that be about your weight?!?!" But I didn't yell that because the horn went off and the crowd surged forward. I spent about the first 3km really wondering about that voice. Wondering if she was enjoying her run. Wondering if she noticed the CN Tower from our vantage point. Wondering who she was so I could find her and tell her that she is a rock star for setting a goal and making it to that start line.
I had kinda forgotten about that comment as the race was very difficult for me that day and I had my own moments of tears on the course (full disclosure- actually following a training plan is important- doing half the plan then not running for 3 weeks prior to race is not advisable). But I was reminded of it yesterday when the email came saying "your race photos are ready". So at larger races there are usually photographers on the course taking your picture to commemorate the experience. I looked at the photos and thought "Man you do not look pretty when you run" and " you really do not have runners thighs". Then BAM! I totally had to WTF myself! My realization of "wow you looked at your physical self in that moment not the internal struggles you were going through at that time" was disconcerting. I did what I spend so much of my time trying to get others not to do. I shamed my body when it carried me 21.1kms over 2hrs and 36mins!! It was F'ing amazing! My body did not let me down that day my brain (and lungs asthma is a pain) did. So I have realized that no matter how long I have been practicing self love or body acceptance I still will throw down some self hatred when vulnerable. I should never have judged the woman on the starting line for her comments-even a tiny bit- because she was likely being vulnerable in the only way she knows how in our weight obsessed culture.
So I am going to continue to work on myself while I work with others to overcome body shaming and issues with self worth. And this coming Sunday I am going to lace up my running shoes once again, toe that starting line (from the back of the pack) and run 21.1km all the while reminding myself that my body is badass and it carries me through this race and this life and it deserves to be honoured. I may even buy a race photo to remind myself of that...
Until next time be unapologetically you will I be unapologetically me