Monthly Archives: June 2012

Charlevoix 2012: How to do Everything Wrong and PR Anyway

Friday, June 22nd: Sitting on the patio of my parents’ home in East Jordan (about 20 minutes outside Charlevoix), I can barely conceal my overwhelming sense of dread. My husband and I arrived Up North around 12:45 and my dad broke the Bacardi out of the cupboard shortly after. A spread of summer-themed junk food covered the patio table. “I should not be eating all this rich food,” I think to myself, as I raise my second Bacardi and Diet to my lips which I DEFINITELY should not be drinking. While everyone was in party mode, I was trying my best to act like someone who had to wake up at 5:00 a.m. the next day to run a half marathon.

“Why are you sulking?” my mom asks.

“I am so not prepared for tomorrow.”

“Why not?” my dad asks.

“I haven’t had a long run all month. My ankle has been hurting me. My colon goes into spasms every time I run. I don’t think I’ll survive.” I raise my glass in the air, which is my husband’s cue to make me another drink.

My dad, ever the eternal optimist, chimes in with this advice: “Failure is not an option. Just keep telling yourself that.”

I roll my eyes. “People fail all the time dad.”

“It’s only a failure if you don’t learn anything.” My dad, the living fortune cookie.

So, what exactly did I learn running a half marathon ill-prepared? Mainly, I learned that all of my worries were for naught, because I PR’d anyway. THAT’S RIGHT! Fueled by my immense negativity (and two GUs), I ran more than 10 minutes faster than last year with a chip time of 2:09:10. Had I actually prepared, would I have run faster? Perhaps. While my run was far from a failure, there are many things I took away from it that will hopefully make my next half marathon even faster and stronger.

1) Don’t be a Slave to Your Pace  I accidentally started my Nike+ four mintues before the race started. I kept looking at it every five seconds to make sure I wasn’t starting too fast. When I finally glanced at my average pace at mile four, it read 11:35. “WHAT?!?! THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE!!!”, I screamed aloud in my head. Because of my falsely perceived lagging speed, I picked up the pace a little too fast. Next time I may just leave my watch at home (or not start it early like an idiot).

2) Fine-Tune Your Playlist Learn what music best motivates you at those critical times when your legs are on fire and you feel like strangling the volunteer well-wisher on the sidelines for being so damn happy. I thought I was motivated by heavy, aggressive rock music. As it turns out, those upbeat pop songs I added as filler where what really got my feet moving in times of need. That, and GU, which leads me to number 3:

3) Never put a Gu Packet, No Matter How “Empty”, in Your Pocket

4) Don’t Run in New Clothes  This is pretty much the golden rule of racing, but I stupidly wore new socks that my feet didn’t agree with, and I have the massive blood blister to prove it. I also witnessed a poor girl on the course who was obviously wearing a new pair of shorts that she didn’t realize would hike up so high she would half-moon everyone behind her. She looked miserable, but at least she had a nice butt.

5) Don’t be Annoying  This is advice for everyone else. Please don’t hold up a race so your boyfriend can take shitty smart phone pictures of you. Don’t tell a person to “PASS ME! PLEASE PASS ME!” when that person is struggling to run at all. If you are a volunteer, don’t yell “You’re almost there!” at mile 9. And for the love of God, do not tailgate. Run beside me if we are on the same party line, but not directly on my ass. That’s just creepy.

Phew, that was a lot of writing. I am happy to say that running Charlevoix has reignited my passion for running, so much so that I plan to do another half on the Fourth of July. This may be a dumb decision, and I’m sure my husband will LOVE spending his birthday carting me around to another race. What can I say, I’m addicted! I am not planning to PR; I just want to have fun and enjoy a new race.

With that attitude, failure will not be an option.

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Head Like a Hole

You know how normal people will start a meal and then quit when they’re full? Can you tell me what that’s like? I’m afraid my life-long attitude toward food can be best described through the following Louis C.K. quote: “The meal isn’t over when I’m full. The meal is over when I hate myself.”

I’ve always had a gluttonous appetite. My tendency to polish off an entire row of Fig Newtons in one sitting, or an entire DiGiornio pizza by myself, made my childhood fat and miserable. I lost weight due to an extreme growth spurt in middle school, only to gain the weight back due to a new-found Ben & Jerry’s obsession. Finally, at the age of 15 when I tried on a size 12 bathing suit, I decided something had to give. I went on a diet, started running for the first time in my life, and went down to a size 6.

Sounds like a success story, right? Wrong. No amount of weight loss can erase a lifetime of being taunted, ridiculed, or made to feel ashamed for being overweight. The emotional damage carried with me as a teenager and lead to my first eating disorder- binge eating. In order to stay skinny I’d starve myself most of the time, and then binge like crazy when I couldn’t take it anymore. My mother had a habit of overbuying when it came to food so no one in the house really noticed. I estimate that during this time I would polish off thousands of calories in just a few short hours. How did I not gain 100 pounds? Well, I’d spend two hours on the treadmill  and not eat for a day or two afterward. It all evened out in a sick way.

The binge eating fell by the wayside in college when that void was filled by binge partying instead. I met my future husband, we graduated and got married. I was eating like a normal person around the time of our wedding, but afterwards the “happy” weight starting creeping up on me. None of my clothes fit and I hated seeing myself in photos next to my thinner friends. Instead of saying to myself, “Perhaps I should lay off of the frozen pizza and late-night snacking,” my solution was bulimia.

It started off as “maintainance”, throwing up a few times a week after a particularly large meal or if I ate something decadent. It soon evolved into throwing up after every dinner, and not long after that, throwing up everything I swallowed. I was soon bingeing and purging up to four times a day. I lost 20 pound in three weeks. Needless to say, people began to notice and ask questions.

After over a year of lying to my husband, family, and friends about my frail appearance and frequent bathroom visits (not the mention my hair falling out and the rash around my mouth, lovely!) I decided enough was enough. It’s been two years since, and while I still struggle with the beast of bulimia, I can happily say I have it mostly tamed. Running had helped tremendously- you can’t run on an empty tank. And though I sometimes look in the mirror before a run and focus on the cellulite and flab I see in the mirror, I always see a strong, healthy, and happy person in the mirror when I return.

We live in a culture of body shaming, and I don’t see that ever changing. I need to learn not to let my negative body image hold me back from enjoying life. I am happy that I am able to write about my eating disorders as something in the past and not in my present. One of my proudest moments in life was crossing that finish line at last year’s Charlevoix Half Marathon, and as I posed for photos with my family afterwards, never once did it cross my mind, “Do I look fat?”

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