I am a fat bitch.
I didn’t really think I was, but according to one of the finer citizens of Aurora, Colorado, who just happened to be driving by the race course as I was bringing up the rear of the DAM Run half marathon this past Sunday, my current size was moving enough to cause him to lean out the window of a green Toyota pickup truck, look straight at me, and yell just that.
The sad part is that he won. I am a grown-up, and I know better than to let insecure bastards like that get the best of me. I was teased all through school on and off because of my weight, which fluctuated from scrawny to chubby through my many growth spurts, and many times because of my height itself. And I always knew that those people were reaching for something out of their grasps. They were trying to find their places in the world by stepping on others to get there. My mom always told me that they were the ones who we should feel bad for because they were so lost. And I believed her for the most part. Sure, comments about my height and weight still hurt me as a kid, but it made me stronger and more secure in who I am. I can now be appreciative of my intellect and my quick wit, and my abilities to succeed at work and in my marriage and in my awesome friendships. I am happy to be the saver of dogs and the meticulous cleaner of my house, and the owner of a big, but strong, booty and a stomach with muscles that show, and to be the girl who makes everyone laugh at work. I know and love and appreciate these things about myself, but that kid kicked me while I was down on Sunday, and he won a little bit.
I started out the race a little rocky. My knees were achy, and my plantar fasciitis had been bugging me all week. I was kinda feeling off, but was still thinking PR, after all, every half marathon has been a chance for me to knock several minutes off my previous time. I was thinking it could easily happen again.
The first seven miles went ok, considering I had started not feeling so sturdy. I had forgotten my watch, but at the water stop right before the turnaround, the guy said to Mike and I, “Nice, steady pace, guys”, and I felt like he was right. It was a fast group. We were in last at this point, which has never happened to me in any race, but this race was definitely full of elite runners with no talker-walkers. I saw Ironman gear everywhere. After mile seven, my left leg began its usual demise. First the butt muscle, then the hamstring, then the foot. I was hobbling by mile eight and feeling totally discouraged.
At mile eight point five is when my new friend was offended enough at the sight of me to become compelled to announce it to everyone. Literally insult to injury. I burst into tears instantly and doubled over on the trail. Mike who was still shuffling along with me at this point, flashed a double bird in the general direction of the moving truck with his gloved hands. I was completely choked up and never got my breath back. I wanted to sit down and quit the charade. But I couldn’t. I eventually sent Mike ahead of me to warn our friends waiting at the finish line to go get beers with us that I was injured and walking and would be a while; I also just needed to be alone with my thoughts and my apparently giant ass.
I plugged in my iPod, loud, skipped around til I found an artist who was yell-y and angry enough for me, and huffed and stomped and huffed and stomped. And then HP joined me. He was the sweeper, (aka the reaper) and he dismounted his bike and asked me if I wanted company. I didn’t really have a choice because he was stuck bringing in the DFL either way and that was me. It was either walk and talk with him or let him follow me silently at an awkward distance, keeping my awkward pace. We walked and chatted. My breathing was completely ragged, so he tried to get me to slow down my stomping up the road. I explained that I just needed to push until the end and get it over with, and he was down with it.
The truck full of volunteers came by and asked me if I wanted a ride. I thought I was being swept, but the driver said I was still ahead of the cut-off time and could finish. So I finished. Me and HP, the nice guy who refs high school hockey and has two kids and who is really friendly to people after watching them self-destruct and get humiliated by a bully. Then Amy, a friend of my friend who was waiting for me and whom I’d never met, came walking down the Dam Road to meet HP and I. She is a pregnant Ironman who wanted to add an extra mile to her workout that day, so she asked if she could walk with us, too. So we three, plus Walter, Amy’s yellow lab, walked and talked. They were both so nice.
I forced myself to limp-jog the last 500 yards in. And then it was over. They could finally take down the banners and timing mats (3:15 if anyone is counting at home). They could pick up the trash and reopen the Dam Road to cars. The DFL had crossed the line, with legs and feelings hurting badly and pride barely intact.
DFL is better than DNF. I know that. What I also know is that my right knee has been swollen for five days, and I have major pain and constant bruising over my whole left foot. My hamstring, piriformis and Achilles’ on the left side will not loosen up no matter how much I stretch or get massaged. My lungs are better, but are still full of sludge. And I have lost and gained the same four pounds about 11 times in the past six months.
And while I know in my heart that I am not a fat bitch, I feel really lost right now. I feel like I need to regroup. I feel that I probably jumped back on the marathon train way too fast. And I feel like I don’t know what to do. What I honestly want to do is go back to the days before it was about running and when it was just about getting healthy, and when I loved working out because it felt good instead of painful, and when I could kick anyone’s butt on the elliptical, in the pool or on the spinner, most importantly my own. I was strong and never injured and losing weight steadily and healthily. Running was just something I pushed through to get to the finish line of a sprint tri; it didn’t consume my every thought and worry and concern.
I don’t know where I lost track. But I lost it. I have learned to love running so much, but I feel like it doesn’t love me back right now. And after Sunday, I could really use a little love.