Five half-marathons, four 5k races, three sprint triathlons, two 10k races, and one full marathon. All in one year, and all in memory of someone who never knew she was strong.

Friday, March 11, 2011

That Damn Dam Run

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.

“Fat bitch!!!”

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.

More soon. 


  1. Cara- you are one of the strongest people that I know. Don't forget that prick was driving while you were running 13 plus miles. Keep your chin up! Lyndsey

  2. I don't know you, nor you know me. But I can tell you this. You are a huge,huge inspiration to so many. This includes myself now. I have so many fowl words I would like to spew right now, but won't out of pure respect for you.
    Remember those that can't or won't will be the biggest critics of all. They have nothing else but there lack there of and insecurity.
    Don't look at it as "your lost". It's just another fork that you have to choose a direction at. Sometimes the direction we choose have inclines, and sometimes there on downhills. The bottom line it's your path ! You are awesome. You just completed another 1/2 marathon !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! F@$K THAT IGNORANT HILL BILLY !!! Sorry I had to.

  3. Okay, I want the license plate of the dumb ass who did that to you. I am sorry but I am going to kick their ass! That is just rude, disprespectful and so many other things. Girlfriend, I love you. I don't really know you that well but you bring sunshine to my day through your posts here on your blog and on facebook. I am very sad that you are not feeling well right now. And you don't deserve to be disrespected like that. That is just Bullshit!

    I have been were you are. I have had fights with my running because of injuries and it has caused me to doubt my entire being. Don't let this happen to you. It is no fun! Go back to those things that make you happy. Swim, do the elliptical, ride your bike. The running will come. Trust me, I know this to be true. And if you need some company look me up. I would love to hang with ya!

  4. Oh my god, Cara. I'm sitting at my desk at work crying after reading this -- what is the matter with people? I just want to shake that guy and tell him off until he is ashamed of himself like he should be. I would have had the exact same reaction as you, in fact I think you did better than I might have. I'm so proud of you for making it to the end. Anyone who knows you, in real life or via blogging/FB/etc, knows how hard you have been working and how amazing you are. Sometimes the bad guys wins a little, but I know you'll win big in the end. Hug and love to you!

  5. Ho. Ly. Crap. I want to find that guy and kick the ever loving bejeezus out of him. That is unacceptable behavior and there is *no* justifying it. I am so sorry that you had to put up with that ass. You are *awesome*. Like seriously. You. Rock. Don't let some guy like that take the wind out of your sails. You crossed that finish line and showed real character. Keep rocking, girl. *hugs*

  6. Ignore him. He's not worth another second of your thoughts. Something is obviously missing in his life and he's taking it out on the world. HUGE kudos to you for finishing, pain and all. I know that lost, lonely feeling. Have patience....running will return to you.

    Hugs from PA.

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  8. Wow, that is a horrible thing to do to someone, I don't know what to really say... It's really telling that you still finished with all that happened, think about the strength in that...

    Overall, it looks to me like a rough test of your dedication and you passed. Stick with it and show him how wrong he is in thinking he has any impact on your life.

  9. What a douche nozzle!! He's clearly a jerk and you are AWESOME!

  10. Cara - you rock. You were out there doing a half marathon, something that most of our society thinks is crazy and impossible to do. The kid probably felt intimidated because he looses his breath just walking to his car to get another fast food fix. You've done more in the past year than he's probably even thought about attempting.

    For the running - if focusing on the running is tearing you down, don't focus on it. Train for a Tri, or swim meet, etc. You don't have to do the marathon now, that is your own pressure and no one will think less of you if you redirect for a bit. To be healthy, you also need to be happy with what you are doing and with yourself; make that your focus instead.

    For dealing with the leg and foot issues, take it easy and once the acute swelling/injury flare up goes away; please give Josh at Tri-massage in Boulder a call and schedule an MRT with him. He knows his stuff and can help out a lot to deal with the issues and find a way to prevent them as well.

  11. I can feel your pain to some extent. During my olymic tri a couple of kids on bikes went by me and all I heard was something about jiggling. It took a few miles for me to block that out, obviously I haven't forgotten it though. People are rude and then some. You gotta wonder just what the reasoning was behind having to yell something like that. In what way are you impacting his life? Hugs to you girl. You are better then him, and you will win in the end. You will find your way.

  12. Dude. It is thirteen miles from my store to my house, and if I'm honest, there are a LOT of days when I feel like I am too tired to DRIVE home. That is soooo far,and so amazing. Do you remember the Walk For Mankind? Do you remember how many people the Weary Walker Wagons had to pick up, because they couldn't WALK 12 miles??!! I hope you can hear my full blown, "THAT'S MY SISTER!!!", from here...and I know if mom was here she would do that weird laugh, cry, thing that would make her face crazy dark red and her eyes wet and bright, that she only did whenever she was amazed and immensely proud of one of us. And remember too, that men with teeny penises are always the biggest dicks of the world. Love ya, Cork

  13. Get a Calcium-Magnesium-Zinc supplement. It does wonders for bone repair. And take care of that precious body.

  14. Cara,

    You are amazing. First off, what an asshole for saying something like that to you. Secondly, I am so proud of your accomplishments. You are doing so much more with your life than most people can say. Be proud. I hope you're doing well. I'm sorry I haven't been here in awhile. Rest assured though, I do read all of your posts. :)

  15. I have not seen you in a awhile and wanted to check in with you. You are doing awesome!! Who cares where you finished in a race. I always say everyone who finishes the race is doing better then everyone else who stayed at home and could not even do the race. Your awesome and your doing great. Keep up the great work!


  16. I too am wondering about you and hoping that you are doing ok. Wondering if you might be out at the Platte river 1/2 this weekend. Would love to meet up if you are.

  17. Hey, really great blog post… I've enjoyed reading through your blog because of the great style and energy you put into each post. I actually run, a blog of my personal research and experiences. If you're interested, I would love to have you on as a guest blogger. Please send me an e-mail: bob.mauer65(at)gmail(dot)com, and I can give you more information. Looking forward to hearing from you.

  18. Thats so awful! You just need to ignore them:)

  19. Hey, so I just came across your post. I have never seen another blog report about that race. Just wanted to let you know I think that it was a fairly difficult course and you handled that jerk with more grace than I would have. Great job on finishing anyway. Hope you still got your medal at the end! Becka