Over the years I have battled with issues surrounding food and eating. Never naturally thin, without the body frame to ever be a waif, I found it hard to wrap my head around the idea that I would never be a tiny woman. Over the years I have probably vomited up more food that I would like to admit. Where so many go without too little I am embarrassed by the amount of nutrients that have been washed down shower drains and toilet bowls. So what did I do when I felt my train going off the tracks? When that little voice, one of my best and longest friends, started whispering in my ear to devour a loaf of bread in twenty minutes? I decided to run a marathon.
To say that I was a natural runner would be a lie. I began running in high school to add to my regimen of physical activity. But training for and running a marathon was more than just running a very long distance for the sake of running a very long distance. 26.2 miles to be exact. To me, it is an 18- week retreat where I get focused on what is important to me.
My aunt is an avid runner and started running marathons after she gave birth to her daughter at the age of 36. When I returned home from first- year university, big ass and big boobs, feeling uncomfortable in my own skin, my aunt suggested I train with her for the Toronto Marathon that October. Still a proud member of the binge and purge club I decided nothing would help me drop weight like training with my aunt. I couldn’t wait to return to school in September as Skeletor. What happened was quite different. Runs started off short I was still able to restrict my diet and keep up with the training. However, as the mileage built up to over ten miles on the weekend I found my young legs heavy and tired. I was 19, my aunt was 40 and she had more bounce in her step. No offence to 40 year olds, but I should have been more energetic. I was disappointed in myself because I thought I wouldn’t be able to finish the marathon. I had to decide what was more important to me.
Being five or ten pounds thinner, or reaching my goal in October. With half the training behind me, the marathon became a bit of an obsession, but in a positive way. I had to plan out my meals before my runs. Real meals. Not three rice cakes and a quarter cup cottage cheese bullshit. Delicious things that I hadn’t eaten, or digested in years. I was nervous before every long run as I sat at the breakfast table eating a bagel with peanut butter and a cup of coffee. I was eating to run and not running to eat. My parents and I were getting along too, my mom made sure there was always healthy food in the fridge, my dad took me to get new running shorts.
I was running 5 days a week. Eating three meals a day. I didn’t feel like I was keeping this big secret anymore. I felt strong. My legs were like workhorses pounding out the miles. I was getting more sleep. I was happy.
The funniest part was that in the last month of training the miles tapered off. I was running less and still eating like a fifteen-year old dude. I’m not going to lie and say I never slipped up in this last month. But when I did I’d be stuck in bed with a migraine or I’d feel like shit the next day. My weight was stable, my head was clear, my goal was within reach.
I finished the marathon that October with a large group of family and friends cheering me on. When I crossed the finish line my eyes were glossy, it felt incredible. I ran another marathon a couple years later when I needed another reality check. And it worked. I might run another one this fall because I think I need to. Hopefully this time I can leave that crazy bitch inside me at the starting line for good. If not, there’s always the next race.