The Fourth Mile: Fat Girl Running Diary – Entry #2

This is gonna be challenging, but great!

1st mile mark

This ain’t so bad! I’ve got this! 

2nd mile mark

What do you mean I have to do this for 11.1 more miles in November? *gasp* 

3rd mile mark

You can’t even get through a 5K without walking some of it. You are an idiot for signing up for the half marathon. What were you thinking? *gasp*

3.25 mile mark

*DING* “You are at your half way point on your 6.5 mile run today. Great job!”

Just call Disney and defer to next year. It’s better not to humiliate yourself when the golf cart comes and picks your slow ass up in front of your friends and family. *gasp, gasp, gasp*

Furthermore, why are you even trying? This is stupid. Just walk, Kate. Just walk this portion. Your run/walk times are getting slower anyway. Just give up. 

4th mile mark

Just give up, Kate. You have no business being out here.  That’s it. Who cares if the timer says it’s time to run again, just walk it out…wait, what are you doing?

5th mile mark

You’re still doing this? WTF? 

*DING*”You’ve just finished your fastest mile, congratulations!”

6th mile mark

“I can do this. I can do this. I can do this. I can do this. I can do this. I can do this.”

6.5 mile mark

Damn straight. *small celebratory weeping followed by gratuitous sweat picture*

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You see what happens in the dialogue from mile two to mile three? The word “I” turns into “You.”  I seriously want to punch the inner drill instructor who just yells at me and tells me to quit.  I’ve been thinking about this the last few days. Why do I do this to myself? (The yelling, not the running.) It’s almost like I need to break myself to rise above another challenge.

I ran into this same voice when completing my first Warrior Dash in July. In one of the moments I’m most ashamed and most proud of, I came to this obstacle:

When the obstacle first opened in the morning, the mud and water only came up to your ankles. By the time I finished the OMGWTFBBQ last mile mountain climb around 1:00 PM, the mud was freezing and up to your waist. The ways out were brown, 75 degree incline Slip’N Slides that laughed at you when you fell back into the pit ass first.  Despite watching people jumping into the mud pit of despair and coming out with one shoe, or half a soul, I was like, LETS DO THIS, and jumped right in. The way down was hella fun. Then…

Cue sad, slow-motion apocalyptic music montage. There were tears and twenty goddamn minutes of me softly braying that I was never, ever going to emerge on the other side (or any side) of this pit of death.

WHY THE HELL HASN’T ANYONE THROWN IN A ROPE? OH DEAR GOD NO, PLEASE NOT ANOTHER WAVE OF PEOPLE JUMPING IN AT THE SAME TI…OW, YOU ARE STANDING ON MY LEG. THAT’S MY LEG. YES, MY LEG. NO, I’M JUST STANDING HERE CRYING MUD TEARS BECAUSE I WANT TO THAT’S WHY! THEY WILL FIND MY BODY IN A FEW DAYS. TELL MY KIDS I LOVE THEM.

Why, Kate? Why couldn’t you emerge from the shoe and soul sucking place of dead dreams and leaky confidence?

Because in there, the drill instructor won.

I wasn’t good enough. I was too fat. No one wants to help me. No one has the strength to pull up 285lbs.

But, Kate, you just climbed over THIS obstacle:

(And you went OVER it, not through it and ripped the skin off of both of your knees to do it when the drop became more of a slide, but NEVERMIND THAT.)

So yeah, in the pit, none of that mattered. No accomplishments. None of the work that I did to get there. I was defeated. Some part of me really worried they would end the race, everyone would go home and I’d have to spend the night in the cold water as the mud souls of fallen warriors and nasty mismatched shoes infected my skinned knees.

I was devastated.

Then, something happened.

There was one side of the pit that no one dared to climb. It was taller than the rest, and very unstable. I spied a Kate-sized foot hold and looked up. (Size 11W shoes, bitches.)

“Come on, we’ve got you.”

You can’t. You are too heavy. You’ll just pull them in. You can’t lift yourself out. Don’t keep staring at that foothold. Accept your fate.

“You sure? I’m kinda heavy.”

“We got you.”

I stuck my foot in the sloshy side of the pit, reached up my hands, jammed my knee against another small outcropping, pushed as they pulled, lifted the foot, smooshed my body against the wall and continued to push. What seemed like an eternity, but was probably only ten seconds, felt incredible as I pushed and was lifted by these Warriors uknown up and out of the unforgiving tomb.

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So yeah.

Fuck you, inner Drill Instructor. Yell all you want.  I know there will be hard days. I know I will sometimes fail, but I’ll be damned if I ever give up again.

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Fat Girl Running

As most of you know, I’ve been on a long weight loss journey. There are some days I am fantastic and the diet and exercise fall into place without any difficulty. Other days aren’t so good, and it’s a struggle not to shove every edible thing in my mouth. I can’t seem to nail down the triggers but I know the end result. I keep losing and gaining and losing the same ten pounds over and over. The internal war continues every single day and there are just times that I’m worn out and tired of fighting.

Logically, I know what I’m supposed to be doing. I do. You can’t imagine how incredibly frustrating it is when I don’t do what I’m supposed to be doing. It’s maddening. I should in theory, just be able to point my skis down the hill and GO. Just DO IT. Just GODDAMN DO IT. But some days, I just can’t.

I hate myself when I eat. I hate myself after I eat. I hate everything about myself on those days. I hate my weakness. I hate that I was at the gym earlier in the day and I’ve just erased a great workout with an over-abundance of snacks. Something breaks inside of me. I understand this and the self-doubt is slowly being replaced by forgiveness.

I’ve seen those stares I get at the gym in the kickboxing class. I’ve gotten to the point of shrugging it off. If you’re staring at my mass jiggling and wiggling behind the glass door while I’m throwing a punch and kicking my invisible opponents with these tree trunks I call legs, I feel sorry that you’re not in the room either enjoying the fruits of your own labors, or standing within range of my Amazonian combat unit.

With running (or more accurately described as “wogging”), I am slower to brush off the sideways glances and grimaces when I’m out running a trail or I finish a 5K. Those looks suggest that I have no business wogging my way from start to finish. Sadly, I’ve come to find out that there is an element of the running community that makes you feel like a lesser person for even trying.

So what do I do? I try to work even harder. Cull the weakness.

I want to get past that plateau. Couple some hilarious and elated experiences with running with my visits to the gym to work on strength, to kickboxing class, I tried to step up my game even further by joining a running club. It’ll be fun! No better way to exercise than to do it with others! It’ll be great.

I am the slowest woman out there.

Granted, I’m heavy. I’m just coming back from a muscular strain in my back, but after what happened tonight, I’m seriously just thinking of staying committed with myself by myself. I don’t want to go into too much detail, but I don’t think I’ve ever felt quite as defeated as when I left my “club” tonight and drove home.

I can deal with being the slowest, heaviest woman there. That doesn’t bother me. No one wants to run with the fat girl. So I pop in my headphones and I put one slow foot in front of the other. It doesn’t matter when I get there, as long as I get there. As long as I’m trying.

I lost the group tonight. I just couldn’t keep up and I knew going in that it would probably be the case and I was OK with being slow. I made adjustments to get myself back to the rendezvous point, I apologized, but I was still yelled at by the coach of the “pokey pokes” (Don’t worry, she assures the slowest of the slow, that’s where SHE started off too.) for going too slow. She was even more upset that coming back from her own injury, she had to go look for me when I lost the group. She then in a very crowded environment and in front of patrons berated me even further. I was also told that if I was going to go off and do my own thing, that I needed to tell her.

Thing was — I really wasn’t doing my own thing. I joined the group for a reason. Because I thought the team environment would be good for both stamina and morale. Well, my stamina might be getting better, but my morale is in the shitter. I saw the slow “what the hell do you think you’re doing here” elevator glance of the fit employee trying to hide the sneer as I walked by earlier on that night. I let it go but then to be berated both publicly and within earshot of the staff and patrons was just plain defeating. I left the place in tears.

I won’t be going back.

BUT I won’t be giving up either, but I will do this on my own terms. Following a program that is more suited to my pace. Repeating a workout because I’m not quite ready to increase mileage or uninterrupted minutes.

I will say though, any running program really needs to be cognizant of the heavier men and women who join. Simple fact of the matter is that they won’t be able to run as fast as their more slender peers all other things being equal. It takes strength and conditioning to move that much mass. It takes even more courage to get out there in the first place.

There was another larger woman who brought up the rear a few weeks ago. She was ignored. She hasn’t returned. Instead of hoping for the die-off so classes become more manageable when the “serious” runners cull the weak, perhaps running clubs would do better to quietly assess their patron’s needs and tailor a program to better fit their level of fitness, instead of sending home another discouraged person. I don’t know how ingrained this particular brand of running elitism goes, but my other caution is that if you see someone struggling, it very rarely takes more than “you’re almost there, keep going” to give that extra motivational push towards the larger goal.

As for me, like I said above, I won’t quit. I signed up for the Disney World Wine and Dine half marathon in November. My goal is not only to finish it, but to finish it well below the cut-off of 16 minutes a mile.

That’s gonna take strength, determination and courage. It’s gonna take staring down the naysayers, including myself and whispering in the mirror that no matter what anyone thinks, that I can do this.

After tonight, I may have to do it by myself, but by God, I will do it.