I Ran a Marathon. My Body is a Miracle.

I’m a woman. I’ve stood in front of my mirror and looked at my naked body and criticized. I’ve been late to work because I spent 20 minutes standing in front of my open closet, changing outfits, each one making me feel fat, making my stomach bulge. I’ve weighed myself every few days, marked down the numbers, obsessed over one pound lost or gained. I’ve not bought perfectly cute pants because I refuse to buy a size 10. I’m a size 8 damn it. Once for a year or so I dropped a pant size and I rejoiced. I swore I’d get back there again some day. I’ve talked the skinny talk. “I’m going to loose 10 pounds before attending that wedding.” “I can’t have pizza tonight. It’s soo bad for you.” “Man, I wish my thighs didn’t touch.”

I’ve never once stopped eating or purged my body of food I’d just eaten because I felt inadequate about my body, but I have definitely disliked myself a whole lot because of how I looked, because I didn’t think I was skinny enough, because the way my stomach folded when I sat or bent forward made me really sad.

One day I started running. And then another day I kind of got addicted to running. That was hard. I read magazines, blogs, articles, all very helpful words, and looked at the accompanying pictures. Lady runners have flat stomachs. They don’t have a big chest. They have small thighs. My thighs only got bigger, stronger, the more I ran, the farther I asked them to carry me. My girls have to be squashed into a sizable bra before they kind of sort of don’t bounce. My stomach? Well maybe it got a little flatter, I’m sure it got stronger, but my love of cookies was strong, too.

At first I ran to combat that love of cookies. Today I run because I love my body, because it feels great after I run, because it’s capable of doing amazing things. It does amazing things looking mostly the same way it did when I stood in front of the mirror and felt sad.

A week and a half ago I finished my first marathon, the Monumental Marathon. My body killed it for me, as in “damn girl, you killed it! That was awesome!” It not only carried me 26.2 miles from start to finish line, it hauled me through months of training, long runs, early mornings, and mental breakdowns. Today there is no way in my right mind I could look at my body and think, “I wish you were different.” My body is a dang miracle, you guys, and I am so thankful for it. It got me to 13.1 miles in 2:07. It pushed me past my house and my cheering section twice.

It started to falter in the last six miles of the race, but somehow, by God’s grace or thanks to the energy stored perhaps in my toes from all the gels I had eaten, somehow that last mile I ran hard, I flew, and I crossed the finish line in this weird mix of emotions. Exhaustion. Joy. Ecstasy. Shock. Anger. (Yep, I wish I’d gone faster.) Pride.

Today I had this epiphany while I was watching this video.

Robyn Lawley says she loves her body. Is she nuts? She’s a woman. Women don’t love their bodies. And then I realized that I do. I love my body after all that time thinking it kinda sucked, that it could be better. I can say the same thing Robyn Lawley says. I love my body the way it is for appreciating when I fill it with pasta and pie and kale and homemade soup and cake. I love it for bending as much as it can when I try to twist it into bird of paradise. I love it for hiking up mountains and through deserts and up and down my street every day behind a silly black dog. I love it for letting me lace up my running shoes every week.

I love my body because it let me finish a marathon. What has your body done for you today? I bet something pretty damn spectacular.

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The Elusive Runners High

I’ve been running for about five years. That’s like minuscule in the grand scheme of running. The group of older guys who run regularly with the Indy Runners group have been lacing up since before I was born. In my five years I’ve heard about this thing, the runners high, from fellow runners and in articles I’ve read online. You get this feeling supposedly of flying, of harmony, of each step coming easily. You’re in this other worldly zone.

I’ve never been in that zone. I’ve had highs on a horse, on top of a mountain, in yoga, but never while running. This sport HURTS. It does not make me feel naturally high.

So why in the world do I run? To chase that high, because I’ve had glimpses of it. And because on Sunday I was there, I felt that runners high, and it was glorious.

Training for a marathon can almost kill a person. It doesn’t start badly. Midweek runs of 4 to 6 miles, weekend runs of around 10. Then you’re suddenly pumping out at least 30 miles a week … trying to squeeze one 8 mile run into a weekday and out sweating and pushing yourself for multiple hours and nearing 20 miles on the weekends. This is time consuming. It requires planning. It makes you want to eat everything in sight. After running 17 miles on a weekend your body hates you for two days. Muscles hurt, knees ache and pop, shoulders are tight, and feet groan at walking.

But my God, there is very little as satisfying as collapsing at the end of 17 miles and thinking, “I did it. I just pushed my body and my mind past the point I thought possible. Fuck yeah, bitches!” And it makes those eight pieces of turkey bacon that I scarf down feel guiltless and the foot rubs from my boyfriend feel well earned.

And then last Sunday it happened. The runners high. I caught it and was all up in it. And it makes all the painful miles worth it. Around mile 13 of 17 I suddenly felt like putting one foot in front of the other wasn’t hard at all. In fact I barely felt my feet touching the ground. The soccer fields and trees and cars around me disappeared. I only saw the road in front of me and I wanted to fly toward it, take it on. It’s hard to describe I guess, but it’s basically the complete opposite of how I feel when I am certain I can’t take one more step forward, when I wonder why the heck I even run because it’s so hard.

Today I set out to do 18 miles by myself, no company. I was nervous, but I had motivation—to chase that runners high. I didn’t find it this time, but I’m pretty sure it’ll come again. After all I still have seven more weeks of marathon training and a lifetime of running left.