it feels like fall. and fall makes me nostalgic.
last fall my ass wouldn’t stop following me around. it was terrible. lingering humidity and hangovers made me swollen in the morning and getting dressed for work was an exercise in how many times per week i could wear the same a-line black dress. quick darting glances in the mirror. my voice, unfamiliar and cracked and my hands tingling with pins and needles.
i was running a lot of races. but not much between them.
i was at the doctor every other week. checking for ulcers. checking my blood. checking my heart. i had acid reflux so bad that laying down was sometimes painful.
anxiety was pretty much at a constant, and making small decisions took forever. which train door should i enter? which gum should i buy? what order should i stack my pillows?
earlier that year i had signed up for a half marathon in Brooklyn (Brooklyn Greenway Half- fun race btw)…and had been diligently training throughout the summer. i would wake up at 6am, running down the beautiful west side greenway. i felt so lucky to live there. empty paths overlooking the statue of liberty, too early in the morning to be rammed with sticky tourists. i was using the Jeff Gaudette sub 2 hour training plan, and it was challenging. i was hitting each workout. i was even cross training. and then my life came to an abrupt halt in early august.
the first week of august last year i learned that the guy i was living with, and very much in love with, and very much planning to spend my life with had been lying to me for a very long time. this is not a new story. and sure, ‘all the signs had been there’. but my life was over. even writing this, a year later, hurts. in retrospect, i had been in pain for a long time, but this brought it to a sharp new place.
the day after i moved out of his apartment, i ran my ninth and final race needed to gain entry to the New York Marathon 2016. it was the r-u-n 5k. i was hungover and cried through most of the course. stopping to blow my nose, i finished at a dismal 31:00 or so. i didn’t care. i was numb. i didn’t think i would live to 2016, let alone the marathon.
the pain i experienced last fall was a long dull one, unlike anything else i’ve experienced. on one side i was putting on a very brave face ‘look at me! i found my own apartment la di da, i am strong and independent! i’m going on dates! i’m going out with friends! i’m so busy!’ and the other side of me was planning how to get out of this life. i couldn’t relate to people anymore. my brain was so scrambled. and i was feasting.
i was taking in about a bottle of vodka and tub of hummus every night. waking up with a food and drink hangover. i quickly packed on weight, and was too sad to notice. i didn’t know what i looked like. i still don’t know what i look like. something happens when i look in the mirror and i just see the same person over and over and i don’t know if anyone sees what i do.
it’s a year later and when I’m standing i have the start of a six pack. its unfamiliar like this thing appeared on my body. there are ribs on my back that show their face, and more along my chest. delicate bones and muscles are launching out of my shoulders. the ass my ex had admired has flattened. i’m down 35 pounds. i quit smoking. then i quit wheat. and dairy. and finally, booze. oh wait, and now coffee. this hasn’t been easy. but then, nothing is.
i don’t feel a sense of contentment. i still would like smaller thighs. a tighter stomach. i’m stricken when someone doesn’t ask me if i’ve lost weight. i’ve started under-eating some days. which isn’t pairing well with marathon training. i take speed classes, chugging a beet juice before starting, hoping the 190 calories will fuel me for strong intervals. i go on long runs and feel my body exhaust more quickly. i need to re-learn how to fuel for these runs.
i used to run races with my ex. i loved it. he was naturally fast. gifted in most areas of his life apart from being a decent person. he would launch out of bed after a late night at the bar (always promising to stop in for a beer, and staying for 6 proseccos and at least one fight). he would jump in the shower (pre-race shower, something i’ve never understood), and then hug me awake. i never wanted to get out of our bed. he would pin my race bib on a t-shirt and off we would go. puffy faced and smiling, not caring about our race times. he was generous with compliments in the morning. he never brought his phone, but we always managed to find each other though he would cross the finish well before me. i had loved running down a course knowing he was somewhere plowing through it to. i loved his horrible running clothes, smug that he was a faster runner than all the LuLu Lemoned people out there.
when i left him it took a handful of races before i could cross the start timing mat without crying.
it took me signing up for the paris marathon last winter, and committing to a training plan to really love running again. i loved the sunday long runs. a few hours of solitude. not looking at my phone. not checking Facebook. not dodging his calls. the runs brought some sanity back (some, not a lot). during training, i was finally proud of myself. there were so many milestones. the first time i hit 16 mile. the first time i hit twenty! and despite my negative feelings about how i performed in Paris, i am so proud of the training i did beforehand.
now it is fall again, and my ass isn’t following me as closely. i’d like to lose ten pounds. i’ve stopped eating fruit during the day. i’m chewing too much gum. i don’t feel like i look like a runner. intellectually i know that this is stupid but that doesn’t change a thing.
i have five weeks til the chicago marathon. i want to remain calm. i want to run the miles for myself and not to prove something.
i have ten weeks til the New York Marathon. my hometown. i have this race on such a pedestal i can’t even write about it yet. i just hope i can appreciate every moment of it. and really be there, without nostalgia slowing me down.