As I approach the final weeks of training before my first 100 miler, I find myself experiencing an avalanche of varied emotions, not to mention a hefty dose of fatigue. Lots of questioning going on. Am I ready? Can I really do this? Am I just a total ultra-running fraud? What the hell was I thinking??! Thanks to dear friends & family, there’s also a lot of affirmation going on. I am ready. I’ve trained for this. I am strong enough.
One thing I love about running, particularly running trails, is the mind space it provides. With the amount of running I’ve been doing this year, I’ve had a lot of time to think. Sometimes my thoughts are scattered, sometimes meditative. Oftentimes I am thinking about my body & what I am feeling during that particular training run.
Other times I am simply in awe that my body does what I ask of it. This is where kindness comes in.
I will be 43 years old next week and I admit that maybe, just maybe, I have finally accepted my body. Took me long enough, no? It’s pretty amazing what happens when your body-focus shifts from disgust, disapproval, shame & fear to appreciation, love, honor & respect.
As a young girl I was asthmatic, allergy-ridden and had severe eczema. My poor mom spent an inordinate amount of time taking me to the doctor. Inhalers, medicines, creams, lotions — I was kind of a mess. My entire body was constantly covered in a red angry rash. I was a scratching maniac. The thought of wearing a swimsuit or shorts made my stomach tighten up with fear. Kids stared. I hated my body.
All through school, I did not exercise or play sports. Running even one lap around the track left me wheezing. Sweating made my skin hurt even more. I was an itchy scabby wheezy girl with no awareness of what it meant to live in a strong powerful female body.
My 20s were spent in a similarly lost state as far as my physical identity went. The eating disorder that dominated those years of my life and left me anorexic, weak and hollow, did little to acquaint me with my physical self. I was completely divorced from my body.
Now here I am. Preparing to run 100 miles. Sometimes I still catch myself saying nasty little things under my breath to my body … “ugh, those stretch marks!” Yes Erin, you have stretch marks on your body. Extreme weight loss & gain will do that. Not to mention childbirth. “UGGGG that tummy roll!” Yes Erin, you have a tummy. “ew! that cellulite!” Guess what Erin?? NOBODY CARES.
No more. I choose to regard my body with kind eyes. Grateful & appreciative eyes. These legs have carried me so far!! They’ve allowed me to run and play on these amazing trails! They’ve held me upright and continue to allow me to charge hills and run for hours.
No more name-calling and bad-mouthing. My body deserves some love after all I have put it through. Time to rejoice in my strong, healthy, powerful human body.
Time to run.