Tag Archives: philadelphia half marathon

My first shirtless race

Dozens of questions coursed through my mind at mile 6.7 of America’s Finest City Half Marathon. Did I need to take my next GU? How was my knee going to hold up? Was it time to take my shirt off? And that’s when my race got interesting. That’s when it became my first race with no shirt on.runningshirtless

It wasn’t something planned or premeditated. In fact I based my decision primarily on comfort more than anything else. Drenched in my own sweat, my race singlet became sticky and heavy. Like wearing leather pants on a piping hot day. Sweat happens when you’re running in 90% humidity and temps well over 80 degrees.

It was one of those “fuck it” moments after running 6.7 miles completely exposed to the sun. The AFC Half does not afford many opportunities for shade. As I peeled off my leathery shirt it was like a thousand angels sang from above and my skin breathed a deep sigh of relief. This changed the tone of my race from heat and humidity suppression to light and fancy free running through the streets of downtown San Diego … shirtless!

This was not an act to draw attention. This was, as I mentioned before, largely for comfort. And then it turned into so much more. For the rest of my race, the remaining 6.4 miles, I thought about how over my endurance career of nearly 6 years I had not completed a single race shirtless. It’s not that I always wore a more breathable shirt. No, I can recall many a time I wished I could take strip down to just my sports bra and shorts.

The reason I never dared to bare was because I felt so ashamed of my body. Completely and utterly ashamed of my imperfect, puffy belly and the way the bulge gathered right above the waistband of my shorts. Not to mention the armpit bulge. I know – I probably sound like a total asshole to some of you, feeling shameful about my body. But listen – this is something we are conditioned to feel regardless of what we may look like to others. And for me, I simply couldn’t stand the thought of what my race pictures might turn out to look like or what onlookers might think as they saw me jiggling by. (And who says “jiggling” is a bad thing, anyway?)

This year for the first time ever I trained several times with just my sports bra and shorts and while it took a great deal of self-talk to get the point of ditching my shirt, it was the most liberating feeling of all time. I not only trained for the mileage but also the courage to bare my body in a way that was meaningful and powerful to me.

It’s important to me that I walk the talk, put my money where my mouth is, and so forth with everything I am trying to encourage others to do. Loving, even simply accepting our bodies as they are is really challenging work. And there are so many layers that we have each developed over time based on experiences and teachings that we are conditioned to believe without ever questioning – what’s wrong with cellulite anyway? Who made up that rule?? Because, can somebody PLEASE tell me who made up the rule that cellulite is the devil?

I am inspired when people are unapologetically themselves. And maybe that’s why this particular experience was so empowering. Running without a shirt on comes with practical purposes like staying cool but it’s something I have only dreamed of doing. In previous years I would stop myself because I wouldn’t want anyone to be offended by my body. It feels like stepping even more into who I am – and it’s a part of myself that I am still starting to uncover. And it’s insanely cool to continue getting to know this unashamedly bold and brave part of myself that I always knew was somewhere down there in the adorable cushions of my belly.IMG_3697

Still I cringe sometimes when I see the race photos from AFC Half Marathon. But I remind myself that part of the work is going through this process with the ability to start to change perspective. So I then go back to the photos and look at them instead with approval rather than criticism. It doesn’t have to be exuberant love, Just looking at ourselves with acceptance.

If running without a shirt helps me unveil the boldest parts of myself and learn to love my body, then by god I’m sticking with it. (The same holds true for yoga without a shirt on!)

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A Feeling of Everything-is-alright-ness & Philadelphia Half Marathon

I think I love doing these races so much simply because they make me feel more alive. Just getting to the starting line last Sunday for the Philadelphia Half Marathon was a total well of emotions. And when I crossed the finish line … well you will just have to read on to find out what happens.

This year has been a big old wake-up call for me, most especially pertaining to my health.

I have been practicing yoga for nearly 15 years, teaching yoga for 8 years, and health coaching for 3 years. I am also a perfectionist. Or at the very least have some major perfectionist tendencies. This perfectionism has kept me from coming clean, or being totally honest not only with myself but with every person in my life – from those who I see on a daily basis to those who sometimes peek at my social media presence.

My migraines took a turn for the worse around Christmas last year. They became more frequent, longer in duration, and the symptoms were more severe than I had ever experienced. I was getting a migraine every 7-10 days lasting 2-3 days and, without fail, I could not hold anything down; vomiting regularly and spending at least a day recuperating and rehydrating. I am still dealing with these severe migraines but I have taken several steps to make taking care of them a top priority.

I didn’t want to tell anyone what was really going on except for a select few because I thought admitting that I was having a challenging time meant I was a failure – in so many ways – including a failure as a yoga teacher and health coach. It hadn’t dawned on me that being truthful with myself and giving my health the attention it needed was a huge part of being the best teacher/coach I possibly could.

Since December 2013 I had to say no to so many people and events: from endurance events to weddings to teaching … it started to become so very apparent that my health was not in a good state. Not only that but I was not giving my health the attention it deserved.

I would be struck with a migraine and on top of the physical pain and discomfort I would sink into a state of depression. I am now learning to transition into migraine-mode with more forgiveness and compassion for myself. It’s is tough work, but I am learning to let go and let the migraine just take me into the migraine-state for however long it needs to process through my body.

So what on earth does this have to do with a half marathon? Well, I was hesitant to even sign up for the Philadelphia Half Marathon. What if I got a migraine on race day? It was something I thought of every time I laced up my sneakers and went for a run. The list of what if’s ran through my mind endlessly. I finally came to peace with the fact that a migraine might happen on race day, but I also accepted the exciting possibility that it might not.

The very last run I went on before we left for Philadelphia, I said to myself “I’m going to run this thing” – that became my mantra and I visualized approaching the starting line with my friends and imagined what it would feel like to get back into doing this thing that makes my heart sing.

And guess what? I ran that thing! I got to run the Philadelphia Half Marathon and even set a personal best at 1:57:43. This was the first race for me in about a year which, if you know my history with triathlon and running, is a pretty big deal as I have spent the past 4-5 years filling my calendar with races.

Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 3.54.42 PMSo what happened when I crossed the finish line?  My eyes filled with little tears, I got that knot in my throat, and my heart swelled up. (I think I’m officially a “Finish Line Cryer.” Is that a thing?)

The days that I have spent on my couch in more pain and discomfort than I can come close to describing … those days have given me a greater appreciation for the days without a migraine. Where I am grateful just to toe the line at a race and be amongst the running community. Where I am grateful to share race stories with my friends, our teeth chattering as we make our way back to our hotel. Where I am grateful for that hot shower after a race, the water washing away the sweat and soothing my aching muscles.

It’s a feeling of lightness, of “everything-is-alright-ness” … and maybe migraines have given me more awareness of its existence.

PhilaHalfI am grateful for my experience with migraine. Migraine has given me a deeper understanding of debilitating pain and discomfort; it has given me greater appreciation for the days WITHOUT migraine – what a sweet blessing those days are; migraine has taught me to accept the help and support from loved ones when it is offered, and to ask when it is needed; and migraine got me to get my butt in gear this year to make my health a priority. We should never be so busy that we cannot take care of ourselves.

 

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To Toe The Line

Newport Half Marathon 10.13.13

Newport Half Marathon 10.13.13

Sunday will be my first half marathon in over a year. Which, given my track record (no pun intended) over the past 4-5 years – a tendency to sign up for road races on a whim, compounding multiple half marathons in the same year as an Ironman – says a lot.

This year has been challenging to say the least and I limited myself quite a lot because of the severity of my migraines.

Sunday is the Philadelphia Half Marathon. I am most definitely undertrained, but I know that once I toe the line I will finish.

For me this race is much less about finishing, or finishing in a certain time (I have no doubt this will not be a PR race). It is ALL ABOUT toeing the line.

I just want to wake up Sunday morning, migraine-free, and get to that starting line. That will be enough for me.

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