While some of my runner buddies and fitness enthusiasts are nervous to admit this out loud, I can honestly say that at times, I need a break from running miles on top of miles. For four years, I find ways to cheat on my loyal sports bae, running, for a dirty adventure with obstacle course racing. I had an incredible opportunity to try an obstacle course race with a different venue--City Challenge Race in Jersey City, NJ.
Prior to taking on the Saturday, April 14th event, my obstacle course racing experience was almost exclusively done through chasing the world known Spartan venue. Most times, I’m conflicted on how I will travel to remote areas throughout the US just to enjoy anywhere from 3 to even 30 miles in the woods. Hearing about the City Challenge Race being located in accessible areas of different cities that I can gain entry to by public transportation made me excited to take on a new journey.
I'm convinced that endurance runners are absolutely nuts--who gets off on running for miles in the most absurd of conditions for personal bliss or at moments of vanity, a goddamn medal?
Sometimes I think I need to get evaluated for my sensory overload and ability to test the waters on things people tell me I'm not capable of doing. Perhaps it's my ego trying to tap into a level of arrogance that I was scared to embrace years ago or my constant semi-unhealthy relationship with remaining humble from a strange fear of forgetting my past. No amount of medals on the wall can compensate years of self inflicted damage and I came to this reality years ago. Conversely, through my shortcomings and ability to stop blocking my own blessings, I'm learning how to embrace opportunities as they are presented to me.
A former Facebook friend - he deleted me after a string of haikus - asked me the following:
"Shauntay, your workout videos are really challenging. I can't do some of these moves and I'm in the most pristine condition that I've ever been in my life. Why are you still fat but you're an endurance runner? THAT really makes no sense to me. Are you remaining fat to be relevant to other fat people? Your story is inspiring but you have to know that eventually your knees will give out. From following your page I know that you don't like this stance. Plenty of credible studies show that obesity is an epidemic to communities of color. I watch your content and I know your son is a diabetic. Surely with great effort on both of your parts, it can be reversed.
I'm from Staten Island, by way of the Bronx and if you need for me to create a meal plan that's under 2000 calories, I can do that for you. I work for __________ in _________, NY and it's a top of the line facility. Heard your last podcast on body positivity..... the very first thing you said is that body positivity is not promoting obesity. Okay fine..... but you are doing it.
This is not a jab but more of a concern for you and your family's health. I used to be fat too and I felt downright awful. My black wife was obese too so don't think I'm trying to be a racist. You have a responsibility to your platform to reeducate them on the proper ways of nutrition, fitness and their bodies. Being fat doesn't make you fit.....period. I'm not being a 'concern troll.'
If you watched myInstagram stories enough, you'll know that I listen to a range of music, particularly when I'm cooking. After a year of being inboxed about my musical selection, I created a few stations via Spotify that might give you an idea of things that I love listening to while on the move.
Remind me again that it’s women’s history month. Tell me that International Women’s Day eliminated injustices committed to people who identify as women. Excuse my eye roll...
“You should smile more often.”
“Don’t be so mean beautiful."
“Goddamn goddess! You’re colder than the snow outside.”
“Damn girl...I was just giving you a compliment. They making y’all hoes fragile in 2018.”
Matter of fact, in the middle of my Instagram story, my viewers watched me curse off a guy who blew a kiss at me and said some pretty disturbing commentary about what he would do to me. What’s the solution? The first five statements were just a fraction of the commentary received by walking a twenty block radius and not responding. Perhaps, I should smile and act like it’s okay, right? But then I’d be justifying his -or her- behavior and if I do, I might still be called a whore after I turn down their advances. I am humored when another human, despite their gender, asks me what did I do--I existed in their same space. Over the course of four years, women asked me how do I feel running alone and what should they do and I find myself aggravated giving my most honest responses.
Without being long winded for a change, I don’t have a proper answer. Running while being a woman or even a person with a disability, looking different from others or anything in between is an express pass to idiots to harass you. It’ll be close to five years since I thought about training for any type of race -whether it was cycling to road events - and I’m loaded with mediocre ways of ‘reducing’ the loads of street harassment that I get while running. Here’s my response:
Allow me to be frank: I NEVER heard of a skin care company that tailored to sweaty individuals like me who love working out. I didn't know whether I should jump up for joy or to be exceptionally skeptical.
A few weeks ago, I tried out a trio kit from Fre Skin Care and I can honestly say that I'm shocked by the results. Before I give you the details, let me give you a bit of background about the company.
Contrary to the delusion that I may have unintentionally painted through my Instagram posts or Facebook feed, I do NOT have this stellar background or this glorified history of being a runner. In fact, my interest in sports was limited to watching boxing matches on my once pirated cable box from a dude name Courtney. If one person in the projects paid for the Tyson fight, EVERYONE who received illegal cable from him watched that fight for sure. Boxing was -and still is- whimsical to me. I admire the awkward dancing in the ring, the disturbing shit talking that takes place and the art of skillfully throwing an upper cut--but I wasn't intrigued with the regimen that came along with it. In fact, it's the only sport that I took seriously at one point and at times, I bare knuckled a few bullies with those skills--but that's another story.
Running is one of those things that people from other sports use as a form of conditioning or even punishment if the team screws up. Until five years ago, I thought runners were absolutely nuts for going great distances. I knew nothing about cross country work, sprinting on the track and field, a fartlek was a funny juvenile word and if someone could've told me that I would be doing endurance running, I'd probably let out a hearty cackle until I was begging for an oxygen mask. In my hood, we ran for the ice cream man during hot summer days or to kick someone's ass in a game of tag. On the contrary, the speediest people that I knew were crackheads and drug dealers who ran from the cops--and no, I will not turn this into a glorified sob story. But I get this question often: "Why do you run--and stick with it?"
My son didn't go to school this morning--this was after nagging him for a bit over a hour to get dressed, eat and stop complaining. I misplaced my keys once again and it's not the first time that I've ever done this. Forty-five minutes prior, I saw this orange tag sitting on my coffee table nudging me to pick them up; and so, I nuzzled them into my large palm before going to the bathroom.
My plan was simple (or as simple as my life can be): Shower, eat, drop off my son to school, swim practice, 4 mile run, workout, pick him up, eat again, work from home and destress my mind with a friend. See, I told you I'm not that simple. Instead, I found myself shaking, muttering and nestled in a fetal position as I had a full blown anxiety attack in front of my son--I'm the mother of the fucking year. This too is nothing new for me but maybe for you.
January is over and February going to go by quicker than we realize. I’m certain that many of you created New Year’s Resolutions--or maybe rejuvenated a bucket list with items that we carried over from the previous years. But get this--80 percent of New Year’s resolutions are broken by February 1st. That’s probably a heavy statistic to hear but here’s another one: It takes 21 days to form a habit. What does this mean for you? Well, today may be the day that you want to pick up that goal that you left on the wayside and pick it back up; after all, the year just started.
I’m partnering up with Tampax Pearl Active to help you create that habit and reach your goals. Consider me your online accountability buddy. Yes, I know talking about menstruals might be an unusual topic but let’s take this opportunity to address some stigmas like avoiding the gym because of a fear of leaking while on your periods. The average menstrual cycle takes 21 - 28 days, coincidentally aligning up with the amount of days in takes to form a habit and the month of February. If we push through our periods and create a consistent fitness routine, we can reach our fitness goals faster.
I want you to take on this challenge with me to #GetInMotion, working out 28 days straight and try different types of routines until you find the one that works best for you. But what about rest days, right? Being active can be as simple as parking your car a bit farther from home, encouraging you to walk a bit more--if you’re like me, perhaps you’ll run a few laps around someone else’s car. Don’t overthink this process too much. You can even take your children, nieces or nephews on a hike, create an adventure in the park or simply liven up your routine with a different dance move. On days that I need to take it down a notch, I’ll be incorporating a good stretch into my workouts and placing my feet on the mat to do some necessary yoga. What about the days you’re on your period?
Let me guess: You’re ______ doesn’t permit you to dedicate a hour of your time. Truly, I can relate to this sentiment. As some of you may know, I have a lively ten year old son with a chronic condition, a busy freelancer that’s always on the go and with my own battles with sciatica and endometriosis, I never know how my day will go. I don’t want to just tell you to move your body for 28 days, I want to join you on this journey. Twenty minutes of your day will not only keep you motivated but liven your spirits just a bit.
Here’s the deal: I am giving away a YEAR supply of Tampax Pearl Active. Tag me @iamlshauntay and @Tampax using the hashtag #GetInMotion in your sweat selfies for a chance to win! Why Tampax Pearl Active? Tampax Pearl Active provides up to 100 percent leak free workouts and as much as this may seem personal, my endometriosis condition used to make me want to stray away from doing intense workouts. Their MotionFit Protection moves with you and I feel extra protected when doing power moves like box jumps or mule kicks at the gym. With a sense of security during those days of the month means I can hit my bigger goals sooner--like learning how to swim for my upcoming triathlon or being in condition for my trail ultra marathon. Let’s make some progress in a huge way by being consistent in our regimens without fear of our periods.
Disclosure: This blog post is in sponsorship with Tampax Pearl Active
Once in a blue, I'm fortunate enough to review some really dope items that piques my interest. Back in December, Koala Clip's founder Kristina Powell reached out to me after reading my brief craptacular experience during the New York City Marathon. Around this time, I must have been contacted by every company under the sun but here's what made me instantly love her and want to test her product:
My viral infection is desperately trying to abandon ship and I am determined to keep my ass motivated to make it through my first trail ultra marathon. Sure, it's a 50K-equivalent to 31.06 miles- and I've completed a 60K (37.28 miles) before but not on a trail. I was fortunate enough to test my insanity on pavement both times; trails are a different type of hell. If I didn't learn this during the North Face Endurance Challenge in Massachusetts last year, then I must be a goddamn fool. In turn, I will be getting my redemption at their Washington, DC location aiming to knock that shit out like the boss bitch that I am.
When I'm recovered, I know that my loved ones and the Internet is great for keeping me honest about my journey. Hard to lie to myself or the masses when there's a digital imprint reminding you to be on top of your game.
Over the last couple of months, I've been introduced to a new audience thanks to my first contributing piece to The Root about being heckled during the New York City Marathon--and MOST of the feedback has been amazing. Nevertheless, I find myself here once again, trading in conspicuous hecklers for upgradable concerned trolls who follow my articles; some are bold enough to surface into my inbox.
Again, I question my own credentials -thanks to trolling- of what message am I sending to myself and to an unsolicited audience about being a plus-size athlete. A few weeks ago, I started receiving concerned e-mails from various people on my platforms, questioning if I have a 'resume' showcasing my fitness and running accolades. One person has gone as far as to write me a six paragraph bittersweet love letter praising my 'little medal from the NYC Marathon' but wanted to give me an opportunity to be transparent with a growing audience if I purchased any or all of my prized possessions from E-Bay.
Remain humble--even when the world is showering you with opportunities to be overbearing. Life is an arrogant teacher awaiting to tame her students with pop quizzes. This random but not so random thought surfaced as I talked with one of my close long distance friends about the changes occurring in my life.
In my head, I'm normal as fuck--I wake up, shower, juggle a ridiculous schedule and try to balance out my social life with a chaotic but sedentary freelance assignments. To others, I'm supernatural and much more entertaining than what my brain tells me. Realistically, I haven't been this inactive in five years and it's starting to piss me the fuck off.
I've been toggling back and forth on this one screen for 1 hour and 39 minutes as I develop my tentative race calendar for 2018. For the last four years, I conquered fears in the most extreme ways. Perhaps you think I'm being melodramatic; I wish I was telling a lie. Just to give you an idea of my history of shenanigans, I will start from the beginning of my fucktardism and then it'll make sense on why I'm babysitting the screen that I'm on right now:
2017 had a series of highs and lows.
Listen, I didn't think it was possible to be in anyone's newspaper or magazine unless I was choking someone out in the street. As a New Yorker, I keep in mind that I'm one subway ride away from a night in jail. Somehow, I've been in a laundry list of places last year and it's all from being myself. If only my ten year old son understood this logic, perhaps he wouldn't feel so awkward some days about being a self professed weirdo.