Some of you are probably screw facing the shit out of me and asking what the fuck is a 60K. Sure let me entertain you:
A marathon's distance is 26.2 miles or equivalent to 42.2 kilometers. If you get your rocks off on torture, go for an ultra marathon and essentially that is what this was. 60K is equivalent to 37.28 miles.
If you're like most of my Facebook page, the next question was probably followed up with: Why the FUCK would you want to do that? So glad that you asked.
I wasn't prepared this year.
Like at all.
Quite frankly, I thought that this year would be my year.
Like many, I had a plan to be diligent, would commit to my 4 - 5 days a week of consistent running, eat healthy and keep my mind clear. Instead, I learned how to eat my own words while grieving, talking to a therapist and questioning if I even wanted to bother. Despite it all, I became bib number 68301: Third time TCS NYC Marathon finisher.
If you are reading this, it means that I am a holder of the 40th Bank of America Chicago Marathon finisher medal. Perhaps you are a first time reader on my blog and might be asking if this is my first marathon ever or even if this is my first time doing a marathon in Chicago. The answer is safely no. Others who may have been following my journey for at least two months know that this summer/fall has been exceptionally cruel to my mental and physical. In turn, I am just as shocked that I can write this blog with joy and elaborate on the wonderful (and not so glamorous) elements of doing this particular marathon.
Start your eye rolling or be intrigued right now. As I'm writing this, I am picking at brunch that I made two hours ago because I wasn't sure of how to start this post. I'm sure that at some point of each of our lives, we looked at someone (or maybe felt up somebody if we're Stevie Wonder blind) and said to ourselves, "Shit, they're kinda big (or really slender)." I'll give you a few minutes to lie to me or yourselves to say that you're always PC and would NEVER have such a thought come to mind. Pardon me as I cough up a sleuth of profanity, you lying bitch. I hope you know that I said this with love. Nevertheless, this very serious Instagram direct message came in last night and I asked if I could respond to her via blog. Simply because I don't feel like she's trolling, let's call her Noli* for blog's sake.
Noli*: Hi Shauntay (or Latoya). I'm not sure which one you prefer. Your page is really inspiring. I shared your info with my friend Danielle* a few weeks ago. As you can tell, I'm a relatively thin white woman. I'm not that sporty but your blogs are so poignant. If I may, can I ask you how to approach something. Please please don't curse me out. I'm not a troll. I swear.
Me: Good morning Noli* and either name is fine. It's just a first and middle name but people go by both. Thank you for the kind words dear and for passing on my page to your friend. Hopefully I'm not too off the wall for her, LOL. I'm an open book, as long as it's coming from a genuine place. Be blunt and ask. I don't bite too much.
Noli*: Thank you. I had to put it out there. I follow your site a lot and while I laugh, I wouldn't want to "piss in your cornflakes" hahahahaha! My friend Danielle* is a beautiful woman. I like her a lot, like attracted to her but I'm concerned about her weight. Is there a nice way to tell her that she's fat? You are very tactful with your way of talking to people through honesty, humor and detail. I don't feel right saying to her that she should lose a few pounds. Plus, I don't even know how to tell her I'm attracted to her. You obviously feel comfortable with the word "fat". I whisper words like that. It's offensive to a lot of people. How do I start a conversation?
Mom: "I never asked you why you dropped out of high school, Toya? You really hurt me when you did that. I thought you did it to cut school with Eric (my husband). This is why I couldn't sign you out."
Me: "Being in love didn't make me drop out 'Mah; there was too much going on around me. If I stayed in there one more year, I wouldn't have made it. I would be in jail if I stayed in high school. Dad knew parts of my reasoning and this is why he did it."
My mother and I never had a civilized conversation about the topic until this week about the subject. As a parent to a ten year old, I know that children can hurt you in the worst ways and most times, it's not intentional. Constantly, parents and children are going through this battle of being misunderstood and I remind myself of this aspect every chance I get.
In high school, I was the intelligent class clown when I would show up. I made jokes, wasn't popular nor hidden but this was when I actually showed up to class. Tenth grade year changed many areas of my life and while I secretly loved learning, I hated being looked at oddly for my intelligence. I danced on this thin line of being just smart enough but holding onto the hood Bible testament of "Thou shalt not fucks with Tay or her friends." In turn, lunch time in the cafeteria and the gym became the battlefield. There were days that I grew tired of fighting or defending friends who would do dumb shit, simply because my ego told me to be the protector and cutting school, smoking on Gates Avenue or Monroe Street in the Stuy was my salvation, as long as I was able to connect with others to give me the coursework. I always came home with notes that were lent to by friends or someone that owed me a favor for 'snuffing' someone in the face for being a bully to them. I learned each subject, complete assignments and submit them via people but I couldn't do this tactic with gym class. In turn, I dropped out because of 7 gym credits, despite having the opportunity to graduate with a Regents diploma and practically an offer to go to my dream college at the time: Hampton University. So why did I drop out: Gym Class. Ironic huh considering I love the gym and running, right? Not really though.
Considering that I haven't been running consistently as I desired, I am not as ecstatic about tapering off next week as I thought I would be. This morning, I would prefer to cuddle with my freshly made chocolate chip cookies and half bottle of Nahe but I'm very rigid and discipline with my schedule. There's only enough wiggle room for me to workout later but rarely ever to push off until another day.
Although the week isn't done, I cannot help but reflect on my 20 mile run from Wednesday. Empowered is a great word to use to describe that run, especially since I finished the 18 Miler over the weekend. Originally, I planned to hit four bridges: Pulaski, Queensboro then cruise to Manhattan Bridge, Brooklyn Bridge and if I needed more mileage, to the Williamsburg Bridge. Instead, I opted to battle the lethargic and view struck Brooklyn Bridge crowd during some of the worst times of the day. Parts of me wanted to strangle each and every tourist that stopped within mid stride to take a picture on my way there. I knew the views of the Hudson River running path would calm my nerves once I made it over.
New York Road Runners' Eighteen Mile training run was this Sunday. I was exceptionally nervous to be quite honest. September 17th stood strong in my mind for a number of reasons:
I constantly remind myself to trust my training but eating your own advice when running frantic and late isn't always the best feeling. During the train ride, I attempted to unwind in the middle seat, in which I despise since being the "big girl", by listening to my music while preserving some of my battery life through my portable charger. Once there, I followed a small crowd of frantic runners who were anxiously attempting to make to their respective corrals. Thanks to procrastination and a busy schedule, I darted to race central to pick up my bib and tee shirt. Obviously, I had the same idea as many because I was in line for at least ten minutes. It's been a while since I saw the line this long on race day. Once collecting my items, I checked off my items to baggage and heard the announcement for the staggered start. Guess being a back of the pack girl wasn't such a bad thing after all.
When I do not understand something, I tend to question every aspect of it. From many within one of my many circles, people often hear me apply the statement, “Define ______.” Most times, I am greeted with response; very few will feel hesitant because it is probably the beginning of my chain of questions. I’ve even been told from less than a handful that this simple statement graduates into a complex issue because I either already know the definition or I’m being a predator, looking for an opening to antagonize their fragile thoughts and statements. Frankly, it depends on what brought me there.
Since January 2017, the term “inspire” or referencing me to being an “inspiration” has been the top ten terms of the year that’s come my direction. If I go according to my online analytics, ‘fat runner,’ ‘running fat chef nigger’ and ‘fat running chef’ are my most generated terms in how to find me. But ‘inspire’, eh? This term both drives and burdens me. In turn, I’ll define inspire below:
Sometimes I want to slit the throat of every metaphor and cliche saying that comes within my proximity.
A few weeks ago, I had to modify my marathon/ultra marathon training into eight weeks. This way, I'll be in decent condition for the Chicago Marathon and pretty pumped for the TCS NYC Marathon & NYRR 60K.
August showed me every ounce of its ass to kiss because here I find myself balancing blocks in a twisted game of Jenga. Next Tuesday, I'll be going in for laparoscopic surgery. Yep, that's right kids. Goddamn surgery.
My friend Bracha told me in Messenger that I should pick two tasks for the day and say fuck it to the rest. Yesterday, I elected to take a shower and walk down the block by myself to socialize with some friends. Today, I was able to build on by not only taking a shower but volunteering to cook breakfast at my own free will and go to the gym for the first time in a week. Took me six hours to muster the courage to leave the house and I cried for 15 minutes in the locker room before my workout. My cross training workout wasn't too bad. I'm sure I'll be back to my regular speed in a week. Running, on the other hand, was traumatic. A week off managed to make me feel like it was my first day. I haven't struggled to walk at a 4.0 speed in almost 3 years.
What happened to me in a week?
For a month, I've been off my game. New York City's humidity threw me off severely and I felt incredibly miserable. Nothing prepared me nor would I have guessed that I was pregnant. My feelings about being a mother again overwhelmed me on a drastic level.
For most people, they're shooting rainbows and pebbles out of their ass, awaiting to tell all of their friends and family members who are possibly happy for them; this was not my case. My marathons didn't concern me. Unfortunately, I was already bearing several large fibroids for years that have been disappearing and reappearing for a while now. In fact, I'm scheduled for removal at the end of the year. In turn, this was a shock to me, especially since I was burdened with the hard question from my gynecologist months ago of which procedure I wanted to go for: Myomectamy, Uterine Fibroid Emolization or hysterectomy.
While I always wanted to have at least two children, my fibroids would not cooperate with me. I spent several weeks being in gradually increasing, unbearable pain and once finding out my pregnancy, scared to take any medication. After being rushed to the hospital, hearing heartbeats from my unborn children, Tuesday confirmed that I wouldn't be a second time mother in March 2018. In turn, the last two posts about depression was in ode to my twins who aren't here with me. I haven't been this hurt in an exceptionally long time.
Earlier on in my life, I learned that your facial expressions can dictate an entire conversation. I was reminded through many interactions about my smile. During my youth, I was told that I had a "goofy look" because my eyes would light up in a very zany way. As a teenager, older men acknowledged my age and looked past it because to them, my tiny yet developing frame swayed my hips like an adult. Through my short stint of working at an acupuncturist office, I was instructed by my supervisor to control my expressions. "You wear your concerns on your face and now, others are concerned for you." At every step of the way, I was reminded that my smile doesn't belong to me.
I'll be frank.
I don't feel like myself and I really don't want to be around many people at this very moment. It's almost like I am in a dark hole, barely lit and my path is clear but I don't have the urge to walk out just yet. Just because you know that you can save yourself doesn't mean that your body fully want to move. A few steps feel like too many. It's almost as if you are tearing at ligaments with each step. Why not just stay here? They can't break me anymore if I am stagnant.
Unfortunately, this has been the most traumatizing two weeks that I have encountered in five years. I am not naive and didn't think that I was immune to hitting rock bottom again. Any of you fuckers who think you're above it because of a pay grade, don't have time to schedule it in or a level of prestige are sadly mistaken. Depression catches us all. It's almost as guaranteed as death.
Why not go for a run? Well, I had all of last week to do that and I puked right before starting. In fact, my last 5K was this past Saturday. I smiled in my peers' faces, solicited hugs and hoping that just maybe for a change, I could psych myself out of a nagging doubt. Considering that I'm not much of a time whore, it was strange to me that I was struggling so horrifically for less than a hour. In turn, I thought maybe my trip to the gym would be a boost in spirits. Zilch. Before I knew it, every ounce of me crumbled.
You cannot obtain a running PR for depression.
Really. Just a little louder for the ones in the back who cannot comprehend this:
YOU CANNOT AND WILL NOT OBTAIN A GODDAMN PERSONAL RECORD FOR DEPRESSION.
Oh, you're a sprinter? Right. I'm just an ultra marathoner who's used to being in the back of the pack. Well guess what my slow but steady ass learned years ago and still have to remind myself as I type this: Depression is a sport too. Sometimes, you don't know when the course ends and a lot of us don't even know when we asked to participate in it. We can guess when we're done with the race but most times, we don't know. You can hit the runner's wall at 3 miles in and if you're like me, I function on auto pilot, listening to Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and Luther Vandross on loop as I watch my life riptide onto the pavement. It's messy as fuck. I free bleed on the course. Runner's trots everywhere. And I'm not ashamed. Why? Because I'm human.
Out of respect for my own marbles, I do not feel that comfortable disclosing what brought me here. I know that the elevator isn't completely going to the top at this very moment. I wish this was just an expression. While some of you are amused or inspired through my very abrasive thoughts, this is my interactive journal. Typically it's long winded with sarcasm, a bunch of metaphors and like a straight shooter conversation with strangers. If I am as transparent with you guys as I say that I am, I won't hide in my dark moments either. The only thing I will say is that I'm grieving exceptionally hard. I didn't write this out of pity or likes. Please refrain from picking my brain. I promise my responses will not be in troll form and I really don't want to apologize for me saying something incredibly atrocious. Just bare with me.
Before I go, here's what I request:
1. Take care of your health: Mental, physical, emotional and spiritual. It all matters.
2. You're not a pussy if you cry randomly. Be sad, happy and all in between without apologies. Women especially find themselves apologizing for shit that you shouldn't be apologizing for.
3. It's okay to NOT be okay. You don't owe anyone an explanation either.
4. When you see the light at the end of the tunnel and you feel fatigued as I do, take a goddamn rest for a minute. Nobody can rush you out. Just make sure that you eventually take your worn bones to the sunshine.
5. There's no PR for swiftly getting out of depression. You aren't stronger nor weaker for it. Your race; your pace.
6. If you are feeling as shitty as I am right now, I wrote this for us. I know that not everyone is as comfortable expressing their demons for public scrutiny. Fuck whoever judge us.
Love and light,
It's been over a month and I think I had enough time off since I wrote a blog and recovered from a month long of races. For flashback Friday, what's better to write about than the Massachusetts' North Face Endurance Challenge experience with Mirna Valerio, infamously known as Fatgirlrunning, especially since I just wrote a review about her book coming out in October. Oh, so you haven't read my review: Book Review: A Beautiful Work in Progress...shame on you. You go read that RIGHT NOW!
Pre Race Day
"Fuck the gym. I have to get out of here on time."
Despite my efforts of packing early and attempting to get everything done in advance, I'm a stereotypical woman. There's never enough bags or clothing to take for a trip, even if it's only for the weekend. I promised myself a few weeks ago that I would have all of my items ready. Shit, I even made a timeline for my foolishness and fuckery. Seems like the only thing that went according to plan is actually making it out of NYC.
Two months prior, my running idol (and I think it's safe to say FRIEND) Mirna Valerio wrote the following on my Facebook page:
In turn, I binged between television and reading Jessamyn Stanley's Every Body Yoga: Let Go of Fear, Get On the Mat, Love Your Body, while being in my feelings about God knows what at this point. I chalk it up to being a rainbow coalition of emotions because I'm a Gemini. I looked over at my suitcase when I made it to bed around 12:30 and was so sure that I was going to get up in 4 hours. I'm thankful that I didn't because I truly didn't know what Saturday's slaughter house presentation had awaiting for me.
Friday morning, I headed over to my best friend to go to his doctor's appointment. After hearing some unfortunate news, I called Mirna from the Bronx and gave her my information. Thankfully, she was running late and it gave me a bit of time to get White Castle cheeseburgers and onion rings for breakfast. This is probably the time where you should side eye me, considering I downed around 6 burgers and I'm horrifically lactose intolerant. She picked me up some time closer to 1pm and after we all exchanged some jokes, Mirna and I headed on the traffic laced road to Massachusetts.
Despite the shit traffic conditions, a stop or two to allow my ass to play the sax and a coffee break, we made it to the Waschusett Mountain. It's such a beautiful site from afar and for some reason, I didn't respect how menacing this course would be. The Waschusett Mountain is Massachusetts highest state mountain with a top elevation over 2,000 feet. Perhaps it was a great idea that I didn't research as I typically do for all of my races. I was still recovering from the shit storm name Mountain Creek in Vernon, NJ from the Spartan Ultra Beast.
Mirna and I picked up our packets 30 minutes to closing but hung around for the seminar about Saturday's course. We had the pleasure of meeting Dean Karnazes, who happens to be this bad ass ultra-marathon runner here in the US and author of Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner. For a man who is a month away from pushing 55, I would be, could be and to the prude folks, should be lying if I didn't think that this man was my undocumented future ex-husband next to Gordon Ramsey obnoxiously incredible ass. Okay, enough of my drooling over strong men. He spoke eloquently about the adventures of being an ultra marathoner. While Mirna affectionally remembers his words about biting off more than he can chew on her Women's Running Magazine post, I remember him talking about the metaphorically "Coming to Jesus" moment. Perhaps, with better judgment, I should have known that this course would be a diva during income tax time with the two grand lace-front but I was too hype about doing my first trail marathon. After we snatched up a few selfies with him, I think we both went into our respective modes of race day nerves.
NOTE TO SELF: If anyone ever reference something in correlation to the Lord Jesus Christ and his sidekicks, take them seriously.
Defining all of the literary squabble of carb-loading to contradicting articles suggesting fat and protein, we opted for burgers and fries at Five Guys. To add insult to injury, I went for the milkshake because those damn things are life. Unfortunately, my anus reminded me of how much milkshakes don't bring all the boys to my yard about a hour later.
We unpacked, took a shower and did something that I no longer feel so alone about: Laid out our clothes and snapped a picture of our race day outfits to post onto social media. After talking some more, we finally decided to get some necessary shut eye.
Before you start cursing me out, I can explain. I've been pretty busy in my personal life and marathon/ultra-marathon training is no joke. Nevertheless, I have a great way to kick start my blog posts again. Wait for it...
I'm doing an advanced book review. Guys, I lucked up and received an advanced copy of A Beautiful Work in Progress from the incredible FatGirlRunning chic herself, Mirna Valerio.
Disclaimer: Book reviews are a lot harder than I gave it credit but I certainly enjoyed doing it. Nevertheless, check this shit out:
There's a serious back story to this message but you can read it on my next blog post because baby, that's another story of its own.
Anyway, back to the main topic!
Book Review Time
Title: A Beautiful Work in Progress
Author: Mirna Valerio
Publisher: Brilliance Publishing, Grand Harbor Press, 2017
ISBN (Book): 9781503943391
ISBN (Audiobook, CD, Unabridged): 9781536685893
ISBN (Audiobook, MP3, Unabridged): 9781436685909
Subjects and Categories You May Find this Book:
Biography & Autobiography/Personal Memoirs
Biography & Autobiography/Sports Health & Fitness/Women’s Health
Biography & Autobiography/Sports
May 28, 2017
Dear Anonymous Tumblr Admirer:
Like you, I prefer my racism clean, preferably washed in Clorox bleach, pressed to a crisp, served without a toasty blanket. Cold, poignant and to the point. I would resort to suggesting you to play around in your parents' worn down sheets with the perfectly cut out holes but technology brought us here today.
Sir or ma'am, since starting this blog, I received 133 pieces of hate mail to date and this one warms the depths of my asshole just like countless others. Unfortunately, you're not the lucky one who will have the opportunity to hurt my feelings today. I think you should take notes from some of the prior offenders. In turn, I wanted to help you attack my ego just a bit.
The most successful offenders to date used statistics, dug up alternative facts and sprinkled convoluted research in attempts of making me feel inadequate. You see, if you resorted to using a simple Google search for the word nigger, you could see the statistics of the incline of the usage of such term. Frankly, if you have done any decent research about me, you had a better chance of making me cringe by my favorite terms like porch monkey, spook and my all time favorites: Eggplant and Darkie. The word nigger is played the fuck out like cheesy oversized gold chains and mom jeans but you're trying to bring it back, right?
Anonymous, you are a basic bitch who had nothing better to do on your lunch hour, assuming you have a job, but to write me a heavy hitter one liner while eating a pathetic bologna and cheese sandwich with the stray hairs still intact. Calling me a nigger is one thing but UGLY... the nerve of you. Fine, I will let you have it because beauty thrives off of the eye of the beholder. But please, let me educate you on a small fraction of a host of people who have been called an ugly nigger:
When you took the time to write me this lackluster statement, you unknowingly added me to the list of some of the greatest who walked this earth. So as the millennial African American children who adore such coon terms as you, "Nigga, I made it!" Thank you for reminding me that breathing pisses folks like you off in the morning as you struggle to make yourself climax but your hands went on strike. Thank you for KEEPING me relevant. Thank you for thinking about me in your dreams, fucking up your REM sleep and even while you take a shit because baby, obviously I was that important. What kind of ugly nigger would I be if I didn't respond to my fans. Whilst some of my ancestors chose to turn the other cheek, I will proverbially knock you the fuck out. Unfortunately, there's not much that we can do behind computer screens and if you're fortunate, a fully functioning phone that doesn't require for you to steal someone else's Wi-Fi.
In short, the next time that you try to come for me, hoping to fuck up my emotions, know that before you, there were many who walked your path and failed. I deep throated insults like you since 1985 and like the cheap one night stand that you are, I will leave the pennies at the nightstand for whores like you. Make sure you clean yourself up on the way out. I'll replace your basic, irrelevant ass with another troll in a few days. Maybe they'll be kind enough to leave their name.
An ugly nigger name Latoya
P.S. I'm glad that you didn't call me a FAT ugly nigger because that one is getting old too. Perhaps you did do your research. Hit the theme music on your way out.