When life hasn't told you enough that you're not shit, literary publications are asking you to hold its beer.
As a plus size athlete, fatphobic comments run steadily like water. And being a black woman, I have enough traumatic stories to keep you drunk for an entire month. Bring the Johnny Walker and we could have a marvelous party in self pity -- but I prefer to not indulge. Instead, I love running or doing gym bro shit. Scaring the shit out of my 62 year old mom as I tell her about traveling to another trail in an affluent community that will try to search my locs as if I'm holding onto a special strain of marijuana is more of my thing. I know how harshly the world views me and others who share some sort of attribute that comes with living in this body -- and the media knows it too. Since they're so knowledgeable about it, these so called 'professional' publications and corporate companies found gimmicky ways of generating buzz. This weeks' anal chafing came from an opinion piece written by Tanya Gold posted in The Telegraph -- and I'd be dipped in hushpuppy battered shit if I'm posting a link on here.
For weeks, I woke up feeling like I was going through the seven stages of grieving by proxy of the internet. People love what you do until they realize the act has a pulse.
Before I place another blurb on here, I need to trim the excess garbage that's been clouding my ability to write freely for over two months. Running Fat Chef is a food and fitness blog ran by an individual -- Me. At times, I think people look at a space that I created initially as an open journal and think of it as a business venture. Whilst I would love to say something metaphorical and inspiring like 'look at yourself as the most profitable asset in your possession', this is not the case. This space evolved from a simple plea from multiple friends seeing me elaborate on things in an unadulterated, colorful manner, urging me to look beyond social media to opening up my virtual home to thousands of people -- and I am thankful for all of you, even the ones who serve as unnecessary watchdogs or simply watch to wait for my next 'failure.'
Through this space, I managed to talk about my personal adventures and observations of how people try their best to navigate through spaces that aren't open to people like me:
I'm as skeptical as a person comes -- I don't believe in crystal balls and at times, I question if humanity truly exists but it doesn't stop me from trying to preserve the bit of magic that I have within me nor pretend to have a blind eye to the compassion, warmth and love that I receive from thousands of people I possibly may never meet. When I started this blog and encountered my first deliberate piece of hate mail, I questioned 'why me' and secondly, 'why do they hate US so much' referring to millions of people who fit into the census form of the other box in relation to our body types or fitness ability.
My inbox is typically filled with questions about marathon training but I traded them off for 'WTF is an ultra marathon and who would want to do such a terrible thing' -- I do but maybe I'm nuts.
How many of you found yourself sucked into the world of marathon training because someone said something like "if you can do XX, you can be a marathoner?" Yep -- that's definitely how I got sucked into this vortex called marathon training. I have to admit that I cannot blame anyone for engulfing into ultra marathons. While training for my first NYC Marathon in 2015 - second marathon to the Rock n Roll DC - I started going taper crazy and signed up for the New York Road Runners' 60K that took place two weeks later. In hindsight, I realized I must've lost my fucking mind and purged all of my happy pill after mile 29 inside of a port-a-potty somewhere around loop 6. You have no idea how much you hate life, happy spectators enabling your neurotic addiction to medals and how broth tastes like unicorn tears after experiencing sodium deficiency until you do one of these things. Long story short, I made it across that finish line that day. I came in at 9 hours, 47 minutes and 22 seconds and vowed to never touch one of these things again in life. Like all endurance runners, we're full of shit when we're not letting it off into the wilderness or some random café. Most people know about marathons but what the hell is an ultra marathon -- and why would I even want to do it?
I never know what kind of day it'll be. Living with a chronic illness and choosing an intense sport like running requires a lot of pep talks, especially when your body is screaming at you to quit.
My mind and body has kept me captive for the last week. Every time I try to escape this sedentary state, I'm back on my sofa or working on my computer for hours for assignments. For the last week, I gave myself a full blown pep talk of what I'm going to do and how I'm going to do it. One morning I forgot to set my alarm and it was already 9AM - which is ridiculously late for me - and another day, I woke up at 5AM with clothes laid out but greeted to brutal temperatures and an aching body. It feels as if the world is giving me an assortment of excuses to not leave my house. I have the Humana Rock n Roll New Orleans in a few weeks, just purchased my tickets and I don't feel prepared at all.
Wake up. Brush my teeth. Wash my face. Take a shower. Get dressed. Sign up for 10 races. Grab a coffee. Freak out. Ask myself WTF did I just do. Pour Devil's Springs Vodka into coffee. Rinse, wash, repeat.
I've done my share of relatively dumb shit -- I'm not sure if I'd count my race calendar as one. To people who aren't ultra runners or enjoy the stark feeling of dancing with death by blisters may look at me rather strange. After fixing up this website to make it look like an adult who cares about their life actually blurbs here, I realized that I signed up for a shit load of races this year -- some that's not even on the website calendar as of yet. I'm looking at a minimum of ten marathons, a 50 miler, one TransRockies Run that total 120 miles with a 20K climb over the course of six days and yeah, I'm massaging the thought of signing up for a 100 miler. Perhaps I did fall short on a special sort of stupid but I love it. It doesn't stop me from asking myself what the fuck did I just sign up for each and every time.
Sometimes it's not as simple as deleting a comment or blocking a person. When someone takes the time to write a hurtful message, they know EXACTLY what they're doing.
The internet is a gift and curse to many. Through social media, I literally went from being a novice athlete who worked out for fun to being sponsored and partnered up with some dynamic companies. And while I don't regret posting up my regimen, sharing highlights of my day through ASMR style cooking videos and occasional rants here and there, know that it's not as glamorous as it appears. In fact, I recently jumped up close to a thousand followers in the last 36 hours at the expense of being a target of heckling on social media. Oftentimes I am conflicted on calling people out, turning the other cheek or being vulnerable about the degrees of hurtful exchanges produced by strangers who hate me for breathing.
Do you find yourself muttering expletives at the person running an 8 minute pace smiling, eating a FroYo at mile 24? A sudden urge to lace their lace their fuel with scotch bonnet? OK hater -- I relate and see you.
When I officially started training for my first race, the Michelob 13.1 series in Queens, I remember not knowing what the hell I was doing. My chest burned after three minutes of running and the only thing that kept me going was the idea of losing out on the race entry fee. Feel free to judge my cheap ways because I know that I'm not alone in this sentiment. One unusually warm winter morning, I went to Boys and Girls track feeling defeated and reducing my run down to a speed walk. This long limbed, Shaun T looking extra galloped in front of me. Her skin looked like rich dark chocolate and in my mind, her sweat probably tasted like a box of Girl Scout Cookies --and no I wasn't checking her out (that much). I remember her because she did two and a half loops to my one loop. She smiled at me on her fourth time around and even said good morning as I walked off the track pissed.
'Fuck her for being able to sing while running that quickly.' I actually said this out loud when I stopped the timer on my Runkeeper app. I didn't hate her but she represented what I didn't have at the time: Endurance, speed and a personal peace with running. I was the Salt Bae of hater's anonymous. In hindsight, I know that she wasn't my real problem.
As much as I love running with my husband, I have an irrational fear that he will want to push me down a hill in efforts of keeping up a good pace. Whilst he hasn't applied that pressure onto me yet, it reminds me of the worries that exist as a back of the pack runner.
Unlike most of my friend list on Instagram, my husband had to wake me up two minutes before the start of the New Year. It's my lovely 30s kicking my ass and reminding me that I could give two bits of a damn about staying awake long enough to watch the ball drop. Our family friend Joanna, my son EJ, husband and I had a celebratory drink - and the kid had sparkling cider - before I was ready to call it a night. An exhausted Eric grew irritated about my line of questioning about what time we would go for our training run; he finally agreed that he'd wake up at whatever ungodly hour I was ready to go. Whenever a spouse says something like this to you, it's a polite way of them telling you to please shut the hell up and leave them alone. In my heart, I wanted to be a jerk and wake him for o'dark thirty; instead my body knew better and waited until after 8AM.
Somehow I managed to not kill off an entire population or get thrown over Trump's wall to date when I miss Monday workouts. I wonder what will happen if I miss all of the Mondays on the calendar.
Fortunately for all of Brooklyn, I found my way to the gym and after I type this post, I'll be running through some rain for a few miles because it's another day of the week --not because it's fucking Monday. If I allowed the fitness gods to peek into my already over-sharable life beyond what I show on social media, I might be offered as some cult sacrifice to the Reading Rainbow coalition. I've heard everything from not allowing your knees to cross your toes - yep, that's officially bullshit and you can Google check that - to not being considered a runner if you fall under a certain pace. Frankly, all of these rules can sit and rotate. This never missing a Monday logic makes me want to drink a Shake it Baby tea because of course, we know how well senna and laxatives work on the body.
I caught myself slipping in mid-thought as I walked into the gym a few days ago. Before I get pissed off about the New Year resolution crowd, once upon a time I used to be them. These days, I'm still baffled about how I became the popular fat kid in the locker room when I grew up in an era that picked those people last.
Before I pick up another cup of Southern Comfort and cream soda, I thought it was best to rock out this post. Here's a half-assed disclaimer: I might say some things that's gonna sound a bit hypocritical but you might look at yourself twice because you may have said it too. Now that this is out there, let's talk about my distaste for pretentious ass New Year's resolutions and my year in reflection.
If you want to bring your dreams into fruition, you have to be willing to fail at such a disgusting degree that it makes you contemplate quitting. In a ridiculously spoiled society where humans feel so privileged to win at everything, we have to humble ourselves to experiencing or witnessing some of life's shitty offerings.
Couple weeks back, one of my Instagram followers asked me when I knew I was an ultra runner. I didn't answer that question until this morning. I could give you a bunch of artificial answers like recounting the moment that I crossed the finish line after running for 9 hours, 47 minutes and 22 seconds during the NYRR 60K -- two weeks after the NYC Marathon in 2015. Or maybe when I ran an extra four miles at the Finger Lakes 50K because of one stupid flag in the distance. But honestly, I think I am reminded several times through my failures.
Assumptions run deep when left with things like social media, cheesy pictures and even adventurous stories like mine. People will count the coins in your purse before the bill money hits the collectors. As I beg my lint to keep my pockets company, I do my best to be a BETTER broke balling ultra runner.
The Young and the Dollarless
Let's play a game: Never have I ever postponed paying for a credit card bill to enter the NYC Marathon race day fee. Never have I ever maxed out a credit card because the Brooklyn Half Marathon books out in 41 minutes. Never have I ever made a struggle meal so damn good for two weeks because these flights ain't cheap. Never have I ever side eyed my friends who run in places like Jamaica who appear to have it easier than you. Or maybe never have I ever found myself considered selling out my morals to promote 'Shake It Baby' because they pay enough to cover my hotel, flight, a bomb ass meal and these race fee struggles?
If you are runner without a shitload of financial stability, don't you even side eye or lie to me. Most of us have been there -- and you haven't, congrats to you...you do gooder bitch (I'm mostly joking but I really adore you -- sorry.) Each year I groan at the exorbitant prices that comes with signing up for another Abbott World Major or a trail run that's dumb cheap in comparison to some runs but stationed out in West Bubbafuck, Utah.
I'm 33 years old, married and have a hormonal game raging preteen son that asks for PlayStation releases that's roughly 60 a pop. And yeah I say fuckouttahere a lot but there's times where I say yes if there's extra money in the budget. It truly doesn't help that I'm a starving artist or freelancer. Yes, this Tommy really do have a job but without a predictable paycheck, I cannot afford to splurge every five minutes I see that new promotion. So I'm sure those who are close and far from me wonder how do I do it?
While people were patting my back for running countless miles over the course of a year, I wondered what my son was learning in school and what stressors were triggering my husband at work. Although I banter about this unpredicted and very public ultra runner life, I am always wondering about how it impedes on my family members and close friends.
It's been less than a month since I wrapped up my 'marathon tour' and I haven't adjusted yet. My body started rebelling against me the moment it smelled the NYC air. Who the hell signs up for 3 marathons, their first 100K, attempt to get redemption at an ultra obstacle course race and several other smaller events in between in different parts of the United States -- this person. I feel blessed to still have my mobility, some parts of my marbles and more than anything, my family. My fears of attempting 240+ miles wasn't the distance on my feet but my passion keeping me away from my loved ones.
Adventures from Arizona's Javelina Jundred 100K
Latoya Shauntay Snell
For my pretentious ass bio, check out the about me page but for anyone interested in who I really am, make me a good meal at your house and I'll tell you a dope ass story.
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