A deep dive into my love and hate for the running community.
Sometimes I feel as if I’m a runner with Stockholm’s Syndrome. I’m deeply infatuated and in love with a sport and community that leaves me feeling invigorated, inspired and broken. My limbs gleefully seize up from each extension; my thick legs reverberate the sounds of an internal protest – this is oftentimes welcomed and expected. I didn’t account for the sounds of my peers telling me that I am not wanted here or how my body is a force of repulsion. My thoughts are not always welcomed in spaces that I once considered safe. I don’t know exactly when I shifted from being a person once invited to join a collective of asphalt clapping runners to being a nuisance in the community but I know how it made me feel once I acknowledged the shift. Despite my treks through unfamiliar terrains, this void feels foreign. These days, I don’t find solace being in a group with like-minded strangers. I learned how to run alone and at times, I find it hard to muster the courage to not feel broken in my solitude.
By mile 16, I wrote an irrational list of things I hated which included cold air touching my face and the person who made me laugh leading me to pee lightly on myself.
Any person who reads enough ramblings from me will notice that I love running no more than 4 times a week. On the fifth day, I want to murder everything moving. Despite it all, I find myself signing up for races at 2AM like I'm on QVC because that's how I avoid midnight snacks these days. I'm almost certain this is how I signed up for the New York Road Runners' Knickerbocker 60K. Somehow I managed to develop amnesia for the third time and thought running 37.2 miles two weeks after the New York City Marathon was a GREAT idea. If I could complete my first 100K last year six days before the NYC Marathon and do this race two weeks after, what could possibly go wrong this year? Every. Single. Thing.
Most people sign up for races with a 90 percent certainty that they will finish; I'm not most people.
If it feels like it's been a long time since I've wrote anything consistent here, that would be painfully accurate. There's not one particular reason that I can give you but I can throw out a few:
Through one on one interactions with people in the running community and with loved ones reminded me about the reasons why I constructed this crazy website Running Fat Chef and it damn sure wasn't for internet fame. I truly love blurbing about the highs, lows, unstable moments and adventure that comes with fitness, particularly running. By having a honest heart to heart with myself, I buried myself under a blanket, wrote down a list with my insecurities, rolled it into a shape of a blunt and decided to say "fuck all of that shit-- I'm writing again."
With that said, let's talk about my 2019 highs and lows before the year is out -- and let's start with my DNFs.
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.
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.
If you want to donate to my one woman operation, please feel free to donate below. All funds will help me keep the blog running smoothly.