Tuesday, November 7, 2023

An open letter to the running community

I started running in 2016. Well, I don't know if you could really call what I do running. I do a run/walk combo ever since the beginning. It started with a couch to 5K app and by May 2017 I was running the Broad Street Run which is a 10 mile race through Philadelphia. I was hooked and the running community is part of the reason I was enjoying it so much.

Following the Broad Street Run I signed up for my first half marathon and I loved it. So I continued to sign up for more races around Philadelphia. When I finally decided that I wanted to try a full marathon I joined Team Determination to run through New York with the American Cancer Society. Then COVID happened and the world shut down. During the year of shutdown I continue to run and fundraise for the American Cancer Society but I also entered some contests on social media. This is when I won entry onto Team Ultra. An amazing group of runners sponsored by Michelob Ultra.

Team Ultra gave me a VIP experience for the 2021 New York City Marathon including transportation, hotel, early start time, and a lot more. I was so proud when I finished the 2021 marathon but I also told myself I didn't need to do it again.

That's when the FOMO happened. In 2022 I started to see people posting and I started to see more and more posts about Team Ultra and how much fun they were all having together. I missed being part of that group and the experiences that I had had in 2021. So in 2023 I started entering to join Team Ultra again and I was luckily selected.

The experience itself was absolutely amazing and I still love the community and the people but I don't think my body was designed for the abuse of a full marathon. My second marathon was much tougher than the first. If you've been reading my blog you will note that back in July I started physical therapy for my back and while I've been working with the physical therapist and doing all the stretches and feeling amazing I also was not ready to go back and do a full marathon.

I barely made it to the finish line. I'm not going to lie, I refuse to quit but I was in pain for at least the last 8 miles if not longer. I stopped at first aid tents, I got Biofreezem I kept walking on. Yes I said walking because there was no way I could start running again. When I finally crossed that finish line it was almost 8 hours but I did it. I stopped at one of the photographers at the end and I literally said to the I need to take a picture that shows how miserable I am so that if I ever go to sign up for another marathon I remember.

I was in pain, I could barely move anymore, but I still cross the finish line and I am extremely proud of that. I made it to the Team Ultra after party and they had a recovery station where a super sweet professional massage therapist/body stretcher helped stretch me out.

I want to thank everyone in the running community because even though I was much slower than everyone and even though I don't have the same body type as many of you, I was never made to feel like I didn't belong. That might be a little lie because there were a few times where I did feel like I wasn't welcome in the pictures but it wasn't any one person in particular and it was most likely just in my head from years and years of being the fat awkward kid.

I'm not giving up on running itself because it really is something I enjoy at smaller degrees. I will keep running Broad Street every year and I will keep signing up for 5Ks but I think my days of full marathons are in the past. I would rather do a shorter distance and end happy then do the longer distance and barely be able to move.

Now I also know, never say never. It's possible I will once again get FOMO and tell myself I can do it. However, for now I am saying half marathons and shorter only.