Why do I do this
Monday, July 24, 2017
I was about a mile into an intended 4-mile run the other day and I got a major stomach cramp. Not just a little cramp, but one of those stab you in the gut cramps that makes it hard to breathe. I tried to walk it off, stretch it out, and it seemed like it just was not going to go away. I wondered if I was going to have to cut the workout short, but I kept trying, walking, running, walking, running, until the stomach cramp subsided. Even with all the walking, my overall time on the 4 miles was still under a 14 min/mile average. I kept going.
As I was working through the cramp, and with all the heat and humidity that was also making me question my sanity, I started thinking about what I was doing. All of it. Part of it came up in a convo with the hubby the other day. I have just completed my first sprint triathlon. I am signed up for a 10K in a few weeks, and I am considering doing another sprint triathlon in September. My giant goal is an olympic-length triathlon, maybe by next summer. So far the races haven't cost that much, but the tri in September is a more "official" race, so it costs a bit more, and I was thinking about why I am going to spend that money just to wear myself out for 2 hours. I thought about why I was trying so hard to push through that stomach cramp when I could just go home. They say that weight loss is 80% diet and only 20% exercise, so I could still lose weight, maybe even faster, if I wasn't doing all this extra work.
The truth is, as someone who always was the chubby girl, the outcast, who dreaded my name being changed from Maggie into "Large Marge", who did some sports but pretty much stank at every one, the races are changing my self-image in ways I had not thought of before. When I say that I have done a race, when I can show off my t-shirt or my finisher medal, when I put those magnets on the back of my car (because I totally am), when I humble-brag about what I've done, I feel different. Proud. Awesome. I know this is not supposed to be about other people's approval, and for the most part, this is about my own personal demons and needs, but I am proud of myself in a way I have never been before. I have weighed less -- at my lowest weight I was 25 lb less than I am now -- but I have never run this far, lifted this much, or achieved anything as simple as a 5K. And now, I am desperate not to lose it.
I am careful -- I fear injury so much because I worry that if I stop I might not be able to get myself going again -- but I try to push myself as much as I can. I try not to talk about the races too much because I know some people will feel alienated, but I also get really excited when people ask me about it.
And when it comes to the weight loss, the food tracking, something about having that race ahead of me makes me much more diligent with my nutrition too. I know that if I get thinner, I will get faster, and that is a much bigger motivator for me right now then just fitting into some arbitrary smaller size. It also helps me not worry too much when the weight loss is slow -- it is more important that I am eating right for muscle recovery than just losing pounds, and if I am gaining muscle, that will slow the overall weight loss as well.
Most of all, I am just proud of myself. Finishing that first 5K means I can call myself a
"runner". Finishing a sprint triathlon means I can call myself a "triathlete". These are labels I have desired for years and now at 38 years old, I have them. This is why I push through stomach cramps, why I work my schedule to make sure I can fit in workouts, why I sweat and smell. Because I love those labels and I love the recognition that comes with them. I must keep moving.