Saturday, March 21, 2015


Warning: lots of strong feelings and opinions, possible ranting and raving.

I'm an athlete. I train, I fuel, I work hard and I consistently crush my goals. Limits? I don't have any. There are only goals I haven't reached yet. That being said, there is nothing that irks me more than when someone questions my abilities. Yes, it's a bit disheartening every time someone expresses shock that I'm a triathlete and marathoner. That's right, my short thick self can move for miles. Normally I don't let it get to me but lately as I keep pushing farther the doubt from outsiders seems to get stronger. 

A few days ago I was proudly wearing one of my triathlon shirts from a previous race when someone asked me if I was a volunteer at the event. I replied that I earned the shirt by participating in the race. The look of disbelief coupled with their response "well good for you" was so strongly laced with pretentious undertones that it bothered me more than usual. It made me wonder how often non traditional looking athletes have to "prove" themselves as such. I'm not ashamed of my body, I love it, it's strong and it has carried me through each and every test I put it through. I may not be your "ideal" body type, but this is what I'm happy with and this is what an athlete looks like.

This kind of discrimination happens all the time, in various forms. Sometimes its the casual assumption that you're running the shortest distance. "This is the packet pickup for the half marathon, the 5k line is over there" thanks, but I AM here for the half marathon. "Oh, is this your first half marathon?"...nope, it's actually my 10th. This happens to me ALL.THE.TIME. I decided to see what the deal was, so the last time someone asked me if this was my first long distance race my reply was "What makes you think this is my first?". I wish I could have captured an image of their reaction. They were so clearly uncomfortable because they realized that their assumption was completely based on my appearance and nothing else. While bothersome, I can typically move and go about my day as if nothing had happened.

The worst kind of doubt about your abilities or your goals is the kind that comes from those closest to you. I can't tell you how dreadful it is to have someone close to you bring you down.  While I was out for lunch with my parents last weekend I was discussing upcoming races and asked them to block out a weekend in August of 2016 for when I hope to tackle my first Half Iron Man and instead of the usual supportive "of course we'll be there" I got the complete opposite. My mom seemed upset, maybe even angry, that I'm choosing to keep pushing myself. She even went so far to compare my love of running and triathlons to a drug addict always looking for their next fix. A drug addict. I was in disbelief. Even sitting here typing this I'm having a hard time getting the words out. I can feel the tears welling up in my eyes and my hands are beginning to shake with the rage that I feel boiling up. 

She's concerned, I get it. I understand that with longer races the chances for injury increases but I never feel more alive than when I'm crushing a new obstacle. Everything else in my life has benefited from my love of endurance sports. I never truly understood my own potential until I completed my first half marathon. Crossing that finish line I was a completely new person. I knew that there wasn't anything that could stop me. I've never lacked for self esteem but that race gave me more confidence than I had ever felt before. Looking forward to another race and a challenging new distance is what helps to keep me focused and motivated. This is the first time in my life that I've been dedicated to fitness and health so it was soul crushing to hear her express her feelings about my hobbies. She kept telling me I need to take better care of my body and that all of these races are just wrecking my body. I seem to think to the opposite is true, before I found running I was killing my body slowly. I didn't pay attention to how I was eating or that I was getting enough exercise. I was simply existing. Reaching my fitness goals began to impact my personal life. I was no longer willing to settle. I changed jobs to something that was more suited to my long term goals and interests. I finally said goodbye to the negative people and things in my life. 

Could all these things have happened without running? Maybe. But, this is the way it happened for me and I couldn't imagine my life without it. There will be a day when I can no longer run, today is not that day. 


  1. When I completed ChesapeakeMan in 2010 my sister told me that she and mom were immensely relieved because they spent the entire 11 months with the vision of Julie Moss dragging herself across the finish line. They were terrified. They never told me that. They only supported all my efforts. They might comment on how tired I was seeming in a given moment. Keep doing what you are doing, it clearly works for you. If your folks don't get it, leave them out of it. Tough, but good for sanity.

  2. I teach many different kinds of fitness, to people of all shapes and sizes - and I quickly learned that it's impossible to know just by looking who may dive in the water, hop on the bike or hit the yoga mat with awesome technique and huge stamina - and who will need modifications and options (both groups are welcome; but until I see someone start working, I have no idea who is who). I am sorry we live in such a judgey world, and that you fall victim to that judgement.

    But keep on challenging yourself (and maybe some people's perceptions along the way) and hungering for more. The risks associated with endurance sports are no greater (and definitely lesser) than those associated with plenty of other activities that people participate in every single day, about which your family might not bat an eye. Your family may learn (or may not)...but keep your chin up, eyes on your prize, and legs powering through your workouts every day. <3!