A most ridiculous thing happened today: my shorts nearly slid off in the supermarket. It sounds absurd, I know, but as I was walking out with my shopping bags and orange juice, these size-2 Gap shorts kept inching their way down my bum, and any amount of wiggling I tried could not halt their descent. I stopped and tucked my sweater into my shorts (oh, Colorado weather...) and was good to go for the 6-block walk home.
I share this anecdote not to highlight the reality that I need either new shorts or a new belt or both, nor am I trying to illustrate how I don't have much padding around my hips/butt. No, I'm sharing this because my new reality is that I don't weigh much, and it is actually quite frustrating. My weight has become a very visible representation of a larger, darker issue: I am not gaining weight, and I am not absorbing nutrients properly. The adventures of a newly-diagnosed Celiac athlete! Trying to eat healthily but also adequately fuel my body. It's harder than it looks, folks.
It is now nearly three weeks since I ran and Finished (!) the Boston Marathon. The race was beyond incredible. So many thousands of runners, all of whom had worked so hard to get to Hopkinton. Standing around in the athlete's village prior to the start of the race, sipping Gatorade and coffee and water, I could not believe I was there. With everything that happened these past few months and years, I never imagined I would be wearing a bib number for the Boston Marathon. Five years after I was sitting in a hospital bed in Chicago wishing I was in Boston drinking with my college friends, I was about to take off running in the race as an official entrant. I wrote a little bit about this on here, but I had not properly trained for this marathon. Between being sick and dealing with my GI issues and then having to overhaul my entire diet and way of thinking about food, I just had not put in the miles necessary. The longest long run I did was about 10 miles, and that was in February. Which isn't to say I wasn't fit: I bike every day; I still do live at altitude; I was running a little bit. I had also spent the month before the marathon focusing on nutrition and putting on weight so that no matter what, at least I'd have a little bit of fat or Something to give me energy over the course of the race.
My attitude was basically, "Hell, I have an entry to this crazy marathon. This may never happen again. No, I haven't trained well; no, I have no idea what is going to happen; yes, there is a good possibility I won't be able to finish for whatever reason. So what. I'm going. I'm starting. I will enjoy the experience, whatever that means." And so I did
A few weeks earlier, I had seen Scott Jurek speak at the REI here in Denver. He was really interesting, and I wish I could have picked his brain more, but one part of his presentation stuck with me. He talked about how he managed to win the Western States 100, 7 years in a row, and how such a thing is even possible. Essentially, his takeaway point was 1: you have to want it, and 2: you have to Really want it. I wanted this race. I wanted to be there, and I wanted like crazy to finish. I hadn't beaten cancer and the face tumor and no B-cells and the face tumor redux and celiac disease only to drop out halfway. So I took off running when it was finally my turn to cross the start line, and I kept that sentiment with me the entire time. And even though I ran/walked the thing after about 10 miles in, never once did it occur to me to stop. Notably, never once did my GI give me any trouble, either. I crossed the finish line in Copley Square and promptly started sobbing because of every single thing I had overcome to get there. Because I had just finished the Boston Marathon; because I had once again proven to myself that I am stronger than I give myself credit for.
We all are stronger than we allow. Our bodies are incredible, and I know so many people who just laugh when the odds keep stacking against them. Really, if I can run a marathon without adequate training and actually Beat the time of my first marathon (that I did train for...), if I can feel completely back to normal two days after the race, biking to work and getting on with life, if I can get through every single day with a lowered immune system and an allergy to gluten, what can't I do?
Sometimes I don't understand why I am still here, what I am supposed to be doing with this ridiculous life I've been given. Life can be so hard, and it seems like it would be easy to give up too often. I don't know what to eat; I have to take supplements and medicines because no matter how much kale I eat, my folic acid levels are just too low. Etc., etc., etc. None of this is important. What matters is that I am still here; I can still run and bike and do one whole pull-up. There are all these wonderful things and even though I am struggling with celiac and my weight and energy levels, life is So Good! I guess I'll just keep working on it, eating steak and Greek yogurt and maybe just suck it up and go buy new shorts. Thanks for checking in; that's what's been on my mind lately. Hopefully I'll write more frequently about how this whole celiac/nutrition/running/biking/hiking mountains thing goes. I've given myself a three-week break from running, but I miss it so it's time to start running more, eating more, thinking less about the negative, focusing on the awesome. So much awesome...