The Body Is A Gift: THIS is what STRENGTH looks like

I went to go for a weekend run, hitting the sidewalk and I hit start on my GPS. I made it a few strides before stopping. My chest was SORE. As a flat-chested runner, I was surprised. It was the first, but not the last of the telltale signs.

The one ultrasound photo of my baby.

A week or so later I pieced the signs together, and took a pregnancy test. My fiancé and I were so excited, and decided to announce at Thanksgiving, after the Grant Park Turkey Trot.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be. I miscarried at 8.5 weeks; The second week of November. One week later I was seeing my doctor for a follow up. She asked if I had any questions.

“When can I run again?”

My return to running wasn’t pretty. I was slow, in pain, and cried pretty much every run. I was so frustrated that my body was failing me, again. I couldn’t carry a baby. I couldn’t run. Fail, fail, FAIL. As I debated running the Turkey Trot in one week, I wanted so badly to run it. I just couldn’t do it.

I was still signed up for a spring marathon that I had registered for the week before I found out I was pregnant. I threw myself into training with everything I had.  I didn’t have easy runs, and I ran every mile at a hard pace. The problem was, I was extremely depressed and wasn’t eating much. It wasn’t intentional, I just wasn’t hungry. So I trained for my first marathon on an XL coffee and one meal a day. I lost weight, then muscle, to the point where I was asked if I was seriously ill by a coworker. I was injured several times during my training cycle: Hamstring, ankle, back. I was sick almost constantly: Flu, colds, sinus infections. I ran through most of it.

Closing in on marathon week, a thought crossed my mind on a bad run. I was pissed that once again, my body was failing me. I stopped and wondered, why am I punishing myself?

I ran so hard because I didn’t feel my body deserved love, care, or rest. In a moment, I realized how terribly I had neglected my amazing body. The body that carried me over thousands of miles, in multiple countries, and in all weather. I knew I needed to change my attitude and outlook on my marathon.

The morning of the race was COLD. Remember that Turkey Trot? I wore the race hoodie in the corral. And right before I crossed the start, I threw it to the side. It was me consciously throwing away all my hurt and pain. I was starting fresh, with gratitude and joy.

That day, I tapped all the power up signs, gave high fives to the kids, pet some dogs, and hugged my mom at mile 12. When I approached the finish line, I thought about how thankful I was for this amazing body. And I finished smiling.

THIS is what STRENGTH looks like.