TakeOver Tuesday

I know, I know … it’s been awhile. Life has been crazy with wedding planning and enjoying the summer. I promise I’ll get back into regular blogging soon.

Regardless of how long it’s been since my last post, when someone texts you asking if you’d still like to share their TakeOver Tuesday post … you don’t give it a second thought – especially when it’s today’s guest blogger.

I’m a strong believer that people come into your life for a reason and that it’s not necessarily just chance that brings you together. When I first moved to Boston, it took a little while before I was able to connect with someone about my eating disorder. I mean – when you first move to a new city and are trying to make new friends, it’s not exactly something you walk around shouting. This shook me up a bit, especially after having such a strong network at home.

I first met today’s TakeOver Tuesday authorwhen she was teaching the class I was in at MyStryde. She seemedto be exactly what I’d been striving for – fit, motivated and a strong runner. I instantly thought she was super cool.

It wasn’t until she reached out to me about an ATBE post, that I had any idea we shared an on-going ED and exercise battle. Talk about the perfect example of you really never know what someone is going through, we all have a story. From the second she reached out, we connected and just like that I now know I have someone I can reach out to in Boston – to vent, ask for advice or just talk to. And that has truly made all the difference.

I reallylook up to Rachel, whom you’ll soon meet below. She is welcoming, kind, motivating and genuine. She is strong, determined and one of those people who you just know is never going to give up. She is beyond beautiful, inside and out. Knowing she’s gone through all that she has and continues to keep going, is inspiring beyond measure.

Enjoy her story.

Broken To Pieces

This is not a story about unparalleled struggle. This is not a story about earth shattering loss. This is a story about falling down and getting back up among the mundane struggles that surround us day to day. It’s a story about me. But it’s also a story about you, or the person in line next to you for coffee.

What do I have to say that hasn’t been thought or said before? Probably nothing. But that’s the thing about these small battles we fight everyday, they never quite feel validated enough to raise a fuss about. We push them to the back until they slowly consume our happiness and then it’s too late.

My first 26.2 and Boston Qualifier, and the beginning of a slippery slope.

My story starts out much like many other teenage to early adolescent girls. With a stuggle over body image. For years I fought the person I saw in the mirror. I dont entirely know how it started but it took shape in my early 20s. At the end of college I found an identity within running and I let it take over my life. I let it really dig in and take hold. The more I started to run and see success, the more deeply I slipped into this obsession with running and what I ate. What ensued over the next decade was a snowball effect, compounding in an utterly and completely lost sense of self.

Admittedly, at points I used running to justify what I was doing. “I need to run today to stay on track with my training”. “I need to eat healthy to stay on track for training”. The concept of racing weight became more and more present in my mind. And I battled the scale to bring it farther and farther down as my race times became closer and closer to being competitive.

Half marathon PR that bumped me into the competitive realm of racing.

But regardless of how much I ran or how little I ate, I was never satisfied with the body I had. I looked around at every other runner around me and saw myself as falling short (literally). It became a complete obsession and I found myself (and still do sometimes) deafened to anything else going on around me. The fear and negativity took hold without me even realizing how much of me it had sucked away with it.

My last serious marathon, I qualified to race elite, something that as a non-high school or collegiate runner was outside of my wildest expectations. But at the starting line I didn’t take in the moment. I didn’t think “look at where your hard work got you”. All I could think as I stood on the starting line was “why don’t I look like these girls?”

Hiding out before the start with my amazing mother in law, avoiding the elite pre-race room.

I raced the strongest first 18 miles of my life that day but it was too late. My body was so broken down and beaten up by the insane mileage and lack of proper fuel by that point that I epically collapsed the last 8 miles and finished 3 minutes shy of a PR and even farther from my goal. I found out later that I was running on a fractured sacrum and possibly torn labrum. And that was pretty much it. I put on a good face for my family but I think deep down I knew that was the beginning of the end and I had no one to blame but myself. That race was nearly 2 years ago.

Dont I make marathon running look fun though?

But like I said, this isn’t a story about loss. This is a story about life. Life brings loss and disappointment and that’s a given. But our opportunity to show our true character comes not in the face of trials but rather in the ability to experience struggle, let it take hold and then stand again. There is so much more to my story but isnt that always the case? Each little misstep and struggle along the way eventually finds itself piled on top of us if we arent careful. Its not always about starting over though. Sometimes its about peeling back the layers until you start to uncover the part of you that got buried.

Last week, I had hip surgery to repair damage that was most likely done around the time of that October race. The operation was a culmination of 2 years of injury, stress fractures, tears, muscle weaknesses and imbalances. But it was also the result of nearly a decade of treating my body as if it owed me the world. And the truth is it didn’t.

I used and abused my body for years and for what? To ultimately break it to literal pieces? No. That’s not how I want my story to end. This is how I want my story to begin. With a new outlook and appreciation for what my body can do. I know well it’s an uphill battle through rehab post surgery but that’s where the real magic will happen. That’s when I get to stand on my 2 feet and learn to trust myself again. Learn to appreciate every bit of strength I have gained in the past 2 years, both physically and mentally.

They should really warn you about the drugs before they let you take pictures.

It feels like an eternity since I could truly call myself a runner and although the deepest fibers of my being miss that, I am be eternally grateful for all I have and continue to learn in the time since my body said no more. I have learned that sometimes life weighs on you but the ability to get back up is far more important than the amount of weight on the scale. That it matters not how fast you run if you are running away from something you arent willing to fix, and that true accomplishment comes from your ability to find your greatest weaknesses and turn them into your greatest strengths.

I want to find my identity as a runner again, but this time I’m determined to do it in a new way. In a way that doesn’t define me as a person or dictate my self-worth. See, that’s the great thing about human nature. There are so many pieces that make the whole. Even when we feel like we’ve been shattered, we can always pick up the pieces and find a new way to put them back together. There will always be hope and positivity even when it feels like you’re facing an uphill battle (on crutches). You just have to be brave enough to leave the rest behind.

One Reply to “TakeOver Tuesday”

  1. You are such an inspiration Rachel. Thank you for sharing your story! You have helped me in countless ways<3 Can't wait to run with you on the new hip! Xoxo

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