We welcome guest writer Brittany, who's a force to be reckoned with in the fitness world. She currently teaches at barre3 West Village, SLT, and at Cyc Fitness in NYC. Also an avid runner, Brit shares her most recent experience signing up for a half and full marathon this past weekend in Disney World.
TAKE IT AWAY, BRITTANY...
“Up for a Challenge?”
As an endurance athlete, I'm always up for a challenge. It's a no brainer.
However fitness challenges come easy (in relative terms) for me. What challenges me the most has nothing to do with physical exertion- it's all mental. Body image and self respect has been my personal challenge for years.
Coming from a dance and pageant background, being constantly compared to others, and then in turn judging myself. This kind of thinking took over my life. It brought me to an unhealthy place in my head that just wouldn't go away, which was brought on even further by additional fears -- my mom having cancer, break-ups, my relationship with food, and more. Eventually, I took myself out of the dance world thinking that would solve all of my world problems. It did for some time, but I missed being active. I then turned to running, which presented more mental challenges, but in a different way.
Running quickly became my new escape. When I run, I feel free, but also a bit out of control. I can go and go and go and never stop, because I feel so connected. Connected to a point that I get a complete adrenaline high where I don't want to stop!
After running 15 miles one day, I figured that was my cue to take it to the next level. I wanted to run a marathon and set a new goal. So I found the closest one to NYC which was the DC Rock-N- Roll Marathon set for March 12th, 2016. I signed up, I ran, and I finished! Looking back, running this race gave me a sense of self-love that I'd lost after many years. After that experience, I decided to sign up for 2 more marathons- one in Chicago in October and Disney World in January 2017.
I ran the Chicago marathon on October 9th, 2016 for the Bright Pink organization in honor of my mom who is a breast cancer survivor. Cancer had always played a huge part in fueling my fears. But with this particular race, I look back on it realizing that there was something off. I crossed that finish line without a drop of sweat! I didn't have an ounce of water in me, I was dehydrated. I knew I needed to make significant changes for the better.
I started making much needed daily lifestyle changes- including mediation and eating properly. Challenging myself to eat foods that have challenged me in the past. It was time to take better care of my body through recovery and self-care. I needed to stop stressing and pushing my body to the point of breakdown (PS- did I mention that those years of over stress and improper eating habits led me to digestive issues? My Chicago Marathon consisted of 7 bathroom breaks within 3 1/2 hours! Not good).
So I took the next few months to train, prepare, and get mentally prepared.
Fast forward to 2017 and my trip to Disney World. I signed up for the Goofy Challenge- I planned to run a 1/2 marathon on January 7th, followed by a full marathon on January 8th. January 7th came and I was ready, except the universe didn't want me to run that day. It stormed so badly that they canceled the race! Typically, I would have been so upset, but I didn't let a little weather “rain on my parade”. Instead, I decided to take a deep breath, sleep-in, and relax. I accepted what was meant to happen will happen. I'll just be ready for the next day.
THE STARTING LINE
On January 8th, I woke up rested and ready to go. I got in my car drove to Disney psyched and excited. I touched my toe on the the starting line. But I stopped. (Side note- that morning it was 30 degrees out - I wore a lightweight long-sleeved T shirt and leggings). I didn't even start running yet and I was already numb. Freezing, actually. That was my sign to STOP and listen to my body, listen to how I felt. I then did something that was so unlike me. I turned around and ran right back to my car, never running the actual race. But it was OK.
That day I found fearlessness, self-respect, self-love, and happiness. I was proud that I didn't push myself to the point of exhaustion and put more stress on my body. I didn't even need the finish line. The starting line was enough.
I'm sure I'll run another marathon. But next time I'll run it with so much more.
Not the outcome you probably expected. We love Brittany for sharing her truth and experience with us. Listening to your body is the strongest thing you can do. As a reader, how did this make you feel? For us, it gave us goosebumps to read about such courage. The courage to say no and to possess mindset to see this as just the start instead of failure. Brittany, we can't wait to hear about the one you CRUSH- all for you.