Fitspo and Amber… Why Did I Listen? (2)

Last entry, I talked about how the constant barrage of “lose those last 10 pounds right now” talk from fitness and beauty magazines led to me being anorexic and very sick.

There’s another side to fitspo too, and that’s the constant call of “bigger, better, faster, more.” Got sucked into that vortex as well.In 2014, after taking a break from running for a year or so, I returned to the sport with fresh eyes and ready to run another 26.2. But as Facebook was taking off, so the rise of “fitness inspiration” pages, not to mention the barrage of “one more.. you can do it” from fitness magazines.

That year, I actually managed to keep it limited. Just one marathon, just the River Bank 25K, and a few smaller races. But as 2014 became 15, I started to listen to the call of “more, more, more.”

2015, I ran 3 marathons, tried triathlon, and kept the smaller races. Did well too, shattering my PR at the Twin Cities Marathon, knocking it down to 4:50:00, an 11:03/mile. But after that, I felt if I could do an Ultra Loony Challenge (5K/10K/Marathon) in one weekend and succeed, the magazines and fitspo pages were right. What else can’t you do?

2016, I decided I would push myself even further. 5 marathons, a foray into duathlon (just run/bike/run), and to top it all off, an attempt at a 50 mile ultra marathon. Started out with a bang, posting a 4:51:xx at Groundhog. Got even better at Ann Arbor, nudging my PR down to 4:46:28, a 10:57/mile. And at the River Bank, I even trimmed my PR down by about 23 seconds.

But as summer dragged on, my times started to slow and I started to feel hungry. Old eating disorders crept up (training for all this stuff and only eating soup and fruit for lunch). I experienced soreness, and not in a positive way. My ankles were incredibly sore after long runs. During the Marquette Marathon in September, I was on pace for a PR until I slowed way down at mile 23.

During the ultra, the one thing I’d been training for all year, I started out great. But at mile 25, my legs started to feel tired. And at mile 30, my head started to pound. When I got to the aid station there, I looked at the volunteer and bowed out. Felt like crap the entire way home, and “Automatic For the People” by R.E.M. didn’t help.

Grand Rapids, my ankle started to hurt at the mile 20 point. Did okay though, finishing in 5:06:xx.

But in 2017, the messages of “one more” and “you can do whatever you want” got to me. Even with my ankles hurting and my appetite out of control, I kept right on going. Wanted another crack at Hungerford. Wanted to do the full distance duathlon at Michigan Titanium. Wanted Kal-Haven ultra too. And I wanted 7 marathons.

Well, got through Groundhog. For Kal-Haven, started out great, but the last 10 miles were a pain. At Rivertown Half, got to mile 8 and got dehydrated. Spent the afternoon in the ER receiving fluids. Said at the time that humble pie was hard to digest.

At Riverbank, a race I’d PR in the past, was a slow crawl at 3:08:10. During the Charlevoix Marathon, I got to the half in 2:38:xx. But the second half was a nightmare, and I finished in 6:10:37.

The next month, I caught a break when the Grand Haven Tri/Du was cancelled due to weather. But Tri Del Sol was the next week. The first run was OK. Got on the bike though… and felt no power in my legs. At mile 8 of the bike, my right hip started to hurt. At mile 10, with no power and being in pain, I looked at the volunteer and said I couldn’t go on any more. They took me back to transition… and when I got back to transition, I started sobbing. I cried all the way to my car, and after loading my bike in the car, I sobbed some more. When I reached the Big Boy in Downtown Grand Rapids, I posted to Facebook that I was thinking about quitting endurance altogether.

A week or so later, I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, found that my anemia returned, and I had sciatica. I bowed out of the remaining races on my schedule, and knew I had to sit on it for a bit.

From August to December, I pretty much did yoga and Pilates. Felt fantastic, and my body started to heal. The messages of “one more,” and “you can do whatever you wanted” weren’t true anymore.

So this year, primary goal is to keep the eyes forward at the Meijer checkout. Don’t pay attention. I’ll never look like that anyway.

By adventureswithambermarie

Just a 38 year old trans girl roaming around Holland, MI. My old life wasn't as glamorous as my webpage made it look. Transphobic comments will automatically be deleted and you will be blocked.

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