Tuesday, September 23, 2014

No Longer Virgin



Two weeks ago I ran a 13.1 mile race delightfully called a Diva Half Marathon. It was not my first time. My first half was in Greenville, SC in 2011.

After having Hollie in 2008, I went back to running in an attempt to lose the baby weight. When the first 30 pounds came off but nothing else did, I thought adding mileage was the way to shed more weight.

What’s amazing to me is not that I was able to log the training hours or that I completed the race, but that the motivation for taking on such a thing was so ridiculously na├»ve.

Running to lose weight will not take you 13.1 miles.

There must be some other motivation. Some other voice in your head daring you to see if you can actually achieve such a thing. The miles are just too long and the effort just too hard to rely on the calorie burn as motivation.


On my second attempt at the half, I was reminded of another second and possessed by the same terrible apathy that I felt at sixteen.

Like half marathon training, giving up my virginity was done for the silliest of reasons: my boyfriend said he loved me. He was good enough to say it while he was peeling my clothes off so that I confused what was happening with affection, security, and romance.

The first time was the result of one of those after school make-out sessions that went a bit too far. I must have looked dazed afterward because Matt Brown said to me, “You understand what happened, right?”

I can remember with startling clarity the second time I had sex.

A couple of days later he took me to a motel so we could do it right. There were candles and shower play and cuddling afterward and all the other intimacy things that we’d seen in movies.

It didn’t change the first time, but it managed to overshadow the memory.

Like that motel experience, this summer’s prep for the 13.1 had all the trimmings of what the first time is supposed to look like:

I bought new shoes.
Me: "That was really hard." HB: "Can I wear your crown?"

I used an app to Map My Runs.

I had a training schedule.

I kept track of gear that worked and gear that failed.

I measured the impact of gel blocks and scheduled them by mileage.

I tested how long my playlist was and how long it needed to be.

I shared my goal with my friends so I could gain their support.

I treated even the minor ticks and soreness as major injuries and iced and wrapped and ultra-sound healed them.

But for all the worrying and chatting, this second experience was still just the no-longer-virgin version of a bad idea.

If I really work that memory, I can be honest about the quality of the motel, the cleanliness of the room, the fumbling between us, and the fear that still gave me pause even though the deed had already been done.

If I’m really honest about the experience, I can say I didn’t really want it but I didn’t really know what other options I had. One can only go so far before going a little further seems inevitable.

And still there’s something so familiar about the disappointing ache I felt leading up to the Diva race and that lingers now it’s over. In the aftermath, I kept saying, “so that’s it?”

I mean, I’ve done it before, why not do it again?

It’s the worst kind of apathy. The kind that has no hope of derailing the intentions but has the power to make bitter the experience.

I dreaded the race and even came close to backing out Friday night.

But I didn’t.

I woke up at 4:30 a.m. and dressed and got Hollie up and dressed and we drove out to Leesburg, Virginia, and stood in the early morning chill of September. And I ran.

I ran the first six miles without walking.

I ran the next four with water station walks.

I ran the last three in a lot of pain.

At the end I said, “That was really fucking hard,” because it was.
Jillian and I help Tami cross the finish line.

But I didn’t quit. I didn’t give up. And my apathy didn’t last. It was replaced by something resembling determination.

On Monday, en route to Maine, the guy on the plane next to me, seeing my issue of Runner’s World magazine said, “Are you a runner?”

Yes, I am. And no longer virgin about it. I may even slap that 13.1 sticker on the back of my car.

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