I was sobbing salt when I crossed the Pittsburgh Marathon finish line in May of 2013. Five hours and fifteen minutes earlier – I had foolishly toed the start line with an inflamed Achilles. Now my whole leg was on fire – swollen with fury. As a woman handed me my medal – I dry-heaved a thank you. I still cringe when I remember the 1-mile hobble of hell back to my hotel room, cradling my heavy, oversized “Pittsburgh Runner of Steel” marathon medal against my chest.
A few days later, as I sat in physical therapy, terrified that the Achilles tendonitis in my left ankle would end my new-found passion – I solemnly swore I would never take a risk like this again. Some people are born to run marathons, I lectured myself. And some people just aren’t.
After months of PT, I decided to focus on breaking the 2-hour half marathon. I chipped away my time – hitting 2:07 and then 2:05. In 2015, double jaw surgery put my running dream on hold, as I was forced to take another 4 months off from running.
In 2017, I hit 2:04 at the Dallas Marathon.
In my last blog, I shared the story of how I FINALLY achieved that goal at the Richmond Half Marathon, largely due to the serendipitous help of my running coach, Becki Spellman. And just like that – I decided it was time to break my vow.
No one is born to run a marathon. Some people are born with a head start.
Yesterday, in the best way possible, I broke my vow of stopping at 13.1 miles – at BAnna camp, surrounded by some of the most badass women on the planet.
Set in north Austin’s glowing, green hill country – BAnna Camp (Becki Spellman + Anna Weber = BAnna) is a women’s running camp based on the Oiselle principles of empowering and supporting women. To get an idea of the overarching theme of the camp – Becki and Anna held an hour-long session titled: “The Art of Being a Gritty Bitch.”
“Gritty Bitch” – A mentally tough, confident, goal-digger, who knows when to say no and also knows when to say YES – I am going to keep going.
The next morning – my good friends Devangi, Julie and Kolbe and I set out on the trail for our long runs. I had 14 on my schedule. Time to break my vow – time to get gritty.
I had the longest run assignment of the group – so I began to bargain with myself, that turning around with them at 12ish miles, would be good enough. This was not what a gritty bitch would do. And as mental coach Dean Hebert had told us the day before – this kind of negative reasoning was metaphorically adding “boulders to my backpack.”
So I changed the script. It’s a beautiful trail – perfect weather. I will break my 13.1 vow. Julie jumped on board with completing 14 miles and soon Devangi was all-in.
We were some Gritty bitches.
At mile 12 – my feet started to ache. Devangi’s ankle started to complain. We were hungry.
“I bet brunch will be long over by the time we get back,” we moaned. Our “backpacks” were overflowing with mental boulders.
As we turned a corner on the trail, our pace began to dwindle – Julie was becoming a shrinking figure ahead. Then the hat appeared – zooming by on the head of an approaching male runner.
“Devangi, did you see that?”
“Dammit. Yes, I saw it.”
A big white trucker hat with four letters in bold black font. A billboard sent from the running Gods.
“I guess we can’t be whiny bitches anymore,” says Devangi.
“Nope,” I say, “It’s time to say NO to whiny bitches and YES to gritty bitches.”
“Gritty bitches surround themselves with gritty people .”
I love the physical act of running and the PRIDE and confidence that comes from the PR journey. Most of all, I love the connections running gives me.
Yesterday, I tore down my silly vow and took the first mile toward 26.2 at the Tunnel Light Marathon in September.
I left BAnna Camp with valuable mental tools, some new street-fighting skills (a story worthy of its own blog – stay tuned), and a self-imposed barrier destroyed. But best of all, I got to soak in the glow of gritty bitches and deepen friendships while planting new ones.
My backpack is empty and I am ready to say YES.
My coach, Becki Spellman, the “B” in BAnna Camp and Queen “Gritty Bitch.”