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February 15, 2005

I just did something scary

I applied for entry for the 2005 NYC Marathon.

Most normal people would find that scary. 26.2 miles is, in fact, a lot of miles. But I have a special reason to find this an agitating experience.

I spent six and a half years in a relationship with an emotionally abusive man. There are hundreds of anecdotes I could relate, but I'd really rather not think about them long enough to type them. There's one, though, that has continued to stick in my craw for over four years. It was one of the last straws that broke my heart, and was one of the pivotal incidents that finally led me away from him. And it is intrinsically related to why I'm feeling pretty worked up right now.

Late fall, 2000. I had promised to mulch the new trees some time that week, and suddenly it had to be done that day, so my evil ex decided we couldn't go to the library sale we'd planned to go to. He sulked while I mulched and then changed his mind, so we went anyway. One of the books I bought was a guide for novices on how to run a marathon. When we were looking at each other's purchases that night, he laughed out loud at me, and said, "Well, that's a waste of fifty cents!" When I objected, he said, "You're never going to run a marathon -- you're never going to run a hundred yards."

This disintegrated into a tirade about how I was lazy, and fat, and disorganized, and unmotivated, and the least likely person of his entire acquaintance to ever, over the course of an entire lifetime, run a marathon. This further fell apart when I refused to come to bed with him. He proceeded to keep me up all night screaming vulgar invective at me. The phrase that particularly lodged itself in my hindbrain was "you fat lazy cunt".

He eventually went away. I knew I'd never be able to look at the book again without crying. I couldn't sleep. I was utterly miserable. I sat on the couch and ripped the whole thing into tiny pieces and left it in his reading chair. This, of course, earned me another round of verbal abuse in the morning, but had been soothing at the time.

I should have left him that day. To my credit, though, it was only another few weeks before I did leave him. It will have been five years this November, and I can't think of any better way to celebrate than by running a marathon.

Of course, I'm in the lottery, so there's only a 50% chance I'll get in. There was a 0% chance I'd get in if I didn't apply, so I seem to have greatly increased my odds.

You'll have to excuse me while I go compose myself.

Posted by Rose at February 15, 2005 01:17 PM


Thanks for reminding me to throw my name in the lottery. I've committed to running in 2006 - so if I get in I'm deferring - but it is good to see someone else pushing themselves into this stupid, stupid task.

Posted by: ugarte at February 15, 2005 02:10 PM

Good for you! I think it's a brilliant idea to throw your name in. I have an incredibly similar story (although substitute the marathon for a career move) but I won't go into details. At any rate, just know how wonderfully cathartic it was to accomplish exactly what he said I couldn't/wouldn't do. You can do it!

Posted by: carolyn at February 15, 2005 02:54 PM

yay for you, Rose! for believing in yourself enough to leave the ratbastard and yet again for getting to the marathon in your own good time and in your own good way. Loving ourselves really IS the best revenge, yes?

Posted by: caroline at February 15, 2005 05:19 PM

That's an incredibly inspiring story. Thank you for sharing it. And I've got my fingers and needles crossed for you to get into the marathon!

Posted by: Kitten at February 15, 2005 05:56 PM

Good for you! I'll be rooting for you! :)

Posted by: Karen at February 15, 2005 06:08 PM

Fantastic! You're a braver lady than I am, GungaDin.
If you don't get into the marathon through the lottery, try the Ottawa National Capital Marathon. Smaller turnout, no lottery, still a marathon, and a qualifier for the Boston. New York's not all that far from Ottawa.

Posted by: Orris at February 15, 2005 07:22 PM

Man. You rock.

Posted by: Trip at February 15, 2005 07:28 PM

thank you for sharing that story. and it sounds like it was an extremely well-spent 50 cents!

Posted by: gotcha at February 16, 2005 12:00 AM

That is an incredible story of courage and strength. You definitely have it in you to kick some marathon ass. Good Luck...I'll be routing for you!

Posted by: Suzanne at February 16, 2005 07:59 AM

It's so wonderful that you're a strong and courageous person to dump the jerk and turning that horrible experience into something great for you!

Posted by: monica at February 16, 2005 08:39 AM

You go, girl! Not only will you prove the bastard wrong, but you will claim your power and your self esteem. Cheering you on all the way!

Posted by: Nathania at February 16, 2005 03:55 PM

YOU GO GIRL!!! I am proud of you for entering! And you should be proud of yourself! You can do it - just find really good running shoes, a good training plan, and lots of food - because you're going to need all of it! (Oh and I suggest a heart rate monitar and maybe join a local running club.)

For the first time in MY life I am training for a 1/2 marathon... I didn't think I could do it - flat feet, asthma, bad knees, the works - but my training runs are up to 6 miles now and going strong -

So you can do anything you put your mind too - and if you don't get it in the lottery - train anyway and enter a different marathon - there are hundreds all over the country!

Posted by: Alison at February 16, 2005 05:40 PM

Every journey begins with a single step. Kudos to you for being a friend to yourself, allowing what you want to surface instead of suffocate - You didn't let him murder your soul.

Rip it Up at the Lottery!

Posted by: Julie at February 17, 2005 02:55 AM

BRAVO to you. For telling your story. For living a story that has an upswing of self-care, determination, persistence and SUCCESS. May you recognize contempt, abuse and danger from mles away... Happy running.

Posted by: Dana at February 17, 2005 10:50 PM

Thank you for sharing your story. Many of us can share in your pain, and know the long-term hurt brought about by words... Congratulations on this celebratory run.

Posted by: joy at February 18, 2005 10:50 AM

You go! If you want your triumph to be part of another person's triumph, check out the Achilles Track Club. It's a running group for disabled athletes, and they are always looking for volunteers to assist their athletes in the marathon. These folks are super-inspiring, amazing people! Go for it!

Posted by: Jessamyn at February 19, 2005 02:16 PM

Just putting your name in is a big deal! I would never think of doing a marathon. Good luck.

Posted by: elaine at February 20, 2005 05:17 PM

Good luck on the lottery. And if you get in, you'll probably want to get some new shoes.

Posted by: Alexa at February 21, 2005 08:45 PM

I believe you can do it. If you were strong enough to walk away you have got what it takes to run 26.2 miles..........you've got moxie babe. And remember just because you are going to sweat in it doesn't mean you can't and shouldn't have a cute running outfit that day.

I have trained a few times and am always derailed by injuries........you have inspired me to try again. Sometimes the hardest part is taking that first step.

Posted by: Bonnie at February 22, 2005 12:40 PM

I pray for you that every single step, every single stride of the race puts the final distance between you and that sad, pitiable excuse for a man, and that you are filled with strength and healing along the route. Regardless of how far you make it, it will be as far as you need to go...and if/when you cross the finish line, you will find yourself ready for every good and glorious thing that'll be coming your way!


Posted by: Snooze at February 27, 2005 08:30 PM

wow. you are awesome!

Posted by: jess at March 2, 2005 08:50 PM

Wow. I just came over here from Bonne Marie's site - fab ribby cardi by the way! - and read a few entries. What a prick! Those are the kind of words that really damage when you're young and don't realize your own worth and the fact that there are decent people out there who will love and support you. You can do it! If not this marathon, another one - you just have to want it and have enough strength in your joints (careful of the knees!). I didn't start running until I was 20, and for the first three months I ran less than a mile. Then I broke the mile barrier, the 3 mile barrier, the 6 mile barrier, the 10 mile barrier! Thirteen years later, I'm still running and can pound out 6 miles without thinking about it (some days more gracefully than others!). I have never run a marathon (a half is plenty for me), but I know that if I really want to, I can. And you can, too. Just be consistent and remember to praise yourself every time you go. The "best" runs are the ones that are hard and you still manage to slog your way though. You'll do great!

Posted by: Julia at March 6, 2005 07:40 AM

I had pretty much the exact same experience as what you describe. You can totally do this. No one knows what you are capable of. Not even you. Believe.

Posted by: Ilsa at March 8, 2005 03:32 AM