Did I ever tell you…
that story about my hill training? No? I didn’t think I did.
I had arrived early at the hill to get a few hill repeats in, before my running group showed up (as I’m a slow runner, and don’t like finishing last). I was on my second hill repeat when it happened.
Eyes forward. Shoulders loose. Arms pumping. Breath.
I felt the hover of the car just behind me.
Left foot. Right foot. Left foot.
What? What was that? Why isn’t this car passing me?
Pump. Stride. Breath.
I fought the urge to turn and see, y’know, play it cool for a few strides. But eventually my curiosity got the better of me…
And there it was, a car filled with five twenty-something guys all staring at me. Looking at me. Laughing at me.
Pump. Stride. Breath. Breath-Liz-Breath!
My eyes darted between the 5 faces in the car, trying to see if I recognized anyone. I didn’t. The back and front windows were open, and the two closest to me were hanging out the side. They kept laughing. Kept pointing. Laughing and pointing and staring at me. I didn’t smile. I didn’t flinch. I just kept running. Trying to comprehend what was going on.
And then I saw it. They were taking photos of me. Or wait, was it a video? I instantly envisioned the photos. My God, and the video. My short shorts. My thighs. The fat spilling out of my top. The cellulite.
Ohmygod. What is happening? Who are they? Why won’t they drive off?
Eventually the car passed me, and their laughter and a honk disappeared around the corner. I stopped running. I stopped moving. I wanted to sit down and cry. Disappear. I wanted to disappear. It was literally my worst running nightmare come true. The reason for years, and years, and years I sat in my house, not wanting to leave in fear of being judged. In fear of being seen. In fear of being noticed.
I didn’t blog about it when it first happened, as I was scared it had something to do with this blog. Scared those photos were going to appear on some website, or perhaps even in my email. I still have absolutely no idea who those guys were, or why they took photos of me running up a hill, but it really shook me. To my core.
I then felt myself regress. Regress to the old, self conscious, self-hating, person I once was. It was awful. All those familiar feelings of feeling like I did not belong. Did not deserve. Was useless. Was doomed…
It took me a few days, and a couple of runs to get over it, but I did. And I can’t say enough how thankful I am that that happened to me now, and not 2 years ago when I was a new runner, a very (very!) self conscious new runner. When I was not strong enough of a person to realize those stupid assholes’ actions and comments do not define me. Because they don’t, they really, really don’t.
Two years ago, that incident would have ruined me.
But today, at this point in my life, I am strong and confident and happy enough to (eventually realize to) flip those losers the bird, and truly know the person I am, a girl running up a big hill towards her goals, her dreams, and yes, a cellulite-free-bum, is a better person than any of those guys are, and there is no way in hell I’m letting them define me, even for a moment in time.