My Miami marathon weekend had come to an end. Leaving the airport, I plopped down on a bench and waited for the 152 bus to arrive and take me back home to my much missed bed. With my headphones blaring “Young & Wild & Free”, a long blonde haired woman in black pumps approached the bus stop. I asked her kindly if she’d like to take a seat, knowing it wasn’t big enough for the both of us, and being that she was a lady it was the respectful thing to do…. or was she a lady? As I glanced at her again, I realized she was in fact a man dressed more femininely then my heart could ever desire: black pantyhose, short skirt, leather jacket, french manicured nails, heavy purple eyeshadow and mascara that would put Tammy Faye to shame. As we waited for the bus, we striked up conversation and she proceeded to tell me how at age 42 she was the happiest she had ever been now that she can live the life she had always wanted… as a woman.
“I just love being a woman,”Victoria said.
“Well, that makes one of us,” I responded.
Even when the bus arrived, we continued conversation. She opened up and told me about everything from getting her name changed to getting breast implants to defining herself as “a straight woman.” Within time, I reached my destination, told her it was a pleasure to meet her and got off the bus.
Now at the time I didn’t think much of meeting Victoria. It was not unusual to meet someone transgendered, being that I live blocks away from several gay bars, dragqueen stores and other LGBT establishments. Her one comment, however, stuck with me: “I’m the happiest I’ve ever been because I’m finally living the life I’ve always wanted.”
I had the same sort of epiphany in the past month except unfortunately no breast implants. For the first time in my life, I’m unemployed, not counting my mileage, my calories or how many beers I consume, attempting unimaginable things like stand-up, auditioning for an indie film, living in a city I absolutely love and somehow managing to stay stress-free… I’m finally living the life I’ve always wanted.
A couple days before the Miami Marathon, my friend asked me if I was nervous. I replied, “Actually, no. I’m excited to have over 4 hours to myself to think about life.” Call it corny but the truth is this is the only marathon I’ve never put pressure on myself prior to the race. In fact, I had absolutely no training plan. For four months, I just ran whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, at whatever pace, most the time without a watch. Sometimes I took off weeks at a time because I was too busy being a social butterfly and simply didn’t want my running to become more of a priority then my friends. With that said, I was interested in seeing if it was possible to run a marathon on very little training. There are so many books, so many training plans, so many “marathon tips”… But I wanted to find the truth in “being born to run.” I wanted to know that come hell or high water, I could finish 26.2 miles not because I followed Hal Higdon’s plan but because I had the heart to do it.
My friend in New York was quite alarmed when I told him I was running a marathon at the end of January, “I had no idea. Have you been training?”
“No, but I’m a machine,” I said.
The marathon was a true test of treating my body as a machine. Knowing that it was 70 degrees at the start of the race with nearly 90 percent humidity, I had to be sure to care for my body extra carefully. At one point, I tried to crank out an 8 minute mile, and I told myself: “This isn’t about time, this is about survival. Remember why you are here… to relax.”
I wanted test to see if I could feel good both mentally and physically after the marathon… so good that could I tack on another 24 miles? If I taught myself to actually relax during running, could I in fact go to the limits of Ultra marathoning? It has always been something I’ve pondered, and I am finding through research that there aren’t very many women that have conquered Ultra running achievements, like running across the U.S. or running 365 consecutive marathons. It’s always men. Could this be my calling? This marathon made me realize that this sport is second nature to me. I was born to run. When I read the book “Born To Run”, I fell in love with Jenn Shelton… she was a party girl just as much as she was an extreme runner. I was inspired by her energy, her love for life and her ability to not let anything get in her way… she too has taught me I can live the life that I’ve always wanted.
“If you don’t think you were born to run you’re not only denying history. You’re denying who you are.” – Christopher McDougall