2

Treadmill, what?

If you’ve talked about running with me for more than six seconds, you likely know how I feel about the treadmill. Basically, fuck that noise. It’s boring and annoying and harder than outside and you have to actually go somewhere (yet never actually go anywhere) and yeah. It just sucks. It’s no fun and it takes away almost everything I love about running.

BUT! I’m not setting out to write another anti-dreadmill thing. There are tons of them out there already, I don’t think the world needs me to add another one to the mix. Instead, I want to take a few minutes and talk about how I’ve actually found a love for the treadmill. <insert stunned emoji here>

Last winter, I ran outside everyday through the worst winter I can remember in New Jersey. This winter wasn’t nearly as bad, but I just didn’t have it in me to fight the ice and snow on the ground–which seems to be worse in Jersey City than it ever was in Somerset. Plus, I wanted to be able to run after work without worrying about my safety. So when my wife saw a Groupon for a 30-day membership to New York Sports Clubs, I decided to jump on it. I wanted to get myself in gear for marathon training and I knew I wasn’t going to pull that off without sucking it up and treadmilling it some.

It’s been three weeks running on the treadmill 3-4 times a week with my weekend runs outside and it’s been surprisingly great. Though, I was really dreading it at first. It’s not like I don’t have tons of experience treadmill running–much of my early days running were spent on the ‘mill–so why would this be any different? I figured I’d just have to suck it up and suffer through it.

I haven’t been suffering though. Sure, the first mile or two have sucked on every run, but that’s not much different from outside for me. By mile three, I’m in the zone. I’m in my running happy place, completely lost in the joy of it all. While I don’t listen to music when I run outside, I did take the time to make a pretty awesome playlist for the treadmill, but by the midpoint of my run, I’m not even paying attention to it anymore.

I don’t know what exactly has changed, maybe it’s just because I know it’s temporary, but my attitude has been totally different about it over the last couple of weeks. I get out of bed rather easily at 5:45am (typically, this is a huge struggle for me) to head to the treadmill with no dread. Maybe it’s because I’ve given each run a specific purpose rather than just running at the same old pace for every run like I used to. Now, treadmill runs are more than just some number of miles. Some runs are recovery runs, some are intervals, some are tempo or progression. Each run has its job.

This morning marked the second Monday in a row that I’ve actually done a real recovery run. I have a bad habit of running these things way too fast and if either of these runs were outside, they would have been the same. My legs wanted to go hard and fast and, if I was outside, I would have let them go…or they would have gone without me even realizing. On the treadmill, I’ve been able to lock it down and keep that pace right where it needed to be.

It’s also helped that I’ve finally accepted the treadmill feels harder than outside. My pace will be slower on the treadmill and that’s TOTALLY OKAY! I used to worry about this. I used to worry about other people looking over at me and thinking I was slow (I KNOW…I know). I don’t care anymore. Maybe it’s because I’ve had to get over what strangers think of me anyway over the last couple years and that’s carried over? Who knows. Besides, they don’t know what my plan is. They don’t know how I race or what that run is supposed to be. And it doesn’t matter. I’m not there to compare to them. I’m there for me.

Also, they probably aren’t even paying attention to me.

In a weird way, I’m actually kind of sad my membership for the gym is ending next week. I’ve been enjoying it. If winter wasn’t on its way out, I’d likely keep it.

I don’t think I’ll go so far as to say I love the treadmill now, but I certainly don’t hate it anymore. It’s earned a place in my life.

2

Training update

NYC skyline with frozen Hudson River

The view from my run yesterday looks way colder than it actually was out

I haven’t done one of these in a long time, but seeing as how marathon training time is almost here, now seems like a good time to start again.

I guess I should also drop in here that I decided on a marathon for the “spring.” Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota on June 20!! Yay! I’m kind of excited for this. I haven’t trained for a marathon since this time last year and I think I’m ready for it again. I’m not going to harp on how rough my running was for most of last year, but things are feeling like they’re coming together now. Not to mention, I’m coming off an awesome weekend running the Goofy Challenge!

Training starts a week from today. I decided I’m going to drop back to the same plan I used for Richmond 2013 and Chicago 2012. That plan worked really well for me. Richmond was a very successful race and Chicago was pretty successful too, even though I didn’t hit my goal. I would love to go for it with the same plan I used for New Jersey last year, but I’m in no way running the kind of miles needed right now to jump into that. Plus, I’m not even sure how to fit those kind of miles into my schedule right now.

I don’t have a concrete goal for the race yet. For now, I’m just looking to PR, but I’ll check back in with my goal halfway through training and adjust accordingly. I would love it if I got myself back to a point where I could go for a BQ, but right now that feels really far away. We’ll see how it goes.

Two weeks ago, I squeezed in four runs and two spin classes with just one rest day. I totaled 21 miles. Not a a ton, but not bad with the two spin classes.

Last week, I ran five days, went snowboarding one day, and took a spin class. I hit 30.4 miles. The spin class and four of the miles where on the same day as part of my first ever double workout in one day! I was super proud of myself. I also felt really good all week. Tired, but less so than I expected. Yesterday’s run, in particular, was awesome. It was a ten-miler in Liberty State Park. The weather was perfect. 41º, very light wind, and sunny! But it was very wet out! Puddle city! All the ice and snow from Saturday was melting and leaving behind all kinds of slush and ice-cold puddles. I ended up stepping into a calf-deep puddle about 200 feet into my run and completely soaked my feet. Though, this is kind of the best thing that can happen in that situation. Once your feet are wet, you don’t have to worry about avoiding puddles anymore so I just had fun running right through them like a child. It was great!

This week, I’m planning pretty much the same thing, but the snowboarding is still up in the air. Once Monday hits, running is my number one focus and snowboarding will be done until next season so I’d like to go once more, but I’d also like to start training with fresher legs and be able to squeeze in two rest days this week. We’ll see how I feel later in the week, I guess.

mountain creek snowboarding

Snoooooow

On a side note about snowboarding this past weekend…it was a great day with awesome snow conditions. Unfortunately, it was partially ruined by being misgendered by my friend’s girlfriend. I had never met her before Saturday and hadn’t even seen my friend since before I transitioned. Throughout the day, she’s use male pronouns for me, but I wasn’t quite 100% sure I heard her correctly. Sometimes, things sound off, but you’re not sure enough to actually speak up and correct. I tend to give the benefit of the doubt in those situations rather than risk calling someone out for something they didn’t actually do. Eventually, on the bus ride home, I heard her clearly call me “him” to my friend. I corrected her and she apologized and then did it again a few minutes later!

It wasn’t malicious or anything like that, but given that she’d never met me before there was no excuse of “muscle memory.” Her misgendering me meant that’s how she actually seems me. And this was after we had conversations in which I clearly asserted myself as a woman in the way I talked about things. At one point, she even asked me “how do you go from having a full beard to being a woman?” I quipped back that I was always a woman and “a ton of lasers.”

This kind of thing is just super frustrating and it really makes my fears about using the gym seem so much more real. I’m either not seen as a woman or I’m not seen as a real woman.

Orale tacos

And tacos because why not?

12

Gymming While Trans

Having to dress like this to go outside generally means having access to a gym is important

Having to dress like this to go outside generally means having access to a gym is important. I also don’t have a more appropriate photo handy for this post :)

Almost a year and a half ago, I wrote about how worried I was about gymming while trans. As it turned out, I was actually more scared of approaching it than I originally thought. So I didn’t. I kept paying my monthly gym membership, but never used it again. Eventually, I moved to Jersey City and used this as motivation to just up and cancel my membership. I never once stepped foot into that gym again after starting transition.

Instead of dealing with it, I ran all of last winter outside with no help from the treadmill, which lead to some safety issues during New Jersey Marathon training because of all the snow and ice on the ground. I just didn’t have the strength to walk in there and say “hey, I need to update my membership to reflect that I’m a woman. I’ll also be using the women’s locker room from now on.” I played that out in my head over and over again and I simply couldn’t imagine it being a smooth conversation that didn’t end in complete humiliation.

Skip ahead to a few months ago–November, I believe–and I was finally ready to deal with all of this. I had been wanting to try spin for years and my wife convinced me to book a class with her. I was excited and terrified all at once. I was especially worried because it was an early morning class before work. I wasn’t going to just be walking in, spinning, and leaving. I was going to have to shower and get ready for work there. Eep!

I spent the night before freaking out to my wife about it. I was a complete nervous wreck. “But someone is going to freak out about me being trans!” “I’m going to get chased out of there!” It went on and on while she tried to talk some sense into me, but I couldn’t really calm down about it.

The next morning, when we showed up, I was already dressed for class so I threw my crap in a locker and hopped on my bike. Class was amazing and I immediately fell in love with spin–so much so that I try to do it at least once a week now. After class, it was time to actually deal with this whole being trans in a locker room thing. Luckily, this particular spin studio has an open locker area with private unisex changing rooms, bathroom, and showers. Definitely the way to go. I didn’t have to worry about someone freaking out that I was “in the wrong room” or anything like that. I went about my business and showered, got dressed, did my hair, and put on my makeup. Entirely uneventful!

Life would be so much simpler if every gym was like this, but sadly that’s not the case.

Shortly after that, I decided to join ClassPass which lets you take an unlimited number of fitness classes at hundreds of studios for one flat fee each month. The only catch is that you are limited to three visits per studio per month. Since I like doing spin once a week now, that meant having to branch out to other spin studios. The not so fun thing about this is not all studios have private unisex showers and changing rooms. My second favorite spin studio has women’s and men’s areas, as does the gym I’ve joined since.

Now, I actually have to deal with using single-sex locker rooms and it’s terrifying every time. It likely wouldn’t be nearly as bad if I worked out after work and just threw some sweats and my jacket on and left. But I workout in the morning before work. I have to shower and change there. In a locker room. Full of cisgender women. While hoping no one notices I’m trans and freaks out.

On Tuesday, I came out of the shower all wrapped up with a couple towels and hurried over to my locker. I try my best to not really look at anyone and just go about my business as quickly and quietly as I can without being noticed. Sitting on the bench next to my locker was a middle-aged woman. I looked up for just a second to see this woman staring at me with the dirtiest look. It cut through me hard. Her face was screaming “YOU DON’T BELONG HERE!” I was horrified. I grabbed my clothes from my locker and ran back to a shower stall to change in private. When I came out, she was gone, but my fear wasn’t. I half expected someone who worked there to come in screaming at me.

While looks like that don’t happen every time, I’m still constantly terrified. I keep my eyes down and don’t look at anyone. I try not to talk to anyone so I don’t have to worry about my voice outing me, but other women will occasionally talk to me. I respond quickly and quietly, praying they don’t think anything of my voice.

I always change in a shower stall or bathroom stall or whatever private area is available. Under no circumstances would I want someone to see what’s between my legs. Fuck, I don’t even let people see my stomach. While other women are walking around in their bras, I always have a shirt on.

But that’s sort of the thing here that people freak out about. Politicians, transphobes, and people-who-claim-they’re-not-transphobes-but-are-totally-not-okay-with-trans-women-in-women’s-spaces love to obsess over our genitals. They seem to care more about them than we do. They go on and on about how we don’t belong in women’s spaces (e.g. locker rooms) “because penis.” I’d really like to know how they know what’s between our legs. We don’t go around showing them. I go through great lengths to make sure no one could ever see my genitals.

Despite this, other women get to change out in the open locker rooms. Some women are more private about their changing than others, but there’s always the one or two of them who give zero fucks and are hanging out straight-up naked. That’s cool, I don’t really care much what you do. If you’re comfortable baring all in the locker room, that’s totally cool.

But, here’s the thing, you being naked actually makes me terribly uncomfortable. I’m in constant fear of being accused of just trying to see other women naked. Yes, I’m into chicks, but I’m in the locker room to change and shower. That’s it. I keep my eyes down. When I’m using the mirror, my eyes don’t wander an inch.

And even if I did want to see you naked in the locker room and snuck a peak, do you have any idea how much dysphoria I’d have to deal with for the rest of the day? How badly my body image issues would be triggered? No, you probably don’t have any idea. At best, I’d just completely shut down and be useless for a few hours. At worst, I’d spend much of the day thinking about how much I’d rather just die.

I’m not suggesting people don’t change out in the open if they’re comfortable with that. My only point here is that if the presence of a trans woman in a locker room makes you uncomfortable, you need to get over it. It takes every bit of emotional strength I have to get through each and every time I enter a locker room. I’m scared out of my mind every time.

98

Why Transparent creator Jill Soloway’s Facebook post hurts so much

Before I even get started here, let me just quickly point out the fact that, as of writing this, Bruce Jenner has not, in any way, said he was transgender or that he was transitioning or anything. No amount of media speculation, obsession, or bullying can decide who Bruce Jenner is. Maybe he is trans. Maybe he’ll ask us to use female pronouns and we will welcome him to our community. Or maybe he’s not trans. It doesn’t matter. If there is something to tell, he will tell us when he is ready. His identity is his to share, not anyone else’s to determine.

That, itself, is an important enough concept to warrant its own post, but this post is about Jill Soloway, not Bruce Jenner. Everyone’s favorite cisgender (not-transgender) teller of trans stories. Jill Soloway, creator of Amazon’s Golden Globe winning Transparent. The show with everyone’s favorite “Moppa.”

I’ll admit it, up until yesterday, I was a big Transparent fan. When I first heard about the show, before it was available for streaming via Amazon Prime, I went through my normal reaction to a cisgender (male) actor, Jeffrey Tambor, playing a transgender woman. I was angry. Trans characters should be played by trans actors. And trans stories should be written and told by trans people. These are our stories to tell. Our lives and stories are not for cis entertainment or appropriation or profit.

But I watched Transparent anyway. I gave it a chance. And I liked it. A lot actually. I liked it not because of the trans story it was telling, but because it didn’t feel like it was telling a trans story. It was telling a cis story. It was telling the story of Maura’s family and how fucked they are. She was the grounded parent of three selfish adult children. Then the show won at the Golden Globes. Speeches were made by both Soloway and Tambor. Good speeches, actually, saying all the “right things.” They talked about trans people, mentioned Leelah Alcorn, etc etc. I overlooked the stuff that was problematic about the show and gave it a pass. I even vouched for it and recommended it to friends.

I regret this now.

The one time I’ve given a pass instead of sticking to my gut, I got burned.

Yesterday, Jill Soloway posted this gem to Facebook:

B8jnEs1CAAAlLmI.png-large

Yes, that’s ally-of-the-year Jill Soloway poking fun at Bruce Jenner’s gender and the speculation of him being trans. Using being transgender as a joke. Some ally. She should know better. She should be speaking out against others doing this. Instead, she’s joining in.

Now, I’m sure straight cisgender men everywhere will go ahead and break this down for us trans people that we have no sense of humor and she’s an ally and she has a trans parent whom she supports very deeply and blah blah blah, but the reality is this shit hurts. A lot. “With friends like these” and all that. If she truly cared about trans people beyond her own “Moppa,” this post never would have happened.

Trans people are constantly the punchline to jokes. In most cases, there isn’t even a fully formed joke. The formula is little more than “trans = lolz.” Why does this relatively tame joke hurt so much? It hurts because she was supposed to be our ally. She conned many of us into trusting her, albeit begrudgingly.

When you’re transgender, you go through every day of your life with the fear that all your friends, family, and coworkers who are nice to you and “completely support” you are actually laughing at you behind your back. You never truly shake feeling like you’re their joke. Jill Soloway’s post yesterday confirms all those fears and suspicions. They are talking about you and they are laughing about your life. You are their joke. It’s not just in your head, it’s real.

Is it really so much to ask to not be a punchline? To not have our lives be a joke? To be treated be as human? If even our “friends,” can’t resit, then I guess we are just asking too much.

I learned something from Jill Soloway. I will never ever trust or give a pass to a cisgender person telling trans stories. I will never say “but she gets it!” She doesn’t. And the next cis person who comes along won’t either.

9

2015 Walt Disney World Goofy Challenge

I can’t remember the last time I was this unprepared to run a race. Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever been this unprepared, to be honest. Since early July, the longest I had run had been 13.1 miles. For months, I’d run anywhere from 10 to 25 miles a week and recently I started throwing in spin class once a week. That’s just enough to be prepared for a half marathon, but not enough to actually earn a solid time. It’s certainly not enough to run a marathon. And it’s definitely not enough to run a half marathon and a marathon on back-to-back days.

So what does one do when they’re not anywhere near where they should be to complete a half marathon and a marathon in the same weekend? They do the runDisney Goofy Challenge. That’s what.

Walt Disney World Half Marathon

Flat Amy ready to go!

Flat Amy ready to go!

Walt Disney World Half Marathon morning started much like most runDisney races do for me. I cursed my alarm clock at 3am and rolled myself out of bed and into my race day clothes. I shoved a Picky Bar in my mouth, grabbed my apple slices from the fridge, and made my way out the door to catch a 3:45 bus down to the starting area.

Once I got there, I quickly met up with my friend Danielle who was conquering not only her first Goofy, but also her first marathon. We chatted for a bit and then I dropped my bag off and bumped into my Twitter buddies Heather and Nathan who were doing something even dumber than me, the Dopey Challenge–add a 5k and a 10k onto the half marathon and marathon. After a few minutes of standing around in the the cold, it was time to get into my corral and be prepared for the nice and early 5:35am start.

2015 Walt Disney World Half Marathon

Waiting around for the start!

Time went by surprisingly quickly in the corral and then it was time to go–in typical runDisney fashion with fireworks, of course. Knowing that I really had no business running a marathon the next day, I knew I’d have to take the race extra easy. I set my goal at an easy 2:15 so I could just take my time, take some photos, and have fun. The few 13.1 milers I’ve done in “training” recently were all around 1:57 without too much effort so I knew this shouldn’t be too hard on my legs.

2015 Walt Disney World Half Marathon start

Gotta love runDisney starts!

Less than a mile into the race, I stopped at a bank of porta-potties to let out a quick pee that I’d been holding. From there, I stopped quickly for a photo here and there, but just kept my pace nice and easy.

2015 Walt Disney World Half Marathon

Stilts.

2015 Walt Disney World Half Marathon Main Street Magic Kingdom

Main Street USA

Somewhere before the 5k mark, I ran into my friend Melody who was doing Dopey. She had a faster goal in mind than I did and, though she had started a corral back from me, had caught up and recognized me from behind. We ran together all the way to Magic Kingdom and down Main Street before I lost her after I stopped to take a quick photo in front of Cinderella’s Castle.

2015 Walt Disney World Half Marathon Cinderella's Castle

What up, Cindy!

By this point, I had picked up my pace a little from where I was, something I would continue to do throughout the race, but I was feeling fine as we made our way through Tomorrowland and into Fantasyland. After running through Cindy’s castle–which had been taken over by Anna and Elsa–I stopped for another photo in front of the castle, this time with one of the official race photographers.

Making my way around to the sixth mile marker and then out of the back of the park next to Splash Mountain, I was simply enjoying things and having fun. Except for the last mile, the rest of the race is kind of boring from here. You’re on back roads between Magic Kingdom and Epcot and there isn’t a ton going on. There is a bit of entertainment, but not quite enough for this stretch. Though, there was a DJ playing “Shake It Off” on repeat which made me think about great this song still is.

Somewhere around mile nine, I ran into Patrick, whom I had just met at Wine & Dine two months ago. We ran together for a bit before I pulled my pace back a bit to save energy for the next day. From there to the finish was pretty uneventful. I kept it steady and cruised in for a 2:08:07 finish. A bit faster than planned, but it happens.

2015 Walt Disney World Half Marathon Phineas and Ferb

Best race photo EVER!

After the race, I quickly hopped on a bus back to the resort to get ready for the day in the parks. I wanted to get right out there so I wouldn’t have to feel bad about making it an early night.

Walt Disney World Marathon

Marathon outfit

Marathon outfit

Marathon morning started off similar to the day before. Though, as I started to spread the peanut butter I brought with my onto my bagel, I noticed it had expired months ago so the peanut butter and half my bagel went right into the trash. This left me with less pre-race nutrition than I would have liked. I ended up with half a plain bagel, some apple slices, a Larabar, and a Cliff Shots gel. Could be worse, but still not ideal.

My real worry was that I was somehow sore from the day before. Not terribly sore, but I felt it in my quads. Sure, I wasn’t really trained for a marathon, but I shouldn’t have been sore from a half marathon ten minutes slower than the 13.1 milers I’d been doing every week without pushing myself. It wasn’t enough to make me think I should pull a DNS, but it was enough to have me concerned.

2015 Walt Disney World Marathon start

Some more fireworks to start off day two!

This time when the race started, I made sure to pull it back even more on the pace and I, again, stopped inside the first mile to pee. Given my soreness at the start, I decided I would walk all hills and walk through each water stop. And since the weather was going to get up into the 70s, I planned to take water at every stop anyway. My goal was to, at worst, get to the halfway point before falling back to a run/walk effort and, at best, make it to mile sixteen before that happened. I fully expected a lot of walking in the last third of the race. I figured shooting for a 5:00 finish gave me plenty of time to walk as much as I needed in the second half of the race.

2015 Walt Disney World Marathon Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope

Glitchin’ with Vanellope!

I stuck to this plan pretty well, but my pace was a lot faster than planned. Even with all my photo stops, through the first third of the race, I was keeping about a 10:35 min/mile average which was about as slow as I could get my legs to go at the time. The problem was I was kind of having a blast out there. I was just having fun and not worrying about much. Okay, that wasn’t really the problem. The problem was that I kind of had to poop…and was starting to feel some thigh chafing show up.

2015 Walt Disney World Marathon Magic Kingdom

Oh, hey, Magic Kingdom

As we made our way into the Speedway after Magic Kingdom, I started eying up the porta-potties. I didn’t want to have to do it, but I knew what needed to be done and went for it. I think I lost about three minutes or so in there. After that was taken care of, I stopped at the next aid station to throw some vaseline between my legs to ward off the chafing. Despite both of these things, I was having all kinds of fun out there. I had a HUGE smile on my face and couldn’t stop feeling totally in love with running.

2015 Walt Disney World Marathon

My favorite RVers!!

2015 Walt Disney World Marathon

Quick little jamboree! And, yes, that is indeed vaseline on my camera lens.

Finally, the temperature started to rise a bit more and I broke out into a heavy enough sweat for my thighs to be able to keep themselves all lubed up and free from chafing. And it was around that time we started to make our way into Animal Kingdom. The fun thing about starting a race sore is you completely lose all ability to accurately judge how your legs are holding up through things. I hadn’t run an inch of the race without feeling at least some soreness and things had only gotten marginally worse so I was pretty happy with where I was. In fact, I was otherwise feeling really good.

2015 Walt Disney World Marathon

I made a very cute friend on my way into Animal Kingdom!

We ran through Animal Kingdom and as we passed the halfway part of the race Samwise Gamgee passed me on left. Not someone dressed like him, it was Sean Astin. This was my second runDisney event I’d run with him (not with him; you know what I mean). The first was the Dumbo Double Dare in Disneyland back in 2013. Though, that time I passed him. He ran just in front of me for a few seconds and then stopped to walk and I never saw him again.

Anyway, like I said, I was feeling pretty good and my pace was slowly picking up. I was pretty much in heaven…which isn’t exactly where you’d expect someone in my situation going into the race to be. I had about 18 minutes banked for the second half of the race to keep under 5:00.

After passing the fourteenth mile marker, I got up to the graveyard photo op and just had to go for it this year. I waited in a line as about ten runners ahead of me took their photos and probably lost a good two or three minutes, but I didn’t care, my photo was great and totally worth it!

2015 Walt Disney World Marathon

Mile 14 just KILLED me!

I was afraid that laying down on the ground to take the photo would be the end of me. After standing there for a couple minutes and then having to stand back up from the ground, I figured my legs would be done and that would be that. Instead, this is where things got weird.

I got up just fine and then, I don’t know, I just kind of started to go for it. My legs were feeling good and I was passing runner after runner. I knew I still had a lot of race ahead of me so I tried to pull back a bit, but I really just wanted to go. At mile sixteen, where I had hoped to make it before needing to walk, I was starting to really feel in my element. My pace was getting down into the low nine-minute-mile range and I stopped taking water. Oddly, I felt completely hydrated, much more so than when I started the race even.

Coming around into Wide World of Sports, I couldn’t have felt better or been happier…except for the fact that I had another poop brewing. I didn’t want to stop again, though, I was feeling too good. So I squeezed some cheek and motored on while continuing to pass runners through the narrow parts of the course in Wide World of Sports. With 10k to go, I was in the zone and kicking ass. Instead of stopping to poop like I should have, I decided to “go for it” a little more. At this point, the race was really on. What was going to come first, the finish line or my poop?

I rounded into Hollywood Studios after somehow missing the 22nd mile marker entirely and turned it on a little more. I’m running out of ways to say how good I was feeling, but I really was. My legs were saying “Go! Go! Go!”

Coming up on the 23rd marker, I did some quick math and realized at my current pace I was going to score a WDW Marathon PR. Though, I’ve only ever done WDW Marathon as part of the Goofy Challenge and, therefore, never raced it, this still seemed like a pretty big deal to me. Back at mile 20, I thought I would be close, but a minute or two over. Here, I knew I just had to keep it steady.

But I didn’t keep it steady. I picked it up some more. It’s weird, I know, but my legs were only slightly more sore than when I started the race and, somehow, not tired at all. I was at mile 23 of a marathon I shouldn’t have been running at all, I shouldn’t have been feeling good. I shouldn’t have been able to pick it up. It shouldn’t have mattered that I took the first half of the race really slow and easy. I should have been struggling. I wasn’t.

Mile 24 came in at a brisk 8:07, just a hair slower than my goal marathon pace from back in April. I flew through Hollywood Studios like I had a rocket strapped to me.

Coming down along the river behind the Boardwalk, I was doing my best to get around people in the cramped space, but I was still flying. Only problem was, I was really struggling to hold the poop in. I was squeezing my butt as tight as I could and just praying to not shit my shorts. This and the crowdedness of the course here caused me to lose a little time, but I was still putting down an 8:30 min/mile.

I don’t know why I did it, but I grabbed a Twizzler from a girl handing them out behind the Boardwalk. I took a few bites and then tossed it. Unfortunately, as I was chewing it, it slid into the back of my mouth and I started choking on it. Luckily, I was able to deal with that without having to slow down. Almost ruined everything, though!

2015 Walt Disney World Marathon

Mile 25.5 and nothing about that smile is fake.

Coming down along by the Beach Club, I was still passing runner after runner. Some spots got a little tight and, rather than slowing down, I decided to just hop over some of the cones around the trees. I flew around into the World Showcase and would have been really flying if I didn’t have to poop so badly. Though, I was still running an 8:30 pace. At this point, I didn’t think I was going to make it to the finish without pooping my pants. I strongly debated stopping real quick, but I wanted that PR bad so I kept on squeezing. I was 100% convinced that the moment I crossed the finish line and stopped running, I was going to crap all over myself. It wasn’t going to be pretty.

Quick high-five from Mickey!

Quick high-five from Mickey!

I made my way around the World Showcase, through Futureworld, and out of the park. The finish line came into view, but I still didn’t think I was going to make it. I high-fived Mickey in my last few steps and crossed at 4:23:21, a four minute WDW Marathon PR. And, of course, my GI immediately felt better. I grabbed my medal and felt on top of the world.

After the race, my legs felt the best they ever have after a marathon. They were sore as heck, sure, but I was walking just fine and not even in the same ballpark of soreness I usually feel. The next day and the day after, I still was significantly less sore than normal.

2015 Walt Disney World Marathon and Goofy Challenge

Obligatory hardware photo.

Thoughts

2015 Walt Disney World Marathon

Seriously, happy as a clam. Not even a clam…all the clams. Every clam.

Sure, 4:23 is not a fast marathon for me when you look at my faster times, but this was a race that should have been difficult to finish at all given how much I had been running. Even though the last eight months of running really sucked for me, I still racked up 1,504 miles I 2014 and I have to believe that really came into play here.

Every marathon has a story behind it. Every one is unique. Just looking at my marathon times in chronological order can tell you that. 3:24, 4:58, 3:08, 4:27, 3:44, 3:48, and 4:23. All of these races have their own story. Different goals, different training, and different takeaways. This marathon was my third slowest, but it slapped me in the face and told me to quit my whining. It told me to get my shit together and start pushing myself for real again. It told me to believe in myself. And it reminded me of what I’m capable of.

You really have to love running to do the Goofy Challenge and I’ve struggled with that a lot for the last eight months, but I just can’t doubt that anymore. I am in love with running. After the New Jersey Marathon last year, I wrote about what I learned from that race and I wrote about how much I love the marathon. This race reminded me that I just simply love running too. I couldn’t have had a better and more fun time out there running it. I had a huge smile the whole time and loved every second of it. I only wanted it to end because of the whole poop situation. Otherwise, I was in heaven.

I’m not making any definite plans yet for this year, but I want to get out there and get my shit together again. I want to work hard. I want 3:30 to be a reasonable marathon goal again.

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A quick note to any trans people who may see this

As the trans community mourns the suicide of Leelah Alcorn today, I just want to send a quick message out to anyone who reads this.

If you ever need help or are scared or in a dark place, please please please reach out. You can comment here (and I can reply via email based on the address you enter), tweet at me, or message me via my Facebook page. I will always be here for you. And you can always contact the Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860 (US) or  877-330-6366 (Canada). Whatever you do, please contact someone. You life matters and, no matter how hard it may sometimes be for you to see it, there is hope. You can be trans and you can thrive.

4

2014 -> 2015

I’m going to be real here, 2014 was kinda crappy. I had such high hopes for it, but it just didn’t live up to them. It seems like this is a rather common feeling going around, so I don’t feel too badly about it.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t see the calendar year as being a truly meaningful measurement of our lives. It’s length may have some significance, but it’s start and end are based on a date that is entirely arbitrary to us (set by Julius Caesar to line up with the consular year…blah blah blah). Why is it that these 365/366 days should make up some important block of time? It’s actually kind of silly, but if the whole world is going to go along with something and it’s not hurting anyone, you might as well go along with it too, right?

I embraced my non-straight hair

I embraced my non-straight hair

I don’t do resolutions. I never have, really. I do, however, like to set some goals at the start of each year. It’s just a way of taking a moment to think about what it is I’d like to accomplish and set a little direction for myself. In 2014 I set a bunch of goals and for the most part, I’ve accomplished none of them. The thing is, though, I don’t even really care that much.

I had a lot of running goals early on. I wanted to BQ (qualify for Boston), run three marathons, keep up with strength work, etc. I didn’t really do any of those (I did cheer at Boston though!). I really struggled through running, actually, but there’s no need to keep harping on that. I’ve come to terms with it. I’m okay. I also spent a lot of time dealing with serious depression this year. I can blame a lot of it on making changes to my hormones, but not all of it. I’m pretty good right now so that’s cool, but there were some dark times this year.

I could go on and on about that crappiness of 2014, but there isn’t that much of a point. A ton of good things happened too. It wasn’t just unexpectedly bad, it was unexpectedly good too.

We added Hattie to our family. It’s been a bit crazy with three cats here, but there’s so much cuteness and love in this house that I wouldn’t have it any other way. They constantly make me smile. I also got a completely amazingly awesome new job and moved to Jersey City. My job and where we lived were two things I really wanted to change in 2014, but I didn’t expect it to work out like this. I really couldn’t be any happier with this move. It’s been great so far!

Hattie!

Hattie!

Despite it being a tough running year for me, I still knocked out 1,500 miles! Well, technically, I’m at 1,498 miles as I type this, but tomorrow’s run will put me over the top. Sure, by the end of April, I was on pace for 2,200 miles, but 1,500 is still almost 20% more than any previous year. I’m actually pretty psyched I was able to pump out that many miles and, as the year closes, it’s helped me start to fall back in love with running.

It was a busy year and a lot happened. Even if there was a lot of bad, there was a lot of awesome too and I’m definitely a much better person and my life is in a way better place than a year ago.

I think one of the best things all year was making good on my claim that it would be the year of meeting internet friends in meatspace. I’m not even going to try to list everyone here because the list is well over fifty people, but it’s been truly awesome. And some of them are even people I spend time with regularly now.

At Delirium Cafe in Brussels

At Delirium Cafe in Brussels

I think the last really notable thing about 2014 was just that it was full of a lot of firsts. Having only openly come out as transgender late in 2013, there was a lot of “first <whatever> since transitioning.” Birthday, snowboarding, job interview, traveling (Brussels!…which I thought I had blogged about, but it seems I didn’t), attending a wedding, Disney, etc. Lots of firsts. Then, of course, there were the more everyday trans firsts like picking out (and then subsequently wearing) a bathing suit and getting a haircut that are a little scary for the first time when you’re all self-conscious about…everything. Even trans stuff aside, I still had some firsts like selling my first photo and getting my first tattoo.

First tattoo

First tattoo. I totally look like I have a beard here.

Hanging with Phineas and Ferb on the obligatory Disney trip

Hanging with Phineas and Ferb on the obligatory Disney trip

Okay, I think that’s enough rambling about 2014. It’s time to ramble about 2015. The future in Back to the Future.

I’m not setting any goals for this year. I just kind of want to do whatever comes up, no long term goals. There are a few things I’d love to work towards, and I will, but I’m not setting anything firm. No 3:30 marathon or 2,000 miles. No “I’m going to learn x, y, z programming languages.” No “seriously, I’m going to get back into photography.” And there certainly won’t be any “I need to make this major change in my life,” I think I’ve done more than enough of those over the last couple of years.

I’m not saying any of that crap. No pressures this year. I just want 2015 to be fun and positive. The foundations for any goals I would set are already a part of my life. I don’t need to set goals to keep them up.

I don’t really know what 2015 will be like, but I’m feeling pretty good about starting a new year right now.

Tumblr holiday party

Tumblr holiday party

Tumblr ladies invading the Instagram booth at the Grace Hopper Celebration!

Tumblr ladies invading the Instagram booth at the Grace Hopper Celebration!

And with some friends we made

And with some friends we made

I dove into a ball pit

7

Christmassing

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

So, it’s Christmas morning or whatever. Cool. I like Christmas. A lot, actually. Like for real. I have all those wonderful and fond memories of waking up on Christmas morning as a privileged white “boy” in America. There were seemingly endless presents under the tree, a loving family, a wonderful dinner, and all the wholesome feel-goodness of an ABC Family Christmas special.

But the thing is, I woke up in my own bed this Christmas morning for the first time in my 31 years on this planet. That’s not so bad on the surface. I mean, I don’t even have a bed at my parents’ house anymore. For about a decade now, my brother has taken up residency in my old room without vacating the one he had. And besides having to sleep on the couch and be woken up by the same brother coming home at 3am every year, Christmas is simply hectic as an adult. My family. The wife’s family. 70 miles between them. Oof.

This year, we’re doing none of that. Thanks to no longer having a relationship with my in-laws due to my being trans, I haven’t had to make the trip to see them in three Christmases now. The wife still goes to see them for dinner because family and all that, but now I relax at home after the drive back up from my being with my family for Christmas Eve and Christmas morning.

Now, like I said, I woke up at home this morning for the first time. I’m not seeing my family today. This actually has nothing to do with me being transgender directly, they accept me as their transgender daughter 100% without question. Being trans is a non-issue for my family. I’m not seeing my family because I haven’t spoken to my father in three months and have no plans to change that any time soon. See, he’s kind of an ass. Not your deadbeat father kind of ass and not abusive or anything like that. I don’t really think the particulars here are important, to be honest. However, I do fully believe if I wasn’t trans I’d be at their house right now. The issues with my dad weren’t directly caused by my transness, but my transition did help to show how little he actually wants to be a meaningful part of my life. That, in turn, helped me finally realize I could save myself a lot of grief by not bothering with him anymore.

So here I am on Christmas with a simple plan…exchange gifts with the wife, go for a run, watch A Christmas Story a few times, and then put on the Doctor Who Christmas special. It’ll be quiet and relaxing, but it doesn’t feel like Christmas…despite this towering 9-foot tall tree that’s been mostly cleared of ornaments by our menagerie of felines.

To be honest, this post doesn’t have much of a point. I just haven’t really posted in a while and the whole thing has sort of been on my mind.

So anyway, merry Christmas!

7

I suck at running

IMG_0770Yes, it’s true. I suck at running. Don’t try to tell me otherwise because I won’t believe you. I’m not fishing for pity or anything. It’s just how I feel right now.

It wasn’t always this way. I didn’t always suck at running. I actually used to be quite good. As recently as April, I was running six days and sixty miles a week. I was on target for a 3:30 marathon. Go back a little further to before transition and I was on track to be a sub-3:00 marathoner by my next marathon. I was pretty proud of myself and loving every second of being a runner.

Then, I ran a horrible race in April and it’s been all downhill since. I had plans for two marathons this fall and dropped them both. I was on pace to easily break 2,000 miles this year. Now, I’m looking to fall just short of 1,500. These days, I’m happy to run three days a week and break twenty miles. I’m lacking motivation, energy, and excitement. I can’t get myself out of bed in the morning to run and I don’t feel safe running in the dark after work around here so my weekday runs are often skipped. By the time the weekend comes, I’m left making up for missed runs and I struggle through long runs. I’m miserable and not enjoying it.

My running slump has been going on since April. There have been a few weeks where things seemed like they were starting to pick up and I knocked out a some runs that felt amazing, but I can’t seem to hold on to any sort of consistency. I had been blaming most of this on my increased dosage of progesterone since the timing worked out really well and everything fit right in with the expected side-effects. But I stopped progesterone entirely (skipping even going back to my old dose) a few weeks ago and things have yet to perk back up.

It’s crazy to think that despite all of this, I’m still well beyond my yearly personal distance record and every mile I do manage just adds to that. And, I guess, that’s something, but I don’t care about that. I care about being able to run and race and push myself. I want to enjoy running again. I want to be motivated to push hard through training runs. There’s a reason why I typically mention being a marathon runner first in any bio I write for myself and I feel like I’m losing that. I’ve always been the kind of person who gets really into things for a little while and then has her interest fade. I do it with hobbies and interests and, often, friends too. I don’t want running to be another hobby and friend I forget about and leave behind. Running is important to me, more so than any other hobby I’ve ever had. Being a runner truly feels like me and a primary identity for myself.

At this point, I don’t know what else to try. I have the Goofy Challenge coming up soon, but I don’t see any way in which I can pull off a half marathon and a marathon on back-to-back days right now. I’m barely in any kind of shape to run a half marathon, let alone a marathon. Looking at the calendar, even a best case scenario is I’m just barely trained enough to run a very slow marathon and skip the half, but nothing about the last eight months has been the best case scenario.

I really don’t know what the right answer is at this point. I’ve been stubborn about taking a break, as many have suggested, but I think that might be the best option. Realistically, it probably makes the most sense to just take a break until the end of the year and start fresh for 2015. This means letting the spring marathon season go and waiting until next fall to tackle 26.2 again. If I were a more patient woman, this might be easier, but I’m not.

This also brings up the issue of Goofy that I just mentioned. It’s not a cheap race to skip out on, but the cost of a race doesn’t change reality. It won’t make me ready for it. It won’t make it enjoyable. Still, I’d really like to at least skip the half and do the marathon which probably isn’t the best choice and doesn’t really go along with the whole taking a break thing, but it’s at least a consolation prize I can accept. I can put a seventh marathon medal on my wall and know that I pushed through a shit eight months of running. But even that’s going to be really tough.

2014 has been a year of constantly letting go of goals and making concessions. I feel like I need some sort of a win, but at the same time it might be best to just accept it and start looking forward to making 2015 a better year. I want to do what’s best in the long run, what will avoid me getting to a point where I hate running and I resent myself (and my transition) for where I am with it now.

I love running, but I suck at it. I can deal with sucking at it, but I can’t deal with not enjoying it.

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Transgender Day of Remembrance

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Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance. It’s a day every year where we remember the names of those who were murdered simply for being transgender. The vast majority of these people are always trans women. More specifically, trans women of color.

This year, the list is 226 names long. That may not seem like a lot considering there are seven billion people on this planet, until you start doing the math. I’m not going to break down a bunch of numbers and statistics here for you. Partly because that wouldn’t be super important at the moment and partly because I’d prefer not to reduce trans people down to a bunch of numbers. We’re actual people. The important thing to know is we are just .3% of the population, yet we are murdered at a rate higher than any other group of people. Even just looking at anti-LGBT violence, a very disproportionately high number of attacks are against the T. And, again, it’s even worse for trans women of color. A trans person is reported murdered every 32 hours in the world. Why? Because we live in a culture that sees trans people as, at best, a punchline for a joke and, at worst, inhuman.

Anyway, I’m actually going to hold up right there and keep this short. There are a lot of people out there writing much better things than I could ever hope to write. Take some time to check out the hashtags on Twitter and Tumblr.

It’s scary out there. The other day, my coworker asked me how I even leave the house every day. I didn’t have an answer.