Training and Trials
In that first call, she used the word “jogger” a lot when referring to herself. When I asked if she thought of herself as a runner, she hesitated.
“I feel like I’m not ‘worthy’ of that title of ‘runner’ or even saying I’m in training. ‘I’m running a full marathon’ is a little easier to say,” she confessed.
By that point she was working up to distances of 20-22 miles in a single run. The more intensive training DID, however, help shift focus away from weight loss. It was a victory in the face of a longstanding calorie-counting obsession.
“I’m in a place right now where I feel good. Running makes me feel good every day. The training has helped me focus on putting the energy into my body that I need,” she said. “When I realized how much energy I was exerting [into disordered eating] it scared me. Right now … I don’t think about how much I’m eating.”
March 18th 2018, the day after St. Patrick’s day, Melissa joined 25,000 other hopeful (and possibly hungover) runners in Los Angeles to run to Santa Monica.
“I Hurt So Bad!”
“At the starting line, I was very nervous,” she confessed. “But … seeing all those people that were going to run with me—I was pretty excited!” She had her Camelbak with cash, ID, phone and Tylenol. She was ready for anything, except perhaps the unexpected new pains that come with taking on huge distances.
“I started cramping,” she says. “I was like, ‘okay this has never happened before. Is it going to get worse?'” According to Melissa, the marathon experience was hitting mini wall after mini wall. “I just started hurting really bad. I kept seeing people sit down during those last few miles… But I knew if I sat down, I was not going to get back up. I pushed through the pain.”
She pushed. She ran. She added an Instagram story about some guy was running in a Pikachu costume. Every mile closer to the finish line was more exciting and exhausting.
"I knew if I sat down, I was not going to get back up."
Spoiler alert: she made it past that wall, all the way to the finish line. Hundreds of people screamed and cheered, ushering Melissa into her and her fellow runners into marathoner life.
“It was unreal. When I crossed it, I just cried! There were photographers wanting to take a picture of me, and I just needed a moment.”