I’m not going to sugar coat it for you or myself. I’m fat, and I love to run. When I tell people how much—and how far—I run on a weekly basis, they look at me in disbelief. In fact, a not-so-nice douchebag uncle of mine once said: “Help me understand why you’re running so much and not losing weight.” Why a 280+ sedentary alcoholic didn’t see the irony in this statement is beyond me.
It’s true. I am a walking, talking running contradiction. I’m a size-12ish full-time runner, part-time mountain biker. My thighs cling to each other like long-lost friends reunited. My bazoombas require not one—but two—industrial strength sports bras. To steal of phrase from the author, I am a “walrus in a sea of gazelles” at a marathon expo.
So when I saw this book cover while perusing some inspirational fat-to-fit books for runners, I immediately downloaded it on my e-reader. How could I not read a book about a fellow member of my tribe? In fact, this book proved to be more inspiring than those ubiquitous “running for weight loss” titles that preach the virtues of salad greens and protein shakes.
The mark of a great memoir is feeling that you’re bonding over time with a really good friend. Jennifer Graham managed to pull this from the get-go when she described the indignities of running with “built-in arm weights” and dealing with dubious massage therapists when requesting the “runners revenge” massage. Chapter by chapter, I truly felt like I was right there beside her as she tried and failed to fight the battle of the bulge while training for races. Boy can I relate! I wanted to cheer for her from the sidelines, to hug her when her ex-husband broke her heart, to take her out for celebratory margaritas when she broke her personal record.
As with any good friend, it’s impossible to agree on everything. Shoot, my real-life BFF refuses to wear pink for Pete’s sake! So I’m not going to get down on the author too much for her strong opinions about religion and divorce. I’m not even going to hate on her for not being the monstrous ogre that she makes herself out to be in the book. We’re all going to have opposing points of view. If we didn’t, wouldn’t life be rather boring? Whether a 150ish-pound woman of average height is fat or not, who cares? She’s definitely not blessed with the prototypical ectomorph body type that we see in Runner’s World magazine, and for that which I scream: Solidarity Sista!
I should also point out that she beautifully captures how the challenges and pitfalls of competitive running are analogous to life’s obstacles. As a runner, I know exactly how it feels to hit the dreaded “wall,” the point at mile 12 when I feel like curling up into a fetal position and admitting defeat.
To this day, I have not given in to that insatiable urge to quit. I keep running, or shall I say slogging, until I reach that blasted finish line. No matter what, I’m going to break through that wall—in running and in life. It might sound corny, or even trite, but that’s the one life lesson that running has taught me. Never give up without a fight. And if a good samaritan ever offers to give me a ride when it looks like I might pass out on the road, I’ll just dismiss them with a smile and wave. Thanks, Jennifer Graham, for reminding me of how awesome this sport is—and that I’m not the only one out there at the starting line in XL running shorts!