Fitness Magazine

Reflections and Rage from My First 5k

By Danceswithfat @danceswithfat

Oooooh shiny!Yesterday I completed my first official 5k with the dancers from More Cabaret. They were super awesome (special thanks to Aurora who not only organized the logistics but also made our tutus, and to Julianne and Robert for being our photo/videographers!) I do not enjoy running. At least, not the distance kind where I end up roughly where I started, only more tired.  I long ago learned to set realistic goals when it comes to athletics and so I had no expectation that I would love it and want to do increasingly longer races with increasing frequency.  My goals were to have fun and bond with my teammates, complete a 5k, and be awarded a t-shirt and medal. All those things happened, but some not like I had hoped.

So first I’ll work out my rage.  The phrase “I do it for the t-shirt” is common among runners. Most people who run in these types of events will never win.  They are doing it for the experience and typically a t-shirt signifying that they completed the event.  In this grand tradition, I wanted to be super excited about my t-shirt, but when I was only given an option to buy an XL shirt, my excitement waned.  When I was given an XL t-shirt, I explained that I had actually e-mailed when I registered because I, and others on my team, needed 2,3,and 4XL.  The woman said that XL was the largest size that they had.  I asked “Do you happen to know, does the event not want plus-sized runners, or do they just not care if we don’t get the same things as everyone else?”  She literally threw her hands up and said “This is all I have.”  I asked if there was someone who I could talk to and after 2 misdirections I ended up at the info booth.  I was told that there were 14 shirts larger than XL but, unlike everyone who got to select their size when they registered, the plus-size shirts were first come first served. So apparently it was my fault for not being one of the first 14 fatties through the door.   When pressed she said she was sorry and gave me her e-mail to follow up.  I will.

I realize that some may think I’m over-reacting to a shirt and that’s ok.  This is incredibly frustrating to me.  Nobody of any size is under any obligation to exercise, or be an athlete at all.  Being an athlete is not better or worse than any other hobby/lifestyle etc.  Those of use who are fat athletes often have our existence denied, and face being stigmatized and bullied for merely existing in the athletic world.  Making sure that we can’t wear a shirt celebrating our athletic successes does both – it is stigmatizing. and is another way of making us invisible.  It also makes me wonder if they don’t want people to know that fat people participate in their races.  They obviously knew that they were going to have fat runners, they didn’t care that only 14 of us had a chance at a getting a shirt that we could actually wear.  They took t-shirt orders before buying them so they could have easily included plus-size options.  (And for the record, if those shirts cost more and it messes with the profits then they can either become better at negotiating with their vendors or  increase the race fees by a quarter or whatever per participant to make it work.)

Beyond the t-shirt situation, there were definitely some lessons for me:

I struggled with not being “good” at the 5k.  I benefit from a tremendous amount of athletic privilege, and the athletic things that I do are typically things at which I am naturally talented and have put many, many hours of hard work so I’m used to being among the best.  I’m not naturally good at this type of running and I didn’t train hard so of course it’s not a shocker that I wasn’t very good, but I was surprised at how bothered I was by that.  I’m going to make an effort to try more new things, things to which I don’t seem particularly well suited, and things where I might be the worst.

I learned that there is not just a 6pm, there is also a 6am.  If that’s when your event starts, it involves setting your alarm for 3:25am.  Some people think that’s a reasonable thing to do.  I am not one of those people, and any events that I do in the future will have the word “midnight” in the title.

Speaking of future events…  The truth about this event is that I didn’t really have to train. I knew that we were going to be walking it, and 3 miles is a distance I can walk comfortably.  Crossing the finish line was still a cool experience and there is a part of me that wants to do more events just to have done them.  We’ll see if there is a 10k or a marathon in my future.

You can see pictures of the 5k on the More Gallery  Just scroll down to the “More Cabaret at Play” gallery.

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