the race recap that never was.

alternate titles:

  • body image and other things.
  • it’s about to get really real.

three weeks ago i took part in the 51st annual calgary marathon – the 5km distance. you’d think after my excitement from the run for women and that i was getting a shiny medal, that i would have chatted more about it.

truth is, after having such a fantastic first race back, i went into the calgary marathon nervous and shaky. the race was at noon and it was hot and the course had zero shade and, did i mention i was nervous?

where the week before i had zero time goals, i now had a pace to hold myself to. i had expectations, which, may i add, are the worst. no matter the pep talks or the running buddies, i couldn’t get out of my head and enjoy.

i started so strong, then it all went to hell. i walked much more than i wanted and finished over a minute slower than the week before.

i finished and i got my medal and i felt bad about the whole experience.

i was in such a funk for the rest of the day, shrugging off my participation and accomplishment like it was nothing.

i didn’t think it could get much worse. that is until the race photos started to pile in.

i remember seeing the course photographers and having fun, smiling and enjoying myself and being a ham while feeling so strong and fit (in the first 3km, that is). i looked so cute, i thought.

instead, i was hit with a stark reality. while i may look happy in some, others are downright dreadful. and strong and fit is not how i would describe the girl in any of the photos.

while sitting at my computer my head began to rush: do i really look like that? have i let myself go again? how did this happen and why did i let it? why was my mind lying to me of what i thought i was to what i had become again?

all i saw was armpit fat and double chins (you will now notice those, too).

for reference here is one of the photos that led me to said mini breakdown:


and while i might not like it, thank you east village for free race photos. because $25 to commemorate this bad dream is not something i care to do.

here’s some stats:

  • overall, i was 805th out of 2,3349 runners.
  • i was the 413th woman to cross the finish line out of 1,419.
  • i placed 64th out of 140 in my division (female 25-29).

proud – that’s the proper feeling; i know. and while i can properly identify it, i cannot feel it.

i’m still trying.

instead, i am full of negative, defeating self-talk.

and the real question is: why do we do this? why do we let one photo or one minute derail us so violently?

and while i can’t focus on the positives of my race, i can reflect on the positives of the day:

  • how happy i was to meet Becky in person finally, and that she stuck around until i got there for a big hug.
  • how great it was to meet Jen and Brie and put real people to the blogs i read.
  • how overjoyed i was to meet Melissa, someone who felt the same nerves i had about racing. and that she was so welcoming to me running along side her and intruding on her friend race time.
  • and for Kaella, who was so welcoming and accepting of me being a shadow to her and Melissa on the course. and for pacing me until my mind took over my legs and i just couldn’t keep up any more, and for being so amazingly supportive of it all.


  • for sister for all of her support and encouragement and for telling me to go get ice cream.
  • and for Jess for coming to yoga with me that night and then taking me for ice cream.

has this shied me away from running? actually the opposite – probably because i hate being bad at things and i need to end on a high note. i’m actually interested in training and actually seeing what i can accomplish.

i still can’t let myself think too much about the calgary marathon, because it doesn’t end well.

for now, i’m just concentrating on this: my first-ever race medal.


have you experienced this before, be it at a race or just in general? what helps?

  • Ugh. I’m sorry that you ended up feeling that way, especially when you have every right to be proud. I remember when I used to do races I’d dread the race pictures for the same reason. We don’t see the strong legs and the determined look. We all see the arm fat and double chins. But the good news (I like to think) is that we’re the only ones that see those things! We just need to catch up with everyone else. High five for a job well done!

  • I absolutely pick apart my race photos. But honestly, who does look good at the end of a race?! While being physically active is more important than how I (we) look, if I’m truly unhappy with it, I do what I can to make changes, but move forward because dwelling and beating myself up over a dang picture won’t end well.

  • I’ve definitely experienced this!! But girl you did it!! You should be proud!

    Her Heartland Soul

  • Seriously, you are AMAZING! You earned that medal hun! I have some TERRIBLE race photos! Like any pictures, some are taken from great angles and others not so much. I’m so happy I was able to run with you and Melissa!!! I can’t wait to spend more time together and watch your running journey continue :) xx

  • Girl please, this is how I feel too. My round, fat face and arms, and pudge outline you can see through my shirt. It’s completely ridiculous too becuase sometimes I felt great and smiled for the camera an then almost have a breakdown when I see race photos. I thought I looked fat and awful in race photos from the first week of May, but liked my photos from a race a few weeks later. And no I did not magically lose 10 lbs. Also the angles of those photographers from kneeling on the ground underneath you is the worst. Congrats on finishing and getting that medal-you rock!

  • Becky @

    Girl. This post makes me weepy. I have a hard time seeing photos of myself these days too. Race photos? Ugh. The race I did before Calgary, my girlfriend was looking all adorable in all of the photos and I was looking like a giant hot mess. I feel you.

    Don’t let one race get you down. Beyond what you see in a photo, you are still a strong and beautiful woman. You may not have PR’d but not every race or run can be good. You still got out there, laced up your shoes, moved your body for 5k and crossed the finish. That’s more than most people did that morning. You deserve that medal and to be proud of the accomplishment of having another race under your belt. And the fact that you want to keep trying just goes to show how strong and determined you are.

  • If its any consolation, I’ve run a full marathon (picture below!), 5 half marathons, 3 or 4 10k’s and probably 5 5k’s and I have NEVER had race photos that have turned out cute/strong/sporty/ext… It definitely sucks because (most of the time) it doesn’t mirror how you feel during and after the run. I’m happy to see you bring in the positives of the race (like ice cream, yoga, meeting new people, ice cream, getting a metal, and did I say ice cream?), that must not have been easy! I think you do look super cute and like your having a good time in the race photo!

  • Kristen K.

    Oh I know exactly how you feel. If you want to read all about it, check out my blog post from Wednesday! I have been working on running faster but even I was surprised when I ran a 12k at a 10:22 pace two weeks ago. I’d signed up for some other races and hadn’t had any time goals for any of them, but for some reason after running that far for that fast I suddenly felt that I had to run last weekend’s 5 miler even faster and felt so much internal pressure to do so. Spoiler alert: I PRed. I also finished with an average pace of 10:40 because I had to walk like 5 times in the last two miles. I was so disappointed in myself for coming up short of my goals, but everyone around me thought I was crazy for being disappointed when I got a PR! It’s so hard to describe to others sometimes but sometimes running a bad race with good results is really hard on us runners. It took me a few days to feel better, so I hope you’re starting to feel better too! The good news is that you get lots more races to try to do better :)

  • I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel this way, too. I think it’s all about expectations, though. We have an idea in our heads about the way we think we look or the way we “should” look while we’re running, but the truth is, nobody ever actually looks like that when they’re working their asses off! (Case in point – The photo I added haha)

    Try to focus on how awesome it is that you were even out there running in the heat that day. Do you know how many people in this world could never run a 5k!? MILLIONS. You are fantastic and beautiful and amazing and you owe yourself some credit! Especially as women, we are so so SO hard on ourselves, but I think it’s important to remember that nobody else is going to be the critic that you are to yourself. Honestly – the first thing I thought when I saw that photo (before I read your post) was how happy and energized you look. Nobody is ever going to judge you as harshly as you will.

    Chin up girl <3 Keep Running!

  • BUT,
    ice cream
    naked pants (!!!)

    we can’t have good days all the time – I currently have part of a peach under my wire that I can not for the life of me get out and it is completely ruining my morning. Also, you had a rad race on Sunday and got another cool medal and have a wicked selfie. And sometimes running sucks. And sometimes you almost die on a mountain but don’t so you can see Montana from the top. You did a 5K and didn’t die and that’s pretty awesome.

  • A little late to this, but oh man, did this post speak to me. First of all, I think that photo of you is awesome despite how you feel about it…it’s fun and you’re clearly having a great time! I don’t think I’ve ever had a good race photo taken. Secondly, I too was horrified by seeing pictures of myself during and after the last few runs I’ve done and the same thoughts went through my head: this is what I look like? How can I look like this? When did my arms get so big?! I have no advice to give, just comfort in knowing you are definite not alone out there! It was so great to meet you and I’m sorry we missed you at the colour run!