The beginning of this first sub 3 story started way before 2021. I believe that my life changed drastically since October 2020. I am using this month because it is when my life started crumbling and when I started losing sense of who I was and who I wanted to become. I started doing things that weren’t good for my mental health. I was acting and behaving like a complete stranger. Now, looking back I am baffled by that person and even surprised that I didn’t feel anything by the things I was doing. At some point in my life I was eating 2 to 3 donuts a day and running 10 kilometers daily to burn them out. I was measuring what I was eating and even weighed 59 kg. I have never weighed this much in my life. I thought it was making me happy but in fact I was hurting so much deep inside.
So how did I go from feeling worthless to overcoming my fears?
Everything started in October, as I was going through some personal issues, my running distance and speed started shifting to a more positive way. I started running slower but longer helping me building stronger legs and a much higher stamina. The reason why I started with this regime was because I was getting tired of my running community pushing me to run faster. All I wanted to do is run. Run at my own pace. Run my way. Pretty much owning my runs.
2021 came in and I was still struggling with mental issues. Things I didn’t really know were happening. I was just acting and doing things naturally (this was the scary part when looking back) I thought what I was doing was okay, normal, and that it would fade in some time. Because, this is the way I have always been, Do something and then I stop doing it. Funny enough, running has stayed and thus far it isn’t going anywhere.
My current workplace was getting insane to the point that I started developing a rash on a finger that went almost to my wrists. I thought I was developing allergies after almost 8 years in Japan but then I realized it was stress. By March I was forced to move to Kobe and after careful thought I said yes and felt part of my soul fading; I felt as I was getting constricted by an octopus. I couldn’t breathe; had major chest pains. First week of April we go back to work and after two days I knew this wasn’t the place for me. I spoke to my manager and said: “I can’t do this” I fear for my mental health and wish to leave. To be honest, looking back at that moment and knowingly leaving a high paying job with good benefits and looking at myself now: Best decision of this year.
Quitting my job was a major eye opening benefit. Something that money can’t put a price on. Yes, my salary decreased, yes, my benefits decreased. But, my professional advancement highly increased, motivation highly increased, regaining control of self incredibly increased and most importantly I started learning what self compassion looks and feels like. From this moment on (May 2021) the “self discovery” journey started.
This started by starting my new job at my new school. From the beginning I was accepted with opened arms and all my ideas were being heard and some of them even implemente. I had a big classroom like never before and also the first time teaching primary. I wasn’t scared but it was definitely a new challenge. A challenge I was ready to take on. New environment, new colleagues, new routines; all of this made my transition a positive one. I did not stop running but I was running around 60 to 70 kilometers a week and resting about one to two days.
I continued with my therapy sessions and also trying to find love (something I have not been lucky at) There were a few encounters here and there but it was until September where things started getting ugly in terms of my love life. I met someone who made me believe I was wrong at feeling certain things, wrong at behaving a certain way, and wrong at having some expectations of what a relationship should be like. I put myself down as I have never done before. I couldn’t sleep I was constantly thinking about how could I become the person she wanted. Nonetheless, throughout this time I increased my running exponentially I was running from 100 to 125 kilometers a week as well as running everyday without taking any rest. I was taking out all of my frustration by running this much.
That last relationship made me understand how much I have hated myself. How much I wanted to be someone else. How bad I am at dealing with myself. How much I can damage my own self to the point that I was doing things that were hurting me. At some point, I had enough and decided to put an end to it. I was so emotionally drained that I couldn’t run anymore. I went from 125 plus kilometers week to 35. This was three weeks before the marathon. Perhaps it worked as tampering but I just felt I had no stamina, no willingness, and no motivation to keep on going. The week before the marathon I decided that I need to pick myself up and learn that it is okay to be who I am and that I don’t need to love myself but I do need to accept who I am. So, the week before the marathon I ran 75 kilometers and a 25km run 7 days before.
So the day is finally here. Even though I don’t live as far as many other runners I decided to book a private room near the station a day before. I wake up early in the morning, do my usual stuff. Spoke with my dad on the phone, packed and parted towards the train. On the way to Nara I was thinking so much about this year. I started getting nervous because it has been since February 2020 since I have ran a full marathon. I ran 42 kilometer January 1st 2021 but a big event like a marathon over a year. I walk around the city, get some Gyudon and then some Pokemon themed donuts at Mr. Donuts while reading the book Wholeheartedly by Brene Brown.
The were so many people trying to check-in. I was so confused but finally worked my way around it. My biggest concern before a marathon is always the toilet so I lined up, my turn went up and “safe”. Got my shoes ready, gels and everything on my waist belt. Got a poncho to stay warm and went to line up. The management for the event was perfect, and as expected everyone super polite and helpful.
Due to Covid 19 Nara Marathon was set in different waves. A to B went in first. I was B because of previous half-marathons times. So I had the pleasure to start with elite runner who finished the marathon in 2 hours and 19 minutes. Nara marathon is known for its incredibly high hills all through and it is quite difficult to aim for a good time. My first objective was to run at a 4:30 - 4:45 per kilometer. But as soon as it started I was actually running at a 4:15 - 4:25 per kilometer. At kilometer 10 I felt amazing so I thought why not go a little bit faster so increased my pace for about 10 seconds running at a 4:05 - 4:15 per kilometer.
I am not going to say it was easy but I going to say it was an incredible experience I can't really believe even now. Even now I am very happy for this achievement. I am looking forward now more than ever of what my life has yet to bring. I am looking forward for all moments, let it be happy, sad, exciting or even devastating. I know I have the power within me to overcome lots of things. Running a marathon is not a competition against others but a competition against yourself just as life can be. I learned not to love myself but to accept who I am and that it is okay to be this way. It is okay to feel and think the things I do. I hope I can keep this feelings for a long time!