Last year, I wrote about the experience of running a half-marathon as a profoundly feminizing experience. So now that I have run my first (and sweet Jesus, possibly last) FULL marathon, what kind of a feminine being have I ended up? Am I now twice the girl I was since I’ve run 26.2 miles in 3 hours and 55 minutes?
In the three weeks since I’d run the San Francisco Marathon, I’ve tried to think through what the experience has meant to my self-sense of femininity. But because the overriding sensory perception of the experience was pain, all I could think of was...childbirth. The four tenets of this metaphor:
ONE: Near the end, with about a mile to go, having already run 25 miles, I felt ready to give up and die. But there was a thing inside me that said KEEP PUSHING.
TWO: After the race, my nipples were completely engorged with blood. Dark blood curdled under the thin skin of their tips.
THREE: Also, my skin had become a dangerous shade of grey.
FOUR: I know I’ve accomplished this kind of amazing thing with my body, but at the same time, I feel utterly defeated by my body. I made my body undergo the most strenuous thing I’ve ever attempted, and yet I feel that somehow, my body is completely beyond the control of my mind.
Of course, this metaphor is not only inadequate, but totally ridiculous. Holding for nine months a fetus that nourishes itself into a baby by sucking up your energy and flesh from within, then spending hours (days?) forcing the bugger to come out of an impossibly stretched vagina or a slice in your belly...that is clearly not even close to moving your legs and breathing hard for 26 miles over a few hours’ time. Yet the narratives can overlay one another because the tenets are evocative of one another. This is why metaphors suck, and I am really beginning to hate them. Because running the marathon DID make me feel more feminine, yet to say I felt feminine because the physicality of it, the utter defeat I feel at the hands of my own body, seems not only regressive but incorrect.
I kind of wish my chafed nipples had burst open and their blood seeped through my t-shirt.