Written by MEDA Graduate Intern, Jesse Carmen, BA
I’ll never forget that one week before running the marathon last year, someone told me “everyone is going to ask you what time you got…”He went on to say, “when people ask you that you should respond – the time of my life.” This response turned out to be perfect because I did, indeed, have the time of my life running the Boston Marathon.
For me, running the Boston Marathon was never about the time or getting a ‘winning place,’ but instead it was always about the process.
The process of deciding to run.
The process of deciding to break up with yoga for six months in order to be prepared for the marathon.
The process of training (in all types of weather).
And then, finally, the process of running the entire 26.2 miles on the day of the marathon.
I signed up for the Boston Marathon on a “whim,” never expecting to actually be picked for the City Year Boston Marathon team. I would not call myself a runner, per se, as before running the marathon I had only really run two to three miles at a time. That being said, I have always had the mentality that if you really put your mind towards something, you can achieve anything. The Boston Marathon was no exception.
That’s not to say the training wasn’t hard – because it certainly was. At times it felt almost impossible. I remember there was a time where I had to run 18 miles in the snow and terribly cold temperatures. During the entire run I thought to myself what am I doing? Why am I doing this? Why did I think it was a good idea to sign up for this? During these moments of wanting to quit I would think about the students I met through City Year Boston. These students were not dealt the best circumstances but were the most resilient, witty, intelligent, and amazing fifteen and sixteen year olds I have ever met. Again, I feel like this mentality can be used for any hardship or challenge life throws at you. For me, it was running up another hill when my body and my mind were so tired. For you, it may be something entirely different. For you, it might be your journey to eating disorder recovery.
Right before the day of the marathon I decided to dedicate each mile to something or someone who was very special in my life. I firmly believe that every, single human being has a valuable story—no matter who they are, where they come from or what their upbringing is and for me each mile signified something that made up my own story. I think that many difficulties in life can be viewed through the perspective of training for and completing a marathon.
For me, personally, I came out to my friends and family five years ago. At the time, it seemed like an insurmountable challenge. There were times when I wanted to go back into “the closet” and wished that I had never said anything at all. Then there were other times where I felt determined and excited that I finally had my life back. Just like the marathon, this too was a process (and still is) of learning to accept and be open about who I am.
Through having my clinical internship at MEDA, it has become even more apparent to me that eating disorder recovery is also a process. Although eating disorder recovery is certainly not easy, it is possible (not without some hills and valleys along the way). Therefore, I think the Boston Marathon is an excellent metaphor for both the challenges and wins that comes with something likerecovery. The clients at MEDA are so strong and teach me something new about resilience during each new interaction that I have with them. Just like in the Boston Marathon, a runner needs to move forward from Hopkinton to Boston to make it to the finish line, it is our hope that people can also #MovingForwardWithMEDA during their eating disorder recovery – realizing that even though it may sometimes feel impossible to get to the finish line, it is possible with determination, support, and an ability to connect back to your motivation for running the “recovery marathon” in the first place.