The Wall :: Part 1

Ashley Taylor

I reviewed the payment, sighed, and clicked “submit”. Oh well, it’s not like I’m a broke college student or anything. This will be worth it, I told myself, I’m just not sure why.

Why did I just sign up for the Los Angeles Marathon? I believe that purposeless activity has no place in my life and I avoid it to every extent that I can. So it killed me to commit to running a marathon when at that moment I had no idea why I was doing it. When I had started casually training in April of 2006, I thought I wanted to do it to prove myself. As I spent my first two years of high school on crutches with nerve damage to my left ankle and my freshman year of college battling a relatively significant eating disorder a marathon seemed to be the ultimate victory over both of those situations.

But after almost a year of training with about six weeks to go I was beyond burnt out, questioning my motives, not sure that it was worth it. Training took a lot of time and energy, it was the latest justification for mediocre grades, and I just wasn’t excited about running anymore. I considered dropping out, but I continued training. A triathlete friend suggested that the most solid form of insurance against dropping out would be to pay the pricey entry fee. So I did.

Seeing a confirmation with my bib number actually did make a difference in renewing my drive for the race. It suddenly seemed real to me, not just an abstract idea unworthy of how hard I was daily beating my body into the ground. I accepted that there were reasons that I was running this that I wouldn’t actually know or understand until I had crossed the finish line, but for right now, the commitment to myself and God was enough.

In the last two weeks before the big race I experienced life from a perspective I had never seen it through before. Preparing for my goal of finishing a 26.2 mile run without stopping or walking at any point well acquainted me with my inadequacies. As I felt completely unprepared for my race I had to learn quickly to lean on my sisters, to not be afraid to ask for their help or cry on their shoulders. These two weeks alone would have made it worth the effort. Although I was nervous and had no idea what to expect come race day, I was amazed and encouraged by my sisters rallying around me and the peace that secured my desire to continue running.

The race conveniently enough fell after a week-long battle with a sore throat and stuffy nose, and on top of that it was the morning after our formal date party. Fortunately, my date was a complete gentleman bringing me home early and I actually wasn’t too worked up to sleep and fully recover from my cold. When I woke up I was somehow energized, excited, and for the first time, I felt ready. One of my ADChi sisters drove me to Universal Studios, the start location, and saw me off promising that she and her roommate would be back to pick me up in Downtown LA at my estimated finish time. I approached the starting line, cued up my iPod, and started a 26.2 mile long prayer.

Ashley is a senior biological anthropology major at UCLA. She is the wellness chair of Alpha Delta Chi and the safety coordinator on the Bruin Waterski Team. She loves running and wakeboarding, and is passionate about encouraging women in confronting and overcoming eating disorders.

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