#IWD: Celebrating Caitlin Constantine, Fit and Feminist

I personally love endurance training for what it teaches you about yourself. I feel it is a very humbling pursuit – as each kilometre ticks over, another layer of ego comes off and by the time the screws are really turning, there is only your raw ‘self’ left. It is, at this point I believe, that you come to the realisation of what a truly powerful being you are.

The last woman in our International Women’s Day series has certainly tapped into her personal power through her endurance training. Caitlin Constantine is a writer and endurance athlete who lives in Florida with her husband, their greyhound and their two cats. She writes the blog Fit and Feminist, where she explores fitness and athletics from a feminist perspective. She has completed numerous half-marathons and sprint triathlons, as well as four marathons, two ultramarathons, and a half-Ironman.

Today, Caitlin Constantine celebrated International Women’s Day by not only qualifying for the Boston Marathon, she took a massive 20 minutes off her personal record. It is an honour of mine to share the remarkable story of Caitlin Constantine:

keys-50-caitlin For a long time, it never occurred to me to think of myself as a strong woman. After all, strong women didn’t stay in relationships with people who abused and controlled them. Hell, I suspected strong women didn’t even get into those relationships in the first place. They certainly didn’t stay with those partners for nearly a decade.

And then, eight years ago, I finally summoned every scrap of courage I possessed and left to start my life over. It was exhilarating to experience that kind of freedom, but also terrifying and stressful. During my broken relationship I had used drugs and alcohol to cope, but that wasn’t working for me anymore. I needed something else.

It was about this time that I accompanied my new boyfriend (who is now husband) to Cincinnati, to cheer him on as he ran the Flying Pig Marathon. I stood by the finish line and watched as hundreds of people of all ages and sizes and abilities ran their final mile. I had always hated running, but as I watched those runners stream past me, the pain and excitement and happiness visible on their faces, I thought, I want to know what that feels like.

Two years later, when I ran towards finish line of the Disney Marathon, tears streaming down my smiling face, I finally understood. I knew how far I’d come to get there. It wasn’t just the 26.2 miles of the race, or the months of training leading up to it. I had to overcome so much to even get to the starting line, and I was unabashedly proud of myself because of it.

Running my first marathon didn’t immediately change everything, but it was a solid first step down a path I’ve been following since then. These days I look at who I used to be, and it all feels like it happened to another woman in another lifetime. I know I’m still the same woman, but now this woman has no problem at all thinking of herself as strong.

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