My Big Fat Finished Marathon
This is also how you can tell if someone walked a marathon.

About twenty weeks ago I decided to train to do the Seattle Marathon.  I had registered as a walker and Sunday was the Seattle Marathon.  When I woke up at 5am I told my partner Julianne “It’s going to be a long day.”  I was not wrong.  I’ve been training for the last 20 weeks, 370 training miles in all, for an 8.5 hour marathon.  That is not how it worked out.

I did the marathon with Kelrick – my best friend who, 20 weeks ago, took less than a minute to answer my “do you want to do a marathon” e-mail with “I’m in”.  The course is billed as rolling with hilly sections.  I thought I had trained for the hills, but I was wrong  – Seattle’s hills are something else – the hills kicked my ass, as did the 9mph to 20mph headwinds that we experienced.  After 4 miles I felt like I normally feel after 10 miles, not a great sign.  After taking 25 minutes for a desperately needed bathroom break (and thanks to all those sending hatemail who are so very concerned about my gastrointestinal health, but this was mostly waiting in line to pee and then peeing) at mile 2, and dealing with the hills through mile 5 it became clear that my 8.5 hour marathon was not to be.  We deemed ourselves Team Dead Last and prepared for a very long day.

The other runners were incredibly supportive, yelling encouragement, saying that I was their hero, giving me high fives, shouting to keep going, not to quit.  It was awesome.  Runners at the very front of the pack used precious energy to encourage me. For all of that I’m incredibly grateful, not just for the encouragement but because participating in a sport that I suck at and being encouraged by those who excel reminded me that actual athletes don’t spend their time being asses on the internet, they behave in ways that are honorable which includes being encouraging to beginners and those who aren’t elite.

Most of the encouragement came to me and not to Kelrick which he confirmed was really kind of crappy for him, though he noted that most of the crap came to me as well.

At mile 7 the woman driving the “sag wagon” (the vehicle charged with staying with the people in last place) asked incredulously if I was doing the marathon (yes) if I was a runner or walker (are you kidding me with this question? Note that I was in last place, wearing a bib that was green – the walker color – that said “walk” in big block letters, if someone knows this and still thinks I registered as a runner I have some concerns), and if I had started at the proper time (yup, one of the first out of the gate, the walkers started first in this particular marathon).

A few moments later she tried to talk me into quitting by telling me that it was later than it was, that I was going slower than I was, and saying that at this pace I’d never make it and I’d need to be picked up in the afternoon so I might as well quit now.  I don’t remember exactly what I said to her but it started with “That’s enough.” and ended with “I chose this marathon because it said that it quote ‘stays open until every athlete finishes’ if I need to be picked up I’ll let you know.”  We made it off the bridge with 30 minutes to spare before the cut-off time (and note that the rules stated that even if we missed the cut-off time we would be bussed off the bridge and allowed to continue.)

When we stopped to treat Kel’s blister at mile 10 and I used the restroom, she sent someone to bang on the door and ask if I was ok (yes, except I’m having trouble peeing while you bang on the door) and told a member of the medical staff to try to talk me into quitting when I came back.  Kel overheard and thankfully put a stop to that.  As we left she then got another member of the medical staff to come with us and try to talk us out of it.  I mentioned that I thought that this woman just wanted to go home as early as possible and asked if there was there any way that we could let her do that, since this was hard enough without her constant discouragement.  The medic suggested that we officially drop out but finish anyway.  Um, no.  I was participating based on the rules of the marathon.  I would not have entered a marathon with a time limit and then ask that they accommodate me, I picked this marathon because their rules specifically accommodated my slow time.  This woman was just going to have deal with it.

At mile 11 they closed the aid stations and opened the roads and from then on we were told that there would be no more mile markers, no more water and gatorade stations, no more port-a-potties, and since there weren’t sidewalks in a lot of places we had to walk on trails and lawns (which meant that, according to our GPS, we walked about a mile extra.)  At mile 14 she sent a member of the medical personnel out, telling her that I was limping (I wasn’t) and that she should convince us to drop out. The young woman said that we looked great but told us that they were closing all of the medical stations.  She gave us a bunch of supplies and wished us luck.

At mile 14 the sag wagon lady pulled beside me and said “You can quit now and still get a medal for finishing a half marathon.”  I explained to her that I set out to complete a marathon, not a half marathon, and that if I didn’t complete this one I would have to do another one which I did not want to do. I leaned into the car and said “I. Will. Not. Quit.”

At mile 18 the sag wagon lady told us that they were tearing down and there would be no finish line.

It’s hard to explain why that news was so devastating – except to say that I realized that the moment I had trained for, that I had fantasized about for 370 training miles and that had kept me going for 18 miles that day wasn’t going to happen. We were 8 miles from the finish line and I was in a lot of pain – the uphills made me tired but the steep downhills had put pressure on a new part of my food and I had developed some serious blisters on the balls of each foot that hurt with every step and now I would start limping except that both feet were killing me, I had been dealing with a weird pain in my calf since around mile 11, and if I was able to suffer through 8 more miles, there would be no finish line to cross and I would have to accept my medal from a woman who spent the day trying to get me to quit.  Through my tears I looked at Kel and he looked at me and we both said “the only thing to do is finish” and we set off again.

It was at this point that she experienced an attitude adjustment.  She started crying saying that it wasn’t fair and I deserved to cross a finish line and that she was going to do the best she could to give us our medals with ceremony, and from then on she was really supportive. She and another gentleman in a separate car began to guide us in – she would go ahead to mark the path, he would stay behind us to light it.

The next 8 miles are a blur of hills,  pain, and suffering.  As we turned the corner to the stadium we saw Julianne, our support crew, and a couple of guys from the race staff in a group of people cheering (I would later find out that one  person came to cheer for me but wanted me to be able to rest so she didn’t introduce herself,) one was someone important with the race but I can’t for the life of me remember his title.  I jogged the last little bit and accepted my medal – which, for reasons I may never understand, actually seemed (and still seems) worth all the work and pain and suffering.  Kel and I got the same finishing time though he was perfectly willing to finish last so I would be second to last because that’s just the kind of best friend he is.

I planned to be on the course for no more than 9 hours.  Team Dead Last took 12 hours and 20 minutes to complete the marathon. When the woman from the sag wagon hugged me she teared up and told me she was proud of me and apologized for us “getting off to a rough start.”  I accepted her apology, thanked her, smiled and said what I had been waiting 19.2 miles to say –  “I told you at mile 7 that I wasn’t going to quit.”

For more than half the marathon we did it with no water or gatorade stops, no medical support, no cheering crowds, no road closures, on muddy trails dodging tree roots, and with the people who were supposed to support us trying to convince us to quit.  Earlier in the year I mentioned that I wanted to do more things that I’m not good at and this certainly qualifies – of over 10,000 people I was the absolute hands-down worst.  I’m not sure it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, but it is the thing that I most wanted to quit, and I mean it is the thing that I both most often, and most aggressively wanted to quit. We did it the hard way, but we did it.

One runner who wanted to encourage me told me not to quit because if I could finish I would believe that I could do anything. I smiled and gave her a high five, knowing that the truth is that I already believe that I can do anything which is why I was in the marathon.

Answers to frequent statements and questions:

It doesn’t seem like Health at Every Size to put your body through something like this.

Health at Every Size says that people of all sizes can engage in healthy behaviors and that our best chance for our healthiest body (knowing that there are no guarantees or obligations) is practicing health behaviors rather than trying to achieve health through the manipulation of our body size.   It does not say that to practice HAES, everything I do has to prioritize my health or comfort. This goal wasn’t about health (though I certainly hit my movement goal for the week!), it was about achieving something totally outside my comfort zone, doing something that I’m not good at, and though I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone, I’m really happy that I did it.

If you don’t run a marathon in [insert random number of hours] then it shouldn’t count.

The Seattle Marathon specifically has no time limit.  My medal says “26.2 miles. Marathon.”  I finished, it counts.  Don’t like it? You can do whatever you want but if you’re looking for a suggestion, feel very free to bite me.

Anybody can walk a marathon in 12 hours, it’s not that big a deal.

Plenty of people who registered to walk the marathon, and trained to walk the marathon, dropped out of the marathon.  One of the guys at the finish line was telling my partner than he has done 55 marathons and that if he had done the Seattle Marathon as his first one he wouldn’t have finished.  But at the end of the day it doesn’t matter – there is no shame in trying and quitting a marathon, there’s no shame in not trying a marathon, and there’s no shame in taking 12 hours and 20 minutes to complete it. I will never understand people who say that they love a sport but then don’t want to open it up to the largest possible group of people. People who want to insist that their sport is only for some people, or isn’t for those who look a certain way, or want to belittle or devalue other people’s achievements seem to me to be simply screaming “I’M INSECURE!!!!!!” at the top of their lungs.

When is your next marathon?

Never.  Never ever.  Team Dead Last is also known as Team Never Again. I’m trying to decide what my next thing will be.  I’m thinking tap dancing, traditional Irish Dance, or competitive figure skating.  I’ll let you know!  Edit:  Oops, my next marathon is LA in March, 2015.  Wish me luck!

Thank you, in no particular order:

To all of my blog readers, twitter followers and Facebook friends who offered me support, encouragement, and congratulations, from the start of training to the egg throwing incident,  thank you.

To Julianne for supporting me, making sure I had food after my long training walks, getting things for me when I was too sore and tired to walk, and listening to me complain about this for 20 weeks.

To Kelrick for suffering through this journey with me.  He didn’t really train, he was hurting, and yet he refused to leave my side, best Best Friend EVER.

To Kenny (Kelrick’s husband) for giving us a ride to the marathon ridiculously early in the morning, and surprising me by spending all day yesterday making delicious homemade pho because it’s my favorite post long walk meal.

To Mom for her constant support of us.

To the runner who yelled “I love your blog!”  You made my day.

To the reader who waited at the finish line to cheer me in.

To all the participants, spectators, and passersby who offered encouragement, especially those who included Kelrick.

To the race staff and volunteers who made the whole thing possible.

To Caroline who found us on mile 21 and insisted on giving us her headlamp because the next section was dark and offered to bring us anything from gatorade to socks, you are awesome!

To our support team, they had a very long day.  To the gentleman who joined us around mile 15 and lit the way for us. And to the sag wagon woman for making me to want to gut it out every time she tried to get me to quit and for the support she offered after her change of heart.


Seattle Before Marathon
Me the morning of the marathon. What the hell was I so happy about?
Our course took us over this bridge…and back!
Seattle Finish
We did it!
26.2 miles  Marathon  It was all worth it in the end!
26.2 miles Marathon
It was all worth it in the end!
Seattle Marathon Finish Rules
Screen shot of the race rules

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154 thoughts on “My Big Fat Finished Marathon

  1. OMG – I wanted to cry when I first heard about the sag woman, and again when she burst into tears and encouraged you on, again when the runner liked your blog, and again as you crossed that finish line. You are truly an inspiration (even if you don’t set out to be one) and I love you so much. Well done doesn’t really seem to cover it. ❤

  2. WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! You got me all teary-eyed. Suck it, sag wagon lady! Hopefully her change of attitude stays with her! Congrats on your marathon! And I vote for tap dancing for the next challenge – I just started lessons in February and it’s a total hoot! Of course, you’re already a dancer so the whole concept is probably less foreign to you – I’ve never done any kind of dance before (I’m 42).

  3. There are no words for what you’ve done, except admiring ones. What matters is that you finished (and I never doubted you would!). The sag wagon woman should maybe think about her motivation, even if she did relent at the end. And ‘anybody can walk in a marathon for 12 hours’ is totally untrue. I could not. But you could. Congratulations!

    1. “The sag wagon woman should maybe think about her motivation, even if she did relent at the end.”

      It seems to me that she *did* learn a lesson. IMO, of course.

  4. Amazing! AMAZING! Well done, you and Kel (who is an awesome friend. It’s a pity we can’t clone him.). I don’t know what the bejaney was going on with the sag wagon lady but I’m glad through sheer determination, you changed her mind. Congratulations on your finished marathon. That is fantastic.

    1. “I don’t know what the bejaney was going on with the sag wagon lady but I’m glad through sheer determination, you changed her mind.”

      There are lots of ignorant people out there. It’s possible that she actually, legitimately *was* worried that Ragen would drop dead of a heart attack. If that’s the case, her actions certainly make sense.

      On the other hand, she might’ve just been a fatphobic jerk. In that case, her actions also make sense.

      At least she had a change of heart and maybe learned a lesson, right?

      1. If she assumed that I might drop dead of a heart attack simply because of my size and in absence of any indication of trouble, that *is* fat phobia or at least size ism as there l was nothing to make her concern legitimate-even the medical trainers she sent after me said I was in “great shape” and “looked strong”.

        She never mentioned injury or health concerns at first, only time (that I was going to take 12 hours to finish). The story about the limp (that didn’t actually exist)!was what she told the trainers to use to talk me into quitting.


        Sent from my iPhone

        1. “If she assumed that I might drop dead of a heart attack simply because of my size and in absence of any indication of trouble, that *is* fat phobia or at least size ism as there l was nothing to make her concern legitimate”

          Except for all of the articles, stories, news reports, etc. that she’s constantly bombarded with every single day (just like the rest of us). I almost can’t blame someone for buying into “fat = unhealthy” because it’s truly ceaseless, and in the rare cases there’s an article or report that says otherwise, it gets buried and/or ignored.

          Maybe you finishing that marathon will make her re-evaluate her beliefs and seek out some education.

          Or maybe not, I don’t know.

          I’m just sorry she made an already unpleasant experience even worse for you with her crap, even if she did do a turnaround in the end. So many others would’ve quit in the face of all of that, but you didn’t. You persevered, and in my book that makes you a winner, no matter when you actually finished!

  5. I fucking love you and Kelrick. You have been my hero right along, for your intelligent, caring, spirited blog and cause, and for the little bits of “you” that I get to know through what you share. Now, reading this account of your Marathon, I can barely see through the tears of anger, pride and a jumble of emotions. Thank you for helping others know what is possible. Your spirit is magnificent and inspiring. And Kelrick just plain ROCKS. Shoutouts to Julianne and Kenny as well.


  6. Tears! You’ve reduced me to tears! So very well done darling! You are amazing and inspirational. And you too Kelrick; an amazing friend!

  7. My mom is a Marathon runner, and I remember the first Marathon she ran was the Marine Corps Marathon. My Step Father and I cheered her on at different points through out the race, and I remember when she finished she was in tears, she was so emotional. She trained with a team and ran with them.
    But it was one of the hardest things she has ever dance. She is not a fast runner and has to walk a lot of the ways.
    Sometimes when things get the better of her and her training falters, she just concentrates on finishing and says to hell with the time.
    What you did is amazing, ANYONE no matter what size, who decides to be brave enough to run a marathon is amazing. First, middle last, finisher, the point is that you did it, you never gave up or lost hope or your drive, and (as if you needed it, though I guess we all do) You have a medal to show for that. That you finished 🙂

  8. This was so moving to read! Loved every single word of your article. Congratulations! You’re such an inspiring person for us all. Well done, I have no words to say how amazing you are!

  9. Good Goddess, Ragen, you’re incredible for setting the goal and sticking to it despite all the obstacles in your path. I admire you from the bottom of my heart…and can say, in all honesty, I would never have been able to demonstrate that kind of grit. Well done, you!

  10. Blubbering here as well. What a journey! Congratulations Ragen. And Kelrick, if you’re reading this, congratulations to you too, and I’m blowing you a huge kiss from waaaay over here in Florida!

  11. Congratulations on your accomplishment & on never having to do it again! NO, ‘anyone’ cannot walk a marathon in twelve hours…or at all. I have exercised all my life & intend to walk as long as I am able to do so, but, while I have walked over 65,000 miles in my life, there has never been a day that I, with cerebral palsy, could walk over 26 miles in one day. I don’t think that I ever managed more than 8 miles & that was difficult & painful for me. You showed great courage, strength, & determination. Congratulations to your best friend as well. He is a great friend & a wonderful person, to be sure!

  12. Another weeper. I have been waiting to read this post. You inspired me to start training for jogging a half-marathon, and while that’s a ways off the fact that you did a marathon is going to keep inspiring me.

  13. Congratulations to you both! You are too awesome for words! LOL- I’m bawling my eyes out over this, thank you very much!

  14. WOO HOO!! And I was cheering from over here because I can’t even get into the city. :). And you finished it. Yes, Seattle hills are hard and the weather was horrible–with chill and the rain after such a gorgeous week–that had to be energy sapping too.

    I am so glad your persistence turned the SAG woman around–and maybe she learned something that day about trusting that people know their limits and understanding that sometimes people are just really really determined…

  15. Wow, congratulations! You had a rough time of it, but pulled through, that’s something to be enormously proud of.

    I moved to Seattle from the Sonoma Valley in California two years ago. I thought I knew what hills and mountains were back then; I was wrong. I’ve completely redefined my definitions of those words. What I was calling mountains are hills. There are no naturally flat places here; even my apartment complex is built in three levels to accommodate the hill it’s on.

  16. You’re extraordinary, Ragen. I came straight here after reading a piece in UK’s Times, publishing a study that ‘proves’ once and for all that you can’t be healthy and obese. All it brought to mind was, ‘as if life isn’t tough enough, we have to plow through it with extra piles of righteous judgement and straight-up abuse heaped on top’ (evidenced so perfectly by your quite literal uphill battle here). I’m inspired and tremendously comforted by your strength & reason. It’s so great to have a sane & compassionate place to come to after the unfettered vitriol out there in much of the world.

  17. Amazing! Sounds like it was a tough course to begin with, and even with the weather and the people seeming to conspire against you, you did it. Tearing up at my desk. :’)

  18. This made me teary-eyed, too. People start and finish marathons all the time, but most don’t have to put up with the crap you did! You expect to hear about sore muscles and blisters, but you don’t expect to hear about muddy tracks in the dark and no port-a-potties or water. You deserve TWO medals, AND a t-shirt that fits! Congratulations!

  19. wow…really…wow!! this is such an awesome fucking story!! i was rooting for you just READING it! it must have been amazing to BE THERE in person! i am so inspired by this…by you…and i would freakin SLEEP with that medal every night if i were you…haahahahaaa

  20. You and Kelrick rock!!! I can’t imagine going thru that. You are both such great role models-for sticking to your goals no matter what and for showing what is a great friendship and support system. You are so blessed to have a friend like Kelrick! Many congratulations!!! I feel so inspired now to do better, even in my daily jobs. xo

  21. I’m just so astounded, and energized, and inspired and in tears right now. You don’t set out to be an inspiration – which is part of what makes you an inspiration. You are amazing: brave, strong, beautiful, authentic, and tenacious. I am so proud of you, Ragen, and my heart is cheering at the top of its metaphorical lungs for you. YOU DID IT!!!!!

  22. Congratulations! You are the very definition of persistence. (Seriously, you are… “firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition”)

  23. This is one of the best and most inspiring things I’ve ever read. What you do and Kelrick both did is awesome and I am humbled by both your experience on the course and your accomplishment. Hopefully the sag wagon woman has learned a little something about tenacity and the human spirit and carries that with her to the next event she volunteers for. They always say that it’s the fire inside you that gets you across the finish line, but it’s the support of friends, family, volunteers, and strangers along the way that help keep the fire stoked. I have a goal to finish a full marathon because it is something I’ve never considered myself capable of, but I want to show myself that I can. Thank you for being awesome. ❤

  24. Super huge congratulations to you and Kelrick, from the blog wife! I can’t tell you how proud I am of you. I literally would never be able to do that, and to anyone who says that anyone can walk a marathon, they can bite my big toe. It takes a lot of dedication, training and work to do something like that, and it also takes a body that will cooperate. I’m so glad that despite the pain and hardship, your body kept up with your spirit. I never doubted for a moment that your spirit would cross that finish line. 🙂

  25. It doesn’t compare, but many years ago I was a 5K walker. I was always slow, but I never came in after all the services had closed and I never had to cope with an external voice of negativity following me around the whole course. I remain in awe of your dedication, strength and discipline in this project. Get that medal framed (make the border edge several small copies of pictures of your team, your training and your run) and display that proudly. It will always be a testament of how awesome you (and they) are.

  26. Congratulations! I haven’t commented before, but I wanted to say that you totally rock! I am a marathon runner — 42 and counting. I am incredibly impressed and awed by the sheer determination of your effort. It’s an accomplishment that few people can claim. I’m not fast (about the 5 – 51/2 hours), and I know how hard it is to go for hours to get to the finish. You have such courage and determination. And yeah, every single time the medal makes it all worth it. 🙂

    Also, if you’ve transversed the distance of a marathon, 26.2 miles, then you are a marathoner. Period. Full stop. Never let anyone tell you differently.

  27. I don’t know you, I wish I did. You are an inspiration and obviously a great person to have such a great friend. I would never run a marathon, but if I did, I would hope that the bug in my ear is encouraging, rather than telling me to quit.

  28. You are awesome!! I was so glad i finally got to see you for realsies.

    I am the runner who loves your blog. Well, I’m probably not the only one, but I am the one that hollered at you on course. 🙂 I found DWF through a post that one of my friends shared on FB. It was the “To the guys who threw eggs at me” post, and I have been reading ever since.

    You perform a valuable service to the world as a fat activist. Seriously.

    I am a member of various running/triathlon clubs, have a lot of friends who do Ironmans, run Boston, win (!) local marathons, hit CrossFit gyms every day (and tell you all about it on Facebook), etc. There is a definite tendency in some of these groups to tear down “fatties” as a means of self-motivation. It’s something i never thought about or was really bothered by until I found you. Now I try to focus positive attention–both my own and that of my friends–on actual accomplishments rather than weight loss goals. I try to get people thinking that it’s better to, for example, set a goal pace for a race than to say “I want to lose X number of pounds.” ANYONE can accomplish goals, athletic or otherwise, and be proud of themselves, without having to denigrate others in the process. Period.

    I can’t begin to imagine the strength of will it takes to persevere in situations like what you experienced in Seattle, a city that prides itself on tolerance and acceptance. That just sucks–particularly in light of the Chicago Marathon staying open for 17 hours for the final finisher, who has MD: I CAN tell you that Seattle was frigid-windy and a LOT of people had problems. I wanted to actually come back and walk with you for a little bit, and talk with you about how awesome you are, and how often I quote the Underpants Rule, but I ended up in the Medical Tent at the end with massive leg cramps and a spasming left shoulder (chronic injury) from the temperatures. 😦

    (As an aside: Go to the Medical Tent immediately after finishing a marathon and tell them that your left shoulder hurts. WATCH WHAT HAPPENS! :] I should have thought that through a little better.)

    But anyways, CONGRATULATIONS on your finish! You kick all the asses.

    For your next goal, if clog dancing doesn’t pan out–have you ever considered doing a short-distance triathlon? Short swim, 10-12 miles on a bike, and then 3 mile walk. A 3 mile walk will feel like NOTHING to you now. 🙂 A lot of triathlons have “Athena” division for larger ladies (although, just a word of warning, they generally consider anyone over 150 lbs to be “larger”). Triathlon looks very elite from a distance but when you get into it, it’s all schmoes like me who just want to go flail around on a bike and have a good time being in motion. 🙂

    1. Hi there! Thanks again for yelling, I’m really sorry about your injuries but your med tent story cracked me up, I’ll bet it was an exciting couple of minutes 🙂 I’m not sure about the short-distance tri’s – I’m pretty much sun averse (one of the reasons I chose Seattle for my marathon) Congratulations on your marathon and thanks for your support, not just at the race but in the fitness community. You rock so hard!

      Big Fat Hugs!


  29. I did sort of wonder why you’d put yourself through this but understand that it was important to you but also understand you’re moving on to bigger and better things and I suggest tap cuz it’s so cool! Maybe you’ll inspire me to do it too!! Congrats, Nan!

  30. So inspired by your accomplishment. I have thought about doing a marathon (walking) and you just may have pushed me over the edge into doing it. I think I’ll try a half marathon first. I am so proud of you. Thanks for sharing your story. So entertaining and well written, too!

  31. Team ‘Never in a Million Years’ salutes ‘Team Last’, ‘Team Never Again’, and especially ‘Team Regan and Kelrick RAWK’!

    Here’s hoping you’ve made the Sag Wagon Lady an ally after she got over being such a Little Nellie Naysayer.

      1. Can I join Team Bwahahaha–No? ‘Cause that’s my reaction to running a marathon, and I think Ragen and Kelrick are the cat’s pajamas, too!

        1. Great. Now I want to join Team Bwahahaha and Team Regan and Kelrick are the Cat’s Pajamas, too. Oh, and Team Snowball’s Chance in Hell.

  32. Traditional Irish Dance is hard work (I’m not very coordinated) but it is fun. I’d always wanted to try it. I took it for ~ 1.5 years w/ a great teacher.

  33. Congrats! It takes a lot of personal strength to know you’re the last ones out there and still finish.

    If you decide to try tap and want to start with a DVD, the late Bonnie Franklin has a beginning tap DVD that’s amazing. I also managed to find the world’s most comfortable tap shoes, even with my big fat feet, so if you want a recommendation, let me know.

  34. Congratulations on finishing your first & (maybe) only marathon!!!! I know how disheartening it can be to still be on the course while it’s being shut down. I also know that it is worth it to finish & how much the under 3 hour marathoners admire those at the tail end of the race. It takes a lot to keep going that long. High five to Kelrick for supporting you and finishing his own race. Thanks for sharing your story.

  35. I read your blog every time you post but rarely comment. I just want to say you’re my shero. I’m so proud of you for doing this, and all you do. I actually teared up reading this.

  36. I run as “Team Stupidly Determined”. As a proud member of Team Stupidly Determined (3 middle aged, fat women who have clocked up 12 marathons), I am delighted to welcome you to the club.

    I’d like to quote another marathoner at you (a marathoner like us),
    The marathon always starts after 30K. That’s where the problems start. You start without any problems, without any pain. All the pain comes after 30K. Sometimes, it’s possible to have pain even in the finger.
    Haile Gebrselassie

  37. Okay, I’m sobbing big huge tears of wow and way to go for you! I’m so proud of you both. I’m loving all of the encouragement and your indomitable spirit in all of this even in the face of the naysayers etc. And as far as the assholes saying it doesn’t count, they can just go run a long marathon off a very short pier with tons of sharp rocks at the bottom! I’m so so proud of you both!

  38. You did it! You rock. But man…Kelrick. What an awesome friend. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a friend like that. Doing anything for 12 hours is tough, physically and emotionally and mentally. Lots of love to him for staying by your side!!!

  39. The first time sag wagon lady spoke to you, you should have given her my phone number. I would have told her you NEVER quit anything and have had this trait since birth! I would also have told her Team Ragen and Kelrick are ALWAYS unstoppable in everything they do.
    I never had a doubt that you would finish and I’ve always been so proud of you. And Kel knows how awesome I think he is.
    A special thank you to Kenny and Julianne for taking care of you ~

  40. You are every kind of awesome! You and your support team rocks in ways I cannot find words to describe. Inspirational doesn’t cover it. Neither does totally fucking awesome.

    Love your team names! It’s funny. Back when I could RUN a marathon I was so not into signing up for one. In a remote corner of my mind I want that medal SOOO much. But at the same time I TOTALLY identify with teams “Never in a million years” “Snowball’s chance in hell” and “Bwahahaha, No”.

    I haven’t totally slammed the door on the possibility of a walked marathon, but my ankle and back may have already made that decision for me. I’m thinking of trying out a training plan and seeing if I should even sign up…. eeeek?

  41. As a one-time (so far) Slow Fat Marathoner, I feel ya in a big fat way, Ragen. While I was already a runner and triathlete before starting my marathon training, it was still a hard, hard thing to do with perfect weather conditions and very few hills. If they had taken down the finish line, I would have been so engraged. In other events, I have totally experienced race staff trying to get me to quit, trying to get me in the sag wagon so they could go home; tearing down the finish line and taking away the post race food and drink before I finished; running out of t-shirts in my size after promising I would get one that would fit me; and other annoyances. Best one was when I was running a point-to-point relay and they sent the bus for all the Leg 1 finishers on without me, when the sag wagon lady KNEW I was still out there because I had told her I was fine and not in need of a sag wagon. They left me 20 miles from the race finish with no sweatshirt in 40-degree weather, and I had to run after a race staffer’s truck to get a ride back to Sacramento. The lack of consideration for slow athletes in events that claim to welcome people “of every ability level” is sometimes appalling. Danskin triathlons were a great exception.

    Anyway, huge congratulations on doing a hard thing and re-confirming your famed mental and physical toughness in really trying conditions. You are the awesome!


    Sorry our hills kicked your ass so hard. They are kind of brutal that way.

    Make you a deal – I’ll get in better shape and you can come back and a group of us can do some relaxed hikes in the area. Then eat pie.

    1. If someone flies me up, I’ll totally bake the pies. Seriously. I do pie even better than I do hikes… and I’m pretty good with walking in general.

      But pie… pie is my art form.

  43. Way to go, Ragen and I’m thrilled you had such an awesome friend at your side. I never doubted you would finish. The memory of what you did will loom large long after the blisters have faded. Thank you for sharing your incredible spirit with us.

  44. Well, here I am at my desk crying. I am so very proud to know you and to be one of your supporters. What you did was incredibly brave – physically, emotionally and psychologically. You are truly a force to be reckoned with. I am also so glad you have such amazing supportive friends and family (and girlfriend!) in your life because you deserve them. I wish many hot baths, comfy socks and yummy food in your life this week.

  45. I always tell people that my superpower is perseverance … and I am so incredibly impressed with your perseverance and Kelrick’s right now that I cannot express it without interpretive dance … and dance isn’t even my thing 🙂

    I’d love to ask the sag wagon lady what was going through her head – I’m SO glad she changed her mind but that seems like an incredibly bizarre attitude she had at the start and I’d love to know her reasons. Hopefully she doesn’t do it to anybody again… walking a marathon is hard enough without fighting external demons too…

  46. You are a hero!

    Wild horses couldn’t drag me to run a marathon. I’d have a better chance swim the Channel then ever to complete a marathon.

  47. Tears here, too. I’m a fat athlete who has walked eleven half marathons. Congratulations on this fantastic accomplishment, Ragen. Your blog – and your actions – are an inspiration.

  48. Dear Ragen, you are an AWESOME writer and an even more AWESOME person. Your blog about your marathon had me smiling, tearing up, laughing, feeling angry at points, but then realizing that it was YOU doing something you not only wanted to do, but actually DOING it and to hell with what others thought, feeling so proud of your attitude AND absolutely proud about your doing something way outside your comfort zone, just for the challenge of it!! Congratulations to a true winner!

  49. I’m crying right now, just wow. I have no words! So so happy for you, so inspired by you!
    “actual athletes don’t spend their time being asses on the internet, they behave in ways that are honorable which includes being encouraging to beginners and those who aren’t elite.”
    I LOVE this. You have some really sage comments throughout this entire article.
    Thanks Ragen, you are the difference in my world

  50. Hi Ragen!

    For your next sport I recommend rock climbing. As a dancer, you would probably have an advantage in coordination and flexibility, which are key.

    Plus, a lot of people think that you need to develop disordered eating to be good at climbing, and it would be fun to see you prove them wrong.

    And plenty of people climb even if they are afraid of heights, as a way to cure their fear. Climbing with ropes is really safe–probably safer.

    Congrats on your marathon!

  51. Huge CONGRATS to you both. The Seattle Marathon is a tough course, and to persevere for over 12 hours is incredibly inspiring. Huge accomplishment. And actually, at the Marine Corps Marathon, they give an award – the Penguin Award – to the last place finisher

  52. Dear Ragen, I’ve never run (or walked) a Marathon, but I’ve done a few things that took every ounce of strength I had to complete. I am very proud of you!

    Clearly those who removed every single assist along the way and left you stranded in the dark (thinking that you would quit), didn’t know you very well. I am ashamed of their wretched sportsmanship. Go Kel, you really are Ragen’s BFF!!

  53. Congratulations! 😀

    Honestly? If my feet had been in that shape, I probably would’ve given up. I have nothing but admiration for you! Fantastic!

    I hope your feet are feeling better now!

  54. My hero! So proud! Love your spirit! Your blog inspires me with it’s honesty and I’ve taken a hard look at my own prejudices! I’ve started to speak out and am an advocate of Health at Every Size! Tomorrow I have an interview to intern as a Certified Peer Counselor and one of groups I want to start is a Walking Group (even in the rain!)

  55. So glad I didn’t read this at work. I AM SO HAPPY FOR YOU. happy you met your goal. happy you finished. happy you have a friend like Kel and the amazing support team you have. and happy that once again you stood up for yourself though as we all know you/we should not have to.

    Perhaps you would like the feel of belly dancing? It is gently vigorous movement, and uses the female body in such generous ways.

    I hope you feet are better. Take care.

  56. I admire (and envy) your stick-to-it-iveness, Ragen. Heartiest congratulations to both you and Kelrick! You are an inspiration. How about giving Scottish Country Dancing a try for your next adventure? It’s sort of a cross between ballet an square dance. It’s lots of fun and very social, with groups all across the world just waiting to welcome new dancers.

    1. ZOMG! I used to do Scottish Country dancing! A series of leg injuries followed by moving to a town where I didn’t have access to a class ended my time in the pursuit, but it was the one and only form of dance I’ve ever tried that I was actually really good at. In fact, the teacher used to use me to demonstrate what the strathspey should look like to new students.

      BTW, did you know you can do a strathspey to Pink Floyd’s Money? You absolutely can.

  57. I am crying and being ever more grateful for you. Many congratulations. I am so humbled by your commitment to HAES, and for having the willingness to persevere such that you transformed the sag-wagon lady.

    What an inspiration you are!

  58. For your vision, persistence and commitment, for your mighty victory over doubt and prejudice, and for everything you and Camryn Manheim (among others) have ever done for us “fat girls” – many, many, thanks. You rock. You just sent the Movement hurtling forward. Xxxxx

  59. Ragen, i cried tears of pride and amazement this morning reading your words of strength. In full view of a full bus. snorting and sniffling. Thank you thank you thank you for every day making me feel worthwhile but especially thank you for every foot step yesterday with your perseverence. (sp?) I appreciated every step and every word. Bernie

  60. I feel like I should print this post, frame it and hang it in a prominent place in my house, both as a reminder and because I’m so proud of you! THIS is what courage and determination looks like! Thank you Ragen, you are a real life superhero. (Someone get this woman a cape)

  61. Tremendous congratulations, Ragen! I know you will treasure that medal forever…
    (Thanks for the inspiration, but 13.2 mi is enough punishment for me – this does convince me to Get Out There & do another half, even though bad feet have sidelined me for almost 3 yrs…)
    I have 5 half-marathon medals & need to make it an even half-dozen!

  62. Ragen,

    I am now wishing that I followed your blog more closely as I’m living in Seattle and would have loved to cheer you on! I’m not sure if you remember me, but I was the student who helped facilitate your talk at the University of Florida a couple of years back. Your dedication to doing something outside of your comfort zone is such an inspiration. Thank you for all that you do and will likely continue to do to inspire an authentic and brave way of living.

    Simone Pierson

  63. Everyone else already said what’s going through my mind. Let me add one more CONGRATULATIONS!!!! There is not a caps-lock that is caps-locky enough for how much joy I’m putting in that word.

  64. One of my tough college friends got peer-pressured into running a marathon with his girlfriend the long-distance runner, and it’s not my impression that marathons are healthy for anyone. It’s not about size, it’s about the toll it takes on your body. I remember he was reduced to crawling up the stairs to the second-floor bathroom afterwards, because he just couldn’t walk up the stairs. And he says he’s on team Never Again (specifically, he said it was the highest ratio of preparation to badassness of anything he’s ever done, and he’s going back to scuba diving and kite surfing), but I think he’s glad he did it once.

    This was a beautiful post — thank you for sharing it. And congratulations! I think it’s especially awesome that you got to prove to the sag wagon and other support staff that they should stick it out and support you. Hopefully they learned something that they will remember.

  65. Congratulations on finishing the marathon! If you’re serious about the figure skating, you might want to try Sno-King Ice Arena Renton. They have great learn to skate classes, and are a really friendly, diverse ice rink. I’m a plump middle-aged woman, and nobody bugs me about either my age or my weight!

  66. I love this I love this I love this.

    Thanks for posting such an inspiring story. I’m so impressed that you persisted, and excited to hear that you were able to have a happy finish-line experience. What wherewithal!


  67. Dear All,

    Thank you very much for acknowledging me in traveling with Ragen on our 12 hour + marathon. It was crazy to do.

    While I appreciate the support I have to say that as Ragen’s best friend, and an ally to her activism and everything she does I’m honoured to have participate in this with her.

    My eyes are opened in a way they weren’t before. I have heard her stories of persecution and as any good ally to a social justice movement I have accepted them as true and valid however, I have never actually experienced them with her. Actually being present as Sag Wagon lady attempted on numerous occasions to undermine her – but NOT ME, having my minor injury (if I dare even call blisters such) erased from me and instead applied to her, and even the cheering being a “positive stereotype” where I was ignored while standing next to her because she was the surprising person to be able to be on this journey. All of it was eye opening on the privilege I had no idea I was accessing on a daily and constant basis.

    I will be processing this journey for quite some time and I am grateful to be able to incorporate a better understanding of the different world my best friend and her community are subjected to living in. I hope I am able to take these lessons forward and be a better ally.

  68. I was very moved by your marathon description. I am so sorry that “support” woman was working on her own stuff instead of doing her job. Thank you for your blogs. I sent today’s on to my sis, as you say it all so well and so clearly. I’m a big fan of your underpants rule!

  69. Although my only support is reading this blog, I feel like this is a shared victory between so many people. Thank you Ragen.

  70. Oh Ragen, a big, huge well done from little me here in the UK, who like the person above has said, my only support to you is reading this blog. You actually made me cry, reading this, which surprised me, but I suppose it’s because we get so much crap because of our weight and in my case, for other reasons too and with all my health problems in last 10 years & previous stressful life&that continues, sometimes you feel you never achieve anything much? I’m rambling now!

    I want to repeat that you are such a great role model with HAES and you have confirmed the logic of what I’ve thought for many years and the rest are all crazy! I watched a different shopping channel the other day(other than QVC)and it’s a UK based one, yet when it came to women’s clothing, you got the same, “you want to disguise your tummy”, I’ve/you’ve got these parts of your body you need to hide etc.”, you get the drift. The woman saying this was 60 and she went on to say how she unfortunately had a 60 year old woman’s body, meaning “flabby bits” or whatever and I thought yet again how sad and ridiculous it all was, but other women will fall for this.

    I know we can all only do our part, but it really gets to me and I know the only answer is to stop watching?!!

    Once again, really proud of your marathon achievement, even though I don’t understand it, you are an amazing woman.

    Marion, UK xx

  71. I’m late reading this, so …Congratulations to you both!

    I’m horrified by the initial behavior of the Sag Wagon Lady. That was insane! I hope her transformation was real and is lasting and she’ll go forward with more awareness. There was, however, no reason you should have had to deal with that and I hope she also owns that fact.

  72. You did great. Its amazing how people will put down allkinds of accomplishments. I finished my fist – and only, so far – half mnarathon in 2:28. My goal was under 2:30. I’ve had people console me for that “lousy” time. It was only your first. Really? But I’m a big girl – I think they think I could lose weight and do better. I applaud you for finishing a marathon. I’m not ever planning on doing a longer distance than 13.1 – walking or running. You are inspirational.

  73. You completely rock. I’ve done 3 5ks so far (and for each one, have heard various asinine comments from people who don’t believe I can do them) and I’m going to try for a 10K next. Thanks for the inspiration, as always, and congrats on finishing!

  74. Personally, I find it baffling that anyone can look at Ragen and not think: ATHLETE! Fat or thin or in between, one doesn’t get that kind of muscle tone unless one is an athlete!

  75. Congratulations! For those of us who want to run a marathon, what would you do differently. How did you feel (physically) afterwards? Did it take you time to recover.

    1. Thanks. If I had it to do again I would have gone very early in my training and checked out the entire course so that I had a better idea of what it was like. Otherwise I feel like I did what I needed to for the training. Afterwards I felt like crap, I wish I had gotten a massage right after and that I had stretched more after, in the absence of those my muscles were super sore and stiff. Because of my training my muscles recovered pretty quickly but the blisters on the soles of my feet took almost a week to get healed so that walking wasn’t painful (it didn’t help that I had to fly home which meant walking through several airports.)


  76. You are kinda my hero.. I have been wanting to walk/jog a half marathon but have been terrified of not being able to keep up with people. I finally talked to the gym coach at my school and shes gonna help me doing some smaller runs first.

  77. I just wanted to say that I saw you and Kelrick while I too was running the Seattle marathon. A friend of mine posted this blog on my page. Thanks so much for writing it. You touched on so many of the things that come up for me as a fat runner. Thanks for being such a badass. Also, I have to say that I’m one of the folks who saw the two of your and did not explicitly include Kelrick in my cheers. This blog got me thinking about why and how I can cut it out in the future. So kudos to you and a special kudos to Kelrick for rocking it and being such a kickass friend

  78. YOU ARE MY HERO! I am training for the 4th year in a row to complete a first marathon. Last year I got injured and had to give up and do the half. 2012 I got a new job and the work schedule was too grueling and I had to do the half. In 2011, I trained and flew all the way to Berlin to do the marathon but 7 hours of jet lag did me in and I quit. This year I’m staying in my own time zone. I am old, fat, slow and unsure if I can do 26.2 miles in 7 hours. Reading what you went through and finished anyway, THERE IS NO WAY IN HELL I am not finishing that marathon. Thanks for the inspiration. You are awesome and you rock beyond words!

  79. This is the most awesome thing I’ve read on the internet for a long time! I’ve really been wanting to do something big like a marathon, and while I’m not quite as big as you, I’m still big enough (and slow enough) to feel too embarrassed to try… sorry “was” too embarrassed. I’m going to find a local marathon and give it a go now 🙂

    You’re awesome – thanks for the inspiration, sounds like it was spirit breakingly awful for a long part of the journey but you still did it! I’m sure you get this all the time as well, but I really enjoyed your writing style as well as the excellent story – lots of detail so I felt like I was right there with you, but it never tipped over into the mundane/over details, just really fabulously well written and intelligent. Love it! I’m a bit late to this blog, just got linked by someone in the Black Milk Luscious Ladies group on FB 🙂

    Stay lovely – I’m off to find my marathon! xxx

  80. Congratulations on finishing your marathon. I read the piece where you decided to do it, but at that time it seemed a long way from achievement. And you have made your dream a reality!

  81. Love your blog! I’m running/walking/jogging my first Surf City half marathon on Super Bowl Sunday. Hearing you face the same dumbfounded look from people that I do seems like support in a way. I am simply doing this for myself! Good luck at the LA Marathon next month!

  82. I just found your blog. I’m almost a size 20 (at 5’1″) and signed up for my first 13.1…October 2015. I start training with a group in 2 days. I’m nervous and scare for a number of reasons, but your blog has giving me a new energy/drive. If you could overcome all that adversary, I can.
    I’ll keep searching your blog for running posts that are relevant to my situation. Thank you for putting yourself out there for, so folks like me can be inspired by you!

  83. Hi there. I have stumbled across your blog in my quest to find answers of why I can’t run very fast. To put this in perspective 3 years ago I was quite overweight and couldn’t run around a 400 metre track without collapsing. I kept trying until I could. Then I kept trying until I could run around it twice. A lot of laps later I cracked it and started out on the open road. A 10k medal followed and then and half marathon. I’m a month away from my first full marathon in London. However. I am beating myself up after every training run about speed and just can’t seem to get past 12 minute miles average no matter how hard I train. Your blog had stopped me in my tracks and beaten every running training post I’ve read in the last 6 months. Your blog contains what every other article lacks….. Spirit.
    I have a totally new outlook on my training thanks to you. I am now a proud 12 minute mile runner and I will be proud to complete the london using those minute miles because that’s my achievement and my capability.
    You are amazing and I enyoyed every last word of an excellent written blog. Thank you for sharing that with the world and thank you for being you and putting achievement into perspective for me.

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