Name: Maggie Prior
Occupation: Medical Student
I received an email from Maggie after she completed the Detroit Marathon last week. Maggie is an avid CrossFitter, medical student, and has more than a few marathons under her belt. Yea, kind of an overachiever. She is one of those people who has extremely high expectations of herself and is used to excelling at pretty much whatever she wants. You tend to find quite a few of these types of people in CrossFit boxes everywhere. We aren't superheroes, but man, we sure think we are!
Somewhere around mile marker 14, Maggie's high speed life caught up with her. When people rehash a marathon experience, I find they spend very little time talking about what it felt like physically. "It hurt." Wow. Shocking. In Maggie's words: "I had a rough go of it in the middle there." What followed that statement was not a laundry list of aches and pains, it was an outpouring of the stress and anxiety that she had packed on through the months of her training. Sometimes when you are as fit as someone like Maggie, it's hard to realize that you are actually carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders.
I asked Maggie to share her story because I know that so many of you out there have been in her shoes.... literally and figuratively speaking. Some of the the most beautiful moments in life seem to be inextricably linked to something painful. The best is yet to come for Maggie, and when it does she will look back on this marathon with a smile, with gratitude, and knowing Maggie... with an overwhelming desire to do it all over again.
by Maggie Prior
Writing this is one of the most nerve-wracking things I’ve ever done, because I have to admit to a lot of vulnerability. It’s rare that I let people see that – to admit that I have feelings or doubts or insecurities. I’m starting to learn that it really isn’t so horrible if you do. You don’t have to be the strongest person in the world all the time. Actually, you just can’t be. But, the people that love you will step up to the plate and help you out, and you end up just fine. Better than fine; you end up much stronger, with amazing stories and memories of even the smallest things people will do for you that make your day brighter. So, here goes…
I live life at 110 miles per hour. I’m in medical school, do research in a lab part time, am an avid crossfitter, volunteer in clinics and with an afterschool running program for kids and in my “spare” time, signed up to run the Detroit marathon with my best friend. I’ve always been able to handle this much, and I do it on my own. But, any sane person can look at my life and know it’s too much. In fact, when people see my Google calendar, they get so stressed out for me that they have to close it immediately. Lately, things have caught up with me, and I just can’t do everything I want to.
I’ve always thought that if I work hard enough, I can do anything I set my mind to. But, I can’t. I’m spread so thin and pulled in so many directions everyday that I’m worried I won’t succeed, at least to the level that I’m used to and the level that everyone expects from me. It makes me really frustrated, angry, and sad and I’m not used to it. The hardest part for me has been actually admitting that I can’t do this all by myself, and to ask people for help. I have amazing family and friends that I know would bend over backwards to do anything for me at the drop of a hat. I brag about that fact all the time, but never actually ask them to do anything for me - because I thought it was a sign of weakness. But, admitting vulnerability and that I can’t do something isn’t actually the weakness. Not doing anything about it is.
Midway through the marathon last week, during a particular low when I was literally kicking cups on the side of the road in frustration, Natalie made me pull out my headphones and talk to her. At one point she asked me what made me happy and feel better and I said, "Lifting really heavy weight at the box". School is a mind f*#$ when it comes to self-confidence when you are constantly measured against 300+ other students every week on an exam (literally, I am ranked, every week, every exam). So, even when I do well, there's always a reminder I could have done better, and no real sense of accomplishment. I’ve never cared about grades, and can usually tune out chatter about them, but it’s gotten in my head that my best right now isn’t good enough. Not with lifting at the box. Sure, there are a few of us that are relatively in the same range and we trade scores and PRs, but everyone is totally independent and it varies day to day and lift to lift what we can pull.
The one thing that I have in my life right now that I feel like I can really celebrate and take ownership of and not feel like I've half-assed is lifting weight. And, a lot of it. So weird, but so true. Every time I snatch that bar, I concentrate so intently and hard and just will it to come over my head that it does. And there’s a little flash of euphoria and pride in what I've done. It’s for maybe 30 seconds and fleeting, but if I could transform that feeling into every minute of my day I’d be back on track. Little by little, I’m getting there.
After college, a few of my friends rode their bikes across the country. They crossed the continental divide on bikes. A feat that flat out astounds me. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t easy, but they didn’t do it alone – they did it together. I think about them all the time in the middle of physically grueling tasks I’m not sure I can finish. Before the marathon, Natalie and I joked we would trade off pushing each other over the continental divide. And, we did. I couldn’t have made it through miles 14-18 without her next to me. And she couldn’t have made it through miles 22-26.2 without me. Yeah, it sort of sucked, because marathons sort of suck when you’re going through them, but I wouldn’t trade that Sunday morning for anything in the world. I don’t know the next time I’ll have five hours, uninterrupted by life, to spend with her. According to my Google calendar, it’s not anytime soon.
Lately, for a lot of reasons, everyday is like a continental divide for me to get over. A little too metaphorical maybe, but that’s how it feels. But, everyday, someone gets me through it. They stand next to me in the middle of a WOD when I’m exhausted and tell me to pick up the bar over and over and over again when I think that I can’t possibly do it one more time – and because they have faith that I can, they make me believe that I can. They bring me pumpkin spice lattes and put the dog in bed next to me when I’m too overwhelmed to even get up and start my day. They bring me coconut M&Ms when I’m holed up in the library studying because those are my favorite. They stand out in the cold and rain for hours to cheer me on in a marathon (and run a half mile in jeans and non-running shoes with us at mile 17). They lift me over that proverbial continental divide in really little and really big ways. Everyday. I can’t begin to thank them all enough.
I have a “lift” charm that I got this summer, but I didn’t even know how much that word could mean to me then. Now, I wear it as a reminder to ask people to do that for me, to return the favor whenever I can, and to keep lifting really heavy weights.
As a thank you for sharing her story, Maggie has been gifted with this custom designed "Go Heavy Be Happy" double tag charm to remind her that she has all the strength she needs to make herself happy. Keep lifting heavy stuff Maggie!