Sometimes running feels like redemption.

One of the only times in my life that I’ve felt really good about my body was the summer I was raped. I was twenty-two years old and I’d spent my summer on a bike, preparing to race as the cycling leg of a three-person triathlon team. I was toned, tanned, and feeling terrific.

Two days before the race, a man broke into my apartment, raped me and tried to choke me to death.

I tried to convince myself that I could race anyway, and even drove to the town where the race was to be held. I wanted it so badly. I wanted to prove to myself and the world that I could be athletic, despite the stories I’d told myself all of my adolescence. I didn’t want to let the rapist take that dream away. By the time I got there though, I knew I couldn’t do it. I was shaky with stress and shock and my neck ached with the reminder of the violence his hands had born on it.

I turned my car around and drove to my parents’ farm where I crumpled into their arms.

I wouldn’t say that my lack of body love is solely because a rapist took it away. There are many more layers to it than that. But I’m ready for redemption. I’m ready for the next chapter. I’m ready to live a new story.

This summer I hope to run a half marathon. Not because I need some goal to validate this running practice, but because I want to take back that triathlon that was taken away from me.

It might have taken me half my life to get here, but I’m ready.

I’m ready to run. I’m ready to be free.