Monday, June 1, 2015

Life in Transition, part 2 (a guest blog by Bobbi Nicol)

The above picture in my mind says it all, Courage is not something that we show every day, me included, and we should. I have made a promise to myself that I will try to be courageous every day from this point forward, how about you?

When I wrote that first post, Life in Transitionnot quite 2 months ago, I honestly did not know what to expect. I have been living in fear of people finding out for so long it kind of wears on your psyche and you always think the worst will happen, while in the back of your mind you hope for the best. Those feeling alone have kept me hidden away for more years than I want to admit, feelings that unfortunately many struggle with in one form or another. Why is it so difficult for people to see you for the person you are instead of the society desired and portrayed norm? If you have known me for any length of time you would definitely understand that I am a little out of the box, a bit of an oddity some may say. I just believe I am me; wouldn’t it be nice if the world was a little more understanding and allowed everybody to be more themselves? I think so.

I guess a formal introduction is in order, my name is Bobbi, and many of you have known me as Bob or also affectionately known as Barefoot Bob to some. Since that first post came out where I shared some of my struggles and personal thoughts to give you all a bit of an inside look, an introduction so to speak, I have  been overwhelmed with the support that has been shown. Even though I never divulged who I was, it didn’t seem to matter; I was just another runner with a story to tell, someone who was trying to find her way, to find peace between body and soul. That post gave me the strength to start; whether I was accepted or not, I knew when I finished writing it that I needed to continue with my journey.

Since that post I have made huge strides in my transition, well that’s an understatement for sure, in comparison I went from running my first 5km to running and completing a 100 miler in a matter of two months. Or at least that is what it feels like. I have done so much in that short time, more than I ever thought possible a year ago, for that matter even six months ago. I went from a small select few knowing, to coming out publicly and going full time and presenting as a woman which is coming up on completing my first month. I have seen so much compassion and most important, the willingness to learn and understand. For that I am the most grateful, for knowledge is power and the key to understanding and compassion.  Ignorance and hiding yourself is the path to hate and miscommunication. Would the world not be a better place with a little more understanding and compassion, yes I think so. For that reason I encourage you to ask questions if you have them, I will try my best to answer them, I know this is new to many of you. I implore you to research into those things that you do not understand or may be uncomfortable with as you may be missing something beautiful. For does not a rose grow and bloom within a plant of thorns, a butterfly spreads its wings after emerging from a chrysalis, yes they do.

With that all out of the way, I wanted to share with you a few running related experiences I have had since that first post, as this is a running blog (Thank you Mike for letting me do this) and a darn good one at that.

For those of you that know me, running trails is my preference and one of my local favorites is the Spruce Woods Ultra put on by a Manitoba Trail Running Legend, Dwayne Sandall, who I am lucky enough to call a friend. I was unable to run this year, due to a series of unfortunate events, but I was able to volunteer at one of the aid stations which in my mind are just as much fun. I got to see all the runners (many of which I knew and were seeing me for the first time) at least twice as they came through our aid station, the show of support was amazing throughout the night and into the next day. If nothing else the words of encouragement will remain with me for years to come. Spending that 24 hours out in the woods, ‘man’-ing (for lack of a better word J ) the aid station still brings a smile to my face and a warmth to my heart despite the negative temps that were apparent and very evident throughout the night. A big thanks to Rheal, Debbie and the rest of the Aid Station 1/6 crew that accepted me for who I am. Also, seeing all the runners with their big smiles and the looks of determination made it extra special to me.

Having fun at the Race Expo on Saturday, (left to right) Laura, Nancy, Kelvin, Shannon and me.
Last weekend I travelled to Ottawa to run my first race event presenting as Bobbi, I was running the marathon, totally under trained (well in fact no training at all) and just wanting to have a bit of fun. It’s funny, I am used to getting a little bit of attention for the way I run, but this was different. I guess it is more acceptable to run barefoot as a boy, seems kind of strange but to run a marathon barefoot as a girl is apparently totally crazy. At least that was some of the comments I was getting, and running with my friend Nancy garnered more attention for she was running in a pair of Luna Sandals, which apparently is just as crazy. Two crazy girls out for a run…yes why not.
Nancy and I rocking the course.
We were not running for a time (this was by far my slowest marathon ever but also the one I am most proud of), nor were we running for anyone other than for ourselves. I heard lots of comments from not only other runners about my lack of footwear, but volunteers and the spectators alike, my favorite was by far this one. As I was passing a little girl cheering on all the runners loudly with her mom, she saw me coming and quickly got her mom’s attention and yelled out while pointing and bouncing up and down, “Mommy, mommy, look at that beautiful girl, she is barefoot just like me, can I run like that too?” I looked down and there she was jumping up and down barefoot on the sidewalk, which just brought the biggest smile to my face, I had to divert to go give her a high five. Even though I was at first worried about people being shocked or upset if they realized I was transgender, once the gun went at the start that all just faded away and I was just happy to be me. 

No matter what I felt, I was just another girl out for a run with thousands of her friends and that was the best feeling in the world.

Two of the amazing views as we crossed from Quebec to Ontario.
Heading back to Ontario from Quebec, first marathon encompassing two provinces.
The whole day was an experience beyond my expectations, I was so happy to experience it with some amazing friends and at such a fantastically supported event. Crossing that finish line at the end of the race was amazing and even though the photo evidence does not show me smiling (I was seriously looking for the food tent), my heart and soul were definitely beaming as they were one.

Where’s that food tent…sooo rungry!

I want to thank the running community, my amazing family and my many friends for rallying around me, supporting me and seeing me for who I am, not just someone who is different and strange, I am not someone to be discarded nor forgotten…I am just me.
Hope to see you out on the trails…

It’s a good day to be alive…….

Bobbi Nicol

No comments: