I took on my first book tour 11/29 through 12/7, landing in Boston, driving to Vermont to speak at Saint Michael’s College, driving back to Boston to speak at BU, driving to Rhode Island to speak at URI (Kingston), and back to Boston for one last talk at BU. You can find the first entry here, the second entry here, and the third entry here. The following details my journey Tuesday 12/5:
My third talk was at the University of Rhode Island, Kingston. When scheduling this, I made sure to connect with Jill Puleo of the YouTube channel A Case of the Jills, because when we found each other on social media a few months prior (and messaged briefly), she mentioned that she was living in Rhode Island.
If you have not looked into Jill’s YouTube channel yet, then you totally should. She discusses a side of exercise/training I had never looked too deeply into: amenorrhea (cessation of the menstrual cycle). And her discussion of amenorrhea is not limited to women, either. Even through our talk together that day for lunch, I learned so much about what men experience with overtraining (not necessarily amenorrhea of course, but certainly clear signs of a body deteriorating from the stress of overtraining).
Anyway, Jill and I met at The Grange restaurant, which was about half an hour from where I was speaking that afternoon. And let me tell you, it was such a surreal moment meeting Jill. It seems like everyone I meet in person after connecting online is such a treat. The two hours that we sat down together seemed to fly by.
Pro tip for anyone reading this: when the water asks if you want eggs or tofu on you kimchi burrito, the answer should be: BOTH
Jill had read Running in Silence the day before we met up. I later read her FAQ book in a day as well, so I feel like we are forever bound by our ability to read each other’s books in the same amount of time. And I can easily say that I have been just as in awe of Jill’s book (and message on YouTube) as she is of mine.
The small bits of humor throughout her FAQ book are great. Both in her book and her YouTube channel, Jill makes this tricky, serious topic interesting to read/listen to. She claims to be no expert, but she shares her own story with amenorrhea so honestly and authentically, while also providing research to help us answer questions about ourselves and our bodies. She addresses how difficult it is to strive for health because of the standards society often has about how we “should” look in body shape/size, or what our sport “requires” of us and how big these sacrifices really are.
I admire Jill for her bravery in not only sharing her story, but also in going against the grain to get her health back. Her wisdom and insight are EXTREMELY helpful, and has certainly opened up my eyes ever since following her on social media.
It felt like Jill and I were nearly squealing over the connections we were making that afternoon—ideas about perfectionism, obsession, running, etc. Even her describing how her body felt all the pain after years of pushing it through so much with her ultramarathon running (she hadn’t felt pain during training, but since stopping, she has), I felt like it was similar to the binge eating after years of restricting. Your body catches up to you eventually–you will feel the pain of all it has been through, and your body will let you know it.
It’s been such a great collaboration between us already—Jill spreading her wisdom about amenorrhea (something I dealt with for three years, but not something I looked into very much), and me sharing my eating disorder story, which can lead some people to develop amenorrhea (a side of this Jill isn’t as knowledgeable about yet, because her amenorrhea didn’t develop from an eating disorder). I learned a lot about how the same obsessions (maybe in just slightly different areas of our lives) can be so destructive to our mental and physical states.
From lunch I drove to the URI campus, where I felt surrounded by miniature castles (stone buildings everywhere! Beautiful). By the time I parked, got a parking pass, and found the building I was supposed to be speaking at, I walked quickly to where I needed to be, and I found myself speaking about my Running in Silence story and recovery process in no time.
Again, I can’t say enough about how great it is to meet people in person after we’ve connected online. I had a few more of those encounters at this presentation (Jill came, too!), and I was excited to talk with some students wanting to research groups that were silenced by shame and fear (how fitting to attend Running in Silence).
I also talked with a few cross country runners, and was thrilled to hear their coach had come to the presentation. Also, shout-out to the young woman who was nodding throughout the presentation. That was so encouraging. :) It’s crazy as a young/up-and-coming speaker to see the audience RESPONDING to what I say: coaches writing down notes, a few people crying, and everyone (I think) laughing at some of the small jokes I throw in. You really begin to realize that these people are TAKING IT IN.
The drive back to Boston was probably the toughest drive yet. It gets dark by 4:15pm in the New England states in December, and with a torrential downpour and roads with faded markings, the hour and a half drive was a doozy. I also happened to hit Boston traffic, but was secretly thankful for it because it meant everyone was driving slow.
I will say it again and again, that the one thing that has really pushed me through this trip is that drive to do one thing each day that scares me. Or rather, I HAD to do one thing each day that scared me to ever get anywhere throughout the trip. After the URI presentation, when I was signing books, one woman asked about all the traveling I’d been doing and how I was handling it.
“You know how I said in my talk, ‘Do one thing that scares you’? Yeah, I’ve been doing, like TEN things each day that scare me.”
That might be the best part of it.
Order your copy of Running in Silence: My Drive for Perfection and the Eating Disorder That Fed It here.
Rachael Steil is a graduate from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan with a Bachelor of Arts. Steil an author, speaker, and a recipient of the Spirit and Outstanding Runner award for the Aquinas College cross country team and has received 6th place All-American accolades in cross country as well as 7th place in the NAIA track nationals.