Book Tour: The Final Day (Walden Pond, Boston University)

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 read the first entry here, the second here, the third here, and the Rhode Island trip here. The following details my final day on Wednesday 12/6:
For my last day in Boston, I visited Walden Pond.
I had learned about Henry David Thoreau in school of course, so I knew about his two-year stay at Walden Pond and what an important role that played in literature and environmentalism.
I didn’t know that standing before Walden Pond would bring me to tears.

You could say that crying in that moment was due to the combination of the stress, excitement, and exhaustion I had been through the past week, emptying out one final time. If so, I knew that it was the beauty that triggered it, combined with what it meant to be standing before such an iconic, important place.

I began my 1.7-mile walk around the pond with my heart feeling like it was going to burst with excitement and awe. Nature has always been a big part of my love for running, and my place of healing. Maybe that’s a big reason why I’ve always enjoyed cross country more than track, why I prefer to run in a blizzard rather than on a treadmill. I often say that if I were ever condemned to the indoors to rack up mileage for the rest of my life, I would likely never run again.

I was one of five people at the park that afternoon (one was the swimmer in the pond. I did NOT think I’d be seeing that in 40 degrees!). The walk was quiet, still, and peaceful. There were many moments where I just stood to listen to the silence (nature has a silent “noise,” doesn’t it?), and walked to the water’s edge to watch the small waves lap against the shore.

I thought about how far I’ve come–not so much in terms of my eating disorder recovery, but on this trip as a whole and where Running in Silence has taken me from its very beginning (December 2012!). I’m especially thankful for the people and circumstances that led me to this point where I’m able to do so many of the things that in the past I would’ve never dreamt I could do. I talk more about that process in the second book (I’m currently in the process of editing and revision).

About a mile into the walk, I stopped at the place of Thoreau’s cabin. I knelt down by the rocks piled up near site, and thought about all the reflecting Thoreau must have done there.

When I finished my walk around the pond an hour later, I stopped at the visitors center and spoke with the one man working there. He asked me what brought me to Walden (I mentioned my book and the book tour), and he shared his passion for Thoreau with me. A short time after, while I was looking at the Thoreau artifacts, the man asked me for a Running in Silence business card to buy my book, because he said he had a niece who had dealt with an eating disorder.

Right from Walden Pond–still feeling that wonderful sense of peace and awe–I drove back to Boston University for my final presentation. This was a talk for a group of dietitians so that they could gain insight about eating disorders and how to help those who struggle. Paula Quatromoni had invited me to speak with her (such an honor! Again, she is the nation’s top experts on eating disorders in sports).
Paula started off the presentation by sharing her research/studies (she showed that only 7% of NCAA athletic programs have full-time registered sports dietitians to assist student athletes!). She also included a list of the best sports eating disorder memoirs, and emphasized how great Running in Silence is because it shares the recovery process in detail.
I have never felt more honored and overwhelmed with someone’s praise for my work, and for Paula’s continuous promotion of the book and its message. I’ve said many times that there are parts of the book that the perfectionist side of me wishes I could fix, or parts of what I did, how I felt, or how I said things in the book that are embarrassing for me. And for others to tell me how much the book has helped them, or how beneficial this is for the eating disorder and sports community makes me so thankful that I did what I did with the book, and that I got it published last year (despite my reservations of it not being “good enough” yet). It just goes to show how something isn’t always better because it’s “perfect”; it’s better if it helps others and makes an impact in a community.

After Paula shared her wealth of information with everyone, she had me come up to share my story–what my anorexia, binge eating, and bulimia were like as an All-American runner, how I recovered, and what was helpful and what I would have liked to see from my dietitian or other dietitians in eating disorder recovery. After having so much practice speaking to various audiences throughout the book tour by this point, everything came out of my mouth with ease. It was the most relaxed I’d felt the whole trip.
Paula and I talked with the dietitians afterward, many of them thanking us and buying Running in Silence. I thanked them for all the work they do, with the hope that more colleges will hire them to help with this prevalent issue of eating disorders in sports.

After a delicious dinner at Brown Sugar Cafe, and a final huge thank-you to Paula for all she did for me (and knowing we would continue to work together in the future), I made it back home for one final night at my (*ahem*) interesting Airbnb (it almost felt like home now, oddly enough), and returned to Michigan the next day into the arms of my boyfriend at the airport.
I will never forget this adventurous experience, and I look forward to more to come.
Order your copy of Running in Silence: My Drive for Perfection and the Eating Disorder That Fed It here.

About Rachael

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.
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