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“The Race is Long and, In The End, It’s Only With Yourself”

I thought about giving up the minute I started.  I saw the turn for the 5K racers and I almost took it.  I was convinced at the second mile marker there was no way I was going to make it to 13.1.  By mile 2.5 I was in the back of the pack and already feeling like I had nothing left, my legs were already screaming, my lower back was already aching, my lungs were already about to explode and I was wondering what in the world I was thinking when I decided to run a half marathon.  The mind is a powerful thing, and for the fist 4 miles, mine was in control of my run.

At mile 4 I knew I had single digit miles left to run, I was nearing the halfway point, and my pace, while I felt awful, was fairly spot on for where it usually is.  I just kept telling myself to keep moving and kept saying out loud to myself, the only one you’re racing is yourself.  You just have to finish.

My husband, my kids, my mother in law and my sister in law were parked right around the 1 mile/12 mile marker (it was an out and back race).  At mile 4.5-5 I was praying I could see there faces to encourage me to keep moving.  That was when runners who had already made it to the turn around started passing me.  While generally during a race I get discouraged to be passed by returning runners so early on, it was amazing.  It was the encouragement I needed.  There were some runners who smiled, some who offered a wave, others words of encouragement, some high fives; whenever I passed another person, I ran a little faster.  While the turning point was still over a mile away, this was the turning point for me.  I fought back tears with each person that passed, not because I was in last place, but because I knew then I was going to finish.

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The volunteers working this event were amazing as well offering applause and encouragement.  I didn’t feel like they were put out by me slowly bringing up the rear.  Even as they passed me to go from station to station to pack up (they’d pack up after I passed), they would applaud out the window.

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From mile 10 on I was struggling.  I had trained to 10 miles.  I planned to train further but then I had sick kids followed by a sinus infection and it just didn’t happen for me.  It was obvious looking at my splits I hadn’t gotten past 10 in training.  I was fairly consistent with times until that point.  I dropped off 1 minute from 10-11 another from 11-12, and another from 12-13.  I wanted to walk, I wanted to cry, I wanted to be done.  Every inch of my body hurt.  And then across the way I saw my boys.  There were 2 minute long stretches I walked and when I saw them I pushed through tears and the pain so they would not see me walk or see me cry.  I yelled to my husband to come with me for a few minutes and he did.  He walked next to me while I ran (that’s how slow I was moving at this point).  I knew I was only a mile away, but that mile seemed impossible.

boyssignsWhen he left me to go back to the car so he could drive ahead to the finish line, I cried again, knowing I was going to make it.  No matter what, I had come 12 miles and I was going to get to 13.1.  I smiled at them as they drove past me yelling encouragement out the window.

After they drove off is when I met my angel in a kilt.  He had passed me on his way back probably somewhere around the 5 mile marker.  This man with paint on his face and a feather in his beard ran towards me and asked if he could accompany me to the finish.  I told him that was fine and spent the last half mile chatting a little and moving faster than I had in the last 3 miles.  He distracted me from the pain I was feeling and I might have even smiled a little.

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My angel, Kip!

When we rounded the corner and saw the finish, Kip assured me I was going to make it in under 3 hours and that’s when I gave it the last bit of gas I had in me and I finished strong.  medal

I was so glad to be done and at the same time, in aw of the fact that I had finished.  I cried, I laughed, I cramped… It was amazing.

I posted on the half marathon group Facebook page about my experience and thanked everyone for their support and this was my favorite response: “Congratulations!!! As has been said already, you did not finish last. You finished ahead of everyone who didn’t put the effort in to accomplishing what you just accomplished. I actually mentioned you to my friend on the ride home. I said, “When I passed the woman at the back of the pack she looked so happy and she gave me an encouraging smile.” It was honestly the highlight of my run. Good for you and thank you!”

Later that night when I checked the official race results expecting to see my name listed last (which was OK with me as I was racing with myself) I teared up with I saw Kip, my angel in a kilt listed last.  He finished 4 seconds behind me.  He could have been done long before that but he waited at it meant so much to me.

I am more than proud of what I accomplished and more than a little amazed at what my body has done over these last 2 years.  2 years ago I was that person who didn’t put in the effort.  I was sad, morbidly obese and I couldn’t walk around the grocery store let alone run a half marathon.  I did this!  All on my own.  I had to push myself far outside of my comfort level, push through the pain and the mental and physical exhaustion and get it done and I did.

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My ultimate goal of a marathon is still out there and I will get there, maybe next year or even the year after but for now it’s time for some much needed rest and a break and some time to be proud of what I have accomplished.  I look forward to my next half marathon and finishing in less than the 2:55 it took me yesterday.

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Posted by on September 29, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Set backs, set backs and more set backs

It has been a rough couple of weeks of half marathon training.  Last week, both of my kids were sick and miserable.  I managed to still get in 2 runs, but they were both short runs.  Sunday was supposed to be 10 miles, but it was also my sons 2nd birthday party.  I had a ton to do in the morning so decided I’d go in the evening, which never happened, since, like I knew I would, I started coming down with my kids cold on Sunday afternoon.

Tuesday I managed a short run, but it was awful.  I didn’t think about how much my cold would effect my running since I didn’t feel all that awful Tuesday morning when I went running.  Since then, it has been all down hill and not in a good hitting a smooth stride kind of way. Yesterday I was completely and totally miserable and couldn’t get out of my own way.  Today I’m feeling a little better but I still can’t breath out of my nose.

On another note, I have my new running shoes, which I love.  I ran in a friends and they were like running on clouds so imagine my surprise when my non-broken-in shoes killed my feet.  My calves and my hips scream every time I run in them. 

I have 24 days to my half marathon and my doubt is growing.  I know I can do this, I know I’m capable, but the more time goes by without training and without being able to build on my progress the more I wonder if my brain will over power my body before I cross the finish line.  Here’s hoping that is not the case, and here is praying I can run tomorrow so I can get back on track. 

In the meantime I’m going to have to do some tweaking of my training schedule.  I was going to get to 2 miles just in time to taper the week before my race.  I’m thinking since I’m going to be 2 weeks out of a long run, Sunday will be a repeat of 9 miles, getting me up to 11 before I taper.  I know if I can get to 11 training on race day I can get to the 13.1.  Wish me luck and good health!  I really need it.

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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I Never Would Have Thought

I have said more than a time or two that I’m not a “runner.”  I keep a fairly slow pace and I’ve always had it in my mind if you are a ‘runner’ you should be good at it, and I’m not.  I’m not fast, in fact I still struggle to get under a 12 minute pace, I’ve still never ran a mile in less than 10 minutes and I’ve never looked around at the scenery and thought I love that I’m out running.  Shouldn’t I at least enjoy it to be a ‘runner?’

But here I am, entering week 3 of my half marathon training and if nothing else, I am starting to feel like an athlete.  I have logged right around 40 miles in the last 3 weeks.  Yesterday I ran 7 miles!  The only time I stopped was for a quick water break right around the 6 mile marker.  I’ve come a long way since the first time I ran last year when I struggled to make it from 1 telephone poll to the next.

So you might wonder why I bother running when I really hate it so much and I have some really good reasons.  The obvious, it burns a lot of calories and is helping me tone up some of those tough to tone spots, but it’s more than that.  First, it is a goal I have set for myself.  I want to run a marathon.  I started me weight loss journey at 26.2 pounds and to me running 26.2 miles would be coming full circle.  Second, it challenges me like nothing else.  I have to force myself to get out and run, the entire time I’m running, I have to will myself to keep going and when I’m done, I feel accomplishment I can’t explain.  When I run, I push my brain and my body to do things I never could have imagined I was capable of doing.  It makes me feel empowered, strong and it makes me feel like I can conquer the world; like anything I put my mind to doing is mine to accomplish.

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I spent a lot of years not challenging my body or my mind.  I used the pounds as an excuse and my self-esteem dwindled until I saw myself as nothing more than a failure.  I had failed my husband, turning from the healthy active woman he married to a couch potato who didn’t want to do anything and who only felt sexy looking at pictures of my past self; I failed my children, not spending time with them playing on the floor because my feet fell asleep, not playing at the park because I was winded after just walking from the car; and I was failing myself, for all the above reasons and so many more.  I was not the woman I wanted to be and I was convinced I never could be.

Even after seeing success on the scale, this change in my mentality has only come from working out, and nothing proves to me what I’m capable like running does.

So far in this training I have learned where my wall is.  Right around 2-3 miles I just want to quit, I want to give up, I want to go back to the couch and put my feet up, but when I push through that, I can go beyond my wildest dreams.  Along the way yesterday I kept saying to myself, I’ll break for a walk after 3 miles, I’ll walk for a minute when my pace drops off, I’ll run to that sign, I’ll stop at the top of this hill… and I never did.  When I started this training, I still doubted it was even remotely possible for me to run a half marathon.  I mean, do you know how far 13.1 miles actually is?!  But I’ve got this.  No more sitting around letting the world pass me by, I want to be out moving, even if it is only at a 5 mph pace.  It may take me a little longer, but I’ll get there, and then I will keep going.  And who knows, maybe someday I’ll see myself as a ‘runner.’

running 2

 
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Posted by on August 4, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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I Think I’ve Lost my Ever Running Mind

Anyone who has read any of my blogs is well aware that I don’t consider myself a “runner.”  I guess that is about to change.  Last year I set a goal for myself to run a 5K without stopping to walk and I told myself, once I accomplished that, I didn’t care if I never ran again, ever!  I’ve dreaded running this season, but I have a couple of 5Ks I’m already planning to do, so I knew I had to get out there.  Unlike last year, after my first run this past weekend, I felt good; I felt strong, and since I’ve already run a 5K, I wanted to set my goal for myself a little higher this year. 

My little higher went a little higher, and then a little higher, and now here I am, setting my mind on a half marathon.  Just typing the words chokes me up.  I’m terrified.  I’m not a fast runner, I’m not a strong runner and I dread running for the same reason I force myself to do it; it challenges me.  It challenges me more than most other types of physical activity.  I have to beat my brain when I run, and that is tougher than the act itself. 

So here’s my plan, as it stands right now, depending on how my training goes.  There is a local 5K this weekend, which I’m pretty sure I’ll end up doing, then from there, I want to run at least 6 miles a week for a couple of weeks.  I’m not following any type of training plan, just my own body at this point.  I figure 2 5Ks a week will push me further than I’ve pushed myself before when it comes to running and I’ll work my way up from there.  I have my sites on a 6-miler in July and by then I should be good to go the 6 miles.  Right now I have my sites set on a half in September.  I figure that will give me plenty of time to train even with my excuses, because you know there’s not a very big window of it being warm enough to run before it’s too hot to run. 

I wanted to put this out on my blog because it will help me stick to it.  Right now, I’m excited about the idea but I know along the way my excitement will fade a bit until right before my races.  I am fully aware I will be racing against myself, and I can’t wait to win. 

Note: My ultimate goal (for next year) is to do a marathon.  I started my weight loss journey at 262 pounds, so it seems very fitting I would run 26.2 miles.  This year, it’s training for the half and as soon as next spring hits, I’m training for the whole thing.  Wait a minute, who am I?

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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