Category Archives: I Work Out!
Sometimes I work out hard-core. Other times I put on my workout clothes and sit around. Here are my stories.
Since my marathon I’ve been more active than I ever could have imagined…probably even more active than I was when I was training. We got a gym at work a few weeks ago and one of my coworkers, Lupe, graciously offered to be Mansi and my personal trainer. Now, Lupe is about 5’ nothing and solid muscle. She’s done cross-fit for a few years and the work has definitely paid off, especially as she tells us about the ridiculous workouts they do each night and they don’t seem to faze her. Naturally Mansi and I took her up on her offer, naively realizing what we were getting ourselves into. (I should mention that I say this as my shoulders hurt so bad from the 55 push-ups she made us do last night that I didn’t even want to shampoo my hair because it required lifting my arms over my head. And by push-up, she literally made us go down until our chest hit the ground and then push ourselves back up. Oh, and that’s in addition to 10 minutes of intense jumping rope and biking, 4 minutes of planks, and 4 minutes of 20# kettle ball swings.)
In addition to Lupe’s Doom of Hell 2-3 days/week, I also have Bridal Bootcamp one day a week with my personal trainer, Natalie, from my marathon training. Our bootcamp group consists of two other regular girls and one or two that drop in once in a while. Natalie likes to kick our butts and make me sweat more in 50 minutes than I did running the marathon. (I now finally understand the need for the towels at the gym and why headbands were cool in the 80’s. Have you ever gotten tears of sweat in your eyes? It hurts like hell!)
And, most surprisingly, I’ve started running again. Yep. I never thought I’d make that kind of public announcement again in my life, but I’m actually finding that…I…like…running. (I can’t say it out loud yet, I can only type it.) I’ve gone on a couple of runs with my KISA, including a scenic trail run, a ridiculous all-uphill trail run with Dubs, and a six mile run in the park on Sunday. And after each run I didn’t feel insanely fatigued and I had endorphins. Weird, right? I guess more sane of distances can be enjoyable.
I ran a marathon on Sunday. Typically when I have a terrible experience with something I’m dying to blog about it. For some reason I wasn’t that way with the marathon. Maybe because it wasn’t as terrible as I imagined. Maybe it was worse than I’d imagined. I’m not quite sure. But, there are a few things I learned from running it that I wanted to pass on.
My Advice For Running Your First Marathon
- First and foremost, make sure you understand what you’re getting yourself into. If you’ve ever had surgery I think it’s a fair thing to compare training for a marathon to. You know how when you wake up from surgery feeling groggy, super nauseous, and in a lot of pain? Now imagine feeling that way and trying to run. And repeating this same feeling every other weekend as your miles build up. (Granted, it only really starts when you get to 14+ miles and as you’re building, but that still seems to be enough times to never want to run again.) Oh, and while you’re feeling horrible on a bi-weekly basis, imagine not drinking or hanging out with your friends anymore on Friday nights. Or really Saturdays either while you do your runs and then feel like crap. If you’re really ready to make that sacrifice and you’re being honest with yourself, then maybe a marathon is in your future.
- Don’t expect that training for a half marathon is even going to be comparable to training to a full. Yes, I ran 5 half marathons before doing a full and thought I was a stud. Well, there’s nothing like an extra 13.1 miles to kick you on your ass and remind you that you’re not. I don’t remember ever having the same exhaustion, pain, or necessary discipline when I trained for the full marathons.
- Find a buddy or a training group to run with. (Or even a generous friend that’s willing to bike or roller blade alongside you.) Yes, it’s nice to have someone to keep you company for the runs, but it’s even more important to have the accountability to make sure you don’t skip your runs just because you don’t feel like it. Because you won’t feel like it a lot.
- Pick a race with a flat course. Yes, it was great to do one in San Francisco and I saved money on not having to pay for a hotel. But, when your split for the half is slower than any half you’ve ever done and your calves are burning by mile 10, you know it’s a tough course and insanely hilly.
- Don’t expect the impossible from your sig other. When they give you their blessing to train for a marathon they don’t really know what that entails because you also don’t know what that entails. They don’t realize that you signing up to run a marathon means you’re both signing up to train for a marathon. You’ll have a regimented schedule, but you can’t expect them to change their diet, their workout routines, their weekends, and their social calendar to ensure you’re successful at your training. They didn’t sign up to run a marathon for a reason.
- Get a personal trainer early on in the training to show you how to strengthen your IT band, legs, and core. Then, stick with the suggested muscle building techniques. Your knees and hips will thank you. (Yes, your knee pain is really from a lack of muscle not bad knees. Or in my case – both.)
- Always have enough water for your runs, even on the day of your marathon. Always. It’s worth carrying the extra weight to not get thirsty during a run or to drink too much water if you come to a water fountain or a water station on the course. Not having enough and having too much can make your run miserable. And a slight wind or 5 degrees can change your water intake for a long run.
- Don’t schedule anything for early in the afternoons on Saturday because otherwise when you get started later than expected or your runs take longer than expected you’ll find yourself in a predicament the first time…and then making excuses to not run all the subsequent times you have afternoon plans.
- If your second toe is longer than your first toe, determine your shoe size off the second toe, not your big toe. You’ll look much better with toenails.
- Don’t start eating crappy foods just because you’re burning loads of calories. It’s really easy to do and justifiable. But you’ll quickly learn that junk in = junk out. If you want your body to feel well during the runs you have to treat it well.
- Don’t stop exercising just because you’re tired of running. After 5 months of running it’s inevitable that you’ll be tired of running. Even if you want to skip your shorter runs during the week, make sure to still do some sort of cardio.
- Scrape up the money to get massages after each building run. It’s amazing what it does for recovery and your body will thank you for it.
- Foam roller. If you don’t have one, buy one. If you don’t know how to use it, look it up on YouTube. You’d be amazed at how many sore spots you have and you don’t realize. Oh, and it’ll hurt. But it hurts so good.
- Have bags of ice in your freezer for an ice bath after your long runs if you want to function later that day. (If you don’t, you can skip this step.) When you get home from your runs start your bath with cold water while you grab the ice. Set your timer for 8 minutes and relieve yourself from all the pain you just endured. Then wrap yourself up in a blanket to warm up and take a nap. You earned it.
- Make sure your workout gear fits. There’s nothing worse than always pulling down your shorts, chaffing, blisters, readjusting your headphones, tying your shoes, etc. during the course of your runs. You’ll be spending a lot of time running, so put forth the money.
- Figure out the food situation early on – both before your runs and during your runs. Figure out what you should eat before you run and how long you need it to settle in your stomach before you head out the door. I found apple slices were wonderful for during my runs but took up a lot of space; Shot Blocks hurt my stomach, but they tasted good and I didn’t like Gu. Can you drink a sports drink or will it mess up your stomach? Know what to pack: antacids, salt, ibuprofen, caffeine?
- Plan how you’re getting home from the race before you start the race. There’s nothing worse than finishing a race, being sore, and then having to wait for a bus or a taxi to arrive. Or, worse yet, having to walk a long distance.
My KISA is from a city outside Boston. The Boston Marathon is run on a holiday that I’m aware is only celebrated in the state of Massachusetts: Patriots Day. On Patriots Day the schools don’t have classes and many employees don’t have to work, so a lot of people watch the Boston Marathon and some even go down to support the race, even though they don’t know anyone running. Boston is a very proud city and they take great pride in holding the elitist of all marathons in the world – The Boston Marathon.
When the Boston Marathon attack happened I selfishly thought first of races where I used to watch my ex cross the finish line. I remember specifically for the NYC Marathon standing at mile marker 25 and then again at the finish. The fear that the attackers hoped to instill in many had worked on me as I reflected on the “it could have been me”. As I heard about the deaths and casualties it became even more real, my heart went out to them and their families. You heard all the heroic stories of the people that didn’t run away from the bomb, but rather towards it to help the victims. Something that is not the reflex in most people.
As most of you know, I started training in June for the San Francisco Nike Women’s Marathon. The race is now on Sunday, October 20th. For anyone that has not done a marathon, you cannot fathom what it’s like to train for one. Even having done 5 half marathons I had no idea what I was in for. First, the sheer number of miles that is expected for you to run is insane. And, multiply that by 5 months and you’ll realize why I’ve been burnt out from training for over a month. I don’t think there’s anything in life I’d want to do for as many days and hours as I’ve run, including running. Then, there’s the pain that ensues from doing your long runs. Every week knowing that you’ll be in pain and have to push through it is daunting. It made me dread ever having to do any of my long runs. Many weeks I procrastinated and had to somehow make up time during the week or else modify my training yet again to get the distances in that were required. I also had to adjust my lifestyle to make sure I got proper sleep, hydration, carbs, clothing, shoe fittings, etc. to prepare me for the runs each week. There were a lot of sacrifices of fun that were required to get my long runs in, both the night before and the morning of my runs. And then after the long runs, faking that I felt great when the last thing I wanted to do was stand or go anywhere that day.
As I’ve been training, I’ve realized that there is one other group of people that were affected by the Boston bombing that people don’t often think of as victims as well – the runners. I could not imagine, first of all, not being able to finish a marathon I’d trained for over the last 5 months, which happened to many. Second of all, thinking of all the supporters that graciously came to watch you run, and now knowing that you may have inadvertently put them in harm’s way. For some runners, the fear of not knowing where your friends and family were, if they’re safe, trying to find them, etc. when they heard the news. I couldn’t imagine. I pray all those runners get a chance to cross the finish line at another point in their lives and that they don’t have to live in fear during their next race.
Because of all this, I’ve decided to dedicate my marathon to Boston. And when I say “Boston”, I mean all the people that participated in the Boston Marathon, all the victims and their families, and all my loved ones that are from Boston and now are forced to have a dark memory to go along with all the other great memories they’ve had with the race held in their city.
What’s worse than running 18 miles?
As I mentioned on Saturday, I was so pumped to have Sarah come into the city to keep me company during my 18 mile run. As I was waiting for her to arrive I opened the windows to the apartment and I heard what I thought was rain. I looked outside and it looked wet, but for all I knew it could have rained during the night. A few minutes later I heard the downpour. When Sarah got to my place it was more of a drizzle again, but it was definitely not what either of us expected. I was told it only rains in San Francisco in the spring. Obviously whoever told me that didn’t know what they were talking about.
We hesitantly took off, Sarah on her bike and me on my trusty legs. Not even a few blocks later it let loose raining…and didn’t let up for another 13 or so miles. Sarah hadn’t gotten to tour Golden Gate Park before, so now she was getting to see what it looked like wet and without a lot of tourists. She was great company and never once complained, even though we were both soaked and literally ringing water out of our clothes. For a number of miles she got off her bike and ran next to me while pushing her bike. It was quite impressive! And, since her job requires her to return to NYC a lot, and for a number of weeks at a time, it was really great having dedicated time to catch up with her. We tried a few new things during the run: caffeine, sliced apples, and ibuprofen. I’m not sure which one of those I loved the most, but I will be incorporating all three of them into my marathon.
I found on the way back that since the ibuprofen did its job I wasn’t in much pain, but my breathing was not keeping up with my legs. I’m sure a huge part of that was my lack of running the last few weeks. After the rain let up we were finally able to see again (“I can see clearly now, the rain is gone…”), but we found that even in being able to see the gigantic puddles did not mean you could avoid them. Ugh. Our feet sloshed through the entire run and never dried.
Per my original training plan, this week I was supposed to be doing 20 miles and my longest training run was going to be 22 miles in two more weeks. I was really bummed to have not gotten my long run in last week and therefore no longer be able to train up to 22 miles (you don’t build more than two miles at a time). But at the end of the run Sarah, being the incredible person she is, offered to push me to do 20 miles instead of 18 since I’d had an extra week to rest my legs. It definitely wasn’t easy – for me to do it or her to motivate me. But, we found one of the few flat areas in the city and circled one of the block a couple of times. By the time we reached my front door again her GPS watch said 19.74 miles. Granted, it was .26 miles short of 20 miles, but I was very ok with it. And to finally be able to peel my shoes and socks off. So, what’s worse than running 18 miles? Running 19.74 miles in the rain.
I feel like my attitude towards the marathon has totally shifted and I realize now…I’m going to complete this thing! Come hell or high water or rain.
Yesterday was our negative one year anniversary of our wedding. Sorry I haven’t written more about our wedding plans…I really do promise to. Anyhow, I asked all my bridesmaids to be in the wedding months ago. I can’t say the same for my KISA who technically has a wedding party of zero at the moment. (Obviously his priorities are different than mine.) I knew there was one person that might be surprised when I asked her to be a bridesmaid, and that was my friend Sarah who lives in the Bay Area. The reason I knew she’d be surprised was because we’d only known each other for maybe six months at the time I asked her. But, it was kind of like when I first started dating Randy and I just knew he’d become my husband. With her I knew when I met her that she’d be a good friend. And, I was right.
Last week I was to complete my 18 mile run. And, I never completed it. My willpower and motivation have dwindled down to a zero, to the point of where if I dropped out of the marathon I’d be accepting of it. When they say training for a marathon is all mental, they’re right. You get very burnt out and bored. Plus the idea of knowing how much pain you’re going to be in when you return is not very motivating either.
This past week was really tough for me because of this and I fell into a bit of a depression. I was unmotivated to do anything and slept a lot. I had no desire to talk to anyone or be social. It was pretty terrible. Sarah had even called to let me know she was in the city and wanted to hang out and I never called her back. I later emailed her to apologize for being such a flake.
Doomsday came yet again this morning where I realized it was my last chance at staying in the marathon and completing the run. I’ve been trying to convince my KISA to either bike the 18 miles with me or else run the last 9 miles with me. He refuses. This morning, as a last straw, I offered to let him watch all of the Patriots game instead of having to split it with the Packers game, which is on at the same time. He still refused. Obviously there was no way he was going to join me.
I got ready for my run, bitter at him for not wanting to take 3.5 hours out of his Saturday to keep me company (not that in a less crazy state I could blame him). As I was almost ready I got a text from Sarah:
“Hey, I know it’s early but I have an idea! Are you doing your 20 mile run today? Would you want company? I could ride along side on my bike, carry your water and treats. I used to ride with Bryan all the time on his long runs. Also, I have to show you my friend’s wedding pictures. I loved her colors, she had a fall wedding in the Berkshires.”
Needless to say, I called her IMMEDIATELY! She’s on her way over with her bike to keep me company during my run. I admitted to her that I never even finished my 18 miles last week, so she would actually have two less miles to bike. She reinforced why she’s an incredible friend, and she’s definitely deserving of the bridesmaid title as she just saved my KISA and I from our first threat of divorce. 😉
You know how if you eat something when no one is around to see it then it doesn’t have any calories? I also believe that defeat isn’t really real until you say it out loud.
Everyone that knows me well (or even just reads my blog) knows that I like to have my cake and eat it too. There is no limitation to what can be done and if you try hard enough you’ll find a way to make it happen. Where there’s a will there’s a way and I’ve always had a lot of willpower. I’m not familiar with not being able to do something I set my mind to. This used to really annoy my KISA until I started sharing in the benefits and made sure he got what he wanted as well.
I started marathon training on June 3rd, going from being stagnant to relearning how to run two miles. My world (and my KISA’s, unfortunately for him) revolved around marathon training and especially the long runs every Saturday. As of recently I started having knee pains after my long runs, to the point where I could hardly run the rest of the week. Two weeks ago I met a girl that has run two marathons and done an Ironman and I was sharing my knee pains with her. She suggested that maybe I was over-training. I felt like I wasn’t training enough. The following day at brunch I met another girl that did ultra-marathons and I again discussed my predicament. She suggested a couple types of supplements I should start taking to help with my joints. She swore by them, as she’d been taking them personally, so I went to Whole Foods the following day to seek them out.
Last week I was at the gym and decided to inquire about personal training sessions. The lady at the front desk offered to give me a free one and told me about a package where you can get 3 for $99. She referred me to Natalie, giving her high praise as she’d done marathons and ran a lot. I met with Natalie on Friday for our first session. I explained my marathon training and my knees pains so she had me do a series of squats, lunges, planks, and balances. What I didn’t realize at the time was that she was assessing my stiffness and informed me that I needed to start using a foam roller daily. When you run or exercise your muscles tear a little bit. When it repairs itself it creates scar tissue and tightens your muscles. She taught me how to use the foam roller to focus on my quads and hips. Basically, you put all your body weight onto the roller in those spots and embrace the excruciating pain. And boy does it hurt. But, when you’re done you feel like you have a whole new pair of legs. I bought one the following day.
After we were done with the roller she asked if I’d had hip pain before. I told her that the week before when I did my 14 mile run my left hip hurt, but my knees hurt a lot worse. After my ice bath my hip felt fine and it never bothered me again. She explained how the muscles up by your hips actually support the stability of your knee and that once we strengthened my hips we could also reduce knee pain. To reconfirm that was the issue she had me lie on my side, put my top leg forward, parallel to my other leg, and back while she pushed against it. My job was to resist. Then we’d switch sides so that she could test the other legs. We did this twice on each side and quickly realized the issue as I couldn’t resist her pushes when my legs were back. We practiced a series of exercises to strengthen my hip muscles, she told me to practice them throughout the next week, and sent me on my way. I felt good about her reassurance that my knee issues weren’t really knee issues and was something we could easily work to overcome.
On Saturday morning I woke up to do my 16 mile run, but didn’t feel 100% as I felt nauseous. I tried sleeping it off, hoping to still have the late morning and early afternoon to get it in. I didn’t feel any better. I decided that I’d complete my long run on Sunday instead and my stomach didn’t feel any better for the rest of the day.
Sunday morning I woke up and felt great. I started off on my run and noted that my hips hurt, but I knew that it was only because we’d just worked them two days prior (and nobody likes working). I kept doing mental checks of how I was feeling throughout the run and until mile 6 I felt great. At mile 8 was the turnaround and I popped an energy block in my mouth and instantly regretted that decision. My stomach wasn’t settling with it and my knees and hips were already throbbing. I decided for mile 8-10 to walk/run, knowing that was going to end badly. I spent miles 10-12 walking and trying to call my KISA or get a taxi to take me home. By this point in time I was in excruciating pain – no longer my stomach, but just my hips and knees. I finally found a kind enough taxi drive to trust that I would pay him once I got home and got my money. Upon getting home I immediately took my ice bath, but was surprised to find that the relief I usually got from an ice bath wasn’t really working.
I reworked my training schedule so that I was no longer training up to 22 miles (which isn’t normal, but was something I wanted for myself) but instead the standard 20 miles and made my 18 mile run for this week a 16 mile run to attempt it again. I’ve waited patiently every day in vain for my knees and hips to feel better so that I could get in my weekly runs. Yesterday morning I even tried doing Insanity for some cross training, but found all the jumping around only hurt my knees worse.
Last night when I got home I was really excited about the prospect of sewing of some of the new material I’d purchased. I finished two seams and as I started on my third one my sewing machine stopped working; it was jammed up. I was finally able to force it to at least run again, but the needle was no longer hooking into the bobbin to even begin sewing. I proceeded to spend the next three hours taking my sewing machine apart, watching YouTube repair videos, looking up the owner’s manual, oiling it, searching local sewing machine repair places, calling sewing machine repair places, etc. Nothing worked. During the course of this my KISA was able to see my mood deteriorating and decided to “run some errands”. When he came back and saw the sewing machine in pieces he encouraged me give myself a break from it, seeing how upset I was getting to not be able to fix it. He brought me home two gifts from Bed Bath and Beyond and tried to convince me to play with them (he’s going to be at natural at this parenting thing). I instead decided to go to bed.
As we were lying in bed my KISA pushed to find out what was really wrong. He obviously knew I was upset about the sewing machine, but knows me well enough to know that was only the surface issue (which, I should note, is why I’m going to marry the sh*t out of him). I held back tears as I finally admitted to him my fears of not being able to complete the training program or the marathon. I told him that if I couldn’t complete the 16 miles on Friday I was basically doomed. I told him I wasn’t sure if my knees could hold out. I’d told all these people I was training for a marathon, so I’d be letting myself and others down. I told him that if I couldn’t complete my marathon now, I’d probably never be able to. Then I realized I was admitting defeat. Out loud.
I have a tendency to jump head-first into things before doing the proper research. The half marathon on Saturday was no exception. I’ll give you my hindsight before I tell you tell you about it.
First, the half marathon was advertised as a trail run. Ok, no big deal. When I lived in Cottage Grove I used to run the Glacial Drumlin trail for my training. Second, it said runners and hikers welcome. Not runners and walkers welcome. I assumed it was a West Coast vs. Mid Coast difference. And, I had read there was a 2100’ elevation gain/loss, but I had no grasp on what that really meant. Except for our trips to Colorado, I never paid attention to elevation changes and therefore had nothing to compare it to. But, I learned.
I went to the race myself, parked, and walked to the starting line. I thought it was kind of odd that so many people were running with their fuel packs (a couple bottles of water and snacks) or else Camelbacks. In my half marathons in the past I’d seen a few people do that, but always assumed they were either novice and didn’t realize there were water stations or else hard-core and didn’t want to stop at the water stations. I learned at my first half marathon to stop at every water station, even if you’re not getting a drink, just to have an excuse to walk for a short bit. But, maybe these people just didn’t have that same frame of mind. As the announcer came on to tell us the details of the race, he told us to look for the red ribbons or else we’d get lost. I was confused for a minute as I’ve never had to pay attention during a race on where to go – I just followed the herd of people ahead. Then I figured he was just directing that message towards the front runners. He also mentioned there’d be 4 water stations throughout the race. It didn’t seem like a lot to me, but I realized I’ve never really paid attention in the past to how many there were.
As the race started the first immediate thing I noticed was that it wasn’t flat. Like anywhere. It was gradual rolling hills, but I figured that went towards the 2100’ change. My GPS announced at the first mile that I was pacing a 10 minute mile. It was a little slow for the first mile of a race, but I gave myself a break since it had been hilly. We reached our first big incline, which was a pretty gradual uphill trek. It was tough and I noticed most the people around me were walking it, but I don’t walk during a half, and continued on. I’m pretty sure they thought I was a moron. Shortly after this we reached mile 1.5 and the 5K turnaround point. The trail forked and it turned from pavement to ground. There was a photographer there and you made a sharp right hand turn to go up a hill. I don’t think I even made it a minute trying to run up the hill before walking, like all the people around me that were probably rolling their eyes at me. The trail bent a little to the left at what I thought was the top of the hill, only to realize this was only the beginning of the hill.
You know that moment of panic when you realize you’ve made a horrible decision. This is when that moment sunk in for me. I felt unprepared and was dying of thirst on the dry trails – less than 2/13th into the race. And, I could feel my calves already throbbing. My Pandora on my headphones stopped coming in, signaling that I’d lost cell service. And, the trail kept narrowing so that you had to run single file. The uphill climb continued on for about six or seven more miles. Once in a while you’d get a break for about 100 yards and it would be downhill. Not flat, but downhill. I thought I could make up time during those parts, but it was so steep downhill I found myself almost galloping down the hill to save my knees from the inevitable pain. At one point in time the uphill incline was so sharp that people would be climbing up it using their hands. You know you’re in trouble when you don’t have to bend over to touch the ground.
We had a water station at about 5-6 miles, which was kind of a blur to me. I remember the instant energy I had as soon as I got some water in me, but it only lasted about 30 seconds until I realized I had to conserve energy, not knowing when the hill would end. However, I do remember the water station at mile marker 9. I drank three glasses of water, which I knew I needed, but would also regret as I started running and could feel it nauseously sloshing around in my stomach. The guy at the water station told us that “it was all downhill from here.” I took him literally, assuming no man would be so inconsiderate to say such a thing to people running a half marathon up a damn mountain. I found an overwhelming hatred for him as I left the water station and saw another giant hill in front of us. (Note to any of you out there being so considerate to volunteer for a race, which every single runner fully appreciates, NEVER lie to someone who is doing a race. You don’t make them feel better giving them hope and then immediately squashing that hope as they turn the corner.) I seriously hate this man. As I ran up the hill I reconciled in my brain that judging by all the uphill it had to be downhill at some point in time before we made the full circle around the lake.
I quickly found the downhill parts, but inevitably they never lasted long enough and were too steep for you to ever appreciate them. I got a side stitch, which I’ve never had in a run before, especially in the downhills. I remembered an article I’d read only a week prior, explaining that a side stitch is essentially your organs gosling so much that your liver is pushing against your diaphragm, causing that pain. Which is quite probably what was happening as I was running faster than usual down a steep hill on a surface that was far from being flat. Suddenly that side ache turned into an intense pain in my entire upper torso. But, being the suborn ass I am, I refused to walk on the downhill. The trail then got so narrow that I was running through brush. I could feel it whipping my face and my body. I could no longer see any runners ahead of me and found myself constantly looking for the next red ribbon instead of down at my feet to ensure I didn’t fall. I was jumping over creek beds and down trees. Where in the hell was I? Shortly after that I started hearing gun shots. I about had a heart attack until I realized there was probably a shooting range somewhere near us or else people out hunting since we were in the thick of the forest. I suddenly recalled a scene from the Hunger Games and knew I was going to do everything in my power to make it out alive.
The downhill only lasted about a mile before heading uphill again. By this point in time my brain no longer had to tell my legs what to do – they just knew: run on the downhills or anything that resembled a somewhat flat surface and walk on the uphills. I found people again and said a silent thank you. The last couple miles were a blur, but as I turned onto the pavement again I knew I had to be getting close. When I hit the 13 mile marker I could feel my legs picking up the pace and a new rush of adrenaline to get me the hell out of there.
I finished in a time that I wouldn’t normally be proud of, but I no longer cared. I was proud to have finished it, even though I knew most people wouldn’t be able to fathom what I’d just endured. I remembered to have a random lady take a picture of me and then had what seemed like the longest walk ever back to my car. That of course was up a steep hill.
- If you run you must be really fast. Nope. If you run fast you’re probably a sprinter, not a distance runner. There’s a huge difference. Some people can do distance quickly, but not most normal people. And, us normal people in our jealousy despise them.
- Running must be easy for you if you do it. I wish that were the case. That’d be like saying that just because you can ride a bike, you must be able to do it for 2.5 hours and have it be easy. No way. Doing any kind of endurance race for that length of time is difficult, even if you’re in great shape and followed the training problem perfectly. It’s all about pushing yourself to be better, whether it be increasing your distance or increasing your speed. With running your work never really seems to be done.
- Running makes you lose weight. In theory yes. To lose one pound of fat you have to have a 3,500 calorie deficit. That would mean every 30 miles I run I should burn a pound of fat. And, in my long run weeks 30 miles is unfortunately common. So, fat should be falling off me. Yes, that would be true if running wouldn’t make me insatiably hungry. And, I have to fuel my body, but even with healthy foods there is no longer a 3,500 calorie deficit. Bummer, right?
- You must love working out. Nope. I hate it. In fact, I hate working out so much that I don’t stay very consistent with it. But, if you’re doing a distance race you follow a training program, have goals, have a plan, and, most importantly, have an end date. Then it seems so much easier. The only problem is that once my race is done I’ll go back to lounging around or sleeping in instead of running. I do moderation best in moderation.
- You must have been born a runner. There are some people out there that love running and are naturally very good at it. But, they’re kind of an anomaly. I definitely was not born a runner. Even in school when you had to run a mile for gym class and be timed I walked most of it. I had no desire or endurance to run. Then, in late 2006 my NKISA (Not-so-much Knight In Shining Armor) and I bought ourselves a treadmill for Christmas and I started on a Couch to 5K program. Once I made it to 3 miles, like Forest Gump, I just kind of kept going. Then, I made it to 5 miles and decided that maybe a half marathon could be realistic. Labor Day weekend of 2007 I completed my first half marathon…and didn’t do another one for two years. I did two in 2009 and another in very early 2010…and again hadn’t done one until Saturday. I guess it takes a couple years to forget how horrible they are to get the gumption to do it again. Since I’ll be doing a marathon in October it’ll probably be four more years until my next race.
I still remember when I was about 24, one of my girlfriends was getting ready to turn 30. She told me about how her best friend had made the resolution that by 30 she was going to be accepting of her body. I thought it was a noble idea, but I wasn’t there yet.
All my life I’ve struggled with body image – some were my own issues, but most were other people’s issues. Growing up I watched my father insult my mother about her body weight, sometimes even trying to embarrass her in front of other people. My mom never complained about her weight and seemed to just ignore him. Then, my father started insulting my body weight, telling me that if I continued eating as I was I’d look like my mother. I didn’t even learn until 7th grade that my mom was considered “overweight”, so it probably insulted my mother more than it ever did me. He would occasionally refer to me at fat-@$$, trying to hurt my feelings, and my older brother would then get in on the action and taunt me as well. My grandmother and aunt would sometimes tease me too. My aunt was 4 years older than me and super petite, and after 5th grade I no longer got her hand-me-downs, but rather the other way around. My mom would always rush to my defense and would then reiterate to me when we were alone that I wasn’t fat. And, I believed her.
In 6th grade I was bullied by some of the popular girls about how some of my clothes were getting tight on me. And, they were right – my hips were getting bigger. Shortly after that I also got a clipping in the mail from my great-aunt Lavonne, telling me about a weight loss treatment she’s used that “really worked”. My mom saw it and immediately threw it in the garbage. Now, maybe I have a bad memory or else my loving mother convinced me well enough of this, but I was never fat. Ever. However, when you have enough people telling you this, you eventually start to believe them.
I wish this is where the story ends, but unfortunately it’s not. When I was 20 I met the man I thought I was going to marry and proceeded to spend the next 5 years with him. We moved in together, bought a house, got a dog, joined our money, etc. I was head over heels for him. There was one glaringly obvious thing about him that most people noticed, but I chose to ignore, and that was that he too had an issue with my weight. Sometimes it would be his comments, like questioning me if I really needed seconds on something I was going back for. Other times it would be more frank, telling me that he was worried I was going to get fat. At this time I was 20 lbs lighter than I am now. I ignored his comments for the first few years, convinced it was his problem, not mine. (BTW, I should point out to you that my father, my grandmother, my great-aunt, and said boyfriend were all overweight.) One night we were over at his brother’s house and we’d finished dinner. I asked his 3 year old niece if she wanted ice cream. He then turned to me and said, “I don’t think either of you need ice cream.” I knew exactly what he meant by it. I had the epiphany that even if I chose to continue to ignore him, our children would grow up hearing that from him. I’d have to continue to protect my children in the same way my mother protected me.
The last months of our relationship consisted of him telling him that he thought I’d “let myself go” and that he was no longer attracted to me. I showed him a picture a friend had accidentally taken of me on our vacation in Jamaica and asked how he thought I was fat. He told me because I still had cellulite. I realized then he needed to get help and see a psychiatrist, but he refused. I got on Yahoo Answers (it was popular 6 years ago, maybe not so much now) and explained the situation and asked how to convince him to seek help for our sake. Among the responses was one from a lady, asking me how my father treated me growing up. I was confused by her question, but curious, so we messaged each other a couple of times. She had been in the exact same situation as me and informed me that I actually needed the help equally as much because I continued to allow it to happen to me. I realized she was right. I did one of the hardest things I’d ever done in my life and broke off our 5 year relationship and left our dog and house behind to recreate my life. (Thankfully the breakup was enough of a wake-up call for him that he did get help and is now married and has two children.)
I vowed to never be in a relationship again with a man who treated me like I was unattractive or allow myself to be around such negativity. I saw a therapist to work through my “daddy issues”. I also met a man that delights in me. My KISA makes me feel like I’m the most attractive person in the world. He introduced me to this world of vegetables and eating clean and properly fueling my body. And, he has inspired me to push my body to do things I’ve done before. He has never once talked about me being fat or him being fat or either of us needing to lose weight. He doesn’t care about those things.
I didn’t realize the influence he had until we were riding home from Tahoe on Saturday afternoon. I proclaimed to him then how much I loved my body. (Could I make a list of things I don’t like about it if I look long and hard at it? Of course. Even Giselle could. But why do that?) I’m inspired by what my body is able to do. My body reacts to how I treat it. If I eat junk, it feels like junk. If I’m healthy, I have tons of energy. If I am tired a half a mile into my run, but push through it, I know my body will respond and complete the rest of my run. If I get a full night’s sleep, my body and joints feel rested. If I’m running late for the train, I know my legs will be strong enough to bike fast enough and still make it. My body’s remarkable. I’m disappointed it took me 30 years to realize this.