Race.

November 26, 2013

Two days from right now, I will have completed my first race…which happens to be a 10k.  One of the largest and oldest in the country to be exact.  I am slightly excited, but mostly, I am super nervous.  Mostly because I have never done this before, and a little because large crowds of people are not my favorite thing but I know I can and will do it, and that’s all that matters.

***

What do you do when you can not run out the anxiety?  In the past years, running has become my therapy.  When I am running I can turn my head off and just focus on me.  Lately that has become harder and harder to do.  I have a lot of things going on in my family life, in relation to my eldest step-daughter.  Things have never been great with her mother, but in the past year they have become increasingly bad, to the point where we are about to retain a lawyer because there is a full hearing after the first of the year to rule on my husband’s parenting time.  The whole situation is very stressful for my husband, and in turn, it has pervaded pretty much the entirety of our daily life.  Right before the holidays, no less.  I have spurts of time while running where my mind clears and those fleeting moments are what keeps me coming back, even in the rain or snow, for another run.

***

I run because I can.  I run because the feeling of accomplishment I get afterwards is pretty much unlike anything I have ever experienced.  There may be a day when I can no longer run, but that day isn’t today, so until that day comes, I will run.  I am a runner.

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Commitment.

October 27, 2013

Since I began running in 2010 it was mostly to see if I could.  I chose to do something I had never enjoyed nor was good at, because I like a challenge I suppose?  Maybe it was because I lived in an adorable, progressive town with lovely trails within walking distance?  Whatever the reason, I needed to make some drastic changes in my life. I didn’t have a gym membership at the time, so it was a free way to get out and move that required nothing more than some running shoes and work out clothes.  I took a try at it; it was hard.  I got discouraged and fell back into bad habits. Then in January 2011 I decided to start my weight loss efforts for the very last time.  43 pounds and two years later, I run 4 miles in 40 minutes as I am training for my first 10k…which is also my first race.

I have been running around 3 miles consistently for the better part of this year, so I decided to go a bit bigger for my first race.  I’m so excited about it, I am already considering signing up for the  2014 Air Force Half Marathon.  I have a few months to decide, since registration doesn’t open until January 1st, but I’m already about 90% sure.  The 2014 Air Force Marathon falls on my 30th birthday.  It feels like I HAVE to do it because really, how many people get to say I ran a half marathon on my 30th Birthday?!

***

I was visiting with my 86 year old Grandma a few days ago, lamenting about how I’m going to navigate potty breaks, if I’ll even need one, in the middle of the 10k.  She told me,

“Sara Beth (that’s what she calls me) stop and go to the bathroom, they will have porta Johns!”

to which I replied,

“But then I’ll have to to stop!  If I am RUNNING a 10k, Grandma, I have to RUN the entire time!  If I am going to do something, I have to DO it right.”  Which in my mind is as close to perfect as possible.

She then told me that sounded pretty familiar and she wonders where I get that from with a definite twinkle in her eye.

***

When I do something in life, especially something I am passionate about and voluntarily doing, I’m going all in.  Running has given me so much in the past few years.  It is my time alone.  It is something I can control at least a little bit, when things feel so completely out of hand with everything else in life.  It has shown me it’s okay to change your mind about things.  People change and grow and that is a good thing.  It has given me confidence and shown me I can live a balanced healthy life, which in turn, has completely squashed my biggest fears of becoming a mother…..Okay, wait, now how did we get here?  Let me digress…

Being an overweight child was extremely hard for me.  I remember being 13 or 14 (or whatever age girls start talking about marriage and babies?  I truly don’t remember.) and swearing to myself to never bring a child into this world, for fear that they would suffer the same cruel combination of genetics, slow metabolism and sedentary lifestyle that I did.  I didn’t want another child to feel like I did all those years.  I may have been extra sensitive, but years of bullying, name calling and self loathing sort of sticks with a person, no matter how “thick” your skin is.  Mine was paper thin, so I promised myself this “no babies” rule all those years ago, and if I am anything, I am stubborn.

Looking back, it was so naive, but so “me” to make such a gigantic life decision as a teenager and stick to it for more than 10 years.

Now that I am 29 years old, with two amazing step-daughters in my life, (who have shown me I can definitely navigate parenting reasonably well? Step-parenting is a whole other story for another time.) I truly think I can make the informed, grown up, decision that I have changed my mind on babies.  I want to have one.

Hmmm, look at that, people can change, it just takes some of us more miles to get there.  For me, it’s been about 260 over the past 2 years.

Headgames.

October 12, 2013

I have began training for my first real race, the Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot in Cincinnati, and because I am crazy like that, my first race is not a 5k, but a 10k.  I have been running 5k’s like it’s nothing for quite some time, but was having a hard time pressing farther than about 3 and a half miles, so I took a break and then decided to begin training for this upcoming 10k.

Today was my first 3 mile run and I took a route I have run more times than I can count but after I hit mile 2, it was a struggle.  I was totally in my head and already thinking about how in the world I am going to be able to press on thru 6.2 miles in a little over a month.

You see, I have been saying it since I began running, it is SO much mental, almost more so for me at this point, than physical.  I get in my head and start saying things like “this is the worst thing and there’s no way I’m going to continue running the entire time and I’ll never be ready in time and ugh I can’t breathe right anymore” then I hit 3 miles and I’m done.  Just like that.  Today after what felt like the slowest and longest 3 miles I have ever ran I averaged out at 9:56 min/mi.  It was one of my best 3 mile times in quite a while.

I blame a lack of new music…because when I keep the playlists fresh, I trot along and get lost in the music and then I’m done and I feel like a million bucks.  So.  Long story short, I need to invest in some iTunes cards to combat the headgames I’m playing with myself because I know I can do this, and the fact that I ran so quickly this morning shows this training program I’m following (its a mix of comfortable running, cross training days and a once a week tempo run with mileage increasing each week) is definitely working.

Happy weekend, and happy running.

I have let life, once again, allow me to neglect this space.  My love affair with fitness has only grown in the time since I last wrote here.

I have never written in depth about how I feel about exercise. I repeat how much I am a happier person because of it ad naseaum, but that only scratches the surface. The gratification it provides to my soul is astounding.  I epitomize the saying “Learn to love the burn.”  My day doesn’t feel quite right on rests days, or days where life happens and workouts don’t, although those have become few and far between lately.  I make the time.  I get up earlier, stay up later to get my heart rate up.  It makes me feel like I have tiny bit of control of things and for a perfectionist control freak, that goes a long way.

So isn’t it ironic (dontcha think?) that the chubby child turned teen turned young adult (who spent WAY too many years feeling inadequate and awkward and everything else you can feel when you don’t look like how everyone thinks you should look) is now obsessed with fitness?  Then again, it sort of makes sense.  I started this journey because of simple vanity.  I weighed 218 pounds in January of 2012.  I wanted to change that number so I moved more, tracked my meals, joined a gym and made fitness a part of my every day routine.  It has been hard, but I now weigh 185 pounds.  I look forward to the most active part of my day.  I live for it.

I just announced my highest weight and my current weight to the internet.  Wow, that is liberating. There’s something I never thought I would do.  It has become so much more than numbers to me; numbers I have been obsessing over for practically my entire life don’t control me anymore.  It has taken me 20 years to figure this out and truly understand it.

I have discovered it is so much more than lowering numbers on a scale.  It has become my life and how I spend my time.  It’s how I manage the stress and cut through the crap and the mundane days and sleepless nights and everything in between.  It is setting goals and meeting them, and creating new ones.  It’s going from being a kid who dreaded running the mile in gym class to being a woman who voluntarily runs, sometimes as fast as a 10 minute mile, sometimes before the sun is up because it feels amazing.  It’s letting my inner 6 year old (who desperately wanted to be a ballerina) shine every time I step into Pure Barre class.  That sense of accomplishment is worth every cent.  I can’t imagine living my life any other way from this point on.  Whenever life takes me away from my usual active routine it shows.  I get cranky and restless and then I remember I call the shots.  I make the time for running, or going to the gym, or going hiking or trying a new class.  It’s all up to me.

I feel like I have grown so much as a human in the past year.  Instead of dwelling on the defeats of my past I look towards the successes of my future.  I know nothing in life worth having will come easy, that just isn’t my life and that’s okay because I can do pretty much anything if I want it bad enough.  And these are the thoughts I have from 20 pounds away from my goal weight.  That is the part that astounds me.  I haven’t even gotten there, but I know I will.  I haven’t been sure of too many things in this life thus far, but this one I am certain of: I will see myself at a healthy weight in the next year.

The bad days still happen.  The old, tired, negative voices that have held residence in my head for the majority of my life will not go silently into the night.  But with every step of a run they get quieter and the confident lady inside me is beginning to drown them out.

Changes.

March 3, 2013

Although I have been neglecting this space for the past month, I have not been neglecting my exercise time.  I have been slowly increasing my speed on the treadmill runs.  My goal is to run a 10 minute mile sometime in the near future.  Right now I’m sitting around 11:15 so I’m getting there.  Yet besides getting back into running more regularly, I had been feeling a bit bored with my gym routine.  I would do some sporadic strength training or ab work, but nothing consistent.

So last Saturday I tried a Pure Barre class at a studio recently opened near my house and I am totally hooked.  I was VERY nervous…I hadn’t done a workout class since I was a teenager but I just got back from my 4th class and I feel like I’m finally getting it.  I plan on trying to keep up 3 times a week for the next 2, and then see if I want to go on from there.  These classes are not cheap, but I’m really loving it and already seeing more definition in my arms.  It also seems to be improving my endurance for cardio as well.

So hurray for trying new things…tomorrow I may be singing a different tune…two days of class in a row may equal some very sore muscles but it is nothing I haven’t dealt with before.