I’m Finally A Runner!

2014-04-28 07.48.22
Magnet Earned!

Three days ago, I crossed the finish line of my first half marathon. I ran 13.1 miles in 2:35:44 at the Glass City. As I write this post, the feat is still surreal to me and almost unbelievable. A year ago the idea of running a mile seemed impossible. A 5k race was my goal and even that felt daunting and unattainable. A 10k was beyond my realm and a half marathon unthinkable. Yet, one by one I checked off each milestone.

Here’s a look back over my running journey via my Facebook posts:

April 16, 2013
“I just ran 2.10 miles using WEEK 1 DAY 1 of ACTIVE’s Couch-to-5k program.”

May 1, 2013
“When am I going to be able to do this w/o feeling like I’m going to DIE??????? I just ran 2.22 miles using WEEK 2 DAY 3 of ACTIVE’s Couch-to-5k program.”

May 7, 2013
“For some reason it seems like I’m getting slower instead of faster:( It must be the wind – yeah that’s it – I just ran 2.05 miles using WEEK 3 DAY 2 of ACTIVE’s Couch-to-5k program.”

May 15, 2013
“Well I’m still alive. That’s all I can say.  I just ran 1.99 miles using WEEK 3 DAY 3 of ACTIVE’s Couch-to-5k program.”

May 19, 2013
“Who am I kidding? I think I’m more of a couch girl – I’m dying here —  I just ran 2.20 miles using WEEK 4 DAY 1 of ACTIVE’s Couch-to-5k program.”

May 24, 2013
“Actually feeling pretty good! I just ran 2.38 miles using WEEK 4 DAY 3 of ACTIVE’s Couch-to-5k program.”

May 26, 2013
“I think I might live:) I just ran 2.29 miles using WEEK 5 DAY 1 of ACTIVE’s Couch-to-5k program.”

May 28, 2013
“Maybe over the hump:) I just ran 2.44 miles using WEEK 5 DAY 2 of ACTIVE’s Couch-to-5k program.”

June 8, 2013
“Just ran/walked my first 5k – 40:34 – yeah me!”

Run for Relay 5K
Run for Relay 5K

July 13, 2013
“Oh yeah! Ran the entire 5k – first time ever! New PR!”

Delta Chicken Run 5K
Delta Chicken Run 5K

November 16, 2013
“Longest run ever! For me!”

Jen-Abby Memorial Run 10K
Jen-Abby Memorial Run 10K

April 27, 2014
 “And after – 2:35:44”

Glass City Half Marathon
Glass City Half Marathon

I am proud of myself for persevering and not giving up even though in the beginning I really wanted to. I owe a lot to my running friends for encouraging me, training with me, cheering my on and making me believe in  myself (you know who you are and I thank you!)

So is a full marathon on my horizon? No. Not because I don’t think I could do it, but more because it isn’t something I aspire to do. At this time in my life, I don’t have the time to dedicate to the time it would take to train for it. I am content with a half. I am finally able to say I am a runner without hesitation. So for those of you starting out with the C25K or some other program – don’t give up! If I can do it, anyone can!

Keep On Keeping On

Me at the "Run or Dye" 5K (like the tutu?)
Me at the “Run or Dye” 5K (like the tutu?)

A million and nine thoughts bombard my mind any given day, any given moment. As one of those quiet introverts, I admit I spend a lot of time in my head. In fact, it can be maddening at times. I can spend hours daydreaming, pondering some question or trying to glean some sort of insight and meaning into it all (and rather unsuccessfully so). From the little questions like “What should I make for dinner tomorrow?” to the medium ones like “When will I finally be debt free?” to the really big ones like “Who made God?” I have a hard time just clearing my mind of all the clutter and just living in the moment.

This summer I’ve been working on a practice I’ve been reading about called “mindfulness.” The concept is simple in that you try to focus on your breathing or a word for a period of time and as stray thoughts come across your mind, you dismiss them without judgement and get back to your focus. My daughter’s therapist read us a story about a monkey and a panda. The panda was peaceful and happy because “when he was walking, he thought about walking; when he was working, he thought about working and when he was playing he thought about playing.” Sounds good. Right. I certainly can use more happiness and peacefulness in my life!

Along with mindfulness, my summer has also been about running. I started the couch to 5K program back in April and am proud to say I’ve participated in six 5K races. I finished all six and actually ran without walking in three of them. My goal of having a stronger and healthier body is coming along. Which brings me to my next goal of having a healthier mind and a happier outlook, which brings me back to mindfulness. Thus, I brought the two ideas together and I am practicing mindfulness when I’m running/walking. I make myself focus only on my footfall or my posture as I run. If I start thinking about the errands I need to run later or the laundry I need to move to the dryer, I stop myself when I realize my mind is drifting and bring it back around to the feel of my body as I run, the way the wind feels against my hot skin or on pulling air into my lungs and exhaling.

This exercise helps me focus on being a better runner (note I didn’t say faster!). I’m hoping eventually I’ll be able to use mindfulness to  free myself of distractions in other areas of my life and focus on what I’m doing at the given moment. I don’t need to worry about tomorrow’s dinner, until tomorrow, right?  On the other hand, I do need to have the right ingredients on hand, so I guess there is something to say about planning. So how do I reconcile the two ideas of living in the moment versus planning ahead? Well, my plan is to set aside time to plan ahead (when I’m planning, I’ll think about planning, right!)

I once read if you keep on doing the same thing, you’ll keep getting the same result. Thus, I’m all for changing it up and plugging away at being more mindful.

Has anyone else tried to practice mindfulness? Any tips or ideas you can share?

 

5 Lessons Learned On My Road To Being “Almost” Fit

2013-06-16 16.21.13As a young girl I think I must have had an unnaturally high metabolism or something. I could eat whatever I wanted, thwarted exercise and never gained a pound well into my twenties. I wasn’t known as the prettiest or the smartest girl and never the most athletic one; but, I’d always been the thinnest and waifiest.

Fast-forward two babies, fifteen plus years on antidepressants for anxiety/panic, years of emotional eating and hitting that brick wall of middle age, I’m far from the thinnest these days. And, I’m OK with that. Really. What I’m not OK with is the humbling fact that I weigh more now than at any other time in my life aside from the last months of pregnancy. I decided (and no, despite what some may think, I’m not having a midlife crisis even though I did get a tattoo and like listening to Taylor Swift and P!nk) I needed to do something about my dissatisfaction with myself. Thus, if you’ve been following along this blog of mine, you know I’ve been on a quest to “get fit” lately.

I realize I didn’t put on these extra pounds overnight and they aren’t magically going to fall off after a few months of walking/running and counting calories (although I admit I still devour those articles where women seemingly lose 30 pounds in 30 days by following one simple rule…)  Even though I’m not a skinny-mini anymore and never will be again, I am feeling better, stronger and more energetic. Which, is the whole point, right? (yes, I am still trying to convince myself of that!) And so, I thought I’d share a few of the lessons I’ve learned thus far.

Lesson #1: Do NOT take any children under the age of ten on your walking/running workouts unless they can still fit in a stroller. As I started my couch to 5K journey, my girls begged to come along. Great, I thought, I can get in some fitness activity and spend quality time with the girls. I failed to consider that the six-year-old stops every five steps or so to pick flowers or tie her shoe. I also failed to consider that her feet would hurt after 10 minutes or the fact that as we were jogging along she would stop dead in front of me causing me to trip and fall, knocking her over, landing in a heap in the middle of the road. With blood dripping from both our knees I limped back home with her on my back. While I still take her on short walks some days, I now know I won’t be getting an actual workout and plan to do so after.

Lesson #2: Check the radar before you leave unless you don’t mind getting wet. So far I’ve gotten completely drenched three times this summer. No drought this year, that’s for sure. Another tip is that if there are dark clouds in the sky when you step out the door, you’ll probably get wet. I thought our weather came from the west and I’d be safe if the clouds were north, south or east of me – not so. The weather is hot, though, so the rain actually felt pretty good. However, when the thunder started rumbling and I was still a mile away from shelter, I must admit I got a bit worried. Fortunately for me, I made it home without getting struck by lightening.

Lesson #3: Use your gadgets, but don’t rely on then. I am the queen of gadgets and cool iPhone apps. I have several that I really like right now…Lose It, Up, and Run Keeper. I like to track my progress and look back over my logs. It makes me feel good to see how far I’ve come since I started in March. However, as soon as you become obsessed with the tracking – the app will crash or your cell phone will die and you’ll lose your data. When this happened to me (multiple times!) it was really discouraging, but luckily I didn’t let it derail me. Try, try again.

Lesson #4: Sign up for a 5K (or two or three) as a runner. I used to think in order to sign up as a runner in a 5K, that I actually had to, well, run it (go figure!). As I talked to some of my running friends, I was enlightened. If you sign up as a walker, you aren’t allowed to run, but the reverse is not true. You don’t have to be able to run the whole thing to sign up as a runner. Weird that this had never occurred to me before. So far, I’ve ran/walked in three 5Ks. I’ve yet to run the entire distance, but each time I’m a little closer. I’m signed up for three more throughout the summer. This is probably the best thing I’ve done to keep me going as it gives something to work toward as I progress toward fitness.

Lesson #5: The process is the goal! A week or so ago, I sat in my doctor’s office lamenting the fact that my weight wasn’t melting off as I’d hoped. He told me I need to change my mindset. He said he wanted the process to be my goal, not a number on the scale. He said the goal is to stay within 1500-1800 calories and walk/run 3 miles a day. If I met those goals, he continued, the weight would come off, the energy would come and I’d be healthier. This isn’t what I wanted to hear, but it made sense. After thinking it through I know he’s right. My goal can’t be a certain pant size or weight. I need to do these things every day for the rest of my life. I’m on my way to making these changes into habits. As Dory from Find Nemo always says, “Just keep swimming…” and that’s what I intend to do (except I’m running instead:))

Does anyone have any “get fit” lessons they want to share?