Half-Marathon Year

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On a Friday at the end of last May I went into the OR to have my IUD removed.  That same night I drove 4 hours to the mountains to run my first half-marathon the next morning.  On a Saturday at the end of last May I ran my first half-marathon (see old post below).

I almost did’t run the race – I had encountered a few obstacles in my training and I didn’t think I was prepared.  Despite everything, I made the choice to run the race and enjoy the experience.  As I ran through the mountains and enjoyed the views of the nature around me, I remember wondering what the next year would bring:  I daydreamed about pregnancy, and about hopefully welcoming a baby girl into my family… I let my mind relax and reflect on what everything in my life meant to me, where I was going with the different paths in my life, and how I was going to try and “let things go” and enjoy the little things in life.

When registration opened for this race again back in January, naturally I felt inclined to register.  I didn’t want to commit myself to something that wouldn’t be reasonable or healthy so close to giving birth, but it was important to me to go back to this place, participate in the race, and reflect on the last year.  Therefore, I chose to register in the 5Km run/walk that takes place the day after the half marathon.  I figure that is reasonable for 3.5 weeks post-partum.  This coming weekend I will be walking this 5Km with one of my very good friends, and hopefully, with my baby girl strapped to my chest.  What a way to mark this little anniversary!

Posted on The Old Blog, May 25, 2015

I did it.

I ran my Half-Marathon.

For weeks I feared that I wouldn’t be able to finish the race.  I worried that my disrupted training schedule would make it utterly impossible for me to survive the distance, especially since I read that it was a challenging course.  Right up until the day before the race (I’ll write about this day in another post), I contemplated changing my registration to do the 10K race instead.

There was a part of me, however, that knew I had to run the half marathon. No. Matter. What.

I have been working hard since the beginning of 2015 to make positive changes in my life.  Most of those changes have been working well, but there have been a few set-backs.  With those setbacks, I’ve been beginning to feel like I’m not as strong, determined, or capable as I thought i was.  I feared that if I gave up on my goal to run this half marathon, I would only be letting myself down and reinforcing the negative thoughts and attitudes that I’ve had recently.  So, I had to run this race… even if it meant that I walked most of it… even if it meant that my goal of completing it in under 2 hours was no longer a goal… even if it meant it was just an excuse to spend a few hours with myself in the beauty and splendour of the mountains…

On Saturday morning I showed up at the race site prepared to run (or walk) the half marathon as planned.  My new goal for the race was to complete it… no matter what.  My other new goal was to enjoy being out in the mountains, alone, and with my own thoughts.  I decided to run the half marathon without any running apps to tell me my distance, pace, or interval to ensure that I didn’t get distracted from my goals, push myself too hard to keep up to my usual pace, or to feel disappointed in myself for being too slow.  So, I shut off the little voice in my ear and set off running with some good music and beautiful scenery.

As I crossed the start line, I felt a wave of emotion come over me and I almost started to cry.  Right then it was confirmed that running this race meant more to me than just running 21Km straight; it had everything to do with proving to myself that I could do something that I set my mind to and that I am not someone who gives up.  Throughout the race, I walked when I needed to, I looked up at the mountains and trees around me.  I watched the water in the river flow past me.  I felt the trails and pavement under my feet.  I even stopped at a port-a-potty around the 15Km mark… because after all, this race was about being comfortable!

The last 6Km was the greatest challenge because it was almost all up-hill.  The start line was on the side of a mountain, which I ran down in the first part of the race to get to the river path.  I was sure I had nothing left in me when I saw the last sign on the route: “1 Km Left to Go!”  Ahead of me, it was still an incline.  I pushed through and when I saw the pink arch that marked the finish line, I picked up the pace just a little more.  I saw my boys shaking their white cowbells and my husband poised with the camera.  I saw the chip readers above my head, and then I watched my foot strike the ground on the other side of the finish line.  After the flurry of people putting a medal over my head, congratulating me, handing me my swag bag, and giving me a refreshingly wet towel, I finally looked at the clock.  Somehow, I had completed the race in less than 2 hours and 15 min.  Later, when I looked up my official time, I was in awe: 2 hours, 10 minutes, 21 seconds.

Without proper training, on a mountainside course with a 300m elevation change (150m down and then 150m back up), and with a goal to “just finish” the race, I clocked in at only 10 minutes and 21 seconds past my original goal time.  Unbelievable!  I still cannot believe that I accomplished this amazing goal.

I am so proud of myself.

I needed to do this, and I am so glad that I didn’t give up on myself.

Lightening Run

imageI wish I could say that I was running as fast as lightening – metaphorically speaking.  But, I think I did a pretty good job for my first real run in almost a month.  It was beginning to get dark as I sloppily slapped kisses on the boys’ foreheads and then peeled into my running clothes.  Thirty minutes is all I needed, as long as the rain would hold off and the sun would linger.

My fastest 5km pace was last summer at this time – 4’56” per km.

I’d like to imagine that I’ll get back there someday, but for now I’ll bask in the warm, accomplished feeling of knowing that I ran a steady pace. I found that wonderful running “sweet spot” where you’re running fast enough to feel your legs and lungs burn, but not so fast that you feel the need to stop and walk.

Maybe it was me finding my stride again after a hard month, or perhaps is was the electricity in the air from the impending thunder storm.  Whatever it was, it was a fantastic way to end the night.

The Weight

If I’m being completely honest, I am extremely upset and disappointed with myself over my current weight.  I’m not “fat” and I wouldn’t even call myself overweight (even though my BMI is probably in that category these days).  However, I have been “letting” myself gain weight steadily for the past 6 months.  I’ve used the excuse that life has been too stressful.  A year ago I moved and relocated to a new city for a job – it was not a move that I wanted to make.  Since then I have been struggling with getting my life back in order, keeping my ridiculous anxiety under control, and just keeping myself afloat day-to-day.

I am scared to get on the scale now, but at the beginning of July, after my two-week vacation to Florida, I was weighing in at 25 pounds heavier than I was last July.  I’m pretty sure I can add at least another 5 -10 pounds to that total in the last month.  I’s like to say that I’ve been trying to curb the weight gain: At the beginning of the year I made a goal to run 1000Km this year, I started packing healthy lunches, I joined a TaeKwonDo club… In March, despite the numbers still creeping up, I joined weight watchers, I stepped up my game and started training for a half marathon, and in May, I actually did it!  But despite all this work, I’ve never stayed truly committed.  And so I have a weight watchers membership that is not being used, I’ll be lucky to run 500Km this year (in fact, I only ran 20Km in the whole month of July), and I am pushing the waistband on all my my clothing.  Let’s not even talk about how gross I feel and how much I can’t stand looking at my body in the mirror.

Despite all of this negative feelings around my weight gain, I still feel like I have no motivation to change anything.  I feel like working 11 hours a day most days is a good enough excuse to not run at the end of the day.  Being exhausted by the time my kids are in bed justifies not packing a lunch for he next day.  And because I’m awake and at work at 3am, I am allowed to eat the take out and donuts and other goodies that are laying at all the nursing stations.

I don’t feel motivated to make a change.  But I also don’t want to keep gaining weight because I have no motivation.  If this is the definition of the phrase “stuck in a rut,” then that is me.  What should I do?  How can I change my attitude?  What can I do to find motivation?