It's done! I did it! It took a village, but I ran across that finish line. :) I could not afford all this time off. So I've got to work. As soon as I catch up some, I'll write this story. Saturday, June 14, 2014 was probably the 3rd best day of my life. I owe that to a lot of people. One person in particular was my star. Stay tuned.
Because Lisa reminded me that in 1996, I had a gastric bypass, which may be affecting my nutritional absorption and causing the weight gain problems, I have been for two hours now frantically searching for a solution. I have stumbled upon so much information but have yet to find the solution. I have found that what I am experiencing is a common problem. So hopefully there is an answer out there for me! There is a term for me. I am a bariathlete apparently: one who has had a gastric bypass and goes on to do endurance races.
Items of interest I have found:
Bariathlete Dan Benintendi - http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-04-25/health/sc-health-0425-diabetes-bypass-athlete-20120425_1_excess-skin-surgery-egg-sized-pouch
She reminds me of me!!! http://bariathlete.blogspot.com/
Which guidelines should a bariathlete follow: bariatric or sports nutrition? The answer is neither. How can you “eat like an athlete” when you have a one ounce stomach? Running out of energy and dealing with gastrointestinal distress can be a major concern. Those who have bariatric surgery and are competing in endurance events have an entirely different set of nutritional guidelines. If you are considering participating in this type of athletic event, feel free to consult with one of our dietitians. If you are inspired to train for a race, then I recommend creating a support team of a coach and bariathlete dietitian.from http://www.floydbariatrics.org/floyd-bariatrics-dr-scotts-blog.html?article=54
Gastric bypass patients must contend with additional concerns regarding their diet, such as reduced calorie consumption, nutritional malabsorption including iron depletion, and the inability to process sugar as before. Despite these hurdles, bariathletes are more than capable of strenuous physical activity. Extra concerns exist for bariathletes, which are related to the smaller stomach size and subsequent inability to absorb the proper nutrients needed to meet heightened physical demands. However, he stresses that these concerns, if properly addressed and monitored, will not interfere with a patient's weight loss success or endanger their overall health in any way. from http://www.marketwired.com/press-release/bariathlete-case-study-with-dallas-weight-loss-surgeon-dr-david-kim-1678040.htm
Having a stomach a third of the size of typical athletes requires a very specific strategy to meet your specific nutritional needs. from www.bariathletes.com
About carb loading: http://ezinearticles.com/?Bariatric-Athlete-Fuel-Guide-Without-Carb-Loading&id=5202069
Now to find the solution.
Yesterday, annoyed, I sat down with my buddy Google and tried to find answers to my weight gain (I gained six pounds this week.) that's happening while doing everything right. It's annoying because I feel weighed down and out of breath when I run, and my run time is worsening. For a fleeting second, I thought about giving up my half goal. One of my awesome brothers (I think my parents had my brothers just for me. They sure have gotten me through a lot of this world. Wasn't that nice of my parents to give me those gifts?) sent me this, "NO WORRIES ! NO STRESS. You can't get INTO condition in 1 week. BUT you can only GIVE UP in 1 week. If you let yourself. Weight is NOT a criterion to doing 13.1. The entry form does not ask weight, nor does it limit it. Don't focus on the weight as the goal. Do NOT let it be an obsession. But focus on ENJOYING THE JOURNEY ! That is your goal." I love my brothers to the moon & back.
Google led me to a blurb about Bob Pablo, "He got his start in a half marathon . . . walked the 13 miles. At the time he weighed 400 pounds. He’s been running 13 miles a week since then." Lo & behold, I went out today & did 3.03 miles & shaved 2.5 minutes off my average pace! GO, ME!
Immediately below the paragraph about Bob Pablo (http://calorielab.com/news/2005/09/07/running-your-ass-off-the-marathon-diet/), there is an article that begins, "Four male competitors died during the Great North Run, the world’s largest half-marathon event." First, chance of dying during a race is slim compared to many other means of death, including sports-related deaths. Secondly, though, let me be very clear to family and friends. If I die on June 14 at any point between the starting & finish lines, do not be sad. Be very happy for me. Maybe it's because I am blessed with an affliction called Runner's High or maybe it's because I will have accomplished something for myself or maybe because I will have been super proud of myself at that moment, a pride that took 55 years to achieve. Whatever the cause, let me die happy, let me die proud, let me die during the most ecstatic moment of my life, doing something I love. Don't get me wrong. I don't want to die & don't plan on dying, but IF that should happen, this is my stance. From her hospital bed, my mother died in my arms after less than a month of a leukemia diagnosis. We all have to die. If I have a choice of a hospital bed death or a running death, give me the latter every time. And folks are welcome to leave my body where it falls. I know where my soul is going. The body won't matter. I am very serious. No lawsuits, no regrets, no sadness. There is nothing like the euphoria I feel on the pavement (or gravel or whatever is under my feet). It's indescribable. But the pride I'm going to feel when I step across that starting line on June 14, yes, even at my pace, yes, even when I'm the last one, is going to be like no other. You see, it won't matter if I'm last because compared to all other moments of my life, that will be leaps & bounds in front of anything else I have accomplished. No one forces me to race. It's 100% my choice. My goals. I find it interesting that a few people have tried to tell me how "unhealthy" running is. Are you kidding me? There is nothing in this world healthier to me than being so intoxicated with jubilation. Nothing. So, even though I have more to accomplish in my life, if I have to die that day, I will have accomplished enough. I will have left an awesome legacy for my loved ones. No tears. Once I cross that starting line, no matter what, be thrilled! Trust me, I'll be ecstatic!
I run. I am a runner. I live & breathe running. I bleed pavement. Let me always run. If you don't know what a Runner's High is, I invite you to come run with me!
Since I've been asked by several folks why I've not updated my blog and one, in particular, specifically asked for an update, here you go. By the way, I feel extremely honored to be asked about my training. Nice to know folks care! That segues to a point I need to relay about something with which I struggle.
I'm in what I call "a zone." I'm focused. I'm training. I'm on schedule. I'm on track. I'm, as Marisa put it, not ready yet, but I will be when I need to be. After all, I'm still four months out. OMG, only four months! Yikes. Okay. Breathe. Breathe. I have so much to learn, so much work still to do, so much to do to get ready (like replacing the tires on my vehicle), but I'm where I'm supposed to be and doing what I'm supposed to be doing at this stage. What I struggle with is the internal conflict I have with well wishers. Maybe the best way to describe this is I am doing this for me, period. If everyone ignored me, I'd still be where I am. Morbidly obese people (at least this one) stick out like sore thumbs, feel uncomfortable with limelight, and desire to blend in with the crowd. It's difficult to explain this. I don't need motivation. I've got this. That said, though I don't "need" it, I appreciate that people do wish me well. When I went to the gynecologist after six years of not going, the doctor asked about the huge difference in my charted weight. After I told him what I've done and where I'm headed, he brought in his boss. Together they told me how proud they are of me. I know my response wasn't the proper thing to say, but it was honest. I thanked them but said, with the qualification that I hoped they didn't take this the wrong way, that it really didn't matter to me how they felt because I am doing this for me. Is this making any sense at all? It's kind of like "Thank you. Appreciate it. Now get out of my way so I can train." Why do I have to have these internal conflicts? Why do I have to overanalyze everything? This consumes too much of my thinking. I really want folks to continue the accolades. I just don't need them to do it. Maybe that is the point, that I am proud of myself, finally. Maybe I should just put one of my shoes in my mouth, the other on my foot, and go run!
Per my training schedule, during my last run, Wednesday before the snow started, I needed to do 2 miles. The next outing this week needs to be 3 miles. Well, in an effort to beat Mother Nature at her own game, I planned to do the 3 miles before the snow and the 2 miles as soon thereafter as possible. I headed out. Because it was cold, I then talked myself out of doing the 3 miles. About 3/4 mile into it, a car stopped in the road beside me, which is an occurrence I constantly fear. The lady rolled down her window and said, "I am so proud of you. Keep it up." I have no idea who she is. Because I am not an observant person, I don't recognize her vehicle and couldn't tell you anything beyond that maybe it was a dark SUV or minivan. Will I recognize her in the future? I don't recognize people unless they have a dog, which I'll always recognize & can then associate the people. She didn't have a dog with her. I'll assume she lives near me and has seen me out there before. After that, with a smile on my face, I again upped my plan to the 3-mile day. As luck would have it, doing 3 miles got interrupted by my incontinence issue at 2.07 miles in. So I went home with only 2.7 miles under my belt. The point is I didn't need the stranger's comments and was rather embarrassed by them. Yet, they were greatly appreciated. See why I say conflict? Her gesture brought me back to the person who after my first 5k took his hands off the wheel to applaud me. I'll forever remember that.
So where am I in training for my half? I have sessions with Brandon every other Monday. I have sessions with Katie on Saturdays. We're doing every other Saturday now, which is rather scary. I think I need every week with her, maybe even more often than weekly! Katie gave me a training schedule of runs. After tomorrow's run, I will start week 5 on my schedule. I'll be ready. There was a point where I wasn't in "the zone." Katie put the reins back in my hand. I listened and jumped back in the saddle. Katie is a vital and huge part of my training and success.
A couple of other things going on - first, I'm doing a series of races called Finish 2 B Fit. There are four races in the series, each longer than the previous one, the first one being 9 days from now. One of the races, a 10k, is less than 2 weeks before my half. I would love to have company at all the races. So if any of you want to join me, sign up at finish2bfit.com. Don't tell me you can't. That's hogwash. There is no time limit. If you would rather not walk/run, come and show support! Also, I'm on day 13 of a 30-day challenge. EVERYBODY can do this! It's good for you & easy to do. I would love to see all my friends sign up for this! All you have to do is pick 30 days between February 1 and March 31 and do 30 min of activity per day and post it. Sign up at https://www.facebook.com/events/258742837621978/. Join me! There are prizes random participants will win also.
One more thing going on - my weight has been driving me insane. I am eating 100% the way I am supposed to, yet gaining weight. It is frustrating because I really want to be below 200 at the half. So I'm told there are probably two reasons: one, not eating enough; and, two, not getting enough sleep. I was eating 1,000-1,300 calories a day. I am giving Katie one week at 2,000-2,200 per day. Tomorrow is weigh day. I hope I've lost, but I don't feel like I have. Sleep is an issue. I work 7 days a week, often both day & night. The way I have to work interferes with scheduling and sleeping. Here's an example that illustrates the problem. Tuesday I had work due in the morning. At 2:10 PM, one of my bosses (I am self-employed. When I say "boss," it simply means the person who doles out work for one of my clients.) asked me to after I finished the job I was working on at that time do a transcript due Wednesday, which means I had to work overnight. At 2:30, she told me to send both jobs in the next day, which meant I needed to stop immediately and take a nap. At 2:45, I was told I had until Thursday to do both jobs, which meant I didn't need to take a nap at that moment. At 3:00, I was told the deadline was back to Wednesday, which meant naptime was back. At 6:00 PM, I was asked to do another job due Friday, which also would interfere with sleep. This is the nature of my job. My empty coffers don't allow me the luxury of turning work away. I rearranged everything to do the work due Friday. At 8:45 Wednesday, I was told the Friday job didn't happen. Sleep is one of the main reasons I need a new job. Regular sleep or eight hours of sleep per day is nonexistent with my current job.
Another thing - my treadmill phobia has gotten significantly worse. I'm clueless as to why or how to fix the problem. That's why I really detest this snow. I need road miles, not being left with treadmill as the only option.
Lastly but definitely not least, I've been driving my brother insane. My brother Les is the family genius. We all go to him for all answers. Regardless the topic, the answer is "Ask Les." It is no wonder he is a great father and that he serves on the Winchester City Council and now is Vice Mayor of Winchester. Apparently everybody goes to him for answers. Luckily for me, he has only one sister. :) So almost every day, I haunt him with fitness/diet/half-naïve questions. He is forever there for me, even in the midst of his busy life, and never ceases to have an answer. My family is as supportive as ever. My father and both brothers together got me a toy: a Fitbit Force. It tracks everything, including food, steps, sleep, calories burned. It's incredibly helpful to my journey, and I absolutely love it. Since the Fitbit automatically starts over at zero after midnight, sometimes at 11:45 PM, I fly through the house to get to a milestone, such as 10,000 steps, that day.
That's the update, Joyce. :) Between work & training, there's no time left to update, not even time for sleep. So it may be a while until the next time. Thanks for thinking of me!
Creativity and awesomeness continue to flow from my family and friends, embracing and amazing me. Amy, my sister-by-choice, is a real rocket scientist, an aerospace engineer. I am so extraordinarily proud of her. Having designed components of the Hubble, she has excelled in what has been traditionally a man's world. More importantly, she is a caring & compassionate person.
True to Amy's engineering background, she's a fix-it person. She independently visualizes problems and creates their solutions. The distance from my house to the start of the half marathon is 415 miles. For a few years now, my aging vehicle has spent more time in the shop than actually on the road, to the tune of about 5.5 grand in service costs. So the next event in this seemingly never-ending series of gift giving I wrote about in the champions blog below, loosely referred to as chapter 7, Amy revealed hers. Worried that my vehicle might once again break down, this time on the way to the half that's so important to me, she created a solution by buying me a membership in AAA so that "Even if your car breaks down, you will get there."
Isn't she creative? Do you see why Amy is my sister-by-choice? Hopefully she & my brother-in-law-by-choice, Darrius, will be there on June 14 to support me, but, even if not, at least they made sure I will be there! And I continue to be humbled, appreciative, and loved.
Please forgive the mushiness. There's just no such thing as my telling this part of my journey through dry eyes.
So much love. I feel extremely loved. Brandi says, "There's no quitting now." Quitting isn't in my vocabulary, but she is right in the sentiment that I have so many reasons to forge forward.
Country living is my preference. Having lived in the city, the suburbs, and the country, give me the country every time. I think I've mentioned before how much I love my little town of Bowling Green, Virginia. Well, technically I live in the suburbs of Bowling Green, but this is no suburbia. There are no streetlights, and when I run, I am greeted by deer, peacocks, polecats, and whistle-pigs. Country living means friendly neighbors. A few weeks ago while running during hunting season and hearing gunshots, I was a bit nervous not having hunter safety colors to wear. Where I grew up, hunter safety was mandatory in school, and I know people who died in hunting accidents. Anyway, I'm running down Rixey, and I run into a neighbor wearing an orange hat. I have seen him before, but I am not sure of his name or where he lives. He starts talking. So I pull out my earphones and, as usual, forget to turn off my Runkeeper counters, which means I don't know my real speed. He proceeds to tell me how proud of me he is. I thank him and jokingly say I need a hat like his so hunters know I'm not Saturday night supper. He says, "Stop by the house. I am sure I have one for you." I thanked him and went on my merry way. Now all I have to do is figure out where he lives. LOL Seriously, though, he made my day and confirmed why I love living here. And, lo and behold, Samantha got me an orange vest for Christmas! So that problem is solved!
Though I would do this race without anyone supporting me, clearly my desire, as noted in the Twinkies blog, is to have the support. I don't expect my friends to trek to the WV-KY border, but I did note that I took for granted my family would be alongside me on June 14th. The response I've gotten to that expectation has been overwhelming. My family, those I'm related to and those I choose to call family; and friends have been absolutely amazingly encouraging. Never before have I ever felt so loved. Words don't exist to express how appreciative I am and how special I feel.
Most of the members of my immediate family will be there June 14th to cheer or carry the stretcher or perhaps both.
But that's not all. Allow me to be specific.
First, I told you about my awesome brother Les' sign of faith in me: buying my running shoes. Second, I told you Samantha is going to do the half also. I really didn't give her a choice. I kind of told her she had to do it. :) Dad & Wanda said, God willing, they'll be there. Well, I already had a talk with God. So they'll be there. :) Then a string of amazement unfolded, & I am just speechless. Well, near speechless anyway.
My fabulous niece Cassidy sent me a text message that said, "Dad," my brother Les, "told me about your half. Can I participate with you to support you?" I probably have repeated this about a dozen times & I get choked up every single time. It's so touching to have someone her age (college freshman) be so compassionate. I feel so loved. Though Cassidy is athletic, this will be her first race. She will do it at her pace, but she will start it with me. I just found out today my niece Callie, Cassidy's sister, also athletic but not a racer, is going to do it with us. Samantha registered. Cassidy registered. I'm so excited we're going to have a whole entourage: runners and spectators!
The next dot on the timeline is, among other race-related gifts, my grandson gave me a decal for Christmas. It says, "I'm only half crazy. 13.1." I am so proud I have changed my grandson's grandmother from someone who could barely walk who may have been dead by now to someone who will finish a half marathon in June of 2014. Until June 14th, I am only half crazy.
Next, I got an email that means the entire world to me. I've been blessed with a super large family. Besides my immediate family, I have aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, and nephews everywhere. Each inidividual member is different from the rest. They all have one thing in common, though. They are all loved unconditionally by me. Faith and belief in me from my family truly means the entire world to me. While standing alone I would not stop my race, the support and love from them might hoist me onto the pavement on a rainy day or push me 3 miles, instead of 2, or be the catalyst to jump through some other obstacle. The bottom line is the support pushes me from a C effort to an A level. I kept checking my email, waiting for my busy brother Doug to find the time to read my blog. It finally came. It was exactly what I had been hoping for and anticipating. He wrote, "I finally got to read the info you sent and, as always, I am extremely proud of you. I look forward to being there with you as you conquer this goal!" How could anybody not reach any set goal with family support like this?
Yet, it didn't stop there.
Just a minute. I have to find tissues.
Katie, my running coach, and I were supposed to start an 11-week session today. She's offering a holiday special, 11 sessions for the price of 10. I NEED her to get me ready for the half. So how could I pass up that deal? I had to (a) wait for payday and (b) juggle bills around. Well, as it turns out, I worked on Christmas Day and rescheduled Christmas dinner for yesterday, which meant I needed to change my training sessions. So I asked Katie if we can start the 11 next Saturday. She then proceeded to tell me I only had to pay for half of it. Why? Did the price change? No, but someone who has ever-present faith in his sister already took care of it. I love my brothers. My brother Doug paid for half of the fee for my running coach sessions. And that ain't cheap.
I have two brothers. Both have shown their unlimited faith in me. Neither has ever said one negative "You can't" do this. Neither has ever been embarrassed by my grandiose goal setting. Exactly the opposite, both are proud of their sister. I can't begin to tell you how important they are to me. If I were able to pick my brothers, I would pick the ones God gave me because they are the absolute best in the universe. The confidence they both have in me for doing this half is vital and unsurpassed.
At that point I thought I was the most loved person in the world. Guess what. It didn't stop there.
I rescheduled my personal trainer, Brandon, from yesterday to Monday so I could cook Christmas dinner. He said, "I have a surprise for you." The nautical ropes are my favorite training prop, but the last time we used them, I found them difficult. So my response was, "Good or bad? What? Did you get heavier ropes?" His response was that someone paid for four sessions for me. And that ain't cheap either. He won't tell me who did it. He won't even answer questions about it. Whoever did it said to tell me Mussen paid for it. That tells it was not a family member, but it was someone who loves me. For those who don't know, Mussen is the Siberian Husky I adopted from Pet Harbor Rescue. The fact that someone not related to me has this much faith me is breathtaking to me.
This is the season for love. After all, it's when we celebrate the birth of the child of love. And there is no way anyone could ever feel more loved than I feel right now. It's so important to lift people up. Here I am, about to turn double nickels in a few weeks, going from a 1.5-hour 5k to 13.1. The positivity, the encouragement, the folks who've been supportive have been absolutely amazing. The faith bestowed upon me by my family and friends has been so unbelievably mind-boggling. I don't even know who to thank for some of it, but to all of you, I am completely humbled and will do this for us: you and me. Thank you for all the love. I almost feel like I could walk on water. Though perhaps I can't walk on water, I do plan to jump out of an airplane, go on a zip line, and fly on a trapeze before it's all said and done.
Thank you all for the love and support. From your words to the several hundred-dollar gifts, every one of you is close to my heart and cherished. Thank you, and I love you all very much. I will start this half for me. I will finish it for you. 13.1, baby. We're on our way!
Stubborn. Yep. I am. So if you are one of those people who thinks I can't, won't, or shouldn't do what I'm about to do, I invite you to stand behind me and watch. "Couldn't," "shouldn't," and "wouldn't" are words I've spent a lifetime rebuking. I have been on this Earth almost 55 years now. Naysayers haven't stopped me yet. I dare say they never will. Besides, I don't even like Twinkies! What do I mean by that? Well, fourscore and seven years ago, our forefathers. . . just kidding. I won't go back QUITE that far here. Seriously, though, I will start at a point after chapter 5. Therefore, if you haven't yet read the preceding chapters, you might want to refer back (See http://halfjourney.weebly.com/links.html) and at least hit the highlights.
Finding time for running and working out has been a serious challenge. During the first part of 2013, I'd only been "running" about 2 miles at a clip, 2-4 miles a month. That's it. Pathetic. Anyway, my bullheaded self got an idea, and that was all she wrote. When I get something firmly planted in my head, it's cemented. Not even Houdini could pry it. Remember that little fact because it will surface again before this writing has come to its conclusion.
At 7:08 P.M. on July 25, 2013, the day before the birth of my first grandchild, I sent my father the following email:
This is your birthday gift. You know I can't afford a gift & I know you would tell me not to spend my money anyway. So I thought of something I can give you as a gift that wouldn't cost me anything. I wanted to do this yesterday on your actual birthday, but I had to work & wasn't able to do it. Today I did it.
You have taught us many things and given us many traits to emulate. You are an exceptional hunter and golfer. I am neither of those things. My brothers do an outstanding job carrying on those traits. You also have taught us perseverance and dedication. You have taught us and demonstrated that we can do ANYTHING we set our minds to doing. Those traits my brothers and I all got from you. You turned 78 yesterday. That's just a number because you sure don't act it or look it. You certainly walked circles around me that day a year ago when we walked together, a day I will cherish forever.
I haven't been on the pavement in 5 days & I have only been doing around 2 miles. As you may remember, my highest distance achieved before now was 7.1 miles.
You're 78. I couldn't do the 70. Okay. There's no such thing as "couldn't." I set out to do 8 today, more than I've ever done before by almost a mile. I didn't care how long it took, but I was determined to give you this birthday gift. I decided not to do the 70 :):):) Besides, as I said, you neither act nor look 78. You're a very healthy 78! So the 70 part doesn't matter. For your birthday, I did 8 miles today, Dad! Actually, 8.2. :) See, I can and do do whatever I set my mind to doing. Thank you for giving me that trait of determination and many more.
Love you! Happy birthday!
Several times during the 8.2 I found myself having to convince self not to quit, especially since my grandson's mother was at the hospital awaiting his impending arrival, but I had a mission. Although I did not quit, I did have to on multiple occasions during the run/walk return home to present offerings to the porcelain goddess. Also, why does the distance from the parking lot to Labor & Delivery at Mary Washington Hospital seems like a treacherous 30 miles?
For the next week, I did precious little walking and all that I did do was not done independently. Moaning & groaning, I slithered along the wall for support. It took about two months for me to regain the ability to hit the pavement. Yet, conjuring up my next goal came to me like a bolt of lightning. Then I paused. Could I? Should I? Have others? I went straight to my friend Google.
One of the first things I read about obese runners talked about a runner who was ridiculed by people shouting such things as "Go home and eat Twinkies." The first of October as I was walking/running and contemplating whether or not I could meet my next goal and mulling over all possible "What if? What if?" excuses, all of a sudden, I burst into laughter because it occurred to me that, of course, I could do it because, after all, I don't even like Twinkies. That thought and laughter gave me the fuel I needed to hit the gate running, no pun intended. Folks who want to make fun of me can eat my dust as I run, go home to their couches and eat Twinkies, OR run beside or in front of me and cheer together with me when we cross the finish line. The latter seems to be the more appealing choice, doesn't it? Besides, there's a pig roast after we finish!
After a great deal of research, I signed up. I knew what I wanted, and I knew how I wanted it. I told my family to save the date. At a pace of greater than 30 minutes per mile, I knew it had to be sans time limit. Because I can't afford to go far, it had to be relatively close to my house. I knew Samantha had to be there. I knew I had to have someone inexpensive (read free!) babysit my animals. And since after 8.2 miles I had lost the ability to walk, I knew I had to have a running teacher.
One last thing. As I always do with fitness and most major decisions, I called my brother Les. "What do you think?" I asked him, as I always do. "Of course, you can do it," my ever-athletic brother responded and, without skipping a beat, added, "and I'll buy your shoes." How awesome is that? My brother is awesome. Both of my brothers are awesome. That was the first of many times I cried during this endeavor. In fact, each time I repeat the story of what he did, I cry. Whenever I need a boost towards faith in myself for anything, one call to my brother nips that in the bud quick, fast, and in a hurry. Tending to hang onto a few positive things said to me as they comprise the fuel for my endeavors, this gesture was the first of those things in my latest quest. My brother Les is my hero. He has unconditional faith in me. When they read this, my father & other brother (Doug) will learn for the first time, along with most of you, that I'm going to do a half marathon. Right about now, I know several of you are sitting there with your bottom lips falling down to about where your belly buttons reside.
Yes, you read that right. Yes, I am doing a half marathon.
I searched. I found it. I registered.
On June 14, 2014, I am doing the Hatfield-McCoy Half Marathon, River Road Course. Yes, I am doing a half marathon. Did you hear me? Let me shout it. 13.1, BABY! IT'S MINE!
Yes, I am extremely serious. Sorry I get a little excited, but traveling from a sad state of not knowing the definition of a "k," weighing 500 pounds, and experiencing difficulty going a distance from my desk to the bathroom to this - pushing the shoe leather 13.1 miles - brings me to a place of more than a little exhilaration.
Every video on YouTube about the Hatfield-McCoy half marathon, every blog entry about it, every online photograph pertaining to this race I've visited. And the more I see, the more excited I get. My half marathon starts in Matewan, West Virginia. West Virginia is home for me. I'm going home to race! YES! Well, it's the southwestern side of the state, but it's still God's country. And, Nicki, this is why I said we might see you. I hope you can come! Brandi, Donald, & Landon (my daughter, son-in-law, & grandson) will be there. Not only will Samantha be there, but she's going to do the half, too. It's her first half as well. She will be gone & done before I can blink, but we'll be there together. Hopefully her other half, Alex, will be with us. I expect my father, brothers, and their families to be there as well. In my head, I have it all planned out. Each mile in my head and heart will be for a specific person. All I have to do now is train and implement my plan.
Do I have a speed goal? My goals are (a) to start it and (b) to finish it the same day I start it. That's it.
The next step was to find a teacher. After researching; calling/emailing several places; & badgering Jody, who badgered Ved, I ended up with two awesome teachers. Do I need two? That question probably should be reworded to, is two enough? Brandon at American Family Fitness, Fredericksburg, is my personal trainer. Katie at Off Da Couch Training, Fredericksburg, is my running coach. Allow me to rave about them separately for a few minutes if you don't mind.
They're both awesome.
My favorite thing about Brandon is that he understands and when he doesn't have an understanding, he works to gain one. He served in the armed forces. While serving in the Middle East, he sustained some injuries. So he understands aches, pains, and recovery. When I told Brandon I walk out the gym door &, since fitness is a novel concept to me, forget everything I learned, he solved the problem by finding an idiot-proof application on my phone for me to use. When I have a pain or a difficulty doing a particular exercise, he figures out the exact muscle or bone that's the source of the pain and crafts a remedy or tweaks an exercise in a certain way to make it work for me. I signed up for a 5k in December, which I didn't do because Mother Nature started producing freezing rain before I had to leave the house, but Brandon intended to do the 5k with me. That is huge because running isn't Brandon's thing at all. It was actually more than huge. It was over the top because not only was he going to run it with me, but he, a young, fit guy, was going to carry a bag with him with 50 pounds of weight in it. See what I mean about how he goes out of his way to understand? Isn't he awesome? Unfortunately, I can only afford sessions with Brandon once every other week, which I have paid for through the end of January. Brandon even helps me work on things that might seem small to some, like walking down steps normally, instead of putting both feet on the same step all the way down, that are extremely important achievements to me. Brandon thankfully isn't Jillian. He genuinely cares about his clients & their accomplishments and even slips a bit of a sense of humor into the work. I think Brandon was the perfect choice to be my strength trainer.
Little things both Brandon & Katie have said have stuck with me. Among many impactful things Brandon has said, that which has affected me the most (so far) is when we were talking about a few different things I want to improve about myself in the areas of fitness, weight, & health, Brandon said, "Why not just change it all at once?" I'm sure he was half joking, but I didn't take it as such. That's what I need: my trainers having that over-the-top level of confidence in me.
Three things, in particular, Katie said that have affixed like glue are, first, the story of her 26.2 tattoo. Her friends, laughing, thought she was crazy for thinking she could/would do a marathon. She did it. The 26.2 on her finger means anything she touches, she can do. I absolutely love Katie's "I don't even like Twinkies" attitude.
Second, I signed up for a C25K ("Couch to 5k") program under Katie's leadership, which was a group class once a week until the first week of December. Right now I'm working on finding the money to continue with her, as I need to do. When I met Katie the first of October, I needed to make sure she understood I needed a coach to get me through the half six months after the C25K class ended. Maybe I was sort of looking for someone to tell me I am crazy. Perhaps that would have pushed me. Into which direction it would have pushed me will remain a mystery. Katie said, "Don't worry. We got you." To some, that might seem like nothing, but it meant the world to me. Katie's a real runner, the gazelle type. Her saying that to me will get me through a rough spot. She has the same confidence in me my brother does. Having the people I have in my corner, how can I go wrong?
Third, and, finally, Katie said something that goes in the crying bucket alongside my brother's buying my half shoes. During the C25K course, I improved to a 25-26 minute/mile. When I shared the info about the half with Katie, she said, "Excellent." Excellent! Not "Impossible," not "Okay," not "Really?" She said, "Excellent." Can you tell why I love her? Then the kicker. She said, "There is no time limit BUT I personally want your miles down to 18 minutes by then." She wants ME doing the half at an 18 min/mi pace??? The confidence pouring out of that statement has me crying even as I'm typing this!
Maybe other trainers are that way, too. I don't know. But Brandon's carrying a 50-pound bag alongside me at a race and Katie's confidence that I will do the half at an 18 min/mi pace put them in the Best Trainers in the World category in my book. Neither has tried to discourage me from my shoot-for-the-moon goals. Exactly the opposite. Does it get better than that? I don't believe it does!
Oh, I almost forgot my third coach. I would be remiss not to include The Penguin, John Bingham. They call him "The Penguin," he says, because he waddles his marathons/half marathons. He's faster than I am! Marathoning for Mortals is the book he co-authored that I read about as slowly as I run so I could savor every word. If I hadn't run before I read his book, I certainly would have afterwards!
As time permits, I'll put my adventures, training, and planning in this blog. And I invite all of you to join me! Besides my half, there's another half, a full marathon, and a 5k that day as well. There's also the pig roast as well as a Hatfield-McCoy festival that weekend. It's a big deal to the folks in that neck of the woods. I know that because in my search for housing during the marathon, I ended up spending half a day on the phone with a fellow by the name of Jeff Hatfield, a down home West Virginian who has an 8-year-old white Boxer with uncropped ears & tail and whose mom is a retired schoolteacher. I ended up reserving a place for us run by two sisters who advertise they have a pie in the oven and "Come sit a spell." When I called, the sister who answered said, "Hold on. I have to find my glasses. I can't hear a thing without them." See why I love West Virginia? I'm going home. I'm going home to race. And if you want to join me and the festivities don't interest you, if nothing else, maybe you could help carry the stretcher I'll need to get my body to the pig roast after the half or you could babysit my animals and house in Virginia while I'm racing!
You might ask what the future holds after the 13.1. I've got my sights on the Honolulu 26.2 December 2015. So if you don't like Twinkies either, maybe you'd care to join me?
Stay tuned to this blog as the journey unfolds. I need to end for now. It's time to hit the pavement :)