Tuesday, October 22, 2013

All we are given is possibilities

Getting my nerd on at NYCC
When I first started running I heard warnings from everyone about how much it would damage my body, runners are super prone to injury, you'll lose muscle and that I should stick to other kinds of workouts.  I enjoy strength training, but I really love running.  There is just something about letting go of all your worries, clearing your mind and just enjoying the wind blowing past you on your way to freedom.  Running does that for me, it frees you from your fears and awakens your dreams.  That moment is repeated each and every time your foot strikes the pavement. Going for a jog is probably one of the cheapest forms of therapy.  Put the past behind you and move on.

It's been almost a year since I took that first step towards many miles to come, and it wasn't until now that I have encountered my dreaded first injury.  Sure there was soreness and fatigue, but nothing that kept me from pushing through.  Last week I flew out to New York to be a part of New York Comic Con for a few days.  Once I had my travel plans set I decided to check out any races that might be going on so I could add that to my list.  Turns out the Rock N Roll Brooklyn 10k was that weekend so I convinced a couple friends to sign up with me and made it official. Bad idea.

Brooklyn 10k with some old (and new) friends!
If you've never been to a comic convention, or any convention really for that matter, it involves a TON of walking.  After my first day I was exhausted and already regretting my choice to sign up for a race.  Somehow I dragged myself off my friends couch that Saturday morning to head out in the brisk Brooklyn weather for the toughest 10k I've tackled thus far.  Prospect Park was no joke, that hill  towards the end of the race almost kept me from finishing.  I literally said out loud as I reached the top "thank the dear sweet baby Jesus this hill is finally over".  It felt like I was climbing Mt Kilimanjaro.  Needless to say the copious amount of the walking from the convention all weekend combined with a rough hill lined course took its toll on my body.

Abby and I pre and post race at the Monster Dash

A couple days ago (just one week since my initial injury) I felt recovered enough to do the Monster Dash 5k.  I wasn't feeling any pain so I thought I was ready to run again.  I got about 2 miles into my run when the pain hit.  About a half mile later it was too much and I had to stop and walk the rest of the way.  This was heartbreaking considering I was pacing towards a new PR, but my body comes first and I realized I needed to slow down.  Now I'm a little over 3 weeks away from my next half marathon and so nervous that I won't be ready considering my lack of training as I rest, or worse that I won't be able to run because of this ankle issue.

I was feeling pretty down about it yesterday, I was unwilling to accept that I have limits.  I don't like admitting weakness and definitely not defeat.  So hopefully with the proper care and rest I'll be where I need to be for Vegas.  Even if I have to crawl, roll, limp, shimmy or pimp walk then belly flop across the finish line, you better believe I will make it there.  In the mean time, I received the most amazing news today!  I literally have been smiling all morning since I read the message from I Run 4.  Finally, after months of waiting in anticipation, I have been matched with a buddy!  Awhile back I posted about motivation for running and the organization I Run 4.  They're really amazing and I definitely suggest you check them out.  I'm chatting with the mother of my buddy as I type this so I'll be writing a follow up post to tell you all about my little buddy soon!

Just remember, you're never given more than what you can handle.  Sometimes hitting rock bottom can remind you to start over and use that low point as the foundation to build your future on.  All you need is a new day to start over and make a change.  If you're having a rough time or struggling, have faith that you'll get through and be stronger for it.  When you don't have a leg to stand on, lean on your friends for support and let them help you continue pushing forward.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Woman in Balance

Ever feel like you're sinking in quicksand?  The more you try to fight your way to the top to get air you just end up getting pulled deeper and deeper into the pit.  It's a struggle, figuring out how to keep your head above water, but the best way to float is to find balance.  Remember when you were a kid and the first thing you learned about swimming was how to lay flat on your back and let your body just float to the top?  Life is the same way, sometimes you need to just relax and find your balance to stay afloat. 

Lately I've really been struggling trying to find the time for everything in my life.  I work full time, go to school full time, volunteer for various organizations and still need time to run and workout.  It's a lot.  Sometimes it feels like more than I can handle and I get overwhelmed.  Now that the days are getting shorter, it's getting harder and harder to fit everything into my day.  I can't get up early to run anymore because it's too dark to run by myself, that's not laziness, it's a safety issue in the city.  What I realized is that my way of finding balance is to focus more on my food now that I'm not spending as much time being active.  I refuse to lose my momentum or let my progress stall just because circumstances in my life have changed.  There will never be the perfect time for it, you just need to make the most of the time you do have.

I usually weight myself every Monday morning just to see where I'm at and keep a general idea of my progress.  I don't get caught up in the number, it's just one of many markers that I keep in mind to track where I'm at.  I have to say that after a couple weeks of school and a lack of quality sleep I was a bit worried to see where I would be.  I haven't been to the gym, or done much running, so the only thing that I had been focusing on is my "diet" (I use that term to generally define what I eat, not a specific regimen that I follow).  I'm happy to report that I actually managed to lose a pound!

When it comes down to it, there will always be something that will cause you to alter your plan and possibly veer you off course.  Be flexible and open to new options so that you can keep making progress.  Just because you were pushed in a different direction doesn't mean you need to go backwards or stop, keep moving forward and have faith that your focus and hard work will pay off.  You know how much you're putting in and what's realistic to expect from your efforts.  Don't expect to reap the rewards of work you're not doing, if you're honest with yourself you'll see the results.  Find your balance and you'll be unstoppable.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Just keep going

A few months ago I got an email advertising the Chicago Crosstown Classic 10k, a race that played on the rivalry between the north and south sides of the city.  I'm not originally from Chicago so I don't feel any real allegiance to either side, but at the end of the day I've only ever lived on the north side so it seemed an obvious choice to join Team Northside for the race.  At the time that I registered I was a bit nervous as this would be my first 10k race.  It was months away so I figured I had plenty of time to train.  Looking back now it's kind of funny that I was so nervous about this race and I ended up doing a half marathon and triathlon both before this one.

Let's take a little trip down memory lane to what my first 10k experience was.  The first 10k I ran was the Chicago 10k and it almost killed me.  I felt like I was going to collapse and turn into a little pile of dust.  I wanted to give up.  Around mile 5 my entire body was so fatigued and in pain that I wasn't even sure if I could make it to the finish line.  Tears welled up in my eyes.  I felt a mixture of pain, frustration but most of all determination.  I refused to be defeated.  After all, I had already done a half marathon, this 10k should have been a breeze.  The problem was that I was just pushing my body too hard.  I had been training fairly rigorously for my upcoming triathlon and had done a run through of the entire Sprint Triathlon distance the day before the Chicago 10k.  Crazy.  I know.

One of my biggest faults and strengths is that I don't think I have any limits, I like to think that I'm invincible.  Sadly, I am not, that day taught was a brutal reminder that despite the enormous strides I've made, I still have work to do.  It was a humbling experience to be so aware of the limits your body has.  It didn't matter though, I had no choice but to press on.  Somehow I was able to find a little pocket of energy buried deep in my heart that gave me just enough to get to the finish line.  It was rough, but when they handed me that giant Flavor Flav looking medal I couldn't help but grin a big toothy smile from ear to ear.  That big ol' shiny medal made it all worth it.

Reflecting back on that first experience I realized that for this 10k I would really need to step my game up.  I needed to redeem myself from that race to prove that I could do better, be stronger.  The Crosstown Classic was exactly what I wanted it to be.  I started the race amongst friends and each time I felt myself lagging I would look up and see a friendly face smiling back at me from the other side of course.  I don't think I've ever seen more of my friends than I did at that race.  It felt like every runner I knew was out there that day and they each pushed me just a little bit farther.  I'm happy to say that I felt great for all 6.2 miles of that run.  I was smiling, in great spirits and had high hopes of logging that coveted PR.  It was a great race and I had a phenomenal time being a part of it.

 I refuse to let anything stop me, whether it's in a race, at work, at school, or anything else in life.  You have two choices, you can either throw in the towel or you can use it to wipe the sweat off of your face and keep going.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Weight is just a number, don't let it define you

You're not fat, you have fat. There's a very important difference. You define who you are, not any arbitrary number like dress size or weight. Those things can change, but the person you are inside will remain the same. The most stunning accessory you can wear is your confidence. Let your inner beauty shine through and don't let anyone dim your light. Take a look at this before and current picture. I look happy in both don't I? That's because I was and still am, I felt just as beautiful as I do now when I was carrying around that extra 40 pounds.

Think about that for a minute as you take a look at the picture. The only difference between those two pictures is 40 pounds. Now, take a guess at how much my starting and current weights. I have a feeling most of you will be off, but hopefully the answer will give you some hope.
I've never been a fan of scales as a measure of success or progress. Sure they help, but they aren't the only means of validating your efforts. I've had countless people tell me that they've lost inches but not pounds. Don't take this as a set back, celebrate those victories because while you may not feel like it, those changes mean just as much as a few pounds.

Losing weight is a journey, and like any journey it will have ups, downs, twists, turns and any number of unexpected obstacles. It will be hard to keep going when you think you aren't making any progress at the beginning and feel like giving up is the only option. You'll feel like you've gone as far as you can when you hit a plateau and can't seem to break it, so you might consider turning back and falling into your old habits. Keeping up with your new body might seem impossible and you'll struggle to keep balance when maintaining your goal weight. You might get so overwhelmed with the praise you receive that you'll stray from what your original motivation was and lose sight of where you're going. Each new step of the way will have its own set of challenges and while it may not get easier, you'll get stronger with each one.

I've come a long way, 40 pounds is a lot to be proud of, but honestly there is so much more that I'd rather brag about. Losing weight has helped me run faster and longer which is one of my greatest accomplishments.  I've run a half marathon and countless other races of varying distances, some with crazy obstacles too. I've been fortunate enough to actually do a triathlon, something many people only dream of. While it may seem trivial, I can go into any store and actually find things that fit without getting frustrated or exhausted. These things are my real victories.  These tell me that I've made progress and have something to be proud of because the numbers still tell a different story. According to those markers, I'm still considered overweight and unhealthy.

I know it may not always be easy to see your inner beauty and to have it radiate out. It's a process to truly love yourself unconditionally even though it should be the one thing that comes most natural to us. Be proud of how far you've come even if you don't think its very much. I'm sure by now the suspense is killing you so I'll spill, I started at 221 pounds and am down to about 181 right now, I'm also a size 14. I'll go ahead and let that sink in for a minute. I have a sneaking suspicion that you might be in shock. It always throws people when I tell them and they say "but you look so skinny!". I think most of that has to do with the way I carry myself and the personality I portray to people. Confidence is key, if you believe you're beautiful and show that to others they will see it too no matter what the numbers say.
I saw this on Facebook and thought it might help put things in perspective for you