My First Half Marathon, it’s About More Than the Distance

The morning had finally arrived….the morning I was supposed to complete my first half marathon.

But life happened…….detours occurred……..and life stepped in the way in unexpected ways to keep me from starting and thus completing my first half marathon.

This past week I had to make a difficult decision about the race. 3 weeks ago, on my long training walk, the arch of my foot “popped” at mile 7. I was in immense pain and completing the 1.87 miles of that walk was difficult and long. But I made it home…….I really had no choice in the matter since I was 1.87 miles from home. My doctor ordered an x-ray, which showed that there was no fracture, so I took it easy on my foot. I rested, iced and taped my foot, hoping that something would make it better.

But nothing seemed to help.

After long conversations with my husband, I knew I needed to make a decision or risk a serious, long-term injury to my foot.

But my heart was not ready to do what my head knew I should do.

You see, the half marathon was about more than 13.1 miles. It was about more than crossing the finish line and receiving a medal.

Over the course of this past year, the half marathon became a symbol for me……a symbol of all that I have experienced this year………of the all the moments where I stepped outside my comfort zone…….of all the moments that I had to be stronger than I thought I could ever be…….of all that I cried about, laughed about and prayed about……..of all that I survived this year……..of all that I overcame and the personal growth that resulted………about all of those “life” moments that my mother never had the chance to experience…….and crossing the finish line of the half marathon would prove I was alive, that I survived and that I am thriving.

So, for me, not completing the half marathon was not a choice. I NEEDED to complete this race. And having to make the decision was ripping my heart out. EVERY time that I thought about not racing had my tears flowing. The emotions were hard to get past and the emotions were what I was basing my decision on………

Until……..

The day we left for Florida, walking through the airport, the pain shooting through my foot…..I knew then that I would not be able to complete the 13.1 miles. I could hardly walk to my gate. So, I made the decision while sitting in the airport that I would be there to support my husband and soon–to-be daughter-in-law, while they ran the half marathon and I would be there to support my son and his fiancé’s sister as they ran the full marathon. I was sad. I felt that I had given in to defeat.

But then my husband asked me what I had accomplished this year and what my mother would say to me. I have come a long way this year…..I stepped outside my comfort zone a number of times and I said “yes” more than I said “no” to experiences that sometimes brought fear to me and tested me. And this year I discovered just how strong I can be. I also had a HUGE shift in my mindset when it comes to exercise. This year I saw my son get engaged, something my mother never got to do. And I went Wedding Dress shopping, something mom and I looked forward to when I grew up. I LIVED this year instead of just existing and I learned to take better care of me. My mom would be so proud of me and of all the changes I have made and how I challenged myself to get out of my comfort zone and try something new.

So, I was not going to walk the half marathon that I had committed to almost a year ago. But that didn’t mean I wouldn’t do it. And as I picked up my race bib and t-shirt from the expo, with tears in my eyes, I told my husband that I WILL complete this half marathon when my foot heals and then he could give me my shirt. I wouldn’t have my medal, so the race shirt would be my reward……..

And then mother nature stepped in and in a twist, the half marathon was canceled because of lightening. This meant that all of those registered to run the half marathon would get their medals at the expo. And my husband and I spent time this morning when he should have been running and I should have been supporting him, at the expo.

When the young lady handed me my medal she sweetly asked if I wanted to wear it and I said “No thanks, I am not wearing it until I finish my 13.1 miles, when I will have earned it.”

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And finish it, I WILL! And mom will be right there smiling proudly.

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My BAM! Moment

I have heard many others say and I have said many times that Weight Watchers meetings are where the MAGIC happens! And I truly believe that meetings are magical! I have learned so much as a member and as a meeting Leader, from those who attend the meetings. And I have watched in awe as a member reaches that AHA moment during the meeting…..yes, meetings are where the MAGIC happens.

And that is part of why I still attend meetings as a member. I really feel that I am a member first and then an employee. And I still learn so much in my meetings……and THAT surprises me. I don’t why it should surprise me, but it does.

I was not able to attend my regular meeting the past two weeks because of life (yes, life happens) and when I miss my meeting my week seems off. So, I needed a meeting this past week.

2 days ago I walked into a meeting as a member. And I am so glad I did! It was EXACTLY what I needed in order to have that realization moment….that AHA!

Life has been emotional, difficult more often than not lately, stressful, frightening…..and when life throws those curveballs at me, my response is to find a way to escape, just for a moment where I can breathe. My escape is sometimes, though not most often, in the form of my last blog post—Make Your Heart Feel Good Day—but mostly that escape is in the form of mindless television, food, writing, and games on my kindle.

So, there I was in my meeting, listening to the leader and the members talk about fitness/activity…..ugh…..not my favorite subject, though I know I HAVE to do it! There it was……another chore…..the way I view fitness and approach fitness…….a chore. And ANY excuse will get me to put off getting my exercise.

So, I listened and then a gentleman talked……and he shared how he had to change his mindset about fitness. I was really listening……you know, the kind of listening where you lean forward to REALLY hear what is being said…..He shared that he had to start thinking about fitness the way he does work……we don’t get up one morning and decide that we just don’t feel like going to work today, so we are going to stay home, or suddenly in the middle of the day decide that we are too tired to work anymore and go home to veg……We can’t just put off work for ANY excuse or just because we feel like it, so he decided that was how he needed to think of fitness……as a job that he couldn’t just put aside for ANY excuse.

BAM! Hit me upside the head!

Yes, I needed to change the way I think about fitness.

And on my drive home, I did just that. By the time I reached home I knew what was going on and how I needed to change it.

My half-marathon training took a turn when I hurt my back and of course, THAT becomes an excuse to NOT go out for a walk/run. And like I said earlier, life has been difficult…..it is still a rollercoaster of emotions and events and the LAST thing I want to do is add another CHORE to my day, my week or my life……I am TIRED! I just want those small moments to escape……..and that is what fitness can be and is……..On the drive home I realized that fitness, my walks and runs for training for the half-marathon can be my escape. My time walking and running can be ME time…..time to pray, to converse with GOD, to talk to myself, to think, to plan, to contemplate and to just escape with my music and myself.

So, two days ago my mindset about fitness and my training was that it was a CHORE and after the meeting my mindset shifted and I now look forward to my time walking and even running…….it is my escape from reality!!

I am excited and ready to do this half-marathon!

Weight Watchers meetings really are magical!!

Stepping Outside My Comfort Zone

02A few weeks ago I came across this fitness journal and purchased it, thinking that it if I used it to journal my activity it just might help me in my training for my half-marathon.  And it has some GREAT quotes to inspire even this inactive, non-lover of sweaty exercise.

I have used the journal a few times, recording my walks and my short stints at running. And I have bookmarked the quotes that have touched my soul.

Earlier this week, my husband and I had decided that we would do a LONG walk this morning….and when this morning arrived, I did NOT want to get up and walk. I wanted to stay in bed longer.  But I forced myself to get up and off we went. 

I was stiff and my lower back was bothering me, but I walked. As we approached our planned turnaround point, my husband asked me how my back was doing.  And when I said that it actually felt better, he asked if I wanted to go ahead and go a little further before we turned around….uh, no!  I planned what point I would turn around and I didn’t want to stray from that plan, into the unknown………

And then…….we went further.

I am so glad we did. It was a little farther, a little more time with my husband and a little more time outside on a beautiful morning before the heat set in. 

When we got home, I pulled out my fitness journal to write down my steps, time and mileage and then I saw the quote for today—

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Yes!  Life DOES begin at the end of my comfort zone!

Changing course, going farther, doing something different……all outside my comfort zone. My comfort zone is my safe place…it is the known quantity. 

 I have talked a bit these past few weeks in meetings about getting outside our comfort zone in order to make change happen. When what we are doing is not getting us the results we are seeking, instead keeping us stuck where we are, then we need to step outside that comfort zone, try something different, DO something different and then we will see the change.  We are creatures of habit….at least I am.  And change has been a difficult thing for me because, for my younger self, change often meant sadness, stress, and that something awful was happening. 

I don’t like change. I like staying in that place where I feel safe and have a safety net….the place that is familiar, even in its dysfunction.

Yet, some of my GREATEST moments, some of my BIGGEST accomplishments, and many of my HAPPIEST times have come from stepping outside of my comfort zone, outside my box and into the unknown…..from taking the leap.

As a child of abuse my comfort zone was chaos. And dealing with that chaos and the emotional upheaval it created in me with food was my comfort zone.  Until I stepped outside that box, allowing myself to feel, face and deal with the abuse, the emotions and the forgiveness, I could not change nor heal.  Stepping outside my comfort zone during my weight loss journey with Weight Watchers and learning that there are other ways to deal with those emotions and the pain of my childhood, allowed me to find myself and my self worth.

It is so much easier for me to go back to the comfort, to go back to old habits, to do the things that I perceive protect me and offer me a safety net…..even when that comfort zone is dysfunctional and doesn’t work. Yes, that is the known and it is easier.  Living in my comfort zone is safe…….And getting outside that comfort zone is a scary world, there is so much that is unknown and it leaves me vulnerable and exposed, a place I don’t like to be.  But change is necessary in order to make progress and stepping outside that box is necessary to REALLY live and experience all that this crazy life has to offer.

For me, change didn’t happen until I tried something different, until I truly stepped outside my comfort zone and then life really expanded for me…..habits changed, my willingness to try new things grew, and my life became more than I had dreamed it could be.

If I had not stepped outside my comfort zone—

   –I never would have left home before I was out of high school, a change that got me out of the chaos and onto a path that has led me to this place in my life now, with my best friend beside me. 

   –I never would have met my siblings, or forced my way into meeting my birth father.

   –I never would have become a Leader for Weight Watchers….the thought of speaking in front of others was terrifying…..still is…..yet I am so very thankful I took that leap…the rewards have been priceless.

   –I never would have gotten on a helicopter, with the doors off…….an adventure that was exhilarating and frightening…..and an experience I would have regretted missing.

   –I never would have gotten involved as a military spouse to help others, to take care of others and to mentor younger spouses.  As a shy person who has a hard time meeting new people, my time as a military spouse was often terrifying…..new places, new people, new life…….But had I not gone to all those places with my husband and had I not gotten involved, I would have missed out on those opportunities to help and mentor and I would have missed out on meeting and getting to know the many wonderful, brave and caring people I met through our military life.  And my life would never have been enriched from those relationships and shared experiences.

    –I never would have started this blog.  Instead I would have just talked about it and wrote in my journal for only me to see.  The vulnerability is real and the reward from sharing my world through this medium, has been uplifting for me and my spirit.

    –I never would have signed up to do a half-marathon…..the results of that decision are still to be determined…..I am going to try my best and embrace the sweaty exercise along the way.

    –I never would have taken the recent step that has taken me outside my comfort zone, yet taking that leap has made me feel very proud, no matter how it turns out.  I tried.

And the list could go on…..

I am learning in my older years that life really does begin outside my comfort zone.

Stepping outside my box has allowed me to grow as a human, as a mother, as a wife and as a survivor. It is not easy and it scares me to the very core, leaving me exposed and quite vulnerable.  It may not always go the way I envision when I get out of my comfort zone, but it is now and has always been, WORTH IT, because I TRIED

This quote was perfect for me today.

As I deal with my emotions of these past few months and as I face unknowns while walking a different path than I had planned, I will embrace the changes that come and the opportunities to try something new.

And I will continue to look for new ways to step outside my comfort zone, to take that leap and LIVE.

Choosing Me

My heart was racing. Anxiety was building.  Was I really going to do this?  Really?  But what if I can’t?  I know it is going to be really hard.

The fear was creeping into my brain, threatening to change my mind, to hold me back from doing something I had agreed to do.

How often in my life have I let my fear rule my choices? Far too many times. 

“may your CHOICES reflect your hopes, not your fears” –Nelson Mandela

This quote that I read last week in my new Fitness journal came back to me in the moments leading up to my hitting the “confirm” button. Was I going to let the fear stop me, or was I going to choose to follow my hope, the faith in my ability and the faith my husband had in me? 

Another quote I read recently stuck out in my mind:

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As I clicked on the confirm button, my excitement grew…..I am going to do this. I have made my choice.  I am going to let fear mean that I am facing everything and rising!  I am going to do this despite my fear of failure, fear of disappointment, and deep down my fear of succeeding, of being proud of me. 

I did it. I registered for my first half marathon.

I made my choice and I have chosen me.

Believe

All week I have been talking in Weight Watcher meetings about Believing in ourselves and turning our negative thinking into positive thinking so that we can continue down the road toward what we are striving for. Believing in myself and my worth was key to my weight loss.  There are times when doubts creep in and the negatives become louder than the positive, but we learn the strategies to turn our thoughts around.  And sometimes we get a little reminder that we need to believe in ourselves, that we are worth it.

 Tonight I got one of those reminders.

I had had a rough day and came home from leading a meeting to find a package in my mailbox. I dumped everything on the counter, kicked off my heels and opened the package.  The package was from a very dear young lady who has been like a daughter to me and her little girl who is very much like my own grandchild….I was excited to open this unexpected gift. 

 Inside was a note congratulating me on my training for my half marathon and some very sweet words and inside the boxes were a chain and a charm to put on the chain….it said 13.1 on one side and fearless on the other side…..and my tears flowed….happy tears, amazed tears and tears of realization.

Every journey I have taken in my life has brought me some new insight into who I am and how the events of my life have affected me. And just when I think that I have learned it all, something happens, a new journey starts, a gift shows up in my mailbox and a new realization enters my realm. 

Until I received this precious gift I did not realize how much I needed to have someone believe in me—the kind of belief that comes out of the blue, unexpectedly. I also realized that I didn’t know how much I needed to believe in myself, how much I needed someone to believe in me all those years ago, when as a child or teen I wanted to step outside my box and try something new. 

In Weight Watchers meetings we talk about anchors, the tangible things or the imagined things that remind us why we are doing what we are doing, that remind us we can do it and help us to believe in ourselves. I had many anchors throughout my journey of losing weight and discovering “me” and now I have a new anchor to remind me to believe in me!

Don’t let my head get in the way of my heart

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Today I began my training.  The Half-marathon is in one year which is plenty of time to train.  If only my head would get out of the way…..

My husband and I walked this morning.  2.6 miles is not a lot when compared to the 13.1 miles I am committed to doing next January.  And I have walked many miles over the years, enjoying some of those walks and dreading others.

Today I realized that I am letting my head get in the way.  I can come up with all kinds of excuses to get me out of this–it’s too cold…I am hungry….I am tired…it’s too cold…..I have a year, why do I need to go faster now?……I have a year, I can start next week (and next week will never come)…it’s too cold! 

And then it hit me as we walked and as I complained when my husband suggested that we speed up a little between the light poles, that my head gets in the way of a lot of things I want to do.  The little voice inside my head that says I CAN’T do this.  The voice that always said I would never accomplish anything…..I wasn’t worth it!  That voice still lives in my head and has been there since I was a little girl.  I have found ways through the years to quiet that voice, almost vanquishing it completely.  Today, that voice popped up and I listened, for a minute.  And then I went on.

My dad’s voice will no longer keep me from accomplishing the things I want to do in my life. 

The second step in the journey of 13.1 miles and more importantly, in the journey of living life this year and breathing, is to not let my head get in the way of my heart! 

I am going to do this and so much more this year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Journey of 13.1 miles begins with a single step…

I am not, nor have I ever been a runner. I am a walker, and not the kind of walker you find in the show “The Walking Dead”.  I enjoy walks.  But I do not enjoy exercise.  So what in the world possessed me to agree to do a Half-Marathon?  Yes, 13.1 miles!  I must have lost my mind. 

 Or maybe, I happened to have my very words said back to me by someone I love.

This past weekend my husband, C, and I were having a discussion about next years Disney World Marathon weekend. C has run the marathon, the half-marathon, the Goofy Challenge (you run the half-marathon on Saturday and the full-marathon on Sunday), and he has run the Dopey challenge (running the 5k on Thursday, the 10k on Friday, the half-marathon on Saturday and the full-marathon on Sunday).  He is CRAZY!  And I admire his strength, determination and courage to run those races. 

The best part of running at Disneyworld, according to my husband, is running through the parks, early in the morning.  The best part of Marathon weekend at Disney World, according to me, is getting to play while my husband runs and being there to support him!  And that was what I was planning to do when we were discussing marathon weekend 2017.

And then those words I had said to him came back to haunt me…..”Isn’t this the year of living, taking the leap and leaving behind the fear? Isn’t this year about experiencing new things, despite your fear?”  Yes, it is.  And yes, I want to take the leap and just see where it goes and what happens.  And I told him that I could do that by walking the 5k and then supporting  him as he ran the half-marathon. 

And then he went in full force—“But you have done a 5k.  And what better way to spend your birthday weekend, your 52nd birthday weekend, than to do something that you have never done, something that scares you?”  Oh……he had me.  How could I argue with that? 

 Yes, I have lost my mind! And I am scared……what if I can’t finish?  What if I am too slow? What if I disappoint him, or my kids?  What if I disappoint myself?  That is a long way to go……and then he reminded me of the words I keep quoting from Oprah—“If not now, when?”

 If not now, when?

 Disney World will be a  great way to celebrate the end of this year, to celebrate turning 52. And what better way to take the leap than to be a participant, rather than a spectator.  This year really is about taking the leap, participating and experiencing all that life throws my way—the good, the bad, and the scary.

 The journey of 13.1 miles begins with a single step……the decision to do it!  Just Breathe!!