Thursday, October 30, 2008
But today, I did not run.
Today I did not run because on Saturday, while running around the very beautiful Lake of the Isles, I took one tiny little misstep, turned my ankle, and came crashing down to the ground, landing squarely on my left knee and hand. 2 hours later, I was in the ER, being xrayed, braced in a splint and sling, and ushered back out the door.
Radial Head Fracture.
Today I got the cast thingy off, with instructions to take it easy and come back in a week for a follow-up and more xrays. It appears that the injury isn't terribly severe, mostly just uncomfortable, and in the meantime, I'm taking vicodin for the pain.
It is with all that in mind that I write today's Take It And Run Thursday response.
"What superpower runners would have if you could? Sure, speed would be nice, but it seems like as a group we would get more creative than that. A shield to keep the rain out. The ability to stay warm or cool. I could see triathletes wanting to have Superman's trick of instantly changing clothes in handy phone booth."
My super power of choice would have to be magic healing powers! I can't tell you how many times I've gotten off track or given up a lot of running progress due to a turned ankle, a case of tendonitis, a pulled muscle, or now...a fractured ELBOW!? But the ability to heal on command (not to be confused with HEEL on command, although that would immensely help to prevent future injuries, as my 70 lb lab is terrible on the leash), would be amazing. No more time off, no more physical therapy... no more payback for a Saturday long run. Just the wiggle of my nose an my bones would knit.
In the meantime, I'm on doctor's orders to stay away from running for a bit -- and yoga -- obviously my poor arm wouldn't react very well to downward dog or the plank position. I can walk, and I can use cardio equipment at the gym. I didn't ask him, but I bet I can swim as well. I cannot lift weights, or do anything that requires pulling with force.
Given this streak of amazing weather, it's killing me to sit on my butt, watching the days go from light to dark. But... it could have been much worse, and for that I am very grateful.
Off and (not) running,
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
3 hours, a trip to the ER and many xrays later, I was splinted, slinged, bandaged up and en route to my parents house -- where I've been staying for the past few days. Driving is hard right now (the splint /half-cast has my elbow at a permanant 90 degree angle), plus I'm in vicodin for the somewhat-intense pain... which means I can't drive at all.
I will know more after my appointment with an orthapedic surgeon on Thursday morning. Please send big vibes for fast healing, and that I can get back to my athletic ways as soon as possible.
There are a million different thoughts in my brain right now about running, weight loss, athletics in general... and I'm too tired to articulate them, other than to say this:
There was a time in my life when I looked for every reason to sit on the sofa and waste away the hours watching TV. There is still a place for couch-potato antics in my life, but not being able to be outdoors and be active is slowly killing me. I am miserable. I'm making the most of the down time, and definitely enjoying the time with my parents, but this sucks.
I had a meeting with a client today, and he said the following to me:
"jess, this must be making you miserable -- I mean, you're so athletic... every time I see you, you're lugging around a gym bag, or talking about running or biking or yoga. You must be going crazy!"
"....you're so athletic..."
I can't think of a better compliment -- or a better way to sum up why this "sitting around and being taken care of" is so hard.
Off and (not) running,
Thursday, October 23, 2008
So it seems appropriate that today's "Take It And Run Thursday" post relates to weight loss and gain struggles brought on by running.
Today's theme is .... Running and Weight. Getting down to or maintaining your ideal running weight seems to be a common challenge for most runners. And it's time we take it on in the Lounge. Share your tips of how you determined your perfect running weight and maintain it. We are also really interested in your weight loss tips and stories. Especially as we go into fall and winter (and the dreaded little candy bar time of the year), we would love to know how you get through temptations and other food challenges.
When I first started running, it seemed to miraculously erase the pounds from my body -- certainly, I had post-run bloating that caused a rise in the scale for a day or so, but it would all even out in the end -- I was burning so many calories an building a bit of muscle at the time, so the weight seemed to fall off. Since I weighed close to 200 lbs when I started running, every pound I lost had a very positive impact on the ease and comfort of my running -- I believe that every pound you carry on your frame equates to about 4 pounds of pressure on your joints when you run. Thus, as I hit my all-time low weight near the end of my marathon training, running felt pretty damn easy (well, except for those 18-20 mile runs -- nothing easy about those). Point being -- I got to a weight where any difficult brought on by running wasn't about my weight, but by the challenge I was facing up to.
Fast forward to a year later and 15 lbs heavier -- it HURTS, people. I can feel it with every footstrike. I'm more stiff and sore the day after a run than ever, and my body often feels like jello --a far cry from the hardbodied athlete I felt like at this time last year.
Losing weight during marathon training was virtually impossible for me after a certain point -- for one thing, you have to keep your calories up so that you have the energy for your long runs. Also, I was STARVING all the time. My goal for this year -- to get back to my "fighting weight" and even lower so that if (when?) I train for TCM 09, it will be at a leaner, meaner mass.
As for tips and tricks, I could write a book (har har har) about this -- and now that I seem to have found my way back onto the Healthy Living Wagon (after falling off, skinning my knees, banging up my chin, and getting dragged by aforementioned wagon for about 12 months), I'm constantly reminded how this is actually just my way of life now -- not a diet, not a fad, or not something crazy I'm doing... rather, how I live. Healthy meals. Fresh ingredients. Home cooking. Regular exercise. Plenty of water. Rewarding and fulfilling times with loved ones. Laughter. Hobbies fueled by passion. Early bedtimes.
(Never underestimate the importance of early bedtimes!)
Healthy choices made not out of obligation but of desire and unconscious instinct.
And perhaps the most important -- the ability to loosen the reigns on a Saturday night, and enjoy a meal out with friends; a bottle of wine by the fire, filled with girltalk and laughter... and then wake up to a fresh slate on Sunday -- GUILT FREE.
I guess my number one tip is this: it all starts with sleep. For me, it's the "sleep-food-exercise" trifecta, like a 3-legged stool of success, and if one of those legs is weak or shorter than the other, the stool can't balance.
I get a good night's sleep (sometimes, if I've been particularly off track, I need two nights in a row before this kicks in). The sleep allows me to wake up energized and start my day off on the right foot -- with a healthy breakfast, made BEFORE I get so hungry that I'm grasping for anything edible. The sleep + food = energy to power me through a good workout. The workout inspires me to keep making healthy food choices throughout the day, plus provides the calorie burn that allows a bit of flexibility. The workout tires me out, so I sleep well again
It all starts with a good night's sleep.
To that end -- I'm having one of those weeks where I'm "firing on all cylinders." I've been going to bed between 10-11 PM each night. I've worked out (hard) every day for the past week, with exercise ranging from hiking to yoga to swimming to running to intense yard work. My body is pleasantly sore. Food choices, 90% of the time, have been instinctively good. And I've slept like a baby.
On that note -- it's one of the final nice days here in Minneapolis. The temps are getting cooler. Leaves are almost gone, and grass is turning brown. I've been holding off on replacing my storm windows as long as possible, because that means I really have to admit that winter is coming, and my days of outdoor running are numbered. Today is a nice sun/cloud/wind mix, with temps in the mid-50s.... and away I go.
Off and running,
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
This morning, I was up early to hit the gym and swim laps (done and done), however due to some scheduling and goggle issues, it wasn't quite the workout I wanted it to be - thus, I am out the door momentarily to meet a friend for yoga at a DIFFERENT studio -- one that I don't really consider yoga in the spiritual sense, but... it is a workout that will kick my ass. :-)
Tomorrow I'll hit the gym for a weight / cardio workout before starting meetings at 10 AM that last until about 1 PM (note: I might switch the workout to 1 PM, AFTER my meetings, depending on what my morning ends up looking like -- things have a way of coming undone when I have co-workers in town, as is the case this week).
Thursday I am contemplating a trip to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum to run -- it's free on Thursdays, and I was there on Sunday and blown away by the beautiful, peaceful landscapes. It seems like an ideal running setting, so why not, huh?
Friday, Saturday, and Sunday I'm all about whatever outdoor workouts weather will allow -- and if weather won't allow, I'll work with my basement equipment or hit the gym.
I'm considering this week my "boot camp," and as I continue to push myself physically, I'm reminded that the more I exericse, the more I WANT to exercise. THis week's regiment might seem excessive, but it really isn't -- humans were born to move.
Off and running,
Sunday, October 19, 2008
It's perfect. Slight breeze, temps in the mid-60s, a Robin's Egg blue sky, and a bright ball of fire up there, only restricted by a few passing clouds of white fluff.
On days like today in MInneapolis, when you own a really hyper 65 lb dog that drives you MAD unless she gets enough exercise, it's also a crime to not go to the dog park.
On days like today in Minneapolis, when your name is Jessica Seaberg, it's also really difficult to make decisions. And often those decisions lead to inaction, which then leads to a time crunch, when then leads to a Monday morning filled with "if only I'd..." thoughts.
After about 90 minutes of couch time this morning -- coffee, breakfast, blogs, and finally watching the season finale of Project Runway (YAY!!!! Leann!!!), I thought "Hmm, I should go for a run." And then I thought "Hmm, I should go to the dog park," and then the phone rang, and it was a girlfriend inviting me to do something I also really wanted to do -- namely, take advantage of this AMAZING day by hitting the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum to look at fall colors and attend an apple tasting.
"If only I'd..."
I knew that I needed some exercise (last night's activities involved "date night" with myself -- catching up on TiVo, frozen pizza and ice cream, a good book, a bubble bath, and an early bedtime), but also knew that it was only fair that Gracie (aforementioned 65 lbs of spazz), got some exericise too. I also knew that I REALLY wanted to go to the arboretum.
I loaded up the dog in the car, thinking that I'd drive to Lake of the Isles, park about 10 minutes away from the dog park, jog to the park with her, let her romp a while, and then jog back -- 20 minutes of jogging was better than nothing, right?
And instead, I surprised myself --
I ran, with Miss Gracie, all-the-heck-the-way-around Lake of the Isles, in 30 minutes FLAT. It was awesome. I literally saw my car and thought, "oh, we're done!" just as the watch clicked over to 31:00:00 (I'd started it 1 minute before arriving at the lake).
Some quick math (2.86 / 30), tells me I was running just under 11 minute miles -- 10:49, to be exact. And although that's by no means SPEEDY, this is after some fairly craptastic running lately -- and from the girl who routinely has been known to run 12, 13, and 14 minute miles. NOT BAD.
Of course, I came home filled with pride and astonishment -- not only about my pace, but about the thrill of running with my buddy. When I adopted Gracie, I was a novice runner (oh, hell -- I'm STILL a novice runner -- even with a marathon under my belt), and I really wanted her to be my running pal. She's been difficult to leash train, but today, with just a bit of persaverance, I learned that you can teach both and old dog -- and an old gal -- new tricks.
And now, of course, I'm setting my sights on my goals for '09, and thinking that maybe I'd like to train for the marathon again. MAYBE. Or maybe not. We'll see. But whatever the case may be, I know that running longer distances again is in my future.
And now -- because of the brilliant exercise multi-tasking -- I'm fresh out of the shower, and off to meet my friend at the arboretum.
Off and running,
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Quotes and quips that keep you motivated!
Well, I have many of those.
The quote that started it all for me was John Bingham's "the miracle isn't that I finished; the miracle is that I had the courage to start."
These days, as I pull myself out of a year-long tough rut and get back out on the pavement, rekindle my spirit, and remember why I run, I'm living by a different mantra.
“Our running shoes are really erasers. Every step erases some past failure. Every mile brings us closer to a clean slate. Each foot strike rubs away a word, a look, or an event which led us to believe that success was beyond our grasp.”
I wrote about this quote last year when training for the marathon -- and these days, as I enter a phase of struggling to figure out who & what I am, what I stand for, and what I wanna be when I grow up, nothing seems more appropriate.
Without further ado, I give you:
Erase and Rewrite
Whenever I read this quote from John Bingham, my eyes immediately fill with tears. I have such an instant, uncontrollable emotional reaction to those words that it always takes me by surprise. I immediately flash back and started playing “old tapes.”
I have vivid memories of 6th grade gym class, when running just one mile seemed painful and impossible, and I used every single excuse in the book to get out of it. “I think I have tendonitis in my heels,” I tried one time. “These shoes just aren’t good enough to run in.” Not bad for an eleven year old. The Presidential Physical Fitness Challenge was a joke to me—how could I possibly be expected to do all those pull-ups and climb a rope? Those four laps around the track seemed like they took hours. It is hard to believe that, these days, I can cover that territory in just over 10 minutes.
In 10th grade gym class, when my gym teacher (who happened have been my father’s high school football coach), looked at me during role call on the first day of school and called out, “Seaberg? I know your father—I expect some fine athletics out of you,” I wanted to disappear. He didn’t know I was the self-proclaimed band geek who would, just weeks later, shatter my wrist playing soccer in his class and spend the rest of the semester tutoring mentally handicapped kids, a far better match for my interests and skills at the time.
When it came time to pick a college, I am embarrassed to admit, something that caught my eye about my small, liberal arts school is the fact that rather than a fitness requirement, they had an arts requirement—music, painting, acting. Sign me up!
I have always told myself, over and over again, “I’m not an athlete, I’m not athletic. I can’t run. I’m not good at sports.” These tapes played for years, especially, “I can’t run.” It echoes in my head sometimes even today, and now that I look back on it, I can’t decide whether to laugh or cry.
I laugh because, amazingly, not only can I run, but I’m actually kind of good at it. I’m not fast, but the years of working out and losing weight have actually conditioned my body, or at least my cardiovascular system, into that of a pretty good endurance athlete. I cry because I feel sorry for that girl who didn’t understand that some people just aren’t born able to excel athletically, whose teachers expected every kid to be a natural-born track star. I giggle with validation, because I’ve realized that like my flute and piano playing, like the lines I memorized for plays and the lyrics I memorized for choir, it takes practice, dedication, discipline, and painstaking attention to detail. Those were my passions at the time, and without realizing it, they taught me just as much about athletics as any coach. Most importantly, it taught me that you always have the opportunity to do better next time, and that no matter what mistakes you make, there is a lesson to be learned in every performance.
My running shoes really are erasers. Every time I put them on, I feel that I have the power to erase (and then rewrite) a part of my identity—whether it is the years of self-doubt, or the terrible run last weekend when it was so humid I wanted to cry, or the mental “tapes” that I played for years, that sometimes still creep into my brain. The power of every foot strike and each mile I log rewrites and reinforces the notion that we are all so much more than just sums of our past—just because you’ve always been something (or told yourself you were), doesn’t mean that is who you have to continue to be. The beauty of being unique humans aiming for an authentic life is the ability to constantly reevaluate, reinvent, and rewrite. We are a bright, wide-open future, just waiting to be discovered; an unlimited path of potential, just waiting for somebody to run.
People say to me, all the time, flippantly, “Oh, that’s great that you are doing that, but I can’t run.” I want to sit them down and lecture them, but I refrain—instead, I just smile and say “sure you can… you just have to decide, and then work at it.”
To anybody reading this that plays those mental tapes of self-doubt, I encourage you to take today to “erase and rewrite.” Put on your shoes, step out into the sunshine, and run towards the person you want to be.
Today, I'm posting this just before flying out the door and flying to San Francisco for a 2-day whirlwind trips of meetings and projects. This time, I'm running the show (not my boss) and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't just a bit nervous. It marks a change in my role within our department, company, and my account. And I know that it's time to erase the past tapes where I was a low level worker on the account, and rewrite myself as a powerful young executive, capable, strong, and filled with energy and ability.
As a bonus -- I'll have time on Thursday afternoon to go for a really long run in a city I love. Can't think of a better way to find my mind.
Off and running,
Friday, October 10, 2008
Like most of my runs lately, it started out painfully -- and I don't mean actual PAIN as much as I mean... I felt pathetic, like I was no longer capable of running. But as I eased into it, suddenly 10 minutes turned into 20, which turned into 30, and then into 40. And after 60 minutes total, I'd burned about 500+ calories, and returned to my home -- peaceful, envigorated, and strong. The whole world looks different to me after a run like that -- suddenly, I'm not stressed and incapable, but strong and in-control. After a run like that, I feel like I can do ANYTHING.
Today will be a non-running day as I recouperate and leave myself some energy for tomorrow -- I'm meeting a girlfriend for a 10 AM Vinyasa Flow yoga class, which will serve as my Saturday workout. Sunday, perhaps, a run. Today is overcast and a bit wet outside, so I'll probably stick to the treadmill in my basement for some exercise.
I feel "back."
It feels good to be back.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Signs you would love to see while running your race.
At first, this topic confused me -- I thought "like what, street signs?!" and then I remembered the immense crowd support that came with my race last year; the friends, family, and complete strangers who cheered me on. Some had signs designed for individual friends; some had signs designed for the whole crowd. Some were empty-handed, using those hands to clap while the cheers flew from their mouths.
Last year, I ran past my family at the water stop at the end of my street. I knew they'd be there, and it was easy to look for them -- especially when I saw my mom, holding up a huge poster that read:
"Jess, the wolves are with you!"
Just weeks before, I'd written a column about my mom and her many girlfriend getaway weekends throughout the years -- and how one particular weekend, she and her friends came home talking about a book called "Women Who Run With The Wolves" (The theme of this book and this column are still greatly applicable to my life, especially as it pertains to writing, but commenting on that would take this entry in a whole new direction and depth, one that I dont' think needs explaining -- basically, read the column).
Seeing that sign brought tears to my eyes -- and pushed me through the next mile. Knowing that they were with me not only that day, but through the whole journey, was comforting in a way that only a mother (and other mothers) can bring.
Other "signs" weren't signs at all, but exhibits of support I wasn't expecting -- friends who I hadn't seen in months; a then-boyfriend who came out of the woodwork and met me at mile 21, walking with me for a mile or so. A brother and mother who walked by my side during the walk-breaks when I could barely move anymore. A car that drove by, with three little girls in the back seat, who called out "Jessica, we're your biggest fans!" (I still have no idea who that was -- if it was you, speak up!). Tears at the finish line, comments to my blog, letters and emails of admiration and support... they were all signs that what I'd done was amazing, unexpected, and REAL.
As a big believer in all sorts of metaphorical signs, I'm constantly looking for them, constantly asking for them. When life is tough, confusing, and un-navigatable, I'm always on the watch.
Today, I'm taking this very theme as a sign that it's time to get out there and hit the pavement. Despite a dog begging to be walked, dishes in the sink, and a workday that is screaming my name, I'm going to take it and run. The wolves are with me.
You can visit The Runner's Lounge to read other TIART stories, and read about next week's theme: favorite running quotes (I already know my topic).
Off and running,
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
So I set out for a quick one -- after all, it wasn't 26.2, more like 2.6. Easy peasy. I only ran for about 20 minutes and then walked back -- my sore left knee was giving me a little trouble -- and by the time I was done, I was cold and unhappy. Don't get me wrong -- the run itself felt great, but I was sniffling and dripping and cold and cranky about it.
So then I showered, worked for a few hours, and spent my lunch hour shopping.
But it was basically the first significant movement I've had since Friday, so I knew I needed to something or risk going totally stir crazy.
I'll be on my feet tonight, as I'm going to a concert... better than sitting on my butt watching TV, no?
Off and primping,
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Today's weather couldn't be more opposite -- in fact, I turned the HEAT on for the first time this year.
I had a late night with friends, celebrating my re-30th birthday. My street butts up against the marathon course, and my typical routine is to walk down to the end of the block and cheer on the runners. I actually love doing this, and look forward to it every year.
This morning... gloom and doom and rain and wind made me want to huddle under a blanket with the remote control and dog, and not emerge until the sun came out.
But then I remembered... I remembered all the people who came out to cheer me on. I remembered how important the crowd support is, and how during a drizzly half-marathon, I felt sapped of energy due to the lack of support.
I cried, just like I always do, at all the amazing feats of humanity -- a woman ran by me with a shirt that said "Cancer: 0. Me: 4."
I think that's where I burst into tears.
Another woman with a cast on her arm.
Many people dedicating their runs to others...
And I kept clapping and cheering, soaking wet, freezing cold -- because NOBODY'S discomfort compares to that of the runners on this day. This day that they've worked for all summer... this day that could have been beautiful and perfect, and instead was cold and wet.
Runners... you all amaze me.
Off and reflecting,
Friday, October 3, 2008
Quality over quantity, if you will.
I started the day off with a 2 hour walk with my dog - it was a PERFECT day, and as I strolled from my front door down to the Parkway, around Lake Nokomis, and home, I fielded a few "Happy birthday" calls from my brother, sister in law, and others. I felt fulfilled in a way that has been missing for a while, and the clear sky and air definitely helped.
After my walk, I booked a massage... 1:30 PM... which meant I finished just in time to hit-up a 3 PM yoga class nearby, which finished in time for my 4 PM conference call, which put me in the shower at 5 PM and out the door at 6 for 6:30 dinner reservations at a favorite restaurant with my wonderful parents.
(Where, after eating nothing but an apple and a handful of almonds all day, I ate a steak. And red wine. And dark chocolate flourless cake with a ganache finish. And it was damn good).
When I got home, there was a package waiting for me on the front steps -- A Pajama-gram! Sent from a good friend in California who obviously still understands the need for warm pjs on a crisp fall night in Minneapolis... so Gracie and I snuggled up with some flannel and the remote control and watched the debates.
And I was in bed before 11.
And up at 7.
And on the pavement by noon.
In years past, I might have felt sad about not having a boyfriend to share my day with me (this is the first birthday since 25 that I"ve been single -- and all of those birthdays were shared with the same man, even last year, after we'd broken up). I might have wished for a big party or celebratory dinner with friends... and in remembering years WAY back, I would have been downtown, partying it up.
This year, I feel like I have everything and everyone I need and want, in just the right times, places, and doses.
(Granted, tomorrow night I AM throwing a birthday party -- but it's nothing fancy. Munchies, a keg, a firepit on the patio, good friends, good music).
Off and reflecting,
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
I wrote a column about this last year -- my FINAL column, fresh off of mile 26.2. It was a perfect wrap up to my series, as it basically summarized everything I had been ruminating on the pavement during not only the course of my 20 week training program, but the entire year before. Rather than reinvent the wheel, I've decided to simply reprint it.
WIthout further ado, I present...
The Miracle Isn't That I Finished (with respect to John Bingham).
I started writing this column the day before the marathon, because I didn’t want my message to be colored by the outcome of the race. That was smart, given that I woke up at 5:30 AM on Sunday to 72 degree heat and 84% humidity… which only got hotter and wetter as the day went on. Under conditions like these, training goes out the window, and you just have to make the best of what you’ve been given. I’m sure most of you heard of the mess that was the Chicago Marathon – but what you didn’t hear was that had it been 1 degree warmer at the start of the Twin Cities Marathon, officials would have cancelled the entire event.
Through blisters, humidity-induced asthma, scorching sun, humidity, and getting passed up by the sweep vehicle, I prevailed. I can now say that I FINISHED the Twin Cities Marathon.
Over the past 20 weeks I’ve come to see running as a metaphor for life. I want to share with you some of the most important things I’ve learned.
You cannot ACTUALLY run away.
In one of my earliest columns, I said “this journey is as much about running away from the person I used to be as it is about running towards the person I’ve become.” I want to rescind that statement. You can’t run from your past. More importantly, you shouldn’t want to. After all, those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it, and we all learn from our mistakes. Similarly, you cannot run away from your present. There were times throughout this summer where it became crystal clear to me that I was using running as a coping mechanism – albeit healthier than smoking, drinking, over-eating, or shopping, but a mechanism nonetheless. No matter how far or fast you run, you’ll never outrun what is bothering you – you’re better off learning to run TOWARDS those problems with all of your might, building the strength, perspective, and confidence necessary to conquer the beast.
It’s okay to put yourself first.
I’m what appears to be the most social person you’ll ever meet. A natural hostess; a social butterfly. But nothing makes me happier than the solidarity and independence of a long run alone. I thought about finding a running group, but in the end, I actually don’t enjoy running with other people. I look at running as the only time in my over-programmed and overly-concerned-with-others life when I get to focus on nothing but myself. I don’t want to wait, and I don’t want to rush. I just want to run on my own terms. It’s very selfish, and I’m 100% okay with that. I’ve often quipped that when I’m running is when I solve my problems, and it is hard to do that when you are making conversation or gasping for breath to keep up with somebody else. To everybody I ran with this summer – and everybody that offered – I love you, I thank you, but I don’t wanna run with you (and if I change my mind, I promise I’ll ask).
Step out of your comfort zone.
Two years ago, when I watched the marathon for the first time, I cried because it looked so amazing. I wanted to do it, but I was afraid to even WANT… I was afraid that I wasn’t capable, I was afraid that I’d try and then fail, and just look pathetic. Deciding to step outside my comfort zone and do the unthinkable has brought me so many more rewards than just fitness and weight loss – if I hadn’t taken that risk, I wouldn’t be here, writing to all of you -- a dream come true. I wouldn’t be evaluating my life’s success by different standards: happiness, health, authenticity, and fulfillment. A woman ran by me wearing a shirt that said “The miracle isn’t that I finished, the miracle is that I had the courage to start.” I didn’t know it at the time, but that was a John Bingham quote, and it became my mantra.
Goals are grounding
I’m not sure that in my 30 years, I’ve ever really had tangible goals. Sure, I wanted to get into a good college and get a good job – those were givens. But never in my life have I TRAINED for something. I’ve never had something tying me to a schedule, a routine, and a way of life. Training for a marathon is definitely an exercise, no pun intended, both in restraint and exertion. It is just as hard to keep yourself from overtraining on a good week as it is to push yourself extra hard during the times when running feels, quite frankly, like hell. This rigorous and disciplined training provided a refreshing structure to my life – in a way, it was nice to not wonder or worry about Friday night plans or how to spend my Saturday mornings.
Overcoming inertia is the hardest part.
When I first walked through the door of Weight Watchers, “for real this time,” it was October 24th, 2003. I had just returned from a business trip to New York City, where I smoked what I vowed was my last cigarette.
I stepped on the scale.
I weighed 250 pounds.
Then, I put on my big girl panties and got to work.
I never walked through those doors aiming, or even CONSIDERING that I would have the life I’ve earned today. The goal was never to lose 100 pounds and run a marathon.
The goal was just to do… something. The use of the word “earned” above is intentional. I was not just given this life, this body, or this state of self-awareness. I had to work for it, search for it, claw my way to the holy grail of health and happiness. I was given all the tools and raw materials – a wonderful family, parents who raised me well and loved me and supported me, general health, education, a brain, a strong circle of friends, and a good attitude.
Life was definitely a lot easier at 250 lbs. But it wasn’t better, because the unfortunate irony of life is that things easily acquired are very rarely worth having. The difficult things in life – the ones that take blood, sweat, and tears -- are the ones we value. That first step was the hardest. Overcoming inertia -- like the first cycles of peddling a bicycle -- is the hardest. After that, the momentum of the initial struggle launches you into space, raises your trajectory and allows you to soar, in some cases higher and steeper and faster than you ever dreamed possible.
That’s why the quote above became my mantra -- because the miracle here is not that I’ve finished – I always finish what I start – it’s that I ever began. That I trusted myself enough to walk through the doors, sit down, and admit that I needed help. That I signed up for that first 5K, then that first 10K, my first half-marathon, and ultimately, the full 26.2 miles.
It comes back to the very first quote I ever wrote about – “The journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step.” Even if you don’t know where you’re headed, I encourage you to start that journey today. Your destination most likely will surprise and empower you.
In the meantime, just enjoy the run.
Off and enjoying... this wonderful, amazing, blessed life that I'm not even sure how I have,