A Real Half Marathon

I got to run a real half marathon this weekend in Central Illinois. It was chip timed, Boston Qualifying, and there were other people there. The water stop was different since they were single use water bottles. Nutrition was the responsibility of the runners and was set on a self service table before the “gun.” The course was loops instead of an out and back or single loop. The race was put on by It’s Race Time, who provided bib boards to the participants in place of disposable pins. They had an app I used and received cheers from my adoring fans throughout the race. I loved the experience. A food truck stepped up and gave us a free post race meal. Healthy in a Hurry had really good food, by the way. I had the fish tacos, which were grilled fish, cole slaw, white cheese, and sauce on tortillas. Delicious.

I have no idea how the conversation started last week, but I was at the gym and the conversation went to the coming half marathon. I somehow agreed that I could PR despite my own reservations about being able to. I spent the next couple days trying to shift my “I’ll try,” into “I’ll do it.” I convinced myself that I had to do it instead of simply being able.

Sunday morning arrived and it was windy and chilly as expected. I knew exactly what to wear from experience. I would need a short sleeve shirt, fake sleeves, gloves, and my pants that are vented on the backs of the legs. My threshold for long vs short sleeves is about 40 degrees. I can run cold, but if I get too hot, it’s miserable. My start wave was 8:20, which was great for me because that meant I could eat a real breakfast (overnight oats) instead of a stroopwafel like I do for early morning runs. I run better on real food. I drank a caffeinated Nuun to fill up on electrolytes prior to the race. I made sure to use the bathroom as much as possible before heading out on my 20 minute drive to Lake Bloomington.

I got to the race site and parked on the rural road shoulder meaning my car was leaning into a ditch. I walked down to Judy’s car and sat inside the warm car chatting with her until my wave was about to start. I walked to the start and it seemed like nobody was there despite the announcement that the wave started in 4 minutes. I took a dot on the ground near the middle and saw very few people behind me. The horn sounded and we were off. I was running close to a 9 minute pace and trying to pull back so I wouldn’t burn out, but I felt like the effort was easy. I stopped looking down at my watch as more people passed. I think everyone in my heat got ahead of me. I tried to just run comfortably.

After the first mile, we were into the loop with short hills and a couple of longer ones. I was feeling good. The app on the phone said my estimated finish time was 2 hours 12 minutes. That was 5 minutes better than what I was planning. I slowly realized that the app was not as accurate as my watch as each mile ticked along. I took my first GU at 3.5 miles as planned. I walked as I took it and my water, also part of what I planned. The GU exploded all over my hand and face and I squeezed it into my mouth. It was chocolate flavored. I licked what I could off of my gloves and tried to wipe my face with my shirt. It distracted me a little bit. I asked someone at the water table whether I had GU on my face and explained I had to know since it was brown. I got through the first loop and the checkpoint (the start/finish line was a turnaround).

I went back toward the loop and I really felt confident and comfortable. I was on pace to finish in the time I’d planned and I was hearing cheers through the app at every mile I crossed. I was able to take another GU around 7 miles without getting it all over myself thanks to removing my gloves. My music was keeping me entertained and I knew the course from running in training. I turned the checkpoint again and took the energy of the people who cheered. I decided to take my final nutrition at 9 miles for a shot of energy. I saw sweat on my sleeves and pulled them off to tie them around my belt. I put the gloves back on because the wind was making my hands cold. I was still comfortable and my pace felt good.

With only four miles left, I ran a couple hills, looked at my pace and saw it slowing. I felt like it was out of control. I tried to move my feet faster, drop them more quickly, lean forward. None of my usual tricks were working. Inside of mile 11, I started feeling disoriented with nobody around. I thought I’d gotten off course despite having just passed a man I’d seen twice before taking race photos. I did the math and realized that I’d have to run 2 miles at less than 9 minutes each to beat my PR. I took 30 seconds and walked to try to regain my speed. My pace didn’t rebound when I started running again. I realized my mind was falling apart before my body and took my headphones off and prayed. I focused on nothing more than finishing the race because my mind would not stop telling me I needed to walk because I wasn’t going to get my time and it would be more comfortable to walk. I felt my eyes well up and no tears came. I felt angry. Once I could see the finish line, I sped up as much as I could and it wasn’t as fast as some of the times I finish a run. I crossed the finish line at 2 hours 20 minutes and 18 seconds. I was relieved. I knew before I got there I wasn’t going to PR that day. I didn’t even check my time when I crossed. My friend, Sandra brought me a water and congratulated me and chatted. I looked at my time after that. I finished my 9th half marathon with a time 22 minutes better than my Detroit time last October. I finished 2 minutes and 20 seconds from my best. That’s still pretty good and the best I’ve done since my injury in 2016.

That was not my intent. I wanted to PR my half marathon before turning 40 in January 2021. I had no idea there wouldn’t be races this year. My plan was to get that record out of the way in Missouri on October 4th. That was supposed to be my 10th half marathon. Oh well.

Now I’m signed up for a competition at my gym next month. I was reluctant to sign up, but somehow my own words were reflected in something and I felt like it was a sign that I should. I’d said in a photo caption after my race: “It isn’t about winning. Sometimes it’s just about being the best damn me I can be. I rocked that. I owned it.”

Thanks for reading! I can’t wait to tell you more about my adventures.

Another Weight Loss Attempt?

A couple weeks ago, I started Noom to lose weight. Since March 2019, I’ve lost about 30 pounds. I’ve been stuck at that weight and changing body composition. I lost fat and gained muscle slowly, but I was still looking at myself and seeing my soft stomach, arms I referred to as “baby fat,” and generally not being as fit looking as I’d wanted. I have tried other methods to increase my fat loss including counting macros. My issue was my relationship with food. I wouldn’t let myself eat enough calories to fuel my workouts and I’d feel weak and exhausted. I would diet strict and every slip would turn into a binge or into 3 meals of fast food in a row to make up for all I’d missed.

My reason for choosing Noom was that it said that it used psychology to help people change their habits. It referenced dialectical behavioral therapy as one of the methods. I signed on for a 2 week trial that ended today and I’m going to continue through the course of the program.

So far, I enjoyed cookies a couple times and it was within my acceptable calories and food types. I didn’t over indulge. I’ve lost about 5 pounds. My goal was initially to lose 30 pounds. My last body composition said that I should lose 25 pounds of fat. My body mass index stated that I need to lose about 16 pounds to be within a “normal” range.

While I’m really excited about the prospect of getting to my goal, I’m still in the early stages. I had moments where I doubted myself. I’ve gone over on calories. I ate too many fats in a day. I had to battle the voice inside that wanted me to give up and enjoy anything I wanted instead of what I needed for fuel. I had to look back on articles to find out how to deal with “I can’t ever do this.”

My husband has been supportive, but doesn’t totally understand that I can eat whatever I want to with planning. My friends that I told were not fully behind the idea of me paying for a program. I have hit a lot of walls looking for help with this for years. I joined my current gym after trying different types of cross training alongside my running for a few years. That was when I finally lost what I did, so who’s to say this won’t work?

My depression has improved. I’m not fully attributing that to dietary changes as I had the medication adjustment recently. I have been more sleepy than I’d like to be, but I’m aware that the cause is getting up at 5am after waking up a lot at night. I sure do enjoy working out at 6am, now. I feel like I have the rest of the day to get things done. The biggest thing on my mind lately is that I can’t be sure if my perception is messed up because of my mental illness or if people don’t like me, so I’m having a hard time communicating. I don’t want to annoy anyone, I suppose. That would be a talk therapy or workbook type of issue, though.

Athletically, I am probably at a plateau. I’m going to work on what I can and do my half marathon on the 25th. Then, I’ll scale back the weekend runs a little bit. I have been reading articles and saving them and I intend to work on myself and what I can fix.

Thank you for reading! I can’t wait to share progress with you. I also hope that I can bring something useful back to you from my half marathon. Please don’t hesitate to comment anything or even inbox me if you don’t want everyone to see.

I actually feel pretty confident here. Loved my dress!

I’m calling it a win because I’ve needed one…

In my last blog post, I mentioned that I’d been struggling with depression and would be requesting a medication adjustment from my doctor. She adjusted my current medication and scheduled an in person follow up for a month in the future. I’ve had my ups and downs. I was better for a couple weeks and then I reached a point where I had some really dark thoughts and was too deep in it to confide in anyone about it. I’m still struggling with darkness, but I’m not trying to think of ways to end my life anymore. I’m still not myself and I know it, but I can’t snap my fingers and bring myself back. Faking it until I make it, I suppose.

I was trying my hardest with workouts at the gym and coming out on the bottom most days. I began to feel like my best efforts weren’t worth it and considered quitting. I distanced myself from talking to people because I didn’t want to discuss what I’d already decided in my head. I didn’t want anyone to think they should have known. I haven’t been able to get my speed up on long runs. Despite my goal this year of getting a PR, I was coming up much slower. I wasn’t seeing anything in myself past mediocrity and wanted to be really good at something. I couldn’t see past comparison to find the joy in my own progress.

I don’t know how much I like sharing any of this. Truth is, I fell into this around the same time last year when I was off medication. I can’t believe it came back to haunt me. The thing that caused my PTSD didn’t happen until late November.

Anyway, I made my best efforts to just do things. Going through the motions would ensure I didn’t throw any red flags to anyone. Thursday, I decided to try to use a weight I didn’t think I would be able to use to do the workout. I was mostly proud of myself right after finishing. Later in the day, I wasn’t as proud. Thursday night, I saw there were box jumps on the workout the next day. I went out to my garage for an hour and practiced until dinner and then again for about 30 minutes. I banged my shins and knees on the edge. I had the box close to the wall so I wouldn’t fall forward and I knocked my knuckles into the wall multiple times catching myself. I never made it on top of the 20″ box that night. Friday, I did the workout stepping up to the box instead of jumping. I waited until most everyone was gone after class and I pulled out a box and practiced until I finally did box jumps. I took a video and posted it because I did it. Even the joy from that faded later in the day.

Saturday, I did a workout where a mile run was at the beginning and end of the workout. While it was my fault my team came in dead last because of my inability to put 95 pounds over my head [again], my first mile was 8:49 and that was fast for me to run without a warm up.

Sunday, my husband encouraged me to sleep in and run after church. I got ready and decided I would go run on another part of the trail instead of by my house. I set out for 11 miles while in the back of my mind wanting to run 13.1 miles. I felt so good, I had to slow myself down at times. Around 11 miles, the wheels started to fall off and everything in me told me to quit. Then, I remembered that quitting is conditioned and the more I quit, the more I’d become comfortable with it. I don’t quit. I never have. I paused a moment, put my arms over my head, took a drink of water, and set back off along the trail. Near my car, I still had a little over a half mile to go. I slowed a little looking back thinking that nobody knew I wanted to go 13.1 miles and nobody would know if I didn’t finish. Then, I realized that I knew and I had committed to myself. I ran to 13 miles and turned back to finish. That last .1 mile, I was flying. I couldn’t stop. I just wanted to go. My watch read 8:36 for my pace. I finished in 2:22:44 and my PR is 2:18. It was the fastest half marathon time I’ve put up since my November 2016 injury.

I also started a trial of a weight loss app that I’ll get more into soon. I started Wednesday and I’ve been more energetic and started losing weight.

I hope that I’m back to my normal, cheery self soon. I’m a little sick of my own shit. I’ve made an effort to still be kind and raise other people up, so I hope that my being down hasn’t affected other people too much.

Thanks for reading!

Don’t forget to find the wins along the journey. Every good and perfect gift comes from above. God has carried me through these times. He was definitely there on my long run pushing me through because He knew how much it would help. I believe it.