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Archive for the ‘my story’ Category

We All Start Somewhere

I was never an athletic kid. “The clumsiest child I’ve ever seen,” is how my mother described me. Thankfully, she waited until I was an adult and a snowboarder and a runner before telling me what a disasterously non-athletic child I was. However, my mother knows lots of children, and she doesn’t have a flair for the dramatic like I do. So, if she said that I was the clumsiest child she’s ever seen, it pretty much means that I was literally the least athletic child that she had ever seen.

When I was a college freshman, a friend of mine invited me to go to a shoe store with her. She told me that it was going out of business, so that we could get good deals there. My friend and I went to the store and ended up both buying running shoes for $15. What can I say? I’m a sucker for a good deal.

Within about a week of buying the shoes, I decided that I should probably use my $15 shoes for what they were intended for. So, I started running. Simple as that, I had the shoes, I might as well do the sport!

I remember it was hard at first. I set my goal small. I wanted to run for 10 minutes without stopping. At first, I couldn’t do it. My legs were okay, but my lungs felt like they were on fire. So, instead I tried to run 10 minutes overall, with the ultimate goal being to run 10 minutes without stopping. I would run for 3 minutes, stop and walk, run for 2 more minutes, stop and walk, etc., until I made it to my 10 minute goal.

Did you catch that? My goal was 10 minutes straight without stopping. 10 minutes. And I couldn’t do it.

This is what it was like when I first started running.

But I worked at it, and eventually (probably within a few weeks I would guess), I was able to run those 10 minutes without stopping. So then I started running past the 10 minutes, and slowly but surely I added more time on.

I just kept on like that, improving, increasing my distance, and becoming stronger along the way.

I am by no means a super amazing runner. But I am someone who went from gasping for air if I ran for more than 3 minutes to running a distance of 13.1 miles. Soon, I’ll be running farther than those 13.1 miles.

The point of this story is that we all start somewhere. Sometimes it’s frustrating starting something new and not being awesome at it right away. We might look around and think about how much better others are than us. But we all start somewhere. When people tell me that they wish they could run, but they’re not any good at it, I tell them my story. Of the $15 shoes, the goal of running for 10 minutes, and how I can now confidently (and proudly) say, “I am a runner.”

I’m no longer the clumsiest person around. And anytime a new challenge comes along, I remember, “We all start somewhere.” A lot of hard work and a bit of inspiration can get us places that we never dreamed were possible. So here I am, starting off on a journey to finish a marathon. One step at a time, because we all start somewhere.

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How I Got Here

It’s been a strange experience realizing just how very out of shape I am. One that has left me wondering, “How did I get here?”

I’ve been shocked by how out of shape I am. On the same trip on which I noticed my weight-gain, I also discovered strength-loss. All season, I’ve been riding a men’s snowboard. Given the exhaustion that I would feel after a few hours of snowboarding, I thought that this board simply took more strength to handle because of its greater length and height than my previous snowboard. My husband suggested that I might just be out of shape, but I didn’t think that was possible. I was convinced this new board was just a lot more work than my women’s board. When we went to Utah, I brought both boards: The men’s board for if we were blessed with snow, and the women’s board to use if we were riding groomies. It didn’t snow for our entire time in Utah, so on our second day, I switched to the women’s board, sure that it would relieve my aching muscles. Wrong. I was still completely exhausted. Oops. Saign was right. I was completely out of shape. Dang.

Despite my realization that I was completely out of shape in regards to snowboarding, I wasn’t prepared to learn that I was also completely out of shape when it came to running. Running has always come naturally to me. I’ve never worried about speed, I’ve always just run. I have completed a half-marathon in the past, and while I do remember being exhausted at the end, the training was very easy, and not painful at all. Not the case this time around. Since beginning training, I’ve been in pain. Not bad, ouch-I-need-a-doctor-pain, but moderate oh-I-had-a-good-workout-pain. This pain is mostly in my legs, just dull and achy and kind of odd. Odd because I didn’t expect pain, because I had no idea how out of shape I was. My pain doesn’t stop in my legs though. I can feel it in my lungs too. I’m so out of shape that my lungs slightly ache throughout the day after working out. Oh, and I forgot to mention: on long run days, I’m exhausted and irritable. My longest run thus far in this training season has been 7 miles, and I had to take a nap afterwards (and I was still exhausted after the nap).

All of this has left me wondering: How did I get here? How in the world did I get so out of shape without realizing it? As I think about it, I know how I got here. All sorts of little changes added up into me not running as much, as fast, or as far.

Two years ago, I ran 20-25 miles a week. For fun. No other motivation. Oh, and I was fast! (Well, not really fast at all, but I was able to effortlessly run 9 minute miles, where now, I am pushing myself to get 9 minute miles). So, here are the various things that have happened that have led to me being the slow, out-of-shape me that I am right now. (But won’t be for long!)

1. Denial. I’m going to provide a whole post about my denial, so I’m not going to say much here, but let’s just say, the signs have been here, and I’ve ignored them

2. I lost my running route. When I ran 20-25/week, I was living in Pasadena, CA. I ran a 4.5 mile loop most days, which required me to pass a few stop lights in the first mile or so, but then led me to running past nice mansions in a quiet neighborhood. I then moved to Florida and then to Washington. In both of these places, the routes that didn’t require me to cross too many busy streets and led me to nice scenic places have been 3 mile loops…so I cut my daily run from 4.5 miles to 3 miles, without giving it a second thought.

3. I got a puppy. My dog is now a great running partner, but to avoid problems like hip dysplasia, the general recommendation is to not run dogs until they’re 11 months old. Whoa. This was like torture to me. So, I started running Ada the Dog when she was around 6 months old, but I felt bad about it…which is part of the reason why that 3-mile-loop in Florida didn’t seem problematic for me. Hey, it was worse for my health, but better for my dog’s health!

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4. Early mornings. Okay, I am a morning person. I love mornings! But my current 7:30 start-work times are a little too early. I have to wake up at 5am to run. And it’s still dark out. And it’s unpleasant. And during October, I actually get scared of the Halloween decorations because it’s dark out and I still have the imagination of a 7-year-old, so I get scared that the ghosts and witches might get me. Sooo…sometimes I turn my alarm off and go back to sleep.

5. I got a husband. I went from a longer running route to a shorter running route after moving to Florida…but I still had full responsibility for Miss Ada the Dog, so I still ended up putting in about 4 miles a day. I’d run her for 3 miles in the morning and then walk her for 1 mile in the evening. But, then I got married. So guess what? I don’t have to exercise Ada the Dog, because my husband can walk her for me! I took full advantage of having a live-in dog walker, and stopped exercising her all the time…which meant I stopped exercising me as well!

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Saign walking Ada the Dog

In other words, life happened. Little changes along the way led me to working out less without me even noticing. But now I’ve taken notice, so I’m ready. I will be cognizant of changes that happen that may lead me to working out less, and I’ll be ready to push myself forward.

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Why Now?

I’ve planned to run a marathon for several years now. But something always seemed to get in the way. I’d think, “Maybe when ___________” (Fill in the blank here). I mean, I’m not trying to make excuses for myself, but there have been some pretty good reasons for why it wasn’t a good time to train for a marathon…I was in school, it was snowboarding season, it was too hot, it was too cold, it was too expensive, I worked weekends so there wasn’t time for long runs, etc, etc, etc.

Oh wait, but I’m supposed to be writing about why, not why not. Okay, so here’s the story:

For the week of my 30th birthday, Saign (my husband) and I went on a snowboarding trip. While on this trip, we decided to go swimming in the hotel pool. When I put on my swimsuit, I was in for a surprise: I had excess fat hanging over the top of my swimsuit bottoms. “Hmm. This doesn’t seem right, the bottoms must have shrunk,” I thought to myself. I changed my swimsuit bottoms, hoping that doing so would remedy the situation. Unfortunately, even in the new swimsuit, there the love handles were, looking just as out of place as they had in the first swimsuit.Both of these bathing suits had been worn on our honeymoon, 6 months earlier, and I didn’t remember them looking like this. When had this fat arrived?After arriving home from our trip, I decided that I should probably purchase a scale, given this unexpected fat development. (Yes, in 6 months of marriage, I had never weighed myself).

Here are the monsterous bottoms that no longer fit.

When I arrived home with the scale I set it down and weighed myself. Oh man, was I surprised when I saw the number! I weighed approximately 13 pounds more than I had when I got married. Oh, and lest you try to make excuses for me, this was not muscle weight. I know that for sure…because prior to getting married I ran, walked, and did circuit training nearly everyday, which I no longer continued with after getting married. In other words, I had definitely lost muscle and gained fat since the wedding…just like so many brides do, and just like I thought would never happen to me. (The same thing happened in college with the freshman 15…but that’s not the point…I’ll write a post another day about how this fat gain snuck up on me).

Okay, so, at that moment, having just turned the big 3-0 and realizing that I had gotten bigger, I decided that it was time to finally get off my butt and do the marathon I had always said I hoped to run. There are several other reasons why this point in my life is a great time for me to get going with a marathon, but of all the reasons, the 14 unexpected pounds + the abandonment of my 20s were the experiences that tipped the scale (ha!) and made me say that I really, really, really should commit to something that will get me back to a healthier me.

Here's me in a swimsuit 2 years ago. I would like to look like this again! (Funny thing is, I didn't realize until a few weeks ago that I didn't still look like this!)

*disclaimer: When I say “fat,” I am not using an adjective to describe myself. That would clearly be a mean, insensitive thing to say on the worldwide web. What I am saying is that I had more “fat” (noun) on my body than I expected or needed.

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