Monday, May 27, 2013

Peppy and the hills--an exercise in blindness

This morning I gave in to the reality of central Texas in the summer and got out of bed before 4, to be ready to run by 5. This is the coolest time of day, and I have been miserable. I have written more than one email to my coach that sounded downright hopeless. I ended runs in tears from the heat. But every day I went again. Because the reality of running is that runners run. That’s all there is to it. Every day there’s a reason not to if we choose it.

So at 5 a.m., I was out the door, determined to do a sort of long run, which I have not had since Fargo. In some ways, that’s okay because I ran 13.5 miles only 9 days ago. But it wasn’t okay because the reason I hadn’t wasn’t recovery; it was heat. I took off with Peppy the pepper spray (don’t you name your pepper spray?) and my iPhone with my RunKeeper. RunKeeper defaults to keeping your phone on if you don’t turn it off, so I realized this is a great way to have an extra light on me in dark runs—the light illuminates from my waist band. I left the subdivision and turned toward Boonville Road, a busy street near us. I made a big loop, veered into some neighbors and managed 7.21 miles (YAY!) before I was done. It looks like I strained my IT band a bit from last week so I was slower from that and from being cautious since my runs had been so rotten, but today wasn’t about time; it was about endurance.

Now here’s the funny thing that reminds me that running is a mental sport. When you turn south on Boonville, on the 12 feet sidewalks on the side I run on, there is a pretty big slope. The first time I ran it, I was like, UGH! A HILL! So as I turned that way today I thought, “oh, a hill is coming.” Except I couldn’t see it. It was totally dark out. And you know what? I don’t remember the hill. I can’t tell you when I was on it. My RunKeeper informed me I ran over 300 feet of elevation today (quite a bit for this flat area), but I didn’t get worn on the hill or wish it would end.

Because I couldn’t see it.

I know there must be a lesson in that. It certainly proves that hills are harder on the mind than the body—at least small ones.

Since my last post I have signed up for another half marathon—and this one has hills. I chose Fargo partly for it being “fast and flat.” I chose the Kansas City Half on Oct. 19, partly to conquer my hills.

I trained in KC; I learned to run in KC; I overcame adversity in KC. Now I am going back to run a half—and you can’t run a flat course in KC. It’s not a flat city.

It makes me wonder how hard hills really are. I mean, the big ones definitely affect your body more and take strategy, but how come a couple weeks ago this hill on Boonville felt hard and today I didn’t notice it—even with a minor injury?

I’m so sleepy today I can hardly stand it, but it was worth it. My coach sent me to some exercises and I have been embracing/kicking my foam roller and therabands today, as well as hugging walls and making motions like a dog peeing. But whatever works.

My plan is to run every other day at dawn, a sort of longish run (about 10K) so I cam continue to keep my endurance and fitness, but not live in such a state of utter exhaustion. I’ll throw in another run somewhere but not at 5, and some speed work on the gym treadmills—as well as swimming and weights.

Today I went to Ross and tried on a loose size 8 dress and a fitted size 10—and they both fit. That’s why even in this miserable horrific weather with no good running trails, I will be out before dawn Wednesday with Peppy by my side.

Because it works.

The fruits of my labors

Yay for 7 miles!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Dreamrunning: Why running changes your mind

Running is like dreaming under control.

We don’t ponder it much, but the crazy dreams we have when we sleep are the miracle of our minds processing the day. The reason we dream about things we care about is because that’s what we’re putting in our mind. I have done formal sleep research in the past, and I know there is much scientists still don’t know about dreams and sleep, but it’s fascinating, even with the bit we do know.

Someone asked me before my half marathon what I was going to THINK about for 13-plus miles as I ran.  I said something like “whatever comes to my mind, the day, what’s going on, things I’m planning or thinking about. Just whatever.”

This week I was out for a run, and it happened to be a trail run, which is more challenging than a road run because of the rocks and tree twigs. You have to look down more, concentrate harder. That means your mind is free to roam. Thoughts about something came and rolled around—I just let them do their work. And I realized that running is like dreaming—with one wonderful advantage: since you are conscious you can halt the ones you don’t like and extend the ones you do.

Running is a mental sport. Yes, your body needs fitness and endurance to sustain, but it’s your mind that finishes the race. Tuesday as I ran, I started seeing things that were similar to the way I would process a dream. And I liked it. It was then that I realized that getting lost in running is so psychologically beneficial for that very reason. It’s like getting the power of sleep twice. Most people don’t ponder dreams much unless they are into a religious or psychological aspects of their symbolism. But on a psychobiological level there isn’t anyone who would disagree that dreams are crucial to survival. REM sleep—Rapid Eye Movement—is the most important part of our night’s sleep activities. There is evidence of psychosis, of sickness, of many bad things, when people don’t experience REM sleep. It’s not necessary to remember our dreams, but it is necessary to have them. Now, biologically, running won’t substitute for sleep—though it may help wake you up a bit. But psychologically it will supplement your dreams. Things lingering in your preconscious will come to the surface as you run—even with music in the ear buds. You find yourself processing all sorts of things—they just roll around as you focus on your footfalls.

If you saw my half marathon pictures, you saw ear-to-ear happiness. I had a good deal of time to let my mind dream awake. I relived my running history that day. I remembered the first day at the gym, the first 5K, the next one, the way I started changing my life, the runs, the circumstances I was running over—the people who I couldn’t please, the people who hurt me, the circumstances that didn’t work out, the money, the lies, the broken words, the 7 mile run, the 8 mile run, the 9 mile run, the 10 mile run, the 19 degree runs, the snowy runs, the delight of seeing a plowed Tomahawk Parkway, the first time I ran a sub 11 minute mile with my slow body, the 5K with a time faster than I had ever run, the sacrifices of time and food, the commitment, the research, the energy, the days I went to work with running clothes under my work clothes, doing SuperGirl acts in the car to change and find new trails. All of it—6 months worth of work danced through my head. So many times I had to fight tears during the half—but not bad ones—tears of remembering and realizing I WON! Tears of victory. Tears that I had made it to this day, that I was running a half.

Running is dreaming, and running is living your dreams. That’s what I thought about for all those miles. About success. About hope. About overcoming my own soul to make it to that day.

And tonight I signed up for another one: Kansas City. Tonight I decided it’s time to go back where I started this journey and conquer the hills of the city. I will run where I accidentally walked mile once on a trip to the city. And I will run farther. And harder. And I will think, and I will dream.

And then I will wake up refreshed because the real restorative part of sleep goes beyond the sleep part—real restoration is in the dreams. And that's one reason why running is so important to me

Monday, May 20, 2013

Running over words

Words stick with me forever. I remember nuances, moments, memories others forget. They shape me and change me. Saturday's run brings back two comments that I heard years ago when I was running, comments that have painfully remained:

"My mom saw you running; she said you run like a girl."

"Hey! Speed it up."
The first was a silly comment from an actual friend, which intended no harm, and wasn't bad, but it did make me feel wimpish.

The second was the comment that effectively ended my running tenure. It was some random morning delivery truck driver, Hostess or something, bringing a shipment to the local convenience store that I ran by in the pre-dawn hours. Maybe his comment was a joke as he shot by. Whatever his intent, that was my last straw. I was done. Sick of early morning rushes to get a run in before the sun came up, sick of trying to run off what never ever should have happened. I was just sick of doing life at that point. And the last thing I needed was my quiet morning run assailed by some wise guy. Is that how everyone saw me? Was I a slow runner who looked like a girl? It was my breaking point.

I'm a slow runner; I'm a girl. But those comments ran in tandem through my mind which was still reeling from Nov. 7 of 2005. It was now summer 2006. And I had no more oomph.

I don't know when I stopped calling myself a runner. I finally would say "I used to run." It always hurt me to say that because my desire was to run. I picked it up here and there a few times--training for a 5K very loosely but enough to get by, stuff like that. But the discipline and dedication were gone. Those were bad signs. Runners run.

But Saturday in Fargo, I remembered again. I run like a girl. I run like a girl who runs half marathons, and dances into the finish line not exhausted just exhilarated. Is that what a girl runs like?

Do I need to speed it up? Well, of course I want more speed, but I didn't get the genes of a Kenyan. Actually, my DNA test indicates I should be a "sprinter." This sprinter ran a half marathon.
As a runner, I run for myself, to conquer my own goals. I am a person for whom everything physical has come with difficulty. It takes me twice as long to learn, and I struggle all the way. But I think that makes it all the more sweet when I gain the prize. What others can casually do, I do with labor--and when I get that medal, I have earned every step of it through sweat. That is satisfying.

On this journey I have had almost all encouragement. Once in a while a know-it-all comes along, but usually people are just amazing, supportive, cheering along. It's been a blast to do this with social networking. I am immensely thankful for the massive rounds of support. I think my half marathon finish picture has more likes on it on Facebook than any picture I have ever put up in all the years I have been online. That makes a girl feel good.

So I remember those defining comments in that hard time before I quit running. And then I remember my half. Maybe I do run like a slow girl, but I was too busy running and succeeding to worry about someone else's weaknesses and failures. 

Words are powerful. Jokes made in jest can affect our hearts deeply. I remember words with such depth that they remain. But this weekend, I got glorious victory over those lingering comments. 

And I have the medal to prove it.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Earning my master's (Half marathon, reflection 1)

I have stood in front of people in more than one stadium in my life. In my old life, I was in a position that sometimes put me in front of crowds. It was cool enough, but today I ran into a stadium filled with people cheering for me, and it was cooler than anything I have ever known. Instantly I had a familiar sense—I was on a stadium floor and people were in the stands, and they were paying attention to me. I remembered that. But I wasn’t that person anymore. Now I am a nobody by choice. And I like it a lot. Today this nobody was somebody because I finished a half marathon. I worked my booty off for months, rarely in ideal conditions. From a .7 mile run where I came home hacking and couldn’t step all day, to 13.50 miles today, the half plus the extra from running in different parts of the road. All in about 6 months time. Today people cheered for me. They didn’t know me or what I stood for or if I was a nice person or not. They cheered because I did something not a lot of people do. They cheered because I finished. They won’t take the cheer back or decide I was unworthy of it because I didn’t do what they thought I should. There are things people can take away from you, and there are things they can’t take away from you. Today is mine forever.

I saw a sign on the half route in the part where the full marathon runners go. It said “Only 1% of people have run a marathon and you are one of them.” I have not run a marathon (big YET), and I don’t know if that stat is accurate, but I know it’s low. And it struck me because my friend Jonathan is finishing his dissertation and wrote it while training for his marathon. He made the parallels between the two, and how the stats for both are low.

Nationally, a decent number of people complete a bachelor’s degree—like 25% (and maybe that’s gone up). Then it’s less than 9% who earn a master’s and under 4% who earn a doctorate. I am in that group, and after seeing that sign and reflecting on Jon’s comments, I realized that races are analogous to degrees.

Anyone who is dedicated can do a 5K (let’s say an associates). The hard workers who are willing to invest do 10Ks (bachelor’s), then the ones who really want to work and prove some expertise in distance running do the half marathon (master's). And finally, there is the marathon, the doctorate in running. Ultra runners (people who regularly run distances beyond the marathon are like those who get multiple PhDs and keep studying). Now you all know I can’t stand it when people trivialize education, and I don’t mean to compare it exactly, only the concept. Today I earned my master’s degree.

I had so many thoughts on my run. I wished I could have taken notes. Some were the usual people-watching thoughts, like “really? You are waiting in line for the porta-potties at mile TWO? Why not just use the start ones and start the race late so the chip didn't time?” or “WHY are you taking a cell phone call in a half marathon and then walking to the side of the road to talk—this is a HALF MARATHON, lady!” And the famous “it’s the first mile, so why are you walking already? Don’t run so fast at the beginning so you can stay slow and steady.” And also there was an "illegal" stroller, double wide.

But then I had other thoughts. Deeper thoughts that weren’t so much about other people. I write this here in just a stream of consciousness process. There may be another entry or town on the half in coming days.

Today for me there was no option for failure. Failure would have not only been not finishing, but walking part of it. I don’t believe that it is for everyone. Some people have a goal to get through a course. Running is an individual sport and that makes it great, but for me it is about running. Walking would have sent me to tears and back to my room to sign up for the next half, even if it was two weeks away, to do it again, probably spooked. I was having dreams about this. I had to run this thing. It was for me, for my mind. My body could do what it wanted but my mind was winning this race. I set out to go slow. Not knowing how I would endure the distance, I decided the only goal I needed was to finish. If I pushed too hard and ended up walking, I would have failed to meet my goal, so my priority was to keep running, no matter what. I did go out too fast. Not extraordinarily fast, but faster than I needed to have negative splits. I ran too close to the center and so my time was even longer because my distance was longer. I was actually about 7 minutes faster than my time on the actual 13.1, so in my mind, that’s my PR to beat next, not the longer one.

Mile by mile it was easier than I expected. Not easy, necessarily, though the first 7 miles or so were relatively easy. But overall, I think I expected this to be so hard I could fail, crash and burn, I don’t know. And it wasn’t as hard as I had planned. Miles 10-12 were hard. Knowing we were headed back but having to detour through the campus of NDSU was hard. But at mile 12, my face lit up and that light didn’t go off. I was home free at mile 12 because we were headed back to the Fargodome and the rest was a breeze because of the crowds.

Speaking of which, let’s return to the crowds. Remember Boston? Who did we talk about the most? The fans—the crowds who cheer for and support the runners. The crowds in Fargo were nothing short of a giant cheerleading squad. They blew me away. And there as we turned into the Fargodome were scores of people from just before mile 13 to all the way to the finish, huge crowds cheering us on. Some would put their hand out to slap hands if we wanted to. They told us how close we were and yelled “way to finish strong.” I was beaming from ear-to-ear anyway and I know that made people smile. I did not look like I was dying—I looked like I was flying, perhaps slow but I was as blissful as a bluebird.

As I wrote a caption for a picture I noted that everyone was cheering for us. No one cared what we did or who we were. They were cheering because we were finishing. They were on our side. They cheered everyone running the race. It made me think of the spiritual connection, how that is how church is supposed to be, that corporate cheering, that it’s a race and we should be helping each other finish it, whether through cheering at the sidelines or working the medical tent (shout out to the Red Cross spray tent! At mile 11 you could run under a tent that was like a sprinkler over your head! I came through it almost giggling it felt so good!). One tent was called “Medical Drop Out.” It was at about mile 7 and I looked at that thing and said “not an option. Not at all.” But even if I had had to, no one in that whole crowd would have looked down on me. In a race when someone gets hurt you love them. Let the reader understand.

I have commented before on how much I love the racing community. I am a Christian, but it is my church. Oh, how sacrilegious that sounds! It’s not as bad as it seems.  The truth is, we have a secret in the running community, and when I race I see it. I think if I were competitive in racing I may not see it as clearly. The winners don’t always see what happens to the rest of the crowd.

I got to talk to a running legacy Dick Beardsley at the expo yesterday. We talked a lot about Boston because I was wearing my Boston shirt and, of course, he’s run it! His charity foundation gets 5 entries to Boston every year. Anyway, I was telling him it was my first half, and he was excited and said he has talked to others who are venturing into half marathons, and added some go straight to a half without other races, which he thinks isn’t the greatest (I agree), though if you want to run, RUN! But he was talking then about progressing to marathons, which I told him was absolutely on my list. He said that when you cross the finish line in a marathon you have this feeling that you can do anything. That you will suddenly try things you may not have tried before because you have this confidence. I understood immediately, even without understanding a full. Running has already done that for me. I love myself, my body, my mind, my success. I can do anything because I have overcome myself and run.

In 2005 I experienced a trauma, a literal one and a bad one. It was one of the worst times of my life. I was running then—though I think that helped contribute to the demise of my running. By 2006 I had quit regularly running, sans a few bouts here and there. I had registered for a half then—I guess it was October. I was going to train and go to Kentucky. I backed out. I had quit running before that. And so I never did the half, or even really trained hard. Today I got that back—and in a way  got part of the loss of 2005 back, and I have been all this year. Because I am stubborn, I have put myself in situations not as bad but with similar dynamics (no, not guy stuff!) and everything came to a head for me late last year with that and the election drama and a whole slew of things that happened at once.

And so I ran. I had gained weight since moving to KC, and already had before that. I hated my appearance worse than anything. I hated that I was losing control of everything. We talk a lot about how it’s bad to be “a control freak” and in the sense we say that it is, but there is a very positive and healthy side of control. We should control ourselves, our emotions, our health, our choices. And I was getting that all back.

About the time I started running, I started changing. I didn’t need the things I had depended on because I figured out I could do it. On January 1, almost on a whim, maybe because I had felt like such a failure as the awful 2012 closed out, I needed a goal. I randomly decided to run 500 miles in 2013 (sort of funny—I hit 382 today) and to sign up for a half marathon. I had been thinking about this, but I went on a hunt and wouldn’t let myself go to bed until I signed up. That night I had registered for Fargo—and my world became about training.

That sounds unhealthy but it was actually very healthy. I became disciplined overnight. Everything mattered, from what I ate, to how I slept, to my workout schedule. I had a goal—finally—and it was achievable if I worked at it. No one else in the whole world had a say in my success. No one could decide if I could run, or if I ran too much, or didn’t do enough, or wasn’t good enough or whatever.  That goal drove me like nothing I have ever seen in myself. I was done. And I was going to win.

I love running because it rewards work. In music we talk about how almost anyone can learn to sing decently. There are a few people who maybe are truly tone deaf, but most who even think they are can be taught to sing in an okay way, to carry a tune and blend in a choir (by choir, I mean real choir that uses actual music, not some random band that sings the same three notes in different progressions!). In running it’s the same. Anyone can run. Actually a lot of people who think they have “bad knees” actually can run when they try. Dick Beardsley has had several knee surgeries and still runs marathons. The right shoes, also, can cure half of the aches and pains.

Running hurts. It just does. You can’t persevere with running and avoid pain. The difference between other communities and running is that often we think pain is a sign of weakness or lack of trust in whatever our faith drives us to (God, in my case, but whatever people believe). In running we honor and respect pain. We learn when pain should stop us because it’s serious or when pain should teach us and help us move on because we are growing. And if we will run and learn and fight, we win.

See, all those people applauding and cheering me and 9,000 other people in those races, were cheering running. They were honoring the sport that says if you work, you succeed.

Today was a test for me in big ways. Could I run for over 13 miles? Even if I went slowly, could I actually keep my body in a running motion for that long? I had never done it before, but all the training plans said I could. My coach said I could. The wisdom of the running gurus said I could. Could I? Was I going to find out that working hard at something was going to reap an equal reward no one could take away? That’s why failure was not an option. I needed this to redeem the yuck, to get back the lost half in 2006, to get over the pain of 2012, and anything in between related. Never do I pass a runner without wanting to be running—but when I quit I passed them with a pang of pain. Now I pass them with “I am one of you.”

A day without running isn’t right to me. This summer will be altered a bit. I have swimming classes and ballet too—but most of it is to strengthen my core which is the main thing that has to happen for me to run a marathon.  Also, I have to stop being lazy about speed work. I have been content to go the distance and prove I can. Now I have; there is more. See, like life, there is always another step if you want to take it. Or you can coast on through the course at a distance long enough to wow people, but never letting on you aren’t learning anything new. The crowd will cheer anyway, but you will know if you earned it.

Today I did. I earned this. I cued an old song called "Runner" to play before mile 13, just before I took the headphones off so I could hear the crowd as we ran in. I heard "Runner" twice in the half, once when it came on and once when I turned it on. So many tears today, little busts of emotion at the whole journey:

Runner when the road is long
Feel like giving in but you're hanging on
Oh, runner, when the race is won
You will run into his arms

Although the Fargo Marathon has no religious affiliation, there is a verse that has been on the website and is on the back of our medals, “Let us run with perseverance the race that is marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1.This is what running is to me, a reminder I can go on--and that I can do it without needing people to be this or that. I see God when I run; I find hope to continue to run the real race.

Running has taught me I am a winner, no matter what place I am in. It has taught me to persevere. It has taught me being nothing makes me everything more than being something made me anything.

Friday, May 10, 2013

It's Come to This

Six months ago today was a Saturday. I had been to Nehemiah’s wedding, come home on election day—and watched everything start to crash (which is not a story for a running blog but I am still dealing with the aftermath of those election dynamics and what ensued; to this day if it’s political I won’t even glance at it, but again, that’s another story).

I hated my body. Yes, hate is a strong word. Yes, I mean to use that word. I had been driving by the gym in that storefront for as long as I had been going to Kanas City. Was it really $10 a month? When I got back from Alabama, I stalked the website and read everything. It looked legit, no upselling, no frills, no manipulation. I knew already the likelihood of my being there past summer was slim so I wasn’t about to do a one-year contract anywhere.

Saturday, Nov. 10, I walked into Bene-fit Health and Fitness. “I want to join,” I said. It took less than 5 minutes and I had my keytag and waddled myself to a treadmill. Back then I used Twitter, so I took a picture and tweeted “It’s come to this.”

That basic statement was serious. It had all come to this. I was saving my sanity and I knew it. It had gone beyond my body but I needed to see it.

I have talked before about running being “the one that got away.” Being on a treadmill made me want to run, and I was terrible at it. Like 1/10 of a mile had me hot and hacking. I didn’t know what I was doing on any machine, but I kept moving.

I had a student in 8th grade named Julie. She would say, “Mean Mean Teacher, MOOOOOOVVVVVEEEE.” I can’t even recall where that came from—I think probably I made her stop talking one day and we were teasing. She didn’t really think I was a mean teacher, and she was very polite and would have never seriously told me to move. It became a joke. Julie and I are still connected. She’s a distance runner and has been one of my big encouragers (we actually ran in part of the same race events in OKC recently, but she did the half and I did the 5K)—and still says “Mean Mean Teacher Move.” And that’s what I did. Six months ago I started moving and didn’t stop.

Back on the treadmill I thought of my upcoming Thanksgiving trip to Texas—in less than two weeks. I loved the Fort Worth Turkey Trot from my old running days—and so I signed up for it. Never mind I couldn’t run a tenth of a mile and the race was 12 days away!

It wasn’t long until I discovered my asthma wasn’t happy with me. Normally I have had bouts of exercise-induced asthma, but there in KC it was intense because there wasn’t much humidity. Summers are horrible but the rest of the time it’s not too humid—and that lack of moisture made me feel like I was choking.  I’ve written before about this part. I ran/walked the Turkey Trot, came home and kept trying. I couldn’t do much though. I would spend all day feeling like I had a frog in my throat and hacking—even if I ran half a mile. But every day I got up and went to that gym. It was a few weeks before I even missed a day I think. When I went to Texas, a friend got me a pass to her gym and I still didn’t miss going. On the way back I hiked up mountains. I kept moving. 

By December when I had another 5K I had run .7 miles and was hacking again. I was so fed up. I used to love to run, dangit! I ran into my friend who is a nurse and asked her what kind of asthma meds were common today. Albuterol was the word of the day. By the next day I had some. A friend gave me a supply and I inhaled the stuff (literally, as it was in a nebulizer) and got ready for the next 5K. And I ran—all 3.1 miles. Slow, hard, but running. And I knew I was back.

The next week I went to the doctor and told him I was exercising and hacking, but someone gave me albuterol and it worked so I needed some. He prescribed it, and I went on my way with a normal inhaler. I think I ran almost every day after that—even a bit.

January 1 someone had posted about how many miles she had run the year before, and I thought about setting a goal. 1.36 miles a day on average came out to 500 miles. That seemed reasonable, so I set up the goal, set up my RunKeeper and that shifted everything. Now I was on a mission.

And so I moved more. 6 days a week. Runner’s Knee came. I ran anyway, found a knee brace and some ibuprofen, got an X-Ray to be safe—and kept running, though I missed a couple miles that week.

Then I ran 5 miles, then 6.5, then 7, then 8, and by then I knew I was way ahead of the game. I wasn’t very fast, but I wasn’t anywhere near a walking pace either.Eventually I did a 10-miler, then 10.5. According to training schedules I was even ready for the half marathon I signed up for in my eager enthusiasm.

In between that my gym had a Weight Loss Challenge contest with the option to do small group personal training for a crazy low price. 8 weeks for something like $45. I jumped on it—so then I had more stakes. But as an educational psychologist and person who studies gifted people and motivation, I will tell you what I learned from that contest is that the chances of winning were nice, but I was racing myself. I was intrinsically motivated. I was getting healthy, by golly. I actually won that contest, which even surprised me at the end, but the next day I got up and went running. Because you either go forward or you go back.

Three months to the week, within a day, of the 5K with medicine came my first spring 5K, the week after my first race, a 4 miler. I PRed that 5K and beat my time from three months before by about nine minutes! That’s a massive gain on a short race.

This year WinterSpring came to Kansas City, aka, Alaska South. And I ran. I learned fast that you don’t stop running when it isn’t ideal or you will never run. We had a rough winter but almost every day found me outside. I couldn’t afford really warm clothes, so I froze a lot. But I ran. Some days it was only me and a couple other faithful ones out there, but I ran. Literally through sleet and snow and rain and humidity and ice. I moved.

Today it’s been 6 months to the day I walked into the gym, fed up with it all—with life really, not just my body. Today I am in Hotville. It’s already so warm and WinterSpring means I never got to gradually adjust. My body hasn’t acclimated and sometimes it makes me sick—but I run. I have 1.2 miles left for Saturday to finish my week’s goal—which is less than I usually have. Runners run. There’s no way around that. Biologically I should adjust in the next week or two, though after training in 40 degrees most days, I doubt I will ever love weather this warm for running.

Yesterday I got on a scale and had a 6 pounds loss for the last month—my biggest yet. I did a double take and kept getting on and off to test it. I figured maybe the scale got broken in the travel. But it hadn’t and that explains why my clothes size dropped again.

6 months later:

I am down about 30 pounds
I am down 3 sizes
I work out 6 days a week, usually running.
I eat mostly what I want, though some foods I won’t touch.
I eat carbs without restriction.
I east dinner at 10 pm a lot of times.
I eat frozen yogurt and chocolate to reward my runs.
Did I mention I am down 30 pounds?
Oh, and I've run 359.6 miles this year--it's May 10.

I will never quite understand fad diets and high priced supplements, though maybe some people like that because it helps them. But you don’t need to do much but listen to what 13-year old Julie’s wisdom and “moooooovvvvveeee.”

I will spend this summer running (probably with slightly reduced on mileage due to the weather, but still in the general range), swimming, doing weights, and ballet. Basically I get to step it up so when I show up to work in the fall I should be in a better place to structure my routine with a full time work schedule.

I wish I could redo the majority of 2012, to be frank. It was a year of some ridiculous decisions and some silly ideas. It was a year that changed the course of my life. It was also the year that changed the course of me. When I tweeted “it’s come to this,” it really had. And no matter what else happened, I am so glad. Literally, I left that baggage behind. 

All 30 pounds of it.

         (L) Me on Nov. 10, the first day I went to the gym; (R) today before my run.