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.

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