Monthly Archives: March 2013

Running is good for your soul.

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I think it goes without saying that being overweight brings with it a lot of  mental extra baggage alongside the physical : lack of self-confidence and the fear of trying something new being two of the biggest – at least for me anyway. On beautiful days I used to find myself green with envy at the people running alongside the beach, down by the Charles River, even through the busy crowds of downtown Boston. They seemed so motivated and so dedicated – alone in their own little world with their headphones and their running shoes and their cool runner gear. Oh yeah, absolute and total envy.

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bit by the running bug and it feels so good 🙂

As I spent a good part of my summer huffing and puffing up and down the sidewalk it seemed like running would never come to me. I’d be in the middle of my Couch to 5K app, swearing at the voice that was taking too long telling me it was time to walk and thinking “Why did I want to do this again?”  It didn’t come after my first 5K, or even my second. But the day that it did… was glorious. A light shined from above (probably just a street light) and suddenly I understood. While not every run is a glorious, life changing event- there have been enough “good runs” to make me incredibly grateful for what I’ve found. Running gives me a place to clear my head when I’m upset, an outlet to focus my frustration when I’m angry, and a confidence I never knew I had. Consider me hooked.

Becoming a runner has done wonders for me.  And I felt like I needed to pay forward. Some “running karma” if you will. Enter Back On My Feet, a nation wide non-profit that uses running as a way to help people who have experienced homelessness gain confidence and eventually self sufficiency.  With a little research I found out that not only is there a Boston Chapter, but that one of the groups meets not far from where I live. After scrolling through their website I signed myself up for an orientation as fast as my little fingers could type.

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Just another Wednesday morning….

I now join the BOMF group one morning a week for their run. I won’t lie, it’s often tempting to roll over and sleep for an extra hour when my alarm goes off at 4:50am. But I think about how much running has changed my life.  And while a weight struggle is in no way comparable to the experience of being homeless – running can help instill a lot of the same values in both kinds of situations: confidence, perseverance, strength, and hard work.

So I roll out of bed, lace up my sneakers, and head out in the dark. It’s great being a part of a group of runners who range from marathoners to newbies – it’s a truly diverse  group of people brought together through this one common bond.  While I wasn’t able to join the residents who ran their first road race this past month, I’m beyond excited to run beside them in the B.A.A. 5K in April.

Want to learn more about Back On My Feet or curious how you can get involved? Click here.

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Baby steps (and strokes).

Step One: get on the bike.

Step One: Get on the bike.

As terrifying as the “T Word” is to me (4 months and 1 day just in case you were wondering)- I’m still very much intrigued by it. I guess if I wasn’t I wouldn’t have signed up for the thing, but you know what I mean. It’s kind of like watching a horror movie: you’re covering your eyes in fear of what you know is coming ,but yet you sit there peeking through your fingers at all the gory goodness. I’m completely scared out of my pants- but yet a part of me keeps trying to picture the extreme awesomeness of crossing the finish line and actually being able to call myself a triathlete . (Side note: I wonder if its possible to add ,triathlete as a credential on my business cards at work? Remind me to check on that.)

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Think I would be disqualified for rocking one of these bad boys? At least it screams safety first!

So in the spirit of peeking through my fingers I decided that it was time to see if I could actually still ride a bike. Besides spin class in my chubby days, the last time I was cruising along on a bike was probably shortly after I got my braces put on and began dousing myself in Country Apple body splash. So while visiting my parents this weekend we dug out my brother’s old mountain bike. At some point I’m going to get some wheels of my own, (Which by the way I’d love any and all advice on because bike descriptions might as well be written in Swahili) but I figured I should probably see just how rusty my bike riding skills are first. Turns out that phrase “just like riding a bike” is a legit statement- it was a few wobbly rides up and down the street but they’re still there! I’ve been trying to picture myself cruising into the transition area (Look at me using my triathlon lingo!) but quickly cover my eyes with my hands again. Baby steps.

Speaking of baby steps errr…. strokes- swim class continues to be an ongoing battle in my life. I would be a millionaire if I got a $1 for every time my swim instructor says “good job… now get your head down lower” and although he laughs when I suggest tying a brick to the back of my neck- I don’t think he realizes I’m being dead serious. And by the time I got around to attempting to make some progress, he decided to throw us all in a lane at the same time to simulate an actual triathlon wave- and everything I had learned disappeared through swim cap. Which is kind of a problem considering that on ACTUAL T-Day I’m going to be in a mess of crazy swimmers, kicking and splashing past me in a nasty lake – not in my nice little flat lane in the chlorinated pool. So once again- I cover my eyes. One thing at a time here.

Whose idea of a good time was this again?

Whose idea of a good time was this again?

I’ve come to peace with the understanding that as much as my instructor tries to teach me good habits- when it comes time to do this thing my “technique” is going to be whatever the hell feels natural and keeps me from not sinking to my death. So right now I’m going to focus on physically making it more than a lap without dying, because swimming gives me serious Fat Kid Syndrome all over again. I remind myself over and over again that at one point running a mile was struggle and that eventually it happened. And this will happen too. Hopefully somewhere along the way the breathing thing happens as well… that or I’ll just continue to cross my fingers in hopes that I wake up on July 21st with a fresh pair of gills.

“Good Things Come In Threes”

In any kind of life changing journey, whether or not it involves weight loss, there are always high points, low points, and just plain old boring points. It’s not that things have been bad lately but sometimes you just need a little something to keep you moving along, you know?

My new best friend.

My new best friend.

Now that I’m in the early stages of preparing for this triathlon my workout schedule has become pretty intense, especially for the girl who a year ago was doing zero point zero hours of exercise. Right now my week consists of 4 days of bootcamp, 3 days of running, and now in addition to my swim class I am getting in an extra night at the pool for more practice. By Saturday afternoon- I am beyond exhausted. I never leave the house anymore without my trusty purple backpack as it literally contains all of my “new life” essentials: swim cap, goggles, running gloves, flip flops, extra layers, clementines. And “Rest Days”? They are golden.

I have found that whenever I’ve needed a little “push” in this journey, something has happened to light my spark again. You can call it karma, or you can call me crazy. But either way, it happened this week: in three fantastic ways.

It’s been about 2 months since I finished up my 12 week  blogging adventure through the studio and attempted to continue on my own so it was about time for some measurements. And the numbers showed that not only can I do this on my own, I AM doing it. Inches continue to disappear from my body, and I lost another 3.2% in body fat, which is pretty impressive considering that throughout the 12 week program I lost 3.3%. This leads to the most exciting news to me: I am officially moving from what I like to refer to as the “fat kid” body fat scale to the get this: “athlete” scale. ME… an ATHLETE? Hold the phones people!

Who would of thought this girl could ever be considered an athlete?

Who would of thought this girl could ever be considered an athlete?

On Sunday my athletic self ran my monthly race. After February’s 5K was cancelled due to a snowstorm I have been itching for March. Literally counting down the days. While I was really hoping for a PR, unfortunately my time was 7 seconds slower than my best race (Which at 27:50 still seems like the miracle of a lifetime). And apparently this course was a full 3.1 miles, versus 2.9 in January so when it all comes down to it- yeah, I was faster. But what’s even more important than my time? How much I LOVED every second of it. How happy I was out there: listening to my music, in my groove, doing something that once seemed so unnatural to me. So you know what? I’ll take those seven seconds.

“Good thing” #3 came on the same day. Ironically I had booked a wedding dress appointment for the afternoon. (I mean if you don’t feel skinny after running a 5K when will you, right?) Back in September my mom and I had casually ventured into a bridal shop and it was a DISASTER. The girl pretty much threw me into a fitting room with some dresses and left me to my own defenses. While I had already lost 40 pounds by then, I didn’t fit into any of them and I left barely holding in the tears.

Hello, finish line!

Hello, finish line!

Now down 60 pounds and coming off my runner’s high, I bravely hit the dressing room once again. And somehow, somewhere – the stars aligned for me. I had a fantastic consultant who listened to what I wanted, I had the support of my mom and one of my best friends and I am so excited to say that I found my wedding dress. Obviously I know that my body has gone through a lot of changes over the past couple months but it took standing on a pedestal in a white gown to REALLY see what I have accomplished. As I turned around and stared in the mirror I was in awe. I didn’t recognize the girl staring back at me. Suddenly every push-up, mile, log in My Fitness Pal, ounce of sweat- it was so clear as to just how worth it they are. There really is a method to all this madness. While I can’t post any pictures or give away any details for obvious reasons- I will tell you that I haven’t stopped smiling… or looking at the pictures. It’s just that amazing. As it turns out, good things happen to those who work really hard for it and sometimes… they even come in threes 🙂

And the countdown begins…

Well kids, I don’t know how else to say it except. .. this &%!#’s happening.

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Registration for the Iron Girl (formally Danskin) triathlon opened today. My fingers were  (no joke) shaking as I typed in my information. (Emergency contact. Now by that do you mean who is most likely going to retrieve my body from the lake when I don’t make it?) I hovered over the “submit” button trying to find one legit reason to not do it and then quickly clicked it before my brain could come up with anything. I then sat and stared in awe at my computer screen for a solid 5 minutes. I’ve never felt so incredibly bad-ass… and incredibly, incredibly in fear for my life in the very same moment. Yep, no turning back now.

So I guess now that I am officially attempting to become a triathlete (that word sends serious shivers down my spine) it’s a good thing I’ve been spending my Thursday nights in the pool. I’m the only person in the class who is a virgin to this ridiculous activity – and it’s clear. The first day our instructor asked us what our goals are, and everyone had reasonable answers: “To improve my stroke.” “To beat my time from last year.”  My answer? “To not drown.” If only I was kidding.

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Hope my fiancee is ready for this scenario.

Swimming is really complicated stuff: elbows bent, drag your fingertips, keep your head down, breathe when appropriate. Our instructor (who is reminiscent of an athletic Chris Farley if you will) doesn’t seem to understand that I JUST learned how to breathe while running. Now you want me to breathe when my head is under the water 75% of the time? Oh no problem, let me get right on that. And at least I’ve been so concerned with the swimming that I’ve kind of put the other 2/3 rds of this thing in the back of my mind. Bike 12 miles and then run 3? Piece of cake … granted I make it across the lake first.

I think it goes without saying – I’m scared. As much as I remind myself that at one time running a 5K seemed like an impossible challenge, this just seems so far out of my comfort zone to comprehend. If my comfort zone was America, the Iron Girl is Australia…swimming, biking, and running with the kangaroos and wallabies.

On that note- 137 days to go.

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Heading to the finish line of my first 5K which at one point, also seemed impossible.