Monthly Archives: December 2013
Dear 52 pounds,
It’s been exactly a year since we last saw each other. And I have to be honest.. I haven’t missed you. Well, that’s kind of a lie. When it’s $&!-ing freezing cold out like this I joke that I want my fat back. But in reality I hope I never see you again.
And although another 13ish of your little friends eventually joined you, it was our initial breakup that freed me. Gave me my groove back. Made me into the person I am today. It was incredibly hard work, but saying goodbye to you was the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. I hate to be the one to tell you this but our breakup? Best thing that ever happened to me.
If you’ve been following my blog up in fat heaven (Where you disappeared to is still one of life’s great mysteries) you already know that I’ve been pretty busy since our breakup. I haven’t had much time to grieve your loss. Busy doing things like trying to see how fast I can swim half a mile, running half marathons, doing push ups, conquering hills on a bike, learning how to box, and getting my namaste on. And that’s just the beginning of the great things I have planned. You see- I’m learning that when you were in my life I spent a lot of time sitting around and wishing I could do things. And now? I go out and I do them. I try new things, even if they scare me shitless. I push myself. I eat to fuel my body. I sweat. I learn. I set big goals.
After we broke up I changed my name from “Fat Kid” to “Athlete”. Runner. Triathlete. Half Marathoner. Don’t all those titles sound so much better to you? I sure think so.
Since you’ve been gone you’ve missed some pretty incredible moments. Like the day I couldn’t stop staring at the girl in the wedding dress in the full length mirror. Or what it felt like the day I tried to lift all the weight I had lost. The amazing mess of hugs and tears when I realized I had just finished something I never thought I could do. When my feet crossed the finish line of my first half marathon. When I found myself in a store saying out loud “How is there every size of running tights except small?“. Yup, all these things really, truly happened.
Last year on New Year’s Eve I didn’t come up with any resolutions. I simply had a goal of not seeing you return, and to keep doing what I had been doing. It’s one thing to lose over 50 pounds but to keep it off for an entire year? Well that right there deserves a party hat and noisemakers for sure. And to ring in this new year? Keep setting new goals, keep registering for races. Keep swimming. Keep running, keep running, keep running. Keep surprising myself. Keep trying new things. Keep learning, keep growing, keep changing. Keep being proud. Keep being awesome.
Kathleen (the Athlete/Triathlete/Half Marathoner/Rockstar/Bad Ass)
After summing up my year of running last week I’ve started to empty my race bib holder in preparation for the new year. And also finally started to do some goal setting. Lesson learned in 2013? This former fat kid CAN actually run. Which in 2014 leads to the question: can this former fat kid run …fast?
The concept of “getting fast” raises a lot of questions in my head. What exactly does that mean? Does fast mean 9 minute miles? Does it mean 6 minute miles? Who determines when I’m fast? Let me be clear- I don’t ever expect to win any races, and I certainly don’t expect to ever be faster than some of my friends… but does it mean I could someday catch up and keep up with them? So many questions.
When this new goal was first being discussed it came along with a lot of other stipulations. Am I ready to get uncomfortable? To feel like I want to throw up? To move out of my safe little world of running?
And as much as hearing those things scared the living be-Jesus out of me, I was nodding yes while my stomach tied itself into knots. It scares me but at the same time I want to know what it’s like to train and push yourself that hard. So badly. Is this normal?
I guess it is. When you think about it – it’s why as babies we touch things that are dangerous, as teenagers we drive recklessly, as adults we bungee jump and skydive. As humans the thrill of curiosity often outweighs the fear of the unknown. I want to touch sharp objects drive recklessly, bungee jump and skydive – in terms of running of course.
So it began. Step one: a timed mile. On a cold, rainy night we headed down to the track to see in fact just how fast I can run. I should mention that I have this irrational fear of tracks- I don’t know if it reminds me of high school gym class, or if it’s because I hate being told to stay between two lines, but tracks and I don’t get along. So to be told that I had to run a mile as fast as I could was kind of nerve wracking. I was told not to look at my watch and to just keep going but I kept asking myself “Is this fast? Am I going as fast as I can right now?”. When I finished I was gasping for air and wondering if I was going to throw up but as quickly as those feelings came on, they went away just as fast. And as soon as I was able to breathe again and confident I WASN’T going to puke I was eager to know what’s next.
With my mile at the track “Operation Make Kathleen Faster” (I’m really loving the code name I’ve given it) has officially begun. I know there are days that are going to suck, runs that are going to hurt, and at least two times when I cry and say “Why the HELL am I doing this?”. But I’m ready to get better, ready to be faster, ready to feel stronger. I want to take everything I did in 2013- and knock it socks off. I want to cross each finish line this year with my face hurting because I’m that proud of myself. Something tells me that track and I are going to become well acquainted. And it also tells me- it will be worth it.
My year of running has officially come to an end. Well, it’s not like I’ll be kicking off my running shoes and taking it easy until January 1st, but I did run my last race of the year this past weekend. Nothing major- just a small, un-timed, all women 5K. I ended up running it alone and without music (a first for me minus my tris and the half. That’s right- I ran an entire half marathon without headphones), which I was annoyed with at first but eventually found myself in a pretty good groove. It had started to snow lightly and I listened to the snowflakes falling to the ground, listened to my breathing, listened to my feet hitting the pavement. According to my watch I was less than a minute from a PR which didn’t upset me at all. Sometimes its just not about your time.
So after 11 5Ks, 2 10Ks, 3 5 Milers, 2 triathlons, a few random races, and one half marathon I’m wrapping up a year of running and putting a big beautiful bow on it. It really blows my mind how much I was able to accomplish this year. How much I grew both as a person and as an ATHLETE (still feels weird to call myself that, PS). How much I learned. I still remember the day I was asked if I wanted to “race or run” a race and how embarrassed I was that I didn’t know the difference. I know the difference now.
I’ve seen a little running survey going around (Thanks for the idea Sarah!) and thought that a list of “superlatives” was a perfect way to sum up my year. It’s a combination of the best, the worst, and the most important things I’ve learned. Here’s to discovering the happiness of running… and hopefully another wonderful year of it.
Best race experience: For sure, Iron Girl. Almost 6 months later and I constantly find myself going back to the pictures of that day and smiling. I think it was the fact that I was SO nervous, that I was SO certain I couldn’t do it and yet when my body hit the water… it was as if I went into autopilot. I think the pictures the race photographer caught say it all, for I am literally floating across the finish line. Oh Iron Girl, you send happy shivers down my spine.
Worst race experience: There are definitely a few that I’ve put into the “that never happened” category but the worst to date was my first 5 miler. I even made my fiancee delete the pictures of me running it because I wanted to erase it from my memory completely. A combination of practically no dinner the night before, eating something new on race day, 110% humidity, and some MISERABLE hills nearly made me pass out at the finish. Plenty of lessons learned here kids.
Race I will never forget: Not a race that I ran but it certainly changed my life forever. I know that I’ve made a few references to it in my posts, but I still think about the Marathon constantly, I’d say almost every day. It’s amazing how clear every detail of that day remains right down to what I was wearing. I can’t walk near where I was standing when the bombs went off without a nagging feeling in my stomach. It will forever be a reminder to be thankful for the people that surround me, and the limbs that carry me.
Best run: This may sound strange- but my 10 mile training run for the Chilly Half. It was my first double digit run, and I did it completely by myself. My brain is constantly getting in the way of my feet but this was one occasion where I willed myself to keep going and entered the world of double digit running like a true rockstar.
Best new piece of gear: My TomTom Multisport watch. Sometimes Tom gets a little wacky (his mile chirps get sadder the further into a run we go) but he’s helping me become a better runner, one mile at a time.
Best piece of running advice I’ve received: Trust in your training. I am actually considering getting that tattooed across my face- backwards- so it will be staring back at me when I look in the mirror. I need to tell myself this every day. I am constantly second guessing my body even though it’s constantly proving me wrong. Someday it will all click.
Favorite thing about being a runner: The community. I love my running family so much. I love that we can talk about bodily functions and compare blisters without a blink of an eye. I love that we all pile into a car and no one can tell who smells worse. I love that they challenge me and inspire me and make my runs so fun. They are worth more than all the medals in the world.
Most inspirational runner: If you know me at all I’m sure it doesn’t come as a shock that without skipping a beat I say this girl:
Even if you don’t know me outside of this blog I’m sure that you have noticed by now that she is in almost all my race pictures… because she has been right next to me at every major finish line. She’s an incredible runner and athlete who inspires me to work a little harder every day (Mostly because I just want something I’m better than her at!). Sometimes I think she knows me better than I know myself…. she certainly knows what I’m capable of light years before I do. She pushes me physically and mentally, she motivates me, she calls me out when I’m being a half ass, and she literally leaves me in awe of what she does. If I ever become half the runner she is I will feel accomplished.
To sum up my year in a few words: Sweaty. Achy. Hard work. Educational. Inspiring. Amazing. 🙂
As I am about to end what has been a crazy year of running, and with the big “What Now?” question still always lurking in the back of my mind,I’ve been trying to figure out what 2014 is going to look like for me. I was told to start making a list of races I want to do. Easy enough. So I sat down with my laptop, a pen, and a notebook.
But as I clicked around the internet trying to fill my year with races and goals, I couldn’t come up with a good plan. I found myself getting upset and frustrated. This post half funk I’ve been in is still kicking around. A place of feeling unmotivated, feeling like I’m so far behind the rest of the pack. As much as I know I’m a real runner now, and that I can do what I put to mind to- it doesn’t mean those negative thoughts don’t creep back every now and then. I just couldn’t find a combination of races that inspired me. That gave me something to look forward to. I told myself that I would stop when this wasn’t fun anymore. It’s not fun right now, but I don’t want to quit. So I tore the page out of my notebook and threw it away. Closed my laptop. Woosah.
All relationships- whether they be with friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, family, yourself- they take work, dedication, evolution. Sometimes relationships fade away. Sometimes they come back, even stronger. Sometimes you just need to find a new way to connect. Your relationship with your body, your health, and your fitness needs to be handled in the same manner as any other important one in your life. Some would argue it’s the most important.
So with that in mind I’ve been trying to focus my energy on other things, such as my swimming. It’s funny that in the beginning I told myself I wouldn’t step back in the pool after I finished my triathlon. And then when that was over I said “Well, maybe I’ll go every now and again.” And now? I’m there at least twice a week. Suddenly I crave the feeling of gliding through the water, the scent of chlorine that stays on my skin even after I shower, this fantastic new feeling of tiredness in my shoulders and in my arms. Suddenly I’m finding that swimming has become for me an outlet just as much as running has.
My other new venture? Yoga. For anyone who knows me in real life- ungraceful is my middle name. I also tend to have the attention span of a fruit fly, so yoga didn’t seem to be in the cards for me. But as much as I rolled my eyes at the concept I keep being told that it will help me as a runner. And we all know that these days I’m willing to take all the help I can get. So as much as I feared rolling into someone else’s downward dog I begrudgingly headed to my first class. And while it didn’t take my breath away, it didn’t scare me away either. I headed back for a second helping.
I have to admit- I’m intrigued by yoga. I’m digging that it makes me slow down, makes me more aware of my strong legs and arms, makes me stop and appreciate all that they do for me. And somewhere in the middle of trying to will my legs into Tree Pose last week- it clicked. Yoga (Maybe it’s different elsewhere, I’m just glad this is a judgmental class) is about accepting where you are in your journey. If my gawky legs can’t hold it together it’s not the end of the world- for trees are meant to sway. Suddenly yoga class turned into a life lesson: my tree doesn’t have to look like everyone else’s, nor should it. What it will grow into is dependent on how I nurture it, how I care for it. I’m sitting here trying to fit my round peg into other people’s square holes. I’m trying to write my story based off of someone else’s cliff notes. And really I should be focusing on how far I’ve come, and where I want to go. It’s my journey and I’ll get there in my own time, on my own two feet… swaying as I go. I I understand the concept, but it’s going to take a while until I’m able to practice it fully on my own. Yes, I think yoga is a good place for me to be for a while.
PS. Shout out to April the awesome yoga instructor… you may just convert me after all 🙂