Week 52: Six Years and 13.1 Miles Later

My cheesey medal!This past January, I printed off a 6-month calendar and wrote out a training schedule to prepare myself to run a half-marathon. Looking at the training plan then, it seemed almost impossible that I could build myself up from not running at all and coming back from an injury, to running 13 miles in one go. But, I also knew that with a plan in place, a goal in mind, and my stubborn motivation, I could do it.

I started with training on an elliptical, then running laps on an indoor track, until one day I decided that I was beginning to feel “in shape,” so I bundled up to run outside.

I ran through snowstorms, wind, rain, fog, fatigue, sunny days and quiet dusks. I got hurt, I got sick, but I didn’t let it derail me. I got better, and I got back on my plan. I didn’t follow my training schedule perfectly—I did what I felt like doing, when I felt like doing it, but I always did something, even if I didn’t always want to.

So, on this past Saturday, when I stood at the starting line for the “world’s cheesiest marathon,” the Wisconsin marathon, it felt surreal to me. I felt like I was just going on another one of my long training runs—only this time, with about 4,000 other people coming along.

It was supposed to be cold and rainy, but when the starting gun blasted and we began running, the clouds seemed to dissolve and the sun came out. We were off, off onto this 13-mile journey that I had waited so long for.

It took me the first few miles to get accustomed to running in a crowd. I enjoyed the sun on my face, the slight breeze, and the volunteers and community cheering on the sidelines as I passed by them. I grinned at them all. They couldn’t know it, but they were witnessing a rite of passage: I was finally running a half marathon!

About 6 miles into the race, I still felt pretty good, but I realized that I had been running faster than my anticipated pace of 10 minutes per mile. At mile 8, the fatigue started to set in, but the site of my boyfriend and friends cheering for me (and snapping a few photos) on the sideline put some energy back into my never-ceasing step. I kept moving, thinking about how I was already over halfway done with the race.

I turned the race into two goals: Finish the first ten miles, and then it’s a nice, easy 3 mile run after that. Mentally, it helped me to think of it as two goalposts, rather than just, 13 miles to go! But physically, there was no way to fool myself. By mile 10, I still felt pretty good, but I could tell I was getting tired. At mile 11, I hit the proverbial “wall” and knew the last two miles would be tough. And they were. My joints and knees ached, I felt hunched over due to the fatigue, and the sun had disappeared, leaving me to fight against a chilly, unrelenting breeze. But not once did I think, I can’t do this.

Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle. My feet kept moving. Almost there.

And then I was there: I could first hear, and then see, the mass of people cheering along the pathway to the finish line. I had about half a mile to go, and from somewhere inside of me, the last reserves of energy and adrenaline were unleashed as I took off, running fast to that finish line.

2:11:52, the clock read as I crossed the line. Not too shabby.

I had done it: After 13.1 miles, I’d finished my first half marathon.

I told my mom later that now the half-marathon is over, I’m left thinking, What next? She asked if I would run a full marathon. I told her, “I’m not crazy—only crazy people would want to run 26 miles in one go!”

To which she replied, “I don’t know—I think running 13 miles at once is kind of crazy.”

You might be right, mom.

But then, you always knew I was a little crazy, didn’t you?

Fat Stats:
Starting weight: 166 pounds
Last week: 149 pounds
This week: 149 pounds
Goal weight: 145 pounds

Stay cheesey,
Amanda
@jockey_amanda
P.S. A big thanks to Jockey for paying my entry fee (and the fees for all my co-workers) and encouraging us to be healthy!

Running by at mile 8, and then looking cheesey & happy with my friend & co-worker, Sami, after the race.

Week 51: Vacation is tough work.

Highlights from my vacation week.Last week, I was on vacation in Florida. When I got back to work on Tuesday, I felt like I needed a vacation after my vacation just to recuperate. You see, we had great reason to celebrate…every day.

My thought process went something like this:

Day 1: Hoorah! We’re on vacation! At the beach! It’s warm and sunny! Now, let’s go to the beach-side bar.

Day 2: YAY! It’s only the second day of vacation! Let’s go to the beach! Boogie boarding! Dang, salt water up the nose hurts. Well, time for some fruity beach drinks!

And so on. You see the trend…

Ultimately, the vacation ended with my older sister and her fiancé’s wedding—the reason our families were all gathered in the first place. It could not have been more perfect and I don’t think anyone could have been happier. I do believe it was the best vacation I have ever been on!

If only I could have been a stow-away in the newlyweds’ luggage and continued on to St. Martin for the honeymoon with them. I just don’t think they would have enjoyed me as a third wheel. Might have been a little bit awkward, really…

So, here I am, back in Wisconsin and 45 degree temperatures instead.

However, I have bigger and better things (okay, not really, but still exciting) to be looking forward to: This weekend is the half marathon, the one that I have been training for over the past six months—it’s my first one EVER.

While in Florida, I still tried to squeeze in some training runs so I’d be ready for the half marathon. With such perfect weather and warm temperatures, I was itching to get outside in shorts and a tank and run around in the sun. Trotting past palm trees, extravagant beach houses, and along the beach definitely kept me entertained and raring to go. Before vacation, my longest run was 11 miles long (wow!) and during vacation I did a couple 3- to 4-mile jogs to keep my legs loose.

So, all in all, I think I’m ready.

But, I am nervous. And sore. And excited. Kind of wondering why I thought it a good idea to party my entire vacation…and hoping the stinky forecast for Saturday changes (50 degrees and rainy—boo). Yet, I’m still excited. I can’t wait to recap the race for you next week to let you know how it goes. Stay tuned!

Fat Stats:
Starting weight: 166 pounds
Last week: 147.5 pounds
This week: 149 pounds
Goal weight: 145 pounds

Wish me luck!
Amanda
@jockey_amanda

Week 41: Halfway to the Half

A half-marathon is something that I first dreamed of running over six years ago.

The dream began as I finished up my senior year of high school. I was on the cross-country and track teams, and as the year neared its end, I realized that running had become an important part of my life. It kept me grounded, it kept me healthy, it energized me, and it was my escape when I needed a break from life. I realized that when I graduated, I would be without a team, without weekend races, and without a scheduled practice every day. How could I continue running, and keep it a consistent part of my life?

I decided since my 5K races were over, I would move on to another race. Ambitiously, I thought the next step would be a half-marathon…naturally.

Well, going from a 3.1 mile race to a 13.1 mile race is no small leap. I got up to a 10 mile run that summer, but I did not yet know how to train properly, fuel correctly, or motivate myself every day. I can remember that run like yesterday: the heat as it rolled off the pavement; the chatter that my friend kept up constantly; the wish that I just had a cool, tall glass of water. I got so dehydrated that I ended up having to ask a grandmother who was gardening in her front yard for water. If you know me, you know this goes against all the paranoid daydreams and thoughts that usually race through my mind; but it was that or keel over on that black, endless road. That was the longest run I have ever done, and the last. I still remember how simply hard it was. I lost hope that I could even go further. I didn’t run the half-marathon that year…or any year since.

But this year, not only will I run another 10 mile run, but I will also finally reach that goal of running a half-marathon.

(Sometimes I wonder where my sanity went. I think it sweated out all my pores along that fateful first 10 mile run.)

Ohh, I'm halfway there... This past weekend, I did my “long run” of the week of 6.5 miles. It wasn’t easy, that’s for sure. There is still snow all over, cold wind, and people still aren’t too worried about keeping their dogs tied up (eek). But, despite having an icy running trail, I DID IT. I ran the 6.5 miles I was scheduled to run. And, although it was hard, it felt good.

The best part of the run? I’d be lying if I didn’t say the end. But really, what I mean by that is, the exciting part of the run was finishing it and realizing that it was the longest distance that I have run in over half a year. It also happened to be exactly half the distance of a half-marathon.

I am halfway to the half, and I couldn’t be more excited. It was perfect timing to actually sign up for the half-marathon, so I did it. I committed. And this is the year that I will finally run it.

But first up: My long run this week is 7.5 miles. Wish me luck!

Have you ever had a goal that you put off or thought you couldn’t reach? Did you end up fulfilling it? How did you get there?

I’d love to hear your success—how motivating!

Fat Stats:
Starting weight: 166 pounds
Last week: 148 pounds
This week: 148 pounds
Goal weight: 145 pounds

Chin up,
Amanda
@jockey_amanda

Week 34: I resolve not to make resolutions this year.

The New Year is rapidly approaching, and I just can’t believe 2011 is about to swoop in.

The last few weeks seemed to fly right by. With Christmas shopping, holiday work, trips into the city, and flying back & forth to my little ol’ hometown, the holidays passed in a flurry of snow, jingling money, twinkling multi-colored lights, loads of cookies & good food, fond memories with family and many laughs.

How did I fare with all that eating, drinking and being merry? Well, it’s a Christmas miracle! While I enjoyed my mom’s delicious home cooking, a sampling of cookies and chocolates over the last few weeks, and many glasses of my dad’s homemade wine, this year I didn’t overindulge 100% of the time like I would have in the past. I tasted a little bit of this and that so I never felt deprived; the biggest change for me this holiday season was that I realized simply eating one cookie is just as satisfying as eating a whole dozen. Plus, my stomach won’t growl at me in disdain after just one.

So, not only did I manage not to gain any weight over the holidays, but I’m even down one pound from where I was a few weeks ago!

But now that the holidays are over, everyone beholds the New Year as the time to kick-start their resolutions to get fit, lose weight, stop smoking, or whatever else it is that they may want to do. In the past, I have been one of these people who vow to be healthy and work out every day starting January 1st. This year, though, I am not making any New Years resolutions.

Why? Because I can make a resolution to be healthy ANY time…not just starting at 12:01 AM on January 1st. In fact, I already made the decision to make good health a serious part of my life when I wrote my “Week 1” blog post several months ago.

If your goal is something that you really want to achieve, get serious about it. You are serious? Great, then start now. Why do you need to wait an extra 24 hours to start making good changes to your life? It’s your life—stop putting it off ‘til later. You only have one, and it’s happening right now.

Instead of making resolutions, I’m looking forward and planning all the fun, healthy things that I want to do in 2011. Yesterday, I mapped out a 6-month training calendar so that I can be ready to run my booty off at the Wisconsin Half-Marathon in May, and also the MC200 200-mile relay once again in June. (Not to mention this training will get me lookin’ good for my sister’s wedding in April!)

So this year, don’t make resolutions or tell yourself, “Oh, I’ll start tomorrow.” Start today. Right now. Give yourself achievable and realistic goals, and make them FUN. Work on your goals with friends who have similar goals. And, don’t put a start and end date on them. After all, once 2012 is here, won’t you still want to be healthy & happy?

Tell me: Do you make New Year resolutions? If so, what are they…and will you start them now?

Fat Stats:
Starting weight: 166 pounds
Last week: 149.5 pounds
This week: 148.5 pounds
Goal weight: 145 pounds

Happy New Year!
Amanda
@jockey_amanda