Monday, May 6, 2013

The Finish Line - Metaphorically

This was never meant to be a neverending blog.

When I began this blog last summer, it was meant as a way to chronicle my journey into fitness as I headed toward my 50th birthday.

When I began, I weighed 203 pounds. Or 200. It depended on which scale I used.
March 2012 - with Anna, backstage at "The Choice"

When I began, I couldn't even climb from one floor of my house to another without huffing and puffing. Walking was painful because of the arthritis in my knees.

When I began, I was hitting McDonald's 4-5 times a week, usually for a crispy chicken classic sandwich, large fries, and large Diet Coke. (Because diet drinks help wash away the other calories, dontcha know.)

Along the way, I started walking. Four miles a day, five times a week. Sometimes with temperatures in the 80s and the humidity almost that high.

I nearly passed out on one of those first walks. I was dizzy and short of breath, and I think I clocked a mile at close to 20 minutes because of it. I know Matt was seriously trying to figure out on that day how they would get the ambulance back in on the trail to get me when I collapsed. 

But I never collapsed. There were other times I slowed down, but I never collapsed.

I cried the first time I clocked a mile at less than 15 minutes. And 15 minutes is still a goal, with my average "comfortable for me" pace being closer to 15:30. But it's also not unusual for me to crack 15 occasionally.

Along the way, four miles stretched to five, then six. Then one time I did 10. 

Along the way, Sandi became my rock - the one who would drag, encourage, cajole, annoy, cheerlead...whatever it took to get me out of the house, out on the trail, and moving. I know that from Day 1 she has held back to stay with me, and I'll always be grateful that she has been by my side. (Well, slightly ahead of me, usually. Just about 3 steps.)

Along the way, I learned to eat better - more lean protein and fresh fruits and veggies, less carbs and sugars. More chicken and fish and pork and veggie trays for snacking, less pasta and breads and desserts. Durnit.

Along the way, I dropped 40 pounds. 

Along the way, I decided I could do a 5K Walk. It would be easy, because I did more than that every time I went out. So I did Hoosiers Outrun Cancer last September. And I cried a little when I finished - cried because it was something I thought I'd never do...cried because Sandi was supposed to walk it with me and instead she spent the morning in the ER.
Fab @ 50 - taken Jan. 31, 2013
Along the way, I hit 50. And I was in so much better shape on my 50th birthday than I had been on my 49th, that it didn't scare or depress me like I thought it would. Instead, I was able to embrace and enjoy it...and look forward to the next 50.

But then, I needed something else. I had reached 50. I had lost the weight. I had gotten in better shape. Now what?

So, along the way, I had a moment of insanity and signed up for the 500 Festival Mini Marathon. (Or, as one of my favorite sayings goes, "13.1 - because I'm only HALF crazy!")

Along the way, my distances stretched from 5 and 6 to 8 and 10 on a regular basis. Then I did 11.5 one day...and didn't move for two days after that. But I had done it.

Along the way - back in December - Sandi was sidelined for a month with medical issues, and I had to learn to stand on my own. I had to get out and do my own walking.

But then, she got better and decided she wanted to do the Mini, too. For her, it's a return to something that she used to do all the time. For me, it was assurance that I would be able to finish, as long as I had her by my side.

So now, I'm done.

I've put back on a few pounds, but I've stabilized at a 35-pound weight loss. I suspect I'll drop a few more as we move into summer and it's easier to eat the cold fresh veggies and fruits rather than craving the hot pastas.

I've gone from not being able to climb my stairs to walking a half marathon. Regular walking hasn't become an issue of distance as much as time - it's not how far can I go, but how much time can I spend doing it on any given day because of the other commitments I have.

The knees don't hurt like they did, and the stomach issues improved greatly with the change in diet. I don't cry coming down the stairs in the morning and I don't remember the last time I had to take a "stomach acid reducer" pill to keep my stomach from eating itself.

I've changed wardrobes and eating styles. I've realized that I can do anything if I just set my mind to it. I'm more positive about myself and about life in general.

So for now, the blog is finished, unless or until I decide to do something else big and crazy and life-changing. Or until I find another topic that I think people might want to read about. 

Thank you - whoever is still with me - for sticking around for this crazy journey. Your encouragement has meant the world to me. And hopefully I've been able to give something to you in return.

And goal is too big, if you just take it one step at a time.

God bless.
After the Mini - May 4, 2013

The Finish Line - Literally


Yeah, those are words I never thought I'd say.

It was a perfect day for distance walking - slightly overcast, slightly cool, slightly breezy. But not hot, not humid. The predicted rain held off until it was over.

I was super nervous heading into the weekend. My bum left knee had destabilized so that walking downhill was becoming bothersome. I torqued it kind of badly last Monday, and that REALLY made me doubt whether I'd be able to do this weekend's event.

But the weekend arrived. And passed. And I did it. 

So many thoughts jumble together in my head, so let me just ramble for a moment:

Sandi was with me. Without her, I would've finished, but it would've been a much tougher job doing so. If nothing else, my frustration at how EASY it all seemed for her helped keep me energized so I could put the next foot forward. (Dancing at Mile 11? REALLY?!?!?!)

Jim was with me, calming my nerves beforehand and taking care of me afterward...just as he has all along.

The encouragement groups along the route were fantastic! My favorites, though, were the Wizard of Oz group and the Star Wars group. They had a poster with Yoda's face and it said, "Keep running you must." I loved it!

My other favorite sign along the route was the one that said, "Go, Complete Stranger!"

It really is an experience to be able to say you've walked the track at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. What a wonderful, unique feature to have as part of the course. I would've enjoyed it more if I hadn't just tweaked my knee again running in the tunnel to get into the infield and if I wasn't having to scurry to keep up with Sandi, but I suspect it's one of those things that I will appreciate more as time goes on and I forget the pain of the moment.

It was fun listening to the bands and music groups along the route - although we'd hear each for such a short time that it reminded me of station-surfing with the radio. I hate station-surfers.

I loved some of the shirts I saw people wearing...although right now I can't remember any in particular. There were several in support of Boston, and several that supported various charities. I saw a few that said, "If you can read this, I'm not last."

There was a lady who linked up with us for quite awhile because she realized Sandi was pacing extremely well. But since I was at the back of our trio, I never did see her bib to figure out her name or number, so I have no way of finding her again or knowing how she finally did.

On the other hand, I made a new friend standing in our corral waiting to start the race - only to find out that she lives less than 5 minutes from me in Bloomington, and when she goes bike riding, she has ridden right past my & Sandi's houses. 

Sandi could have finished in less than 3 hours, but wouldn't leave me to go ahead at her own pace. In fact, she doubled back for me toward the end. (That's when we separated from the lady who was letting Sandi pace her.) I wanted to both kiss & kick Sandi for doing that. I still haven't decided which would win out.

Volunteers passing out water and Gatorade are angels. End of story.

Also, wax-coated water cups get slick when you throw a bunch of them on the road and then they get wet.

I started crying about 2/10 mile out from the finish line. I cried like crazy when I crossed the finish line. I was still crying when we got through the food'n'water area and I found Jim again. The whole thing was more than a bit overwhelming.

There's a lot to be said for the weight of a finisher's medal hanging around your neck when you walk away from something like this. There's also a lot of be said for having a friendly face to walk toward when you finally get to meet up with your friends and family again. Seeing Jim standing at the front of the crowd waiting for us to enter the meet'n'greet area was such a welcome sight.

And I'm very grateful that hotels have a limitless supply of hot water for showers.

Will I do it again?

Give me a week to let the knee settle down and the blister on the bottom of my foot to heal. Then ask me.

But the answer will probably be "yes."

Friday, May 3, 2013

Countdown....Nerves....What Have I Done???

As I start writing this, it is 10:53 a.m., Friday, May 3rd. 

24 hours from now, I should be somewhere around the Mile 11 marker on the route of the 500 Festival Mini-Marathon.

For the past three days, I've been fighting a growing case of nerves and "what have I done-itis."

I haven't completed a full 13.1-mile walk since nearly three weeks ago. And I did the last two miles of that with tears in my eyes because I hurt so badly.

The new shoes I got a month ago - which felt GREAT in the store - have become a bit problematic as I've broken them in because they let my feet and ankles roll to the inside. I didn't really figure that out until this week, though. So even though I got inserts for them for arch support and to help counteract the roll, it's too late now to be experimenting with new things. So I'm going back to the old shoes for tomorrow....which seems appropriate, considering that they are the shoes that got me to this point in the first place.

I managed 11.5 miles this past Monday before it got cut short by a family semi-emergency. But even at that distance, my knees were hurting in a way they haven't hurt since last summer and fall when I first started walking. Again, I think the new shoes have thrown off my balance and destabilized my already-shaky knees. Now the question is, will they hold up?

Will the ankles hold up?

The weather is supposed to be icky tomorrow. Cooler and overcast, if not rainy. Ugh. Rainy. I don't mind cooler and overcast, though. Even if it's in the 50s, I'll work up a sweat quickly enough.

I was watching the news from Indianapolis yesterday, trying to get the latest weather forecast. They had a report from the Convention Center where they're holding the Runners' Expo and where you pick up your race packets. I saw it, and there was a prolonged moment of "AAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!!!" It's really happening, that's where I'll be later today, picking up packets for myself & Sandi. "AAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!"

I don't see how people are supposed to "carb up" the day before a race. I'm so nervous today I can barely eat at all. 

My head is swimming. My stomach is fluttering. I really just want to get there and get down to business. Better yet, I want to be back in my hotel room, getting a hot shower AFTER it's over.

It's 11:25 now. 24 hours from now I should be in the final mile, if not across the Finish Line yet.

See ya on the flip side!