I’m about to show you a pictures that I have only shared with my daughter, best friend, and husband because I know they will love me no matter how I look, smell, feel or act. I also wanted to make sure I was serious about the changes I made in my habits and it wasn’t just a passing interest and coping mechanism that would dissipate once our lives started to settle back down and I was content with my pant size.
Last year I read a lot about nutrition. I listened to an absurd amount of lectures and I watched all the food documentaries, all of them. I kept going back to Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn and his studies on heart disease. That led me to his son Rip Esselstyn who has a little less strict eating plan than his dad. Rip also had a 4 week plan that I decided I could follow called The Engine 2 Challenge. The challenge leads a person to eating a plant-based diet. I won’t go into why I decided this would work best for me because I know everyone has their own thoughts and feelings on proteins, dairy, and oils and it can lead to strong opinions being voiced about how a person eats. I knew this would be a good change in the way I was eating and I was ready for a change.
The other change I made was training for a half-marathon. Clay, Ellen and I signed up to run a race in the fall and that meant I had to start training through the summer. I had never run more than 3 miles and I was incredibly slow. I also had a lot of mental hurdles to overcome in my running. I had an evil twin sitting in my ear whispering things like, “You’re tired, stop running, you need a drink, you’re dying! You can’t do this! Walk, walk all the time. You’re in pain, everything hurts!” and on and on and on. I used earphones to drown out her negative talk and I listened to an absurd amount of pop music. I also packed anything I thought I would need that would cause me to stop like tissues, chapstick, gum, water, sweat bands and hair ties. I was basically running with a purse because I’m a mom and old woman.
This was sometime in late June 2013. I had finally forked out the money for good running shoes because my feet were hurting so much from running in an old pair of volleyball shoes. I went to my local running store and they helped me get a pair that fit right and met all the needs of a very needy person. I loved those shoes because they were so bright and colorful and I needed a lot of bright things in my life at that moment. I was also very chubbalicious and could only fit into one pair of jeans that I owned.
This was in September 2013. As you can see my body was appreciating the changes I had made. I had turned into a complete plant-based eater by this time and I was eating all the time. My energy increased, I was sleeping well and I was calm through a storm called Chemotherapy. Running and eating were the only things in my life I could physically control and that was very helpful in a helpless situation. I didn’t start this journey knowing my husband had cancer, so I’m most thankful for God showing me what I needed to do to cope with what was about to be a very long summer.
I was running four times a week. I didn’t do any cross-training or other sports. The only thing I had time to do was follow the training plan which had me doing shorter distances three times during the week and a long run on the weekend. I also had to get a second pair of shoes because I ran through the first pair. I still use them, they are great shoes and totally worth the money, although it’s really painful to spend that much money on a pair of shoes. Running is the most expensive free sport I’ve ever participated in, ha!
I know it’s silly to get excited about shoes, but they were carrying my very tired body over more miles than I’d ever thought was possible for my body to run and to me they were magical foot fairies that helped my legs keep moving. They also hated my evil twin and kicked her out of my head many times. I love my running shoes.
This was late in the half-marathon training when Ellen and I decided to run the river trails or dance the trails, whatever would get us through it and sometimes we had to really get goofy to keep from quitting. I think this may have been in late September or early October. I remember telling Ellen that my calves were sore all the time. You can see my belt that carried all my stuff. It also carried all of Ellen’s stuff, because even though she’s an adult she still considers me her pack mule.
Ellen and I decided we would stay with Clay through the race which meant we weren’t going to run for time and that was okay with us. This photo was at the four mile marker and he was still going strong. We walked through all the aid stations and after mile 8 he needed to stop and walk more.
This was mile 10 where I was still running, but Clay’s knee and ankle were throwing a fit. So, we walked most of the last three miles.
This was our post-race victory picture. Four months of training and treatment done! After the race I felt invigorated, but I also felt like I hadn’t run a half-marathon. I knew I wanted to do another one for time, but I decided to take some time off. I ran a few times in November and once in December. I was contemplating if I was going to train for a spring race and on December 31st, I decided I wouldn’t run one spring half-marathon, I would run THREE!!
On January 1, 2014 I started a new training plan. I ran outside when I could, but most of my training was inside on a treadmill. I used Hal Higdon’s training plan. It was much more intense than my previous training. I added cross-training and weights to my routine. I also did speed training to help break up the monotony of the treadmill. It paid off, I got stronger physically and mentally. I no longer had a training partner since Ellen started classes and didn’t have time to run with me and Clay was still recovering. This time I was on my own. I learned a lot over the winter. I shed more weight and I shed stuff. I could run without headphones, I could run up a hill, I could run in the wind, rain and cold. My evil twin finally fell out of my ear and I left her in a ditch with all my other insecurities and excuses.
I signed up to run the Heartland 39.3. It’s three half-marathons in five weeks. Rock The Parkway was the first race. I ran a safe race with a pacer because I wasn’t sure how fast I should run. I was nervous because I had started my period the day before which in my case means I’m bleeding to death and really shouldn’t leave the house. I had to stop at mile 9 and use the restroom and then I spent 3 miles catching up with my pacer, passing her, and finishing a couple of minutes ahead of her. I really wish I would have run this race faster.
The second race was Garmin, it sucked. It poured rain, I injured my Iliotibial Band on mile three and ran in pain for 10 miles. At mile 6 I was considering dropping out, but an elderly woman kept passing me and I decided if she was running I was running. We ended up running the last 5 miles together and becoming acquainted. She was running for 90 second and walking for 30 seconds and that’s the only reason I finished. When we crossed the finish line I gave her a hug and thanked her for getting me there.
Running with the Cows was the third and final race. My tights are covering the KT tape on my leg. This wasn’t the greatest race for me, my hip was hurting and I hit a wall at mile 8. I finished, but I was done. My times for the three races were consistent 2:28, 2:29, and 2:32 which means I can run a half-marathon injured in two and a half hours. Clay drove me to all the races and cheered for me, it got him excited to start training again. I still don’t feel like I’ve had my best race. You know what that means? I have to run another one! Except this time I’m training for a full marathon. Chicago is my destination, October 12, 2014. I’m still eating a plant-based diet, yes I’ve cheated some, I don’t mind being a little flexible. I’ll keep running until I feel like I’ve had enough. I think I’m just getting started, so it might be a while until I’m done. I’m almost to the point that I can call myself a runner.