It was May of 2013. Since January, I had been watching a friend who started boot camp, drop pounds daily. She was doing something I had never been able to do in my life, lose weight. I had never considered myself obese, but I was. As a matter of fact, I was morbidly obese. Okay, saying that makes me teary-eyed. I was so big that it hurt my stomach to bend over. It hurt to breath when I knelt down. When I pulled my knees in close to my chest... they never got close. When I looked down, I could only see my belly. I hated it! I hated everything about what became of my body. Only my husband's help and his continued motivation would get me through these first few months. And they did.
In May I started to walk. I documented the entire journey in miles so that I would know what I had done. I documented it so that I could see visually what I had done and where I was going. Below you can see my first three months and the frequency of my walking. The purple represents walking events. The red represents biking events and the blue represents running events. For five weeks, I was very focused and determined to be faithful.
With a slight, newfound confidence, in my schedule, I decided in late July to join the North Texas Runners running group. As far as running is concerned, it was the single best thing I did. Had I not joined the group, I wouldn't have met so many motivating people willing to pull me in and show me the right way to do things. Although I began running in mid July, my mind didn't consider me a runner for quite a bit longer. You can see by looking at the calendar's below the transition from walking (purple) to running (blue) is starting to take shape. Some weeks I was a little bit more eager than other weeks, but I continued to push through. My schedule may not have been consistent, but my persistence was and it paid off quickly (if you consider turtles quick).
With this newfound confidence, I steamed full power into the next race. I was so excited, I just knew I was going to rock it. In October, the Showdown arrived. The morning of the race, I didn't have a good feeling. Before the PBF Half, I had focused so closely on drinking and eating properly. I fell off the wagon on this one. I knew I wash't drinking enough, but obviously there was a lesson to be learned. At mile 8 I got a stabbing pain in my shoulder blade. By mile 9 I was nauseous and starting to hyperventilate. By mile ten I thought I was not going to finish. I was walking the rest. For the first time in months, I was walking again. I was so mad at myself. I finished the race by the grace of God and a fellow runner dragging me. I should have immediately seeked medical attention, something I look back on and regret immensely. It could have turned out so bad. Thankfully it didn't. But now I knew the repercussions and it will not happen again if I can avoid it. I finished the race in 3:07:04. What a let down to come so far and then fall so far again.
Fast forward a month and we are closing in on my 40th birthday. I could not run any races this month because of other obligations, so I created my own virtual 40th Birthday Half Marathon. I invited the running group and friends and family to meet me along the course... and off I went. It was one of my favorite runs to date. To think, people would take time out of their day to come run a mile or two with me on my random journey of fun.
The Fairview Half
Lea Anne Turns 40
The date was set for the OKC Memorial Marathon and within a month of my last half, I took it head on. I know I didn't prepare perfectly. I know my body fell apart the week before the race. I know everything was telling me to just wait and complete it in December. However, this was what I needed to do to finish out my year of transformation. Before the race, I knew it would not be a great time. I knew things where not in my favor. But I also knew, (after my husband convinced me), that I never walk away. I may physically, but mentally, I will be back to fight another day. And so I did. After three hours of sitting in a parking garage sheltering from a storm. With a 2 hour delayed start to the race and a steamy starting gate, I began the race. The early morning run became a midday run and the steamy start turned into a sunny hot day. With temps nearing 85* I ran... for 6 hours. It was not a time to shout from the roof tops, but with 35 MPH sustained winds and 50MPH gusts, and 7 miles with straight headwinds I would not complain about my time and just be thrilled that I finished at all. Although I couldn't run the last few miles because of the bronchitis aggravated be the winds, I did sprint the last half mile. If not for me, for my friend Olivia who is always there at the end with me (in spirit and in army voice).
I did it. I finished out the most amazing year of accomplishments in my life. While this doesn't compare to getting married and having my little boys, for me it was huge! Those smiling faces above have made this year one that I will never forget. This year has been just like running the marathon I just finished, At times it was stormy, steamy, hot, sunny and windy all at once. At times I didn't think I could do any more. But I pushed. I will continue to push. I may not run a half marathon every month. I may not put all my miles in every week, but I will not give up. I know somewhere in me there is a 2:16 half waiting to happen. I know there is a 5 hour marathon in there too. Maybe someday soon I can share with you about those. Until then, I will continue to run the race set before me.
1 Corinthians 9:24
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.
I get that prize every time my feet hit the pavement!