Thursday, March 8, 2012

Running on Empty

A large part of my life the last couple of years has been focused on running and getting in shape. Since 2009 I have lost 35 lbs. (and gained 10 of them back; oops), and "ran" (and by ran I mean jogged, then walked, and repeated several dozen times) 3 half marathons. My ultimate goal was, and still is, to someday run a full marathon. After my 3rd half marathon Indianapolis in May 2011, I had plans to keep training and to run the full in Disney World in January 2012. Well....that never happened because I got pregnant a month after the Indy half.

Since then, running has taken a back burner to my fertility. Pregnancy exhausted me to the point where all I wanted to do was sleep. And when the pregnancies ended, I wanted nothing to do with running. I just wanted a baby, so I put everything on hold to try to achieve this goal.

Then 2012 began...people started their new years resolutions...and I started to think that it was time for me to return to something I loved. I kept having these overwhelming feelings of guilt of "letting myself go" and putting things off just in case I became pregnant soon. Along with these feelings came the newest season of Biggest Loser whose theme this year was "No excuses." This struck a chord with me and I told myself that it was time to start doing stuff for me instead of waiting for what may or may not be.

So, I started running again. And lifting weights. I haven't put the trying to conceive goal behind me at all. I just need something else to focus some of my crazy on...otherwise the TTC will just consume me, and I just can't do that any longer. For my own sanity. Since going back, I usually feel great when I'm running. Such a rush of adrenaline. I'm doing this for me and because I deserve this. Because I CAN.

But while jogging on the treadmill last night, I had a moment of weakness. I started comparing myself to other people in the gym...and even to my old self. I got mad for letting myself get to here and for not keeping up to what I had achieved. Where had the strong, determined, running-addict gone? Now I was here...jogging slow...walking a lot...with a sore hip...and only going 2 miles. I wanted to cry for gaining 10 lbs. back. For letting my exercise routine fall by the wayside. For gaining weight for 2 pregnancies that never produced anything but a lot of pain, tears and medical bills.

Then I realized I was just feeling sorry for myself...making excuses. Wallowing in my own self pity. But why? Why isn't anything ever good enough for me? So I stopped myself. And I went back to a time where running was fun...and relaxing. A stress-reliever. And I got out there to feel the wind on my neck...and the strength of my legs carrying me where-ever I wanted to go.

I went back to one of my old race reports...from my half marathon in Disney World in January 2011. It starts with me losing weight and then running my first half marathon with DH in May 2010. And I've decided to share it a reminder to myself of what I have accomplished...and what I am still capable of if I put my mind to it.


The 148 lbs. (despite the belly, not pregnant, sadly) was right around the time I got laid off in the beginning of 2009. It took me close to a year to get down to 120 lbs.

By Thanksgiving 2009, I was getting antsy to set a goal to maintain my weight loss. I decided a half marathon was a great goal. Gave me a chance to pick up running again. We chose the Mini Marathon in Indianapolis in May 2010. My dad lives near Indy and so I figured this would give me an extra chance to see him. Training got thrown off by DH's grandpa passing away and his uncle going into emergency heart surgery - both within 2 weeks of the race. We ended up only getting 6 weeks of training in, but were determined to do the race anyway. I guess I'm getting a bit wordy here since this race report is supposed to be about the Disney World half marathon, but if you're still reading, I promise, I'm getting there. We both finished the Mini - me in around 2:59:00 and DH in 3:27:00. 

The race was over and after a few days of recovery...and once the pain had passed, I decided I wanted to try another to see if I could beat my time. Isn't that what happens to everyone - the race bug bites?!

Decided Disney World half was the way to go...seeing as my mother and I travel to Disney usually a couple times/year! I convinced DH to sign up as well because he'd get a shiny Donald medal!

We spent the months after the Mini in Indy giving up a car and our house due to being unemployed for so long. These few months were rough, but we had family to support us and things started to look up when DH got a better job. But, when he started the job, they said he couldn't go. So I had decided I was going to run by myself. 6 weeks of training later (oops, I got off to a late start again - buying a house and moving sure takes up a lot of training time) and a week before the race, DH was laid off and decided to go with mom and I anyway. And despite his lack of any training was going to try the race with me anyway.

Finally....race morning and we were up at 2:30am. I was awake nearly every hour between 10pm and 2:30am, so I can't say I slept well, but I was excited. I had a quick breakfast (english muffin w/peanut butter and a muffin) and some water and we were out the door. We drove to Epcot and since we stayed at the Boardwalk Villas, it was a short, rather uneventful drive.

We got there around 4am and sat in the car for about 15 mins before venturing up to the staging area. Mom got one quick pic of us before we had to start heading to the corrals. DH looks less than thrilled!

The walk to the corrals seemed endlessly long! And the narrow paths from the bag check between the porta-potty's to the long and winding road amongst the trees just seemed very unorganized. And how can you not mention the men lined up along the trees peeing? DH was horrified at the thought. I thought about taking a picture, but it just seemed wrong.By the time we got back to the corral area, DH and I were pretty confused. I guess we should've studied the corral map better. I had corral E and he had G, so we were going to start together in G. We were told by several that we were in corral G (mostly other corral G'ers). So we stayed where we were and hoped we were right (we'd later find out we were in H - darn it!).Finally, the race began - well - for corral A. And there were pretty fireworks!

Everyone in front of us waiting somewhat patiently for our turn:

As we were being lead up from our corral towards the start line, you could hear the MC say "Corral 7, are you ready?" Seriously everyone walking around us cheered as if to say YES! Then a couple minutes later, as we were still making our way up to the start line, the MC said "Corral 7, GO!" Oops, we were in corral 8. Finally to the start and you could see the characters dancing on the stage.

They lit the torches above the start line and everyone "Ahhhhed" when the heat hit our faces. I kept thinking, do it again!
Finally, we were off! About 10 steps in I kicked a road reflector!! I never realized how big those things are. Just glad I didn't roll my ankle on it!

We took off with an easy jog, even though DH had been complaining about his foot hurting the day before. We only made it about a half mile before DH realized he just wasn't going to be able to do it with his foot hurting like this. I asked him several times if he wanted me to go ahead and he said Yes, Go! He wanted to make sure I could finish in case he got swept. So I took off using my 3:30 run/1:30 walk intervals that I had used during training. I felt great and mile 1 came a lot faster than I had anticipated. My running pace was even about a minute faster than I had trained. Seemed like a good idea at the time - but now looking back - I should've reined it in a bit in the beginning.

I don't even remember seeing mile markers 2 and 3....and I vaguely remember the mat for the 5K mark. At this point I was just trying to scope out a good portapotty spot to stop and pee. I passed a couple before hitting one around mile 4 that had relatively short lines. Waited a minute or two, got right in, did my thing and was on my way. 4 minutes TOPS! Mile 5 was close to the Contemporary...I think. With the big dip in the road and the hill back up. Running down felt great - I actually sped up. Decided to walk back up the hill. After that, we rounded into the back of Magic Kingdom before being spit out near the main entrance.

The spectators were amazing! It was so exciting to hear them all cheering...and I sped up everytime I was passing them! Going up Main Street was the highlight of the race for me. I seriously did not think I was going to feel emotional running towards the castle. I had walked up and down Main Street several dozen times over the years and had gotten used to the splendor that is Cinderella's Castle. But this time was different. The camaraderie amongst the runners, the cheers from the spectators, the clapping from the volunteers, the photographers...everything. It was an indescribable moment that can only be experienced by being IN the race. I felt tears well up inside, but held them back and just savored the moment.

We circled around more of Magic Kingdom - and eventually around to the back of the castle. I thought of taking a photo, but there wasn't really a good moment to do so and it wouldn't have been that interesting a photo. I really thought this moment would be more awe-inspiring than Main Street, but for me, it just wasn't. I tried to line up front of the photographers as I came out, but the window of opportunity to do so is pretty small and I don't think I managed it.As we continued through the park, there were lots of characters - most of which I don't remember. I just know most of the lines for pictures were pretty long and I was focused a bit more on my time and just I kept on running. Except when I passed the pirates - I ended up timing the picture just right so no one else was in it.

Eventually, we exited the Magic Kingdom and the scenery got a bit boring. Finally, mile 6...and I was ready for mile 7. I had texted my mom and she said she was outside the Grand Floridian by mile 7...right by the light for self-parking on the left side. She snapped this pic shortly before I arrived:

I made sure to stay by the left side and I found her easily. She was surprised to not see DH by my side...I hopped to the side to explain to her in less than 10 words that he hurt his foot and probably wouldn't make it. Later, my mom said I looked pretty good at mile 7. And at that point, she was right...I still felt OK. But I was getting antsy for mile 8. And I was starting to get hungry. I pulled out my Clif Shot Bloks and popped a couple. Yum! That did the trick as far as my hunger was concerned.
But the inner parts of my knees started aching, as did my upper thighs and hips. Thank goodness for mile 9 and Bio Freeze! Just when I needed it. I was still getting pretty tired and it was getting warmer out, but the Bio Freeze definitely helped dull the aches. I noticed a lot of other people starting to get achy and tired at the point. Lots of lathering on the BF and stretching going on. Now I was just looking forward to double digit mile markers. Where was mile 10?

Finally got to 10 and there was some ambulances there, one with the sirens on. Hope everyone was OK! I snapped a quick pic of mile marker 10 and kept on truckin'.

As we got to 11, I texted DH and told him I was hurting and didn't care about time anymore - which is saying a lot. I'm very competitive - even if it's against only myself and a previous time. I really just wanted to be done. We got to the exit that circles all the way around until you're on top of the overpasss. Wow, was that rough. The green army man on the turn was amusing but it didn't dull the pain any. The curve of the ramp really hurt my full - more than I imagined it would. Once I got to the overpass, I was relieved. Had to snap a quick pic of people passing underneath...then stretched on the guard rail before continuing towards mile 12.

I picked up the pace a bit here. Well, it felt like I did anyway. To the spectators, I was probably barely moving. But I felt fast. I knew the end was in sight and I was going to finish - now it was only a matter of "time." I kept checking my watch. Over and over again. My 3:30 run/1:30 walk had turned into maybe a 1:00 run/3:00 walk. Ugh. And strangely, even though walking hurt more than running at this point, I literally could not tell my body to keep running for very long continuously.

Finally, we approached Epcot and lots of spectators. This helped me run a little further each time and speed up a tad. Mile 12 felt like the longest mile of my life and I just kept wondering where the hell it was. I kept asking myself "Shouldn't it be here already?" I kept checking my watch. I knew it was going to be close as to whether I beat my first half time or not. So I jogged for 30 seconds, walked for 30 seconds. I kept telling myself that I had to go. I could rest later. It hurt now but it would stop when I was done (well, sort of). Once I got to 13 miles, I checked my watch one last time and knew if I jogged the last 0.1 that I would beat my time. I booked it. Or at least I felt like I did. I passed lots of people in my "sprint" to the finish!

My mom took these pics of me at the finish - I'm direclty in the middle wearing the long sleeved purple shirt, black shorts and white hat:

Final time of 2:57:34. Improvement of 2 minutes and 7 seconds. Not much of a PR, but I'll take it. And I beat Al Roker - yay!

I continued through the shute and got my Donald medal. I thought I'd be a bit more emotional about it, but I really just wanted to meet up with DH and mom and sit. I got my photo taken, grabbed a banana and headed to the family reunion area to meet up with DH and mom. We got to our car and it took another 45 minutes just to get out of the parking lot.

Overall, I had a great experience. Running up Main Street was the highlight of the race for me - that, and finishing another half with a PR.


  1. I have been making excuses for the last two years since DS was born. Why take all that effort to get into shape if I was just going to get pregnant again? I will wait until I am done making babies to get toned. Blah blah blah. I enjoyed reading your race recap. My husband starting running to lose his baby weight (yep, he gained 20 lbs!), and has just kept going. e has two marathons line up in the next six months. I am so impressed with people like you that can just go out there and do it!

  2. It's hard not to make excuses. Every month, I think "hey, maybe I'm pregnant!" and so I don't commit to weight loss. And then every month, I'm not pregnant. I put on 20 pounds during my first pregnancy and the emotional eating that followed the miscarriage. It's been a year and a half, and I STILL haven't fully committed, since every month I'm SURE that I must be pregnant. Bah.

    Anyway, sorry for the longest comment of all time. This post inspires me. i need to commit to living life and loving myself, instead of just waiting to be pregnant all the time.

  3. i loved reading this. i have felt so many times in my journey, like, ughhh...i just want to run. and then i would for a few weeks. and thend i'd stop again. i think you have a great attitude towards it and am so happy you're going for it!!
    i loved the stories of your half marathons. disney looked absolutely amazing and like such an awesome and scenic run!

    you look great!! <3