Great Smoky Mountain Half

I have this amazing friend, Jewel, who has been working his ass off to get in shape. Over the course of the last year he’s dropped 75 pounds. Several months ago I challenged him to push himself and walk a half. I knew he could do it. I saw the numbers he was putting up. He registered and this weekend not only did he finish but he CRUSHED it.  

The morning started off a little rocky. First, I had forgotten to take my asthma meds and we had to turn around and go back to the hotel. (I was wondering why I was so wheezy.) Then we got on the shuttle bus to the start line and our bus driver got lost. When we finally got to the start line even getting a group photo wasn’t without its drama; Jewel accidentally punched me in the eye. (I wonder just how much was an accident, I am kind of a pain). Not a good way to start the race. 

We started across the finish line together. Then we started to spread out a bit. C runs faster than both of us so she led the pack most of the way. I just wanted to stay as close to my training heart rate as I could to see how far I could go without walk break. Jewel just wanted to finish. 

Around mile 4 I got hungry. Not sugar low, but hungry. I hadn’t eaten since 0500 and like a Hobbit it was time for second breakfast. Luckily, I had remembered my Picky Bar.  Yay food! 

 At this point I was in front of C as she had made a brief stop at mile 3. I just kept trucking along. Slow, but steady. She eventually caught back up with me. That speed demon. 

The road was miserable to run on. It was banked like this \ or like this / the entire time. My legs never hit the pavement at the same length. I’m used to uneven trail surfaces but this was so much worse.  I never have issues with my hips, but by mile 7 I was in so much pain. Poor C, who had had stress factures in both of her hips (thanks Army), was absolutely miserable.  Lots of folks out on course were all in pain for that reason. 

  Around mile 8 we popped over the river and onto a concrete path. As much as I hate running on concrete, due to its lack of give, I was thrilled to finally running on something semi level. I just kept plugging on. Around mile 10 one of my favorite Biker Barre songs came on and it gave me such a boost. 5k away and I knew I’d be ok. 

Sprinting across the finish all I wanted to do was see my friends cross. I got my medal and turned around. C had been right behind me. I waited. And waited. Watching the clock I began to get really worried. Where was she?!

  
Finally!!! Apparently, her hips pain was nearly unbearable. I had never been happier to see her cross. 

We got her medal and then waited for Jewel. As we saw him come down the finishing chute we began to hoop and holler.  He finished! He finished strong!!! I’m so proud of him. 

 

My final results? Chip time; 2:51:59.5 pace 13:08. Overall finisher 914/1215 (75%) Gender 527/918 (57%) Division 97/135 (71%) 

Last September I finished my first (barely) at 3:16:14 with a pace of 14:58. In March I finished in 2:53:17 with a pace of 13:12. I’m making progress. It’s still slow, but I’m thrilled.

  

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My first Spartan 

In an effort to embrace progress trumps comfort I decided to try my hand at a Spartan Race. Ok, so the decsion wasn’t made quite that lightly. I had seen what lots of folks look like post Spartan and I honestly wasn’t sure I’d have the strength to finish. That said, it didn’t matter how I finished just as long as I finished.

Saturday morning came and I was super nervous as I am for every race. Doesn’t matter what kind of race I always pull into the parking lot wanting to throw up. It was a 1.5 mile walk to the start area through the Cornell Ag campus. It was enough to get me to relax.

I was incredibly lucky that I was traveling with someone who had done several of these before which helped ease me into the registration process. As we picked up our chips I felt completely overwhelmed. Good grief what did I get myself into??

The course was laid out in such a way that I could see a majority of the obstacles. That helped a bit. I was still scared but I knew I would be ok. I knew I was going to be running it on my own as I wasn’t going to force my companion to run slow (or have to wait for me to do burpees) so I put on my big girl pants and dug deep.  I knew I was going to have to dig extra deep because the whole race was being run in/on/around fields filled with some of my worse asthmatic triggers.

Once I started I fell into a rhythm running. The first couple of obstacles were things I was 20150907130635comfortable with; hay bales and mud pits. That’s when things started to get interesting and I started to get pushed; walls, barbed wire crawl, pulling cement blocks, and the inverted wall.  Every obstacle I completed I knew I was getting one step closer to the finish.  I struggled.  I will completely admit that I was getting pushed hard.

When I came to the inverted wall (think of a wall on an angle like this \. You climb up the back side before you go over the top.  Now I’m 5’3″.  However, I also used to climb.  Used to.  I haven’t been on a rock wall in probably 15 years or so.  Conquering that wall was a huge boost to my ego.  Even if it meant that I got a wicked black and blue mark on my arm IMG_7050where I came down with my full weight onto the soft squishy part of my arm as I pushed/leapt/swung myself over the top of the wall.  I gave myself the biggest noogie ever.

As I came to my last quarter mile my companion was there cheering me on from the side lines.  I was positively thrilled.  That was exactly what I needed to finish the race. It gave me such a boost.  It was new, different, and awesome to have someone cheering like that.

As I crossed the finish line I was incredibly proud of myself.  I know that I had to dig deep to finish.  I also know that here is no way in hell that I could have done that even 6 months ago.  I’m not 100% certain if I am going to do another.  I might, especially if I have the right company and if I can spend some time in the climbing gym this winter and work on my upper body because at the end of the day progress, indeed, trumps comfort.

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Half of a half

There is a Stone Temple Pilots song that has the phrase, “I’m half the man I used to be.”  I’m half of half of the (wo)man I used to be!  I’m unofficially down 25% of my weight.  I say unofficially because it’s not on Sainted Mary’s scale (yet!)

I’ve been noticing lately changes in my body composition. Bones where there didn’t use to be bone.  My grandmother’s knobby knees staring back at me.  In an effort to not stand on the scale every day I actually moved my scale out of my house.  Trust me, this was a good thing for my psyche.  Any way, one afternoon last week I quietly got on the scale not really knowing where I was.  As I had relegated myself to only standing on Mary’s scale every two weeks, again for my psyche.  A number stared back at me.  I got off, got back on and there it was again.  I got off and immediately went scrambling looking for my camera.

IMG_6998Are you KIDDING me???  I jumped up and down.  Then I immediately sent an email and text to three of the most amazing women I am proud to call my friends; Katie, Ali, and Kelly.  These three woman have been there for me every single step and I couldn’t imagine not sharing this news with them.  Of course, then I sent an email to Sainted Mary.

I am officially into my “negotiated” weight loss.  See, Sainted Mary is going to cut me off.  My initial goal had been to get down to 150 pounds.  A couple of months ago I negotiated with her to drop that goal by 5 pounds.  I tried for an additional10, but Mary (who knows best) said to me, “Sweetie, if you keep going you are going to loose muscle and with all of the crazy escapades that you and C do you need all of the muscle you can get.”  Begrudgingly I admitted she was right.  This is also why I have adult supervision.

This is a huge milestone for me.  I’m healthier, I’m stronger, but most importantly I’ve done it the right way.  All without starving myself! I am beyond excited as I look forward to the next phase of my journey.