You can be Ordinary

I am running Boston y’all, in case you didn’t see that yesterday.  I’m certainly going to be high on this for quite a while.  What some of you may or may not know about me is that I was not always a runner.

In fact, I only started running my senior year of high school when I stopped playing field hockey but wanted to do some sport.  I joined the cross country team and luckily ended up really loving it.  I would like to say I just kept right on running, but not so much.  I felt like I did but now looking back I realize I was a spotty exerciser at best.

Then, my freshman year of college (2007) a friend from high school was hit and killed by a car.  It was one of those experiences that changes your life, makes you realize you aren’t invincible and that anything can happen to any of us at any time.  A year or so later I decided that I wanted to run a marathon for him.  Having such a strong motivation really got me through my first race.  And I serious just “made it through.”  I finished the Richmond Marathon in SEVERE pain in 4:04 (2009).

First race, early on (why I am still smiling)

First race, early on (why I am still smiling)

I would like to say again that I kept going but after the week of euphoria of finishing when we were all planning our next race, I pretty much took a month off from running and then ran maybe 3 times a week on a good week.

Fast forward another year (2011), this was me…

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I was training for a half marathon, definitely in the overweight category and just finding out I was anemic.  I would have to say a week after this picture I decided it was time to make a change.

I ran that half and for the first time stuck with my running even when I wasn’t trying to run a race.  I still wasn’t any where near as consistent as I am now but I could count on about 20ish runs/workouts a month.

That December (2011) I ran another half in Charleston and then the spring of the following year (2012) a friend decided to run her first marathon and asked me if I would do it with her.

This was the beginning of the me I am now.  Since that race I have run 3 more marathons and 2 more halves and am gearing up to run Boston.

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I have taken spills

I still have quite a scar from this one...

I still have quite a scar from this one…

had many early mornings and more importantly have lived a normal, fun life along the way.  I will never be the person that doesn’t enjoy a bit of this…

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Or this…

Pumpkin Bars...YUMM!

Pumpkin Bars…YUMM!

Or this…

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to be a better runner.

Just having fun!

Just having fun!

The moral of this very long winded story is that I am ordinary.  I didn’t grow up running.  It took six years from starting to run to actually become committed and consistent.  I was not naturally gifted.  I was not born thin or with the legs of a gazelle.  I am a NORMAL person, I qualified for Boston and so can you.  You can start running tomorrow with the goal of running a 5k, half marathon, full marathon or even Boston and you can get there.You don’t have to have a ridiculously strict diet, or not go out or do anything fun to make some seriously awesome dreams come true.  Just stick with it through thick and thin and you’ll get exactly where you are going!

Happy National Runners Day!!

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Today started with a run as always, but due to the holiday, I made sure I took some time to actually stop and appreciate it.  I unlike many of my patients have never had to re-learn how to run, not do I rely on any type of device, prosthetic, etc.  Though these are luxuries I am so happy to have, major shout out to anyone who has faced any of these adversities and JUST KEPT RUNNING!!

My running story is pretty similar to many people’s.  I had always been an athlete through high school and played club lacrosse in college.  I took up recreational running to stay in shape in the off season for lacrosse my freshman year.  That year a friend of mine from high school who also went to the same college was struck by a car and killed.  To say everyone was devastated is an understatement. I just felt like I needed to do something, to cope, but it had to be something big.  So I decided on the second anniversary of his death I would run a marathon.  Through training the first time, I thought of him often to get me through the miles and give me strength.  I ran the Richmond Marathon in 2009 in 4:05 getting third in my age group (because I was in the under 20 group, perks of doing that when I was 19).  After that I continued to run but it had been such a struggle training for the first one I wasn’t sure if I wanted to bite that off again.

I ran a few halves, learned how to deal with my anemia and still be a distance runner but was pretty much told that if I didn’t get my anemia under control (my Hemoglobin level was 7.6 g/dL, normal is at least 12) I would not be able to train those distances again.  Hemoglobin carries oxygen to muscles, pretty important when running 20 miles.  I was a pretty severe case and had gotten to the point that I would work, run and then sleep from 7 pm to 8 am and still be tired which was insane.  After some serious diet changes and iron supplementation I was finally able to feel good running again.  I do also know not to donate blood 6 weeks before a race.

During my first year back in PT school I trained for a half and a friend wanted to do her first full so I jumped in, figuring if I told her I would do it with her, I would.  We ran Nashville last spring and I was officially hooked, running Savannah in November and Charleston in January.  I have just started training again for one in PA in September.

Left: Summer '10 (150#)  Right: Summer '13 (120#)

Left: Summer ’10 (150#) Right: Summer ’13 (120#)

And helped me lose 35 pounds (once I finally changed my diet, running alone doesn’t cut it).  I ran my first marathon at 150 pounds at 5’2″, which is an overweight BMI.  It is possible to be overweight and run distance, trust me!!

Running helps me stay sane, get out my energy, keeps me healthy along with so many other things!!  So for that I say to you running, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!

My Weight Loss Story

Up until now, I had never thought to tell my story of how I got to where I am today, health and fitness wise since most of my effort was before I started blogging.

Two years ago today, just after graduating from college, I was the girl on the left weighing in at 155…

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Now I am the girl on the right at 125.

Even through high school I was never a small girl (short yes at 5’2″) but not small.  I played field hockey, ran cross country, swam one season and played lacrosse.  I continued playing club lacrosse in college and even ran my first marathon.  Despite all of that I was never in a healthy weight range.  I had pretty much accepted that I was just never going to love the way I looked.

However, when my marathon was over, I stopped running.  I sporadically went to the gym and at times was considering lacrosse practice 4 days a week enough.  Some practices this would have been, but others were slightly less aerobic.  I ate well for a few weeks and then would do whatever I wanted for a few weeks and yo-yoed between those philosophies of life.

January 4th, 2011 I stepped on the scale and weighed more than I ever had, 155 pounds.  I knew I needed to slow this process or it was going to be a slow creep up, for the rest of my life.

At the beginning, that first spring, I had to be a little crazy, eating fruits and veggies only for breakfast and lunch and then just eating a small portion of whatever my mom was making for dinner.  No carbs unless they were with dinner, and only a minimal amount.  I think I really needed this to get started, but I ended up contributing to my anemia.  Once I recognized this while training, I got it under control and proceeded on.

During that same spring, I trained for and ran that half-marathon and lost 15 pounds.

The long process

The long process

By the time I was ready for my big move to Charleston, I was 137 pounds, happy, confident and motivated to keep going.  My goal had been 135 which I had always thought was unattainable but I reached it and kept pushing.  By the end of that year I was 131, 25 pounds less than the year before.

The best (although annoying) thing was when I tried to put on the ‘professional’ clothes I had bought in January during that first summer in Charleston, they didn’t fit.  AT ALL.  To the point that my roommates told me I looked silly in the clothes.  True proof that all the hard work was paying off.  Although seeing the numbers go down on the scale was motivating, this was a whole different level of encouragement.

It didn’t come easy.  I worked hard and made good choices but I wasn’t perfect.  I had a piece of cake or a bowl of ice cream here and there.  If I hadn’t, I would have rebounded back to craziness.

I wanted to share my story to helpfully motivate at least one other person.  It was a long road but I came out 30 pounds lighter with exercise and healthy eating in every day of my life.

Start working today to be a stronger, fitter, healthier, happier YOU!!