I started running when I was 16. I didn’t get more serious about it until about 5 years ago. I have ran tons of 5ks and 10ks but I didn’t run my first half marathon until this past April. Well, one of my best friends is also a runner. I live in Tennessee and she lives in Florida. She invited me to visit her for the Fourth of July and we decided to run The Florida Hospital Watermelon 5k for the holiday. I know it is much hotter and much more humid in Florida than here, but I am a runner and I run at least 20 miles every week on a regular basis (or more depending on the season) so I thought a 5k would be easy breezy, right?
Boy, was I wrong?
The race started at 7:00 AM. They normally start at 7:30 AM here so I didn’t think too much about that. After about a mile into running, I literally felt like I was going to pass out. My face was on fire and it felt like I was swimming through thick heat. I was shocked at how much I was struggling. I was thinking to myself....
“ I spend hours every week running. I am conditioned for this. Why is this so hard?”
Well, apparently running in Florida is a whole different ballgame. You have to condition yourself to run in the heat and the humidity like that and that was definitely something I was not conditioned for. Running a half marathon in Tennessee was much easier for me than running a 5k in Florida, which sounds crazy but it was true, at least for me.
This was definitely the most difficult run I have ever had. That probably sounds ridiculous, but if you are not conditioned for that type of heat it is absolutely brutal. Running is hard enough as it is, so I am giving major kudos to Floridian runners. Y’all are some true badasses!
So, as I am running along, or trying rather feeling like I might die, my friend Rachel is running with me. Now, she lives in Florida so she is conditioned for it. Normally, I have a pretty decent pace I suppose, but not this day. Running on 2 hours of sleep certainly didn’t help. Despite my slow pace she still runs the race with me and stays with me at my pace. I told her she could keep going and her own pace, but she still ran with me. She has always been an awesome friend but this made her even that much more awesome!
In all of my years of running, never in my entire life have I wanted to quit so much. I don't know the exact temperature but it was probably close to 100 degrees that day, but it felt like 200. This taught me that running in the heat is my greatest weakness when it comes to running.
And then she told me some things that helped me find that inner motivation that I had somehow lost in the last mile amongst the humidity.
She said, "Keep going. Don’t stop unless you have to stop. When you want to stop, think of those who can’t run. Run with your heart not with your body or mind.”
Those may seem like simple words but they were so motivating and encouraging when I felt I did not have the strength to carry on. I found my inner motivation and forced my self to keep running. I managed to fully run the last mile and in most situations that is not a huge accomplishment to me considering I have ran much longer distances, including half marathons that were not nearly as challenging as this one. But this was a hard run for me.
I remember a few months prior to this, I had recently discovered a situation about girl named Molly who was also a runner. She had been out one day for her morning run and she was hit by a car. She has spent months and months in the hospital. Initially, they weren’t sure if she was going to make it. I have followed her recovery nearly since it happened. Thankfully, she is doing much better now. But she immediately popped in my mind as soon as I heard those words. #milesformolly #fightashardasyourun
So, to my friend in Florida, thank you for always pushing me and keeping me motivated. It means the world to me.
So moral of the story is we all struggle. We all have areas of weakness and that will vary from person to person as to what those are. Not just with running, but with life. All of our areas of weakness are going to be different. You may excel in one area where another person falls in that area. That is also why we should all be here to help each other and lean each other. You can use your strengths to help someone else with their weaknesses and someone else can use their strengths to help you with yours.
Hopefully, I will be running this same race next year, only this time I will know what to expect and can hopefully be more mentally prepared for that race.
We carried these flags during the race. The American flag, of course, to represent our country and the Marine Corps flag in honor of those who serve our country. She was in the marines and and I so proud of her for serving our country.
The race was not the easiest one for sure, but at least we got free watermelon at the the end of the race.
When I was 15 years old, I got my first job at a local McDonald's. My boss inspired me because she was a distance runner. She ran half marathons and marathons. She was incredibly passionate about fitness and nutrition. That was my first interaction with someone that was so passionately involved in fitness. She was also the district manager of several locations. I looked up to her as a role model because she was successful not only in regards to fitness, but in her career. Her motivation and determination stuck with me. Of course, later in life, I learned that the mentality of determination with fitness and a career went hand in hand. At least they have for me. That mentality of focus and determination is something I put forth to all areas of my life. But she inspired me so I started running.
When I was 15-16 years ago, of course I still lived at home. I was still in high school. So every evening I would run a few miles around the neighborhood. But a couple years later, I decided to take my fitness game to the next level. I decided to get a gym membership. When I first joined, I honestly didn't know what I was doing. Of course, that is to be expected from a beginner.
When I began college, I decided to take all of my electives as fitness and nutrition courses because I now had an eagerness to learn.
When I first started working out, I was maybe 110 llbs., if that. I was skinny and I wore a size 00-2. I didn't have much of a shape to me. I was a stick.
As I slowly started to figure out what I was doing at the gym and started actually working out and lifting weights, I started to notice my body changing. To be completely honest, at first I didn't like it. I was gaining weight. I didn't like the numbers on the scale. My body was taking a completely different shape. But what I didn't realize early on is that I was gaining muscle, not fat.
Of course, back then I didn't understand the process, since I was a beginner. I started my fitness journey years ago. But now that I understand, I am okay that I weigh more. I am okay that I wear a size 4-6 now instead of a 00-2. I am okay that I gained muscle weight.
I am okay with that because I have put in so much effort to be stronger and healthier. I actually have a more of a shape now. I have muscle and curves,
Am I perfect? Not by any stretch. But I am healthy. I eat healthy and I exercise 5 days a week. I am an athlete. But are there athletes that are smaller than I am? Absolutely. Are there athletes that are bigger than I am? Definitely.
I was really hard on myself when I first started lifting because I hated to see that I weighed more. I didn't want to see the scale increase even though I looked better and healthier. My point is that I know that I am healthy. I eat healthy all week and have one cheat meal a week. I know there are tons of people who beat themselves up about what the scale says or what size jeans they wear. I have never trained to compete in a competition or anything of that nature. And who knows, I may want to do that one day. And I am sure if I did I would be much more obsessed with my numbers. But at this point in my life, my only goal is to feel healthy and look healthy and fit. And I think I have accomplished that.
I know everyone has different goals, but if you're struggling today and you aren't happy with what the scale says or what your jeans size are, I just want to say, "Screw the scale!" and "Screw your jean size!"
We all have different genetics so the idea of being fit and healthy for one person may be completely different than the next. Occasionally I will hop on the scale but I certainly don't obsess over it like I used to. Instead, I focus on my workouts, eating healthy and what I look like in the mirror.
Sometimes I fall off the wagon. We all do. Sometimes I take a cruise and have all you can eat and all you can drink for 7 days straight. I will come back and my jeans will be tight. But that is okay. I don't beat myself up about it. Because I get back on track right away.
Sometimes, I may get invited out for drinks 3 nights in a row and I feel insanely bloated for a week from drinking too much beer.
But guess what? All of those things are okay. Do they make me any less of an athlete? No. Do I beat myself up about it? No. Why? Because it is okay to live a little. It is okay to make memories. When you feel like you're having a fat day, just remember the hot wings and beer you had while making memories with your loved ones. It's okay. Just get back on track. Don't dwell on it.
One of my biggest complaints is the extremities of photoshop. We weren't created to be "perfect." But who is to say what the definition of perfect really is? Society has developed this so called perfect image that we are expected to follow. It is expected to be a guide. But realistically, everyone can't look like the model in the magazine. The model in the magazine probably doesn't even look like the model in the magazine. Even if they do and there wasn't much photoshopped used, it was taken on a day where they trained for it. It was on one of their good days. We all have "bad" days or "fat" days. Everyone isn't always going to look "perfect." So stop being so hard on yourself and just do the best that you can do. If you mess up, try again. You are only human, If you exercise and you and working on trying to improve your overall health and fitness, don't worry because you're an athlete, too.
I finally did! I finally completed my first half marathon.
As some of you know, I was sick for a very long time. I had a bad case of mono with some immune deficiencies. I was on bed rest the first time for 9 months, then I got better for a little while. But then I was on bed rest again for another 5 months. I got sick while I was training for a half marathon. I was up to 8 miles when I got sick. It was very disappointing because that meant all of my training had gotten me nowhere.
Well, when I finally started to get better I decided to start training again. My best friend is also a runner and she put me on a training program. I wasn't confident that I was going to be able complete the half, but I signed up anyway. Before mono, I would have never questioned myself. But after being down so long, I have had to completely build my strength back to up. I don't have the same endurance that I had before mono. I am slowly getting there but it has definitely taken some time.
I was so nervous that race day would end up being one of my bad days. But I signed up anyway. I was also nervous because the training plan had to going up to 12 miles. Unfortunately, life gets in the way of our plans sometimes and I was only able to get up to 9 miles. That also made me nervous.
It is finally race day and, I had only slept about 3 hours. I was in panic mode because I was sleepy and thought I was going to do badly. So, given the fact that our society revolved around the digital spectrum of things, I started to Google, "How to run a half marathon while sleep deprived". That is how we are programmed these days, right? To my surprise, I was actually encouraged by the information I had found. There were numerous studies and interviews that had been conducted by olympic runners. Most of the runners said they were always anxious and excited the night before a race and hardly ever slept. Most of them said they only slept about 1-4 hours. The studies that had been conducted were proven that the sleep the night before a race did not matter. What matters is how well you slept two nights before the race. Thankfully, I had slept great two nights prior. Now, I can completely agree with this and back it up because I was able to run and do really well. I ran the entire time and did not feel even the slightest bit fatigued. I was making great time. Everything was going as it should.
Until about mile 10.
Then my entire knee blew out.
Unfortunately, my time was ruined at this point because I had to walk and limp the last 3 miles. I finally got to the finish line. I was in severe pain, but I had to force myself to run across the finish line. After all, the finish line was on the 50 yard line at Neyland Stadium. I couldn't complete my first half by just walking across the finish line.
I have been going to Tennessee football games on a regular basis for about 10 years. I must say, I love my Vols. I also graduated from the University of Tennessee, but never once had I been on the field. It may have required me to run 13.1 miles, but now I can officially say that I ran the field.
I believe that things happen to us in life to make us appreciate things more. I am not saying that I took running for granted before I got sick per se, but getting so sick and now being able to run again has definitely made me have such a greater appreciation for it. Just like the Lotus flower, we have to go through muddy waters so we can bloom. I most certainly went through muddy water while being sick and not being able to run, but after all was said and done, I was still able to out ahead by completing one of my goals.
I run for many different reasons. One of the biggest reasons is because running isn't always easy. It forces me to be strong even in moments that I feel weak. Life is not always easy. Some people don't realize that running requires more mental strength than physical strength. Running teaches you to be stronger mentally and that mental strength is also carried over into life. Running teaches you that you are capable of so much more than you ever thought possible.
But I now have another newfound reason to love running. Running is a gift. It is not something that everyone is capable of doing. Some people may have a disability or a chronic illness that could prevent them from running. I have recently learned about a girl named Molly who is a runner for Elon University. One morning she was out on her morning run and she was hit by a car. She was put in a medically induced coma and she is now fighting for her life. I was so sick at one point that I was could barely walk, much less run. Thankfully, I was able to recover enough to resume my training. Now when I run, I will also run in honor of those who can't. It is a gift. Hopefully, Molly will one day be able to resume her normal activities again and begin running soon. If she does, I know she, too, will have a greater love for running just like I did. #FightAsHardAsYouRun #MilesForMolly #ShowUsYourShoes
This was the first half marathon of many. As soon as my knee heals, I will begin my training again. Hopefully for a full marathon this time.
I am a runner, as most of you may know. I run at a few different places but usually rotate out between them. One of the places I run is a huge park so there are tons of people there doing a variety of activities. I see men running with strollers. I see older women power walking. I see young college girls walking together. I even see couples cycling or laying in hammocks. There is a mixture of pretty much everything. Some of them seem friendly and some of them seem like they hate the world. I don't know if they are just snobby or having a bad day, but either way I still smile or wave at each person I pass as I run. I feel like this is just a friendly gesture. I tend to do this wherever I go. That is just the southern hospitality in me. That is what people in the south do is smile and wave at even a perfect stranger.
So, today I was out running just like I always am. I probably ran past around 15-20 other people who are walking or running. Some of them were rude and some of them seemed awkward or uncomfortable and may have given just a partial smile or partial wave. Some people are stuck up and others are just shy. There are also those who just aren't from around here and it confuses them. They don't seem to understand our ways because they come from a different culture. Nonetheless, I still go about my way and do my thing.
Well, nothing was too much out the of the norm from my regular days until I passed a woman power walking by herself. She normally has a man who accompanies her. I tend to go there on a regular basis so I learn familiar faces. There are also others who go there on a regular basis, as well. The gentleman who is always with her appears to be younger than her. So he could be her son, but then again he could be her husband. You never know these days. But she normally walks with this him. Today, she just happened to be walking alone. I smiled or waved at her just like I do everyone else, casually. I didn't think too much of it, but she responded much differently than anyone else ever has during my runs. Her face lit up with so much joy. She smiled and waved back and she was so incredibly happy. I am not sure if she was lonely because she was walking alone today. I don't know if she had a bad day and I made her day better. That I am not sure of. But what I am sure of is that me greeting her made her happy and immediately changed her mood. I have no idea what was or is going on in her life, but it made my day to know that I made hers.
So, in the past couple weeks I may have smiled or waved at a hundred people or more. Some of them never acknowledge me. Some of them do it back as common courtesy. The ones that do it back are probably from the south, too. But even if none of them had acknowledged it except for her, it would have still be worth it because I know that made her day.
No matter how rude people are to you, no matter how mean someone is to you, you should never be rude or mean to them. Always be friendly no matter what. You never know what just a simple smile can bring.