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The Miracle is not that I finished. The Miracle is that I had the courage to start.

When I decided to write this guest post for Mary’s blog , I thought it would be easy… but I guess I didn’t remember how long this story really was!

I should probably start by introducing myself. My name is Kirsty, and I’m a food-a-holic!

This is what I used to look like:

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been inactive and over weight. It wasn’t so bad when I was a teenager, but in my early 20’s, the pounds just started to come on. I can look back now and blame it on so many things; lack of activity, and unhappy relationship, a dependence on food from the drive thru and emotional eating to name a few. The thing is, the past is the past and there’s no point in dwelling on what I could have done. Instead, I’m here to tell you about what I did.

So what did I do??

Well, it wouldn’t be my complete story if I didn’t tell you that one of the first steps I took towards my weight loss was having a breast reduction. I was well over 200lbs, and I had massive boobs. I wore a 40DDD bra before the surgery. The pain of carrying those suckers around was unbelievable. I had constant headaches and back pain. I can’t even begin to tell you the relief that came after the surgery, and the joy that came with being able to buy bras in a regular store.

Now my breast reduction story isn’t perfect, there was complications, and the full journey from surgery to physical recovery took almost 2 years. The emotional recovery took longer and I actually put on some more weight after the surgeries.

Eventually, I got to a point where I looked around and took stock of my life. I looked at the people in my life, what I was doing with my life, and what I wanted from my life and what I realized was, I wanted more. I wanted more than to be overweight and riddled with health problems like the rest of my family members. I wanted more than daily insulin shots, along with countless other prescriptions. I wanted more than a life that revolved around what was on TV on what night of the week and what I was going to eat while I was watching it.

I wanted to LIVE my life.

So, in late 2006 I decided it was time to do something about it, but I wasn’t quite ready yet. So, I set myself a date, and that was it. That was the day I was changing everything.

I joined Weight Watchers on January 2nd, 2007 and it wasn’t my first time. In fact, when I walked in to register, I was greeted like an old friend.

You see, I had joined weight watchers once before and lost 25lbs, but I let life get away from me again and I put all the weight back on. I was actually the exact same weight on January 2nd 2007 as I had been a couple of years earlier when I joined.

The first few weeks on any new program is great. You’re in the honeymoon phase, and everything is so easy, and so fun, and so worth it. But slowly, that wears off and you’re struck with the reality hits that this is hard work.

I remember distinctly the moment I realized this time was the last time I was going to do this. I was standing on the scale talking to the receptionist who was weighing me. I was discouraged. I had only lost a pound. Just a pound. And it was going to take FOREVER to lose weight at this rate. But she said something to me, that stuck with me. She said “You’re going to do it this time.” I replied “I don’t know, it’s really hard & it’s taking a long time.” So she looks me dead straight in the face and says “I didn’t ASK if you were going to do it. I TOLD you that you were going to do it.”

Okay then, I guess that means I was going to do it.

Well, time passed and life changed. It was at that point that I realized that I was on a plateau with my weight-loss and that I needed to get active.

Knowing myself, knowing that I don’t do anything when I’m not accountable to someone else, knowing that I function best in a group activity, and that I like to be outside, I decided to take a “Learn To Run” class.

That first night, I thought I was going to die. You see, I had never exercised a day in my life. When I was a teenager, I had a knee problem and I was taken out of gym class indefinitely. When I decided to learn to run, I had been inactive for 18 years.

I went back for week 2, and the feeling of impending death lessened. Then the next week, it was less, and less and less. With the guidance of the experienced group leaders, I started to realize I could do this. Eventually, I was signed up for a 5K run on New Years Day 2008. Then I was signed up to be a group leader for a 5K training group. Then I was signed up for a 10K race.

I have to admit, that my first 10K race was a wreck. I had injured myself in training, and never actually run more than 5K but decided to run the 10K race anyway. I ended up puking my guts out at the finish line and spending the rest of the day in bed with the worst headache pain I have felt in my life!! But that didn’t stop me.

Here I am, coming in to the finish:

I don’t look too happy, do I?

Later in the year, I signed up for an 8K Road Race.

Little did I know that this 8K race would be another turning point in my life!

You see, the morning of the 8K race, I woke up feeling miserable and I didn’t want to run. It was just one of those days. But, I got out of bed, I got dressed and I made my way to the start line. The gun went off, and I was on my way. I was feeling so sorry for myself when I wasn’t even 3km in to the race, and I see the leaders passing me on their way back. WHY was I out here doing this to myself again? Well, I kept forcing myself to put on foot in front of the other, and eventually I was back at that same point I was when I saw the lead pack on their way back to the finish. It was around that point on the course that I saw something that changed me. I was feeling so sorry for myself because I wasn’t running as fast I was wanted to, and I didn’t feel as good as I had hoped to, and here, coming towards me was this man wearing his race number with this amazing smile on his face from ear to ear. He was so happy to be out there. Why was this so amazing? Because he was also wearing an oxygen mask and pushing a walker! Here I was, feeling so sorry for myself when I was healthy and running this race, while this man with such obvious health problems was out there enjoying every minute of his experience. How could that not change me?

Now, on top of the amazing experience I had out on the race course, there was so much more waiting for me at the finish line, where I was waiting for a friend to finish the marathon that was running the same day. I saw so many amazing people finishing their races. People who, to look at them, were in worse shape than me. People who were far older than me. People who you would never think would run, let alone, run a half or full marathon. It was such an inspiring thing to witness.

Seeing all that, left me standing there questioning myself, questioning why I had stopped my training at 10K. I mean, yeah, I always ‘injured’ myself when I tried to run 10K, but maybe, if I just put my mind to it and did it, I could do it. After all, these other people I was standing here watching were doing it. The only thing that was stopping me was, well, ME!

So, that was it… decision made… I was going to train for a half marathon!!

I was going to WHAT?? Are you kidding me… a half marathon?? that’s 21.1km! 13.1miles!

So, I sat down with a friend who was with me when I made the decision, and we made a plan. And then, a couple of days after our first run, I was sideswiped on my drive to work by an idiot who wasn’t paying attention. The passenger side of the car was wrecked, and my back was wrecked! I was in physio and under a doctor’s care, and there was NO RUNNING!

WHAT? I had this plan, I was ready to do my next big thing and I was totally sidelined!!

So, after 4 weeks of no running, then starting from scratch and getting my body back to being able to run 8-10km, I am ready to go. I am ready to start putting in longer distances and we get hit with the worst winter storm in years. So much snow, I was stuck in my house for 3 days.

Gah, another road block!!

But, where there is a will, there is a way, right??

So we put our minds to it and we just found places we could run where the sidewalks were clear, even if it meant running around the same block over and over again!

Well, eventually the weather cleared, and we continued our plan, and in March of 2009 I ran and finished my first half marathon! Then in May I ran my second & in June I ran my third! I was hooked… and somewhere in there I thought “Hey, what the heck, let’s take this all the way. Let’s run a marathon”.

Here I am, finishing my first half marathon:

Look at the difference proper training makes!!

Yup, I took it all the way. I did the hardest thing in my life. I ran a full marathon on October 11, 2009, exactly one year from the day I decided I could run further than 10K.

It’s still hard to believe. I mean, for 30 years of my life I was in active, overweight and lazy. My idea of exercise was walking inside McDonald’s instead of going through the drive through. I was told at the age of 13 that I could not be active because my knee injury was too severe and here I was training for and running a marathon.

I have to tell you that running a marathon was the hardest and most rewarding thing I have ever done. It took a lot of time and dedication. I gave up my entire summer to making sure I was running 3 or 4 times a week. I didn’t go on holiday, I didn’t go to weekend barbecues, I just focused on the goal and I did it.

Look, I really did it! Here I am 3 strides away from the finish:

I guess that is the moral of the story here. I put my mind to it, and I did it. And the same can be said for any goal you want to set. If it’s to lose the next 5lbs, to lose the whole 50lbs, to run your first 5K, to walk a 10K, to run a half marathon… if you want to do, you can do it. Just put your mind to it and do it.

Just remember this “The miracle is not that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start”.

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  1. Bri says:

    That’s why I love running more than any other activity. It’s such an physical accomplishment and anyone can do it!

  2. Great post! I love the honesty and how vulnerable you described yourself. Well done and congratulations on both the running and the writing! Cheers.