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Perspective – A BMO Vancouver Half Marathon recap.

It has been a long time since I set a new PB (Personal Best) in the half marathon distance. Over 2 years to be exact.

It feels like it has been a long time since I set a PB at any distance.

After my last attempt at a half marathon, in March at Comox,  I was a woman on a mission.

In the 4 weeks before Comox I ran a total of 53km, thanks to the injuries I sustained in that nasty fall I took in February.  In the 4 weeks before BMO I ran 153km.

I felt strong, I felt confident. I felt ready to run a PB.

1:52:something was the goal.  1:40something was the dream. And in the week before the race, I thought it was going to happen.

Then the weather forecasts started to talk about the coming heat.  We were going to have a record breaking weekend.  And I was going to try and run my fastest half marathon ever?

 

The morning started off well.

I woke up at 4:45 am, at the home of the parents of the incomparable Jess.  I had my clothes laid out, and everything ready.  I got dressed and headed down to the the kitchen were Jess had already started the kettle boiling for my breakfast.

Her awesome dad got up at 5:15am on a Sunday to drive us, along with Jess’s sister, to the start line of our respective races. Paisley was running the 8K, I was running the half, and Jess was tackling the full. We had the entire event covered.

We got to the start area, checked my back and headed over to my corral at the start line. Jess hung out with me for a little while, before she went off to check her bag and get ready for the start of her race.

For some unknown reason, I was in the first corral. I was at the front of the thousands of runners who were lined up.

Knowing my pace, I found myself a spot near the back of the corral and started chatting with another runner.

The race started 25 minutes(ish) late, and for those of you who know how I am about timing my food before my races, you can imagine how annoyed I was getting.   (I will never understand why race directors feel the need to waste our time with aerobics instructors leading a warm up. No one wants to do something new on race day. Don’t waste our time, just start on time!)

The majority of the race is a blur. But I’m going to run down the parts of it I remember.

I remember the first stretch was down hill, and I had talked about this with my coach, and other runners who had raced this course last year. I knew what to expect and I had a game plan.

Hold back.

Don’t get out of control and run too fast on the downhill, it will kill your legs for later.

I checked my pace on my Garmin regularly in the first few kilometers, to make sure I wasn’t going too fast.  I stayed comfortable.  Down the hill, across the bridge, past BC Place & Rogers Arena (and the old finish line), then over toward Science World. A hairpin turn and back where we came.

Out and backs are some of my favourite parts of races. On your way out, you see the fast people who are way ahead of you, and on your way back, you see the people who think YOU are one of the fast people.

Pretty soon it was time for the first up hill of the course. We went through the gates China Town and climbed a hill.  I remember this hill being on the full marathon course back in 2011.

After that, we twisted and turned through Vancouver, and I was starting to get hot and tired.

Plan A was to aim for about 15km before taking a walk break, Plan B was to make it until at least 10km.

My first walk break happened just before the halfway point.  I needed to slow down, get some fluids in and gather myself together.

By this point we were in the west end, nearing Stanley Park.   I was hot and tired, but still on track for a 1:52:00 half marathon.

Between 13 & 14 kilometers, I was having a hard time choking down my fuel. Warm Gu can be a little hard to swallow.  At this point we were winding our way through Stanley Park and it was getting hot.

Around the 15K mark, I really started to feel the impact of the heat. It was draining. And it was clear to me that others were feeling the same.  It was around this point I started to see runners going down.  Some of them slowly realizing they were done,  others just coming to a sudden stop and sitting down, and a few who were already flat on the ground before I passed them.  The last 6km of the course kept the medical volunteers busy!

It was also at this point I saw one of the sweetest things I’ve ever seen at a race.

There was this guy running to my right side, and every now and again, he would reach his had out for someone I couldn’t quite see who just just behind me.  He would say things like “come on, we’ve got this” and “just 3 more K, that’s less than 20 minutes”, or “you’re so close to the finish now”.  He was pacing (who I assume was his) girlfriend through the race.

I had realized back at around 17k that I wouldn’t be making my goal. The heat had taken too much out of me so, I jokingly said to him “I know you’e saying that to her, but I’m pretending it’s for me too”, to which he replied “well now I’m doing it for both of you”.

After that, he talked the both of us through the last 2K.

With about 1km to go, we exit the park, and head down the last stretch of downtown streets to the finish line.

This year, you could see the finish line in front of you for about 800m, which was a bit difficult. But between the encouragement of my newly adopted friends, and the cheers of the crowd, I managed to push though.

I crossed the finish line with a chip time of 1:55:57,  about 2:30 slower than a time that I would have been happy with. But, just on the other side of the finish line, after the volunteers handing out the medals, my new adopted friends were waiting for me to share a post race high five!

 

Now this is where the perspective comes in.

If I had written this post in the hours after the race, it would have been angry and disappointed about not making my goal. But in the days that have passed, I have realized that, as much as I want to set a new half marathon PB, sometimes you have other victories on race day.

This year, at the BMO Vancouver Half Marathon I only took 3 walking breaks. I ran the first half of the race without stopping, then I only took 3 breaks int he second half.  That is a HUGE step towards my goal of running a half without any breaks in the near future.

The heat really took a lot out of people at BMO this year, and that is one of the reason I don’t like spring races. I don’t like training in the cool, dreary winter weather, then racing on a warm spring day.  Weather is a HUGE factor on race day!

 

I have another half marathon coming up soon, about 2 weeks from now. It’s much closer to home, so I will be able to sleep in my own bed the night before. Hopefully the weather will be cooler and I will be able to give 1:52:something another shot.  I’ve run this race 3 times before, with my course best being 1:55:28, so wish me luck that I can shave 3 (or more) minutes off of that on May 26th.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doing it because I can.

I know, I know, long time no write.

Life has been busy! Taking on a 3rd WeightWatchers (long-term temporary) meeting, and covering for coworkers when the need arises, plus working a full time day job, while training for a half marathon goal race has sucked up a lot of my time. And on top of that I’m trying to make it a priority to be social and spend time with friends.

So somewhere, something had to give, and unfortunately it was the blog.

Last time I posted, I said I would be back once the bandages were off of my hand and I was able to type better.  Well, the bandages have been off for almost 3 weeks now!

So why were the bandages there in the first place?

Back in February, I was out for an evening run with one of my coach‘s other athletes when I took a nasty fall.   We were running at night, in the dark and I guess my toe caught some uneven side walk, and the next thing I knew my jaw was hitting the ground and I was laying there, arms extended fully in front of me, wondering how I ended up on the ground.  To make a long story short, I ended up with a sprained ankle, both of my shoulders sprained, a bruised knee and a bruised/swollen/sprained baby finger.

All in all, the fall resulted in a lot of missed, or cut back runs, and a lot of pain and stiffness.   When I saw my chiropractor after the fall, he said it would take at least 6 weeks to get back to normal, that was 5 1/2 weeks ago.

Since that fall, I haven’t run longer than 13K. I’ve been listening to my body, taking it easy and letting myself rest when I need it.

 

Comox Finish

2009

Yesterday I headed up to Courtney for the Comox Valley RV Half Marathon. This is(was) a favourite of mine because it was my first half marathon 4 years ago, on March 22, 2009.  I have a love affair with this race because I remember the sense of accomplishment I felt when I crossed that finish line! (2:07:32) I have a funny little tradition when it comes to running Comox, I wear the same outfit each time.

The thing about Comox is that it is fun course. It’s an undulating out and back, with the out being mostly uphill, but the back being mostly down hill.

 

 

IMG_0836b

2011

In 2011, I set my current half marathon PB at this race. (1:53:41)

The 2011 Comox Half Marathon also has the distinction of providing me with my WORST race photo ever! I mean seriously, what kind of cruel photographer hides out IN the finish chute to catch the look of pain on your face as you push as hard as you can to get across that line?

 

 

 

2012

2012

2012 was the year Team #yyjrun took on the Comox Half as a group.   Speedy Damian led the team, then came back out on the course to cheer on those of use still out there.  Skye came up, even though she wasn’t racing, and jogged out on the course to meet Kat and run her in.

Afterwards we had delicious home made Nanaimo Bar Cupcakes and had a good time hangin gout as a ‘team’ watching the awards.   2012 was really a fun year!

 

 

I have such a great connection this race, it is(was) one of my favourites to run regularly. I’ve now run this race 4 times, which makes it second only to Bazan Bay, which I have run 5 times.

Every year I go in to it with high hopes. I know the course so well, I think I could go up there and run it without the marshals there to direct me.  I know the ups and downs, and the turns, like the back of my hand. This is a good thing, and a bad thing.  It is good in the fact that I know what to expect.  It is bad in that in can lull me in to a false sense of security, a false sense of “ease” with the race.

Yesterday I went up there with a ‘celebratory’ attitude. This race isn’t about setting a new PB, even though it is always in the back of my mind that it would be nice if everything went my way and I did mange to set a new one.

 

This year, this race was about enjoying the fact that I CAN run a half marathon.  4 years ago I ran my first, yesterday I ran my 16th, and that is a big deal to me. Every time I run a half marathon, it is a big deal to me.

The race started out well enough. Although I know I was going a little fast and my neck and shoulders were just not comfortable.  I’ve always run long runs using the 10 & 1 method (run 10 minutes, walk 1 minute) but this time around I ran straight for the first half hour, before taking a walk break.  After that I only took walk breaks if I needed them. If the alarm went off on a down hill, I skipped the walk break!  I’m not going to waste the assistance of gravity by walking!

My plan was working well until just after the 15K mark.   Somewhere after 15K, I was letting gravity do the work, and enjoying a down hill stretch when my left foot hit some uneven pavement and gave me a good jolt.  I kept enjoying the downhill stretch for a while, until my next walk break. At this point I took a walk to take in some Gu and was faced with every distance runners worst nightmare!  My bladder was screaming at me!  MUST PEE NOW!

When the walk break was over, I picked up the pace again and managed to get a good rhythm going, until I started to notice that my left leg was angry after that jolt.  It just wasn’t moving smoothly.  I kept pushing myself, but it was getting uncomfortable, so I took an unscheduled walk break, only to be greeted with my screaming bladder again.

Somewhere around this point is when I started to notice that my left shoulder HURT.  My posture was falling apart, my gait was uneven, and my bladder was screaming.  But hey, at least it wasn’t a goal race.

In the last 3K I was out of sorts and feeling defeated, and with about 2K to go, Jess  caught up to me, and was quite concerned about the fact that I was walking. She slowed down to walk with me and informed me that she had bonked at about the 8K mark and had been struggling ever since. (Something about a 30K training run 4 days earlier!) So for the last 2K we ran, we walked, we laugh, we complained, we cussed, and then we did it all again!

When we finally crossed the bridge and made the final turn towards the finish, I just remember Jess saying “Where is the finish? I can’t see it, it’s too far away”.  We pushed, we knew the time on the clock wasn’t going to be what either of us wanted, but we finished, side by side and we had a BLAST! A grumpy, whiny, complaining BLAST!

 

It may not have been my best half marathon, and it certainly wasn’t my worst, but it was my SIXTEENTH half marathon, and THAT is worth celebrating!

 

After the race I thought about it, and it is clear that my body just wasn’t ready for the distance yet.  It was the furthest I’ve run since the fall, and clearly I am not quite 100% yet.

Now it’s time for a couple days rest & a trip to the chiropractor,  then it’s back to training for my goal race, The BMO Vancouver Half Marathon!

Forgive me readers, for I have sinned.

Forgive me readers, for I have sinned. I have not been committed to following the WeightWatchers program completely. I have allowed a few pounds to creep back on over the holidays.

Before we sign on the dotted line and accept a job as a WeightWatchers leaders, we are members. We live the program, we lose weight on the program, we sit in those same chairs that every other member sits in.   Yes, I am a WeightWatchers Leader, but I am also a member. I am a WeightWatchers Lifetime Member, and I am above goal .

 

When I first joined WeightWatchers, I knew how it worked. I knew that once you reached your goal weight and maintained it for 6 weeks you became a lifetime member and no longer had to pay your weekly meeting fees, as long as you maintained your weight.  Free meetings were a great incentive, and I had it in my head that I would set my goal weight at 160lbs, which is the absolute highest weight someone of my height (5’7″) can set their goal weight with WeightWatchers.

The thing is, once I got down to 160lbs I knew that was not where I wanted to stop. I no longer knew where I wanted to stop, so I decided to keep going until it felt right to stop.  I finally got that “I’m here, I’m at goal” feeling around 148lbs, but decided to set my goal at 146.

For me, 146 made sense because, with WW lifetime membership, you are considered “at goal” as long as you are no more than 2lbs above your goal weight. That meant I could weigh 148lbs and still be ‘at goal’, and that I could never see anything above 150 on the scale again.  I never wanted to see 15_ on the scale again, because I knew that would be the start of the slippery slope leading to 16_, 170_ and so on.

I hit goal in April of 2008, and got lifetime membership in May of 2008, and for a long time, I never saw a number higher than 148 on the scale.

Until recently.

I’m not sure what happened.

Maybe it is the adjustment from 2 straight years of marathon training, in to shorter distance running.  Maybe it’s just complacency.  Maybe it’s laziness. Maybe I was just tired of following rules and I just wanted to rebel.  Maybe I’m Only Human.

Whatever it is, it has to come to an end.

I recently weighed in over 150lbs, and that does not sit well with me.

The timing couldn’t have been more perfect when my area manager for WeightWatchers sent out an email inviting staff to attend a special meeting and put on their member hats. We were specifically told that this wasn’t the place to ask work related questions, it was the place to talk about our ongoing weight loss journey.

Remember, it’s called LIFETIME MEMBERSHIP for a reason.  Weight management is an ongoing journey, and everyone is going to have bumps in the road.

At the meeting, I committed out loud to tracking.

When I was in constant marathon training, it was easy to live “Simply Filling” because I was earning so many activity points every week (50-80pts+) that I could enjoy all the foods I love, but I’m not in marathon training anymore.  My running is focused on shorter distances, which means I will be earning less activity points, so I need to readjust my eating habits, because obviously, they cannot continue the way they have been going!

 

So now it’s time to make a plan, set goals and move forward.

Goal 1: get back in the 140’s

Goal 2: get back to goal

Goal 3: get comfortably below goal and possible reset a newer lower goal.

I’ve also set a non-scale goal.  I have a pair of jeans hanging around the apartment belonging to a previous man in my life. They are a men’s 31″.  Normally I wear a women’s 28, but these men’s jeans are currently too tight on me.  My goal is to have them be super baggy and comfy by the end of March.

TRACKI now have one of our fabulous new TRACK books, and it goes with me everywhere.

I picked a start date, wrote out a plan and prepared myself by getting all the foods I needed to be successful.

Today is day 3 of the new plan, and I’m not going to pretend it has been an easy adjustment.  But, with the help of the new “ROUTINES” potion of the WeightWatchers 360 program, I have decided on 3 things to focus on daily, and it really helps having the check box on each page of the tracker, to check off when you’ve completed each routine.

For this week, the three routines I have chosen are:

1: bring lunch from home everyday (except Thursday).

2: eat fruit twice a day.

3: COOK a healthy dinner everyday.

And I’m happy to report that I have completed all 3 routines every day this week, so far!

So please, forgive me readers, for I have sinned.

I am one of you, and sometimes I struggle,but now that I have set new goals and have started to work towards them, I feel motivated again.

 

So tell me this, what is that you do when you feel your motivation starting to slip? What is the one piece of advice you would give someone who is struggling and trying to get back on track?

 

K.

3 seconds is still 3 seconds, right?

Ah January, you have returned, and along with you comes the start of the new year of racing.

In my neck of the woods, we always start the year with the Island Race Series, a series of races every second weekend from January – April with distances varying from 5K to half marathon.  The series starts each year with the Pioneer 8K, a fun, friendly, race just outside of Victoria.  It’s a great start to the year!

After a disappointing race in 2012, I was ready to take on the course and set a new PB (Personal Best).

2013-01-14 09.43.16

This was my 5th consecutive year running this race, so I’m pretty familiar with the course, which I think was definitely a benefit to my race plan.  In the days leading up to the race, I would visualize the course and how I was going to tackle each kilometer.

Start line, down hill, hold back, don’t go too fast, left turn, slight downhill, keep holding back, right turn, flat, stay consistent, right turn, smallish hill, don’t slow down, around the roundabout, right turn, keep pushing to the crest of the hill and ride the downhill to the halfway point.  Then a slight up hill, keep it up, your legs will be tired by now, don’t let them win, past the start line, left turn, this is where it gets hard, keep going, right turn, hairpin turn, left turn, straight with a slight downhill, keep pushing, right turn, finish line in sight, it’s up hill, keep pushing, don’t let the hill win, right turn, uphill finish!

The plan was in my head, I knew where I had struggled in the past, so I knew what I had to push through.

2 years ago I set my 8K PB, finishing this same race in 40:14. I knew a new PB could be possible, but I also knew that I had missed a few runs leading up to the race, and I hadn’t done everything I could have to prepare.  Then there was the fact that last year’s time was over 3 minutes slower than 2011. On top of that, I hadn’t run a time ‘short’ distance race in 8 months! I went in to the race having no idea where I stood, or what to expect from myself, all I knew was that I was going to give it my all!

I set a goal for this year, I actually set 3.  The ‘BIG’ one was to break the 40 minute mark, second was to set a new PB and third was just to be faster than last year.

I am really pleased with how I ran the race.  I stuck to my plan, and for the first time in the 5 years I’ve run this race, I did not stop to walk once. Not on the hill, not through the water station, not when my legs were tired.  I did not stop to walk at all!   I knew that I was going to blow my #3 goal out of the water before I even got to the half way point, but I would have to wait until I crossed the finish line to see if I beat my #1 & #2 goals.

It turns out that breaking the 40 minute mark wasn’t in the cards, but I did set a new PB.  I started my Garmin as I crossed the start line, and stopped it moments after I finished. It showed a time of 40:03.  The ‘official’ race time is ‘gun time’, which is the time elapsed from the gun, to when I crossed the finish line. That means since it took about 8 seconds to cross the start line, my official result was  40:11.  Not bad, I guess, 3 seconds faster than my previous PB, but PAINFULLY close to my #1 goal of getting under 40 minutes.

I’m pretty hard on myself when it comes to race times, so I have to admit that I have spent some time contemplating where I could have pushed harder to make up the time I would have needed to get under. But the thing is, when I look at the bigger picture, I am happy with how I ran, I am happy with how I raced.  I made a plan,  I stuck to that plan and I performed well.

#LetsGetPhysical - Pioneer 8kmAnd speaking of people who performed well, I want to give a shout out to my friend Nikki! This race was her very first timed race, and she rocked it.  Seriously, you guys should go on over to her BLOG and read all about it!  And I have to tell you, I am in LOVE with this collage she made to celebrate!  Look at all the support she had on race day!   And rumour has it that she’s got the racing bug now and is considering a HALF MARATHON! Go Nikki!

All in all, I think this was a great start to the 2013 year of racing. I had a blast hanging out with my #yyjrun  crew, and I am so proud of everyone for getting out there and kicking some 8K butt!

I’m living the Goodlife.

I mentioned in my last post that ‘step 2’ of my training plan for my next marathon was to join a gym blocks from my office.

I’ve never been a gym person. In fact, I took up running so that I could be physically active, but avoid the gym.  I’ve always found the concept of a group of sweaty people, side by side, on work out machines, grunting & groaning, running in one spot like a bunch of hamsters running on a hamster wheel, to be quite un-motivating!

I guess something has changed that opinion for me though.

I had the realization that my fitness goals will be hard to reach without the benefit of a gym & that there is more to a gym than just rows of cardio machines. At the gym, I can work on my upper body strength, and my core.  2 things that will benefit my running. I can also do some cross training on the bike, or the elliptical machine, which will still give me a cardio workout, without the impact of running.

Yes, there are benefits to the gym, even for an ex-gym-hater like myself.  In fact, I’ve actually come to quite enjoy my time at the gym, and not just for the eye-candy that can often be seen there.

I can often be seen tweeting about my work outs, and work out plans.  So much so that it caught the attention of the people working the twitter account for my gym and the next thing I knew I was talking to the people at their head office about sharing my story.

I was initially asked to write a single, 600 word,  blog post, outlining my story from overweight & inactive to living the “goodlife”.

What I ended up submitting was an 850 word post. I couldn’t get all the parts of the story in there, and make it any shorter.

Well, apparently my style of writing really caught their attention & they want to know more.  So I have been asked to write a bi-weekly blog post for  the Goodlife Fitness Blog.

Starting with my introduction post on March 1st, you can read my point of view on topics like goal setting, motivation, nutrition, work out variety & more!

I am really excited at this opportunity to share my experiences with health & fitness, and to hopefully motivate others to make positive changes in their lives!

If there are any topics you guys would like me to cover, feel free to let me know!

K.

If you want to win something, run 100 meters.

If you want to EXPERIENCE something, run a marathon.

It’s with that quote in mind that I start on a new year in my running career. A year in which I plan to win & experience.

I love running here on Vancouver Island.  You start the year fresh on January 1st with the Resolution Run at Running Room, and then it’s straight in to the Island Race Series.  8 race, every second Sunday from January to April. The races vary in length, there are a couple 8Ks, a couple 10Ks, a half marathon & 1 each of a 5, 12, and 15K race.   One day I’d like to compete in the full series, but this year there is only time for 4 races in my schedule.

So far I have run 2 of those races & I’ve won.  Okay, maybe I didn’t come first, but I won. For the first time in the 3 years I have been running these races, I placed in the top 10 in my age group.   In the Pioneer 8K on January 9th, I set a new 8K PB. I came in at 40:04, well over 3 minutes faster than last year & good enough for 5th place in my age group.  Then, in the Cobble Hill 10K on January 23rd, I came in a 49:48, knocking over 2 minutes off of my previous 10K PB, my first sub 50 minute 10K & good enough for 6th place in my age group.

In my time running, I have collected a few medals.  But there is a difference.  When you run a half marathon or a marathon, you get a medal. Everyone who crosses that finish line gets a medal. Hundreds/Thousands of people get that medal. In the Island Series you have to earn your reward.  10 people get acknowledged. You have to compete against the rest of your age group.  So yeah, they may only be ribbons, but man, do they ever come with a sense of acheivement. An acheivement  that is different than the one that comes with the (half)marathon medals.

After getting these two ribbons, I was really tempted to run the entire series & see how many races I could place in, but unfortunately the rest of the races don’t fit in with my training schedule. And I’ve set myself another goal.

 

I’ve registered for my second marathon.

I’m not sure how it came about. Was it peer pressure? Was it Jealousy? Was it insanity?

Yes.

The peer pressure has been present for a while. There have been a few people that have wanted me to run the marathon in Vancouver on May 1st, but I was managing to do a pretty good job staning my ground and saying no.  May 1st is a bad day for me to run a marathon, since the busiest day of the year at my job is April 30th.And to top it off, with April 30th landing on a Saturday this year, that means the deadline will be bumped to Monday, May 2nd. So that means I will have to be back at work bright & early, Monday morning, after running a marathon!

The jealousy was what broke me.  It was so hard watching all my running friends chatting on Twitter about their plans to run the BMO Vancouver Marathon. I felt left out. I felt like that kid on the playground that nobody wanted to play with. I felt like all the cool kids were doing the cools things & I was the lonely loser watching from the sidelines. I love running, but more than that I love racing & challenging myself, and the marathon is the ultimate challenge for a runner.  I had to do it. I had to go play with all my friends!

The insanity comes with the territory when you are talking about distance running. You have to have a bit of insanity in you to want to commit the time & energy it takes to get your body ready for the challenge of the marathon.The insanity isn’t in what happens on race day, the insanity is in the hours of work that go in to getting ready for race day!

I’m really looking forward to training for this marathon. I have a frame of reference this time. I’ve done it once & I have an idea of what to expect. I also know how much more work I have to to put in this time around to improve on my time from last time. It’s going to be an intense 3 months, and I hope to bring you all along for the ride with regular updates.

91 days & counting.

 

Happy training all!

 

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”.

Life After Cupcakes!

Well, it was just over a week ago that I announced that I am giving up cupcakes and today was the first day someone actually questioned me on that pledge!

Aisha says:
*cupcake count this week?
Kirsty says:
*ZERO CAKE!

That’s right, I said ZERO CAKE! Not only did I avoid cupcakes, but I avoided all cake.

And it’s not like there wasn’t temptation. There was a stop at Starbucks on my road trip… and those cupcakes they are carrying lately are amazing!! There was also lunch at this little cafe in Tofino  where the desert case was right inside the door when you walk in with these huge cupcakes staring me in the face… and I didn’t give in. At all.But seriously, why are there cupcakes everywhere these days???

When my birthday finally gets here in November, I want a cup cake birthday cake… okay? so who ever is in charge of my birthday cake this year, just get me one of those ‘cakes’ that is make up of a bunch of cupcakes on a fancy stand!!! I can tell you where to go get it.

I had a great road trip, and I wasn’t too fussy about what I ate, but I did notice myself paying attention to my hunger signals, and making healthier choices where available. There was a  delicious lunch that I would have normally cleaned the plate on, and I only ate half and took the other half home for dinner. I had a pizza for lunch one day too… but then I made dinner that night and we had salad with chicken breast. So all in all, I balanced it out. Hopefully the choices show on the scale next week at weigh in!

I also got out and walked a lot… even in the rain. But the scenery was amazing, so it was great inspiration to get out there and enjoy it.

I wish I had run while I was away, my legs were not happy with me when I went out for a run last night.  But then again, I was running a pretty challenging route in preparation for the half marathon I am running on Sunday.

I have to say, having a race in the near future makes it easy to make healthier choices. Cupcakes aren’t even remotely appealing in the week before a race! Plus, I KNOW that I run better when I have been eating well, and drinking water in the days leading up to the race.  Hopefully, the fact that I, on Tuesday, am going to be starting to train seriously for a personal best half marathon in October, will help me keep things in line over the next few months!

I’m looking forward to summer arriving soon, so that I don’t have any excuses for not running. I can come up with a million excuses not to run in the winter/spring when the weather is bad, but nothing seems to stop me in the summer when it’s nice out. I’m also looking forward to getting back up to Ucluelet when the summer arrives so I can take more amazing pictures like the one you see here.

So, I have a Half Marathon on Sunday, and then that’s it for racing until October. It’s time to buckle down and get serious It’s time to pay attention to my hydration and my nutrition! If I truly want to run my best ever half marathon in October, then I have to put in my best effort!!!

“Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it.”

15 seconds.

As those of you who follow me on twitter know, I ran a half marathon last weekend.  What you may not know is that I was not happy with my time.

You see, I am very competitive. Mostly with myself.

I’ve been hovering around the 2hr mark for my time on a half marathon for the last year, and I was SURE that last week was my time to actually break that mark.  I was wrong I came in at 2:00:15.

FIFTEEN SECONDS??? are you kidding me??? Man, was I pissed. Seriously. I spent the next few days going over the race in my head trying to figure out where I could have picked up speed, where I could have pushed a little hard, where I could have done better.  I was beating myself up over 15 seconds.

Then it hit me.

3 years ago I couldn’t run.  Heck, I could barely walk any distance of significance.  2 years ago, I spent 2 days in bed vomiting for dehydration and exertion after a 10K. And 6 days ago, I ran a half marathon comfortably. Yes, it was my 4th half marathon, but it is still hard work. Yes I struggled at times, but I was comfortable out there. I wasn’t in pain, I wasn’t gasping for air, I wasn’t taking more walking breaks than planned. I was comfortable. I even ended up with one of my best mid-race pictures I’ve ever seen. (that’s me in purple)

The thing is, when I look back at the number of runs I had to miss because of work in the month leading up to the race, I realize that I didn’t train hard enough to deserve a sub 2hr finish.  That is the simple fact of the matter. I didn’t train hard enough.

I also realized something else.  I realized I am a fit person. I realized that I ran a 2hr half marathon comfortably without proper training leading up to it.  That in itself is an accomplishment. I have so much to show for myself with allt his running I’ve done. My body feels (and looks) amazing. I have so much energy now. I can do things I never could before. And I have a really cool collection of souveniers and medals from the races I’ve run.

I may not have broken the 2hr mark this time. But there are more half marathons this year, and there is more time to train.  So I’m going to set my sights on 10-10-10 and the Half Marathon at the Royal Victoria Marathon and I am going to break that 2hr mark convincingly.

But in the mean time…I’ve realized that it is a waste of energy to be mad about 15 seconds, when I could be celebrating the fact that I have another half marathon under my belt and they are all getting easier!

I guess that’s the whole point here. It gets easier No matter what  your physical activity of choice, the more you do it, the more you practice and train, the easier it is going to get. You just have to get out there and do it.  Whatever it is, just do it. It’s worth it.

Remember, “The miracle is not that I finished, the miracle is that I had the courage to start”.