Well, it’s over. I did it. I ran 13.1 miles in 2 hours and 28 minutes.
An amazing time? Absolutely not. But I FINISHED and that all I really cared about.
The first few miles or so, I actually set some new PRs in my splits, so I was really happy about that. I don’t think I’ve ever sustained a 9-minute mile before and my playlist (which I’ll post later this week) definitely kept me motivated.
I felt like I could’ve sustained that pace if my stomach hadn’t been acting up, but since the other option was to not run at all, I stuck it out and dealt with the lead weight in the bottom of my gut.
This half meant a lot to me, for a variety of reasons, which makes it really difficult for me to write and organize my thoughts in this post.
My journey to running a half started over a year ago, when things were on the rocks with my then-fiance. I’d started running to get in better shape for Big Love, a very high-energy, athletic show that put me half naked on stage for some good chunks of time. I was definitely the “fullest figured” of the 3 sisters and didn’t want to embarrass myself. The only problem was, I hated running.
Now, I loved working out. I worked out a good 2 hours a day (3 the year before when I went through my exercise-bulimia and pretty much gave myself an ulcer) lifting and doing circuit training with some cardio thrown in. I was strong; but I was not lean. I also had very little endurance, which is something you need giving a monologue when you throw yourself on the ground over and over again.
It was also during this time I was trying to deal with my stomach issues that plagued all doctors save for the one non-crazy, homeopathic friendly lady I found who tested me for everything under the sun (thyroid, celiacs, crohns, vitamin deficiencies) and met me with “you likely have a yeast intolerance.” Yeast. Seriously?!
So I attempted to cut out yeast. It was hard. Harder still was that I was supposed to cut out all sugars, fruits, and vinegars as well, as this could keep promoting the growth of yeast in the intestine. Oh, and I was vegan at the time. I lived off of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with an apple of the side.
These were not fun times. I felt bloated, and cranky and tired. So I ran.
There’s a loop around campus, that I’ve actually only done fully without stopping at all two times. It’s only 3 miles; seems silly now.
I remember the first time I finished it… it was before rehearsal and COLD, and I didn’t really bring anything warm to run in. I thought about not doing it but decided FUCK IT and took off. My lungs hurt and I couldn’t feel my nose but I just pushed through it. I did 3 miles in 27 minutes and felt so incredibly proud of myself. I decided I would train for a half marathon; my cousins were doing it, my aunt was doing it, I was going to do it too.
And I looked into training schedules, and what to eat, and what to wear, and where to do one.
And I started to run more.
And then I didn’t.
After the show opened and things got rockier with my fiance, I started to run a lot less. Hell, I started to do everything a lot less.
I would go days without eating, and then throw in a day of binging to make up for it. I put in a pitiful hour at the gym, unable to lift a lot of the weight I had been. I dropped about 7lbs by the end of the school year.
After the break-up, I worked out more with my friend Steve, partly because he was the only person who seemed to understand why I initiated the break up, and partly because he was helping me hold on to my sanity.
Until I broke.
We went for a run one day, the same freaking loop I had run so many times before… and he was SO much faster than me. I felt shitty. I felt like I was holding him back. Which translated to me holding everyone back. Which was why I broke up with my ex in the first place. And I lost it.
Leaning against a pole on the outskirts of the UM campus, I burst into sobs. I didn’t want to keep going. I didn’t want to do anything. I wanted to give up.
Steve ran back and made me run. “Slow down if you need to, but never stop.” I insisted I couldn’t do it. He said I could.
We finished the run.
I took those words to heart, probably more than he intended me to, but since that day I’ve been through some heavy shit. It was a really dark summer for me and I don’t know that I’ve fully disclosed all the details to anyone at this point, but the fact of the matter is, I became someone last summer that I didn’t like very much.
I smoked a lot. I drank a lot. I binged a lot.
Yeah I started the summer with a waitressing job and ended up working on TV shows and a film and that was fun… but ultimately I was depressed and spent a lot of time crying on the couch.
Steve got me to workout at a local cross-fit-esque bootcamp towards the end of the summer and I loved it.
But it was too late. I’d gone without exercise for too long.
By the end of the summer I had an extra 40lbs on my 5’1″ frame to show for it.
When I moved to LA I decided I was going to start running again. It wasn’t until December or so that I really got back on my game, but I got excited that it was something I could do for “me” time and get back to proving to myself that I could follow through with something. I wanted to run Warrior Dash, but ultimately I couldn’t afford it. Honestly, I was kind of relieved. I was scared I wouldn’t have been able to get through all the obstacles, let alone run a 5k.
Then I was signed up for the RockNRun and there was nowhere to hide. So I ran more; I ran further; I ran faster. I talked about running, I read about running, I became truly inspired by running. ME! Fat little “oompa loompa” me who used to think if nothing was chasing me then there was no way you were going to get me to run. And I ran the hell outta that obstacle 7k. And then bit the bullet and signed myself up for the half.
Training for the half was pretty unconventional. I didn’t follow any plan, really. I just tried to up my mileage a little every week and read a lot of blogs for encouragement. I was doing the cleanse in the middle of it so I cut back for about a week, and once I got back on, things started getting a little wonky. After an 8-mile run, my stomach just kind of decided to quit on me. Food was just gonna sit in my stomach, and I was gonna have to deal with it.
And I was dealing with it until it started to make me retain too much extra weight and have horrible mood swings, crazy pHs and a super low blood pressure.
On Friday, it was looking like the best option was for me to not run it; and I had a meltdown. Because for me, this race was more than just running, and even more than finishing. It was a huge landmark in my life that said, this is where I am, finally. I do things that I say I’m going to do. I get back up when I’m smacked with bad luck (and I’ve certainly had my share of it).
A year ago I was completely lost. I didn’t know who I was, where I was headed, or how I wanted to define myself. I had isolated myself from anyone that ever gave a shit about me and was perfectly okay with giving up.
Well I still don’t really know who I am, or how to define myself, or where the road ahead will take me; but that’s okay, because I’m young, and I’ve surrounded myself with people who care about me, and I’m happy, for the first time in long time.
There were couple of miles out there when my stomach was REALLY bad, and the sun was hot, and I questioned why the hell I thought this was a good idea, and Edith’s “last fucking mile” mantra raged in my head…
I slowed down… but I never stopped.
So thank you Steve, for giving me that push, and for continuing to give me support, without even realizing it.
A thank you to Max, who helped me discover I needed room to grow.
A thank you to TJ for your incredible patience and support while I try to continue to grow.
Thank you readers for your comments of support.
And thank you bloggers, for your inspiration:
Oh, and in case I’ve gotten too mushy for you, here’s some food porn: