Dear Tara…

20 02 2011

Dear 270 Tara;

We don’t know each other very well. In fact, we’ve never met. I mean, I know who you are. You’re famous round these parts. Everyone knows you. Everyone knows you were struggling to enjoy life. You didn’t think very much of yourself and had gotten yourself in a dark space and had little hope that it was going to get any better. Everyone remembers the day you decided that the life you were living was no where near your potential and you were going to make a difference, even if it was the smallest of changes.

I heard the stories.

The 260’s didn’t take any pictures because they remember you were too embarrassed to even make a public statement about how much you weighed. But with small changes and moving even just a little bit you lost enough weight to think that this journey might be a possibility. They remember how you used to walk up a flight of stairs and had to take a break in between each floor because it hurt to breath. But they remember how you kept at it until you could walk up three flights of stairs without stopping. They remember how you cried when you wanted a diet coke but instead drank a glass of crystal light or how you used to say “my stomach doesn’t care what I put in it, it’s my brain that needs to be retrained” during your lunch break in order to get through those 30 minutes without shoving chocolate or a random doughnut in your mouth.

The 250’s tells me that this is when you started running. They remember that crazy day when you were walking the dogs (and I think by this time you were up to walking 2 miles a day with them – congratulations!) and for some reason you decided to move a little faster. It was early enough in the morning and not a soul was around. You ran for half a block and by the end of it you were so out of breath you actually got sick. We get a good laugh out of that around the water cooler.  They were pretty sure you wouldn’t last long in the running department but you showed them. You found this thing called couch to 5k and began running before the sun came up because you were sure everyone was staring at you. It was slow going but damn if you didn’t keep at it.

The 240’s have a lot of stories to share. They say this picture was taken when you got yourself down to about 245 pounds and this was the first time you actually ran for 5 minutes straight. There was talk that this journey might be serious but there was still some trepidation. They fondly remember the day you decided to go public with your weight loss and 263andcounting.com was born. P.S. Happy belated blogiversary.

 

 

The 230’s say this is really when you planted your feet firmly in the ground and proclaimed this LCJ was for real and not going any where any time soon. You did something you never thought you do: You signed up for your first 5k! Then you went and did something even more crazy: You joined a gym. Yhea we didn’t see that coming

 

 

 

The 220’s celebrated a milestone: 50 pounds lost. Hard to believe that 5 months previous to this picture being taken you weighed 270 pounds. You didn’t see much of a change in your body but you started to notice that your neck was smaller and I think I remember them saying this is where you discovered your collar bone again. They say this was also about the time you realized that this journey wasn’t just about losing the physical weight but that you had to really look to your past to get to your future

 

The 2teens remember the day you signed up for this 5k. It wasn’t the original one you signed up for (that was coming in June) but you couldn’t pass up the opportunity when it was offered by your friend Elizabeth. It was super scary. But you crossed that finish line and that was the day you called yourself a runner. But that wasn’t all you did in your 2teens. You walked your first half Marathon and then you went and did something down right crazy: You signed up for your first triathlon! They fondly remember you thinking that you might actually like being an athlete and couldn’t wait to see what you came up with next! But it wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns. This was by far the most stressful time during your journey. The 2teens remember the day you got the call that your brother was in the hospital due to his alcoholism. This would mark the first time there was a gain in your journey. You started to realize that stress was a big factor. You pushed too hard physically, you were too hard on yourself emotionally and you got hurt.

 

 

 

The 210’s remember you coming to many crossroads during their time with you. You took your first trip away from home. It was good but it came with a few emotional bumps and bruises. You were fired from your job (and saw the second gain on this journey) and learned that staying in the moment was harder than you ever imagined. But the 210’s also remember when you ran your first solo 5k, learned the importance of NSV and met The Godfather for the first time.

 

 

The 190’s are really proud of the stories they have to share. They like to reminisce they day you almost DIDN’T run your first 10k because you were scared. They like to tell the rest of us about the day you decided that building an army behind you was just as important as building a strong body. The best story they like share is when you decided to join Team in Training and begin training for a HALF MARATHON. Yhea, they didn’t see that one coming either. Way to pull the carpet out from under them (by the way they are very thankful for the opportunity to be a part of this journey during the summer months!)

The 180’s think this is your shining time. You spent a lot of time looking in the mirror. You were really getting used to the body you were living in. It was 90 pounds smaller. NINETY POUNDS!! It wasn’t always easy to look at the the person looking back at you. You were still fighting your demons (and still do today) but even your 270 pound mentality couldn’t deny that you were happier and healthier than you’ve ever been not only in your adult life but in your ENTIRE LIFE. This is the time you began to call yourself an athlete and knew it to be a true label.

The 170’s has a lot of bragging rights. They should. This is where you spent the most time. You spent a couple of months here. But you didn’t just sit around and wait for 170 to come knocking on your door. You went after it like a wild fire. You have the Triathlon medal to prove it. You also realized to reach that goal you not only had to drop the physical weight, you had to drop the emotional weight. You realized there was fear in making goal weight and when you began to listen to your heart, you realized that it was time to take that physically fit body back to church. For a little over two months you pushed forward. Slowly watching the numbers on the scale move downward. The day you started this journey you were medically labeled Morbidly Obese. Finally in the middle of November you stepped on the scale and became medically labeled as Normal.

Yep, that’s you. Yep, that’s a half marathon. Yep, you did it 103 pounds lighter. You’ve continued to work harder than you ever give yourself credit for. Over the last year, you’ve ended some relationships, started some awe inspiring relationships. You made a birthday wish come true and set up some serious goals for the next coming year. The one important thing you learned while living through these stories is that life isn’t going to change unless you change. You didn’t want to be depressed or reliant on medication to get you through the day. You didn’t want to sit around wondering what it would be like to be an athlete, you went out and made yourself more of an athlete than you ever dreamed. Even on days you feel like giving in and giving up you realize there is perfection in your imperfections.

You’re probably wondering who I am.

I mean I’ve written you this long letter and I didn’t even introduce myself. I’m the one you NEVER thought you’d see. I’m the one that’s writing the new stories from here on out. The stories that are not only going to continue to change your life but the lives of those that you touch. I’m the one that has been waiting patiently. I’m the one that has been cheering for you for the last 14 months waiting so that I can wrap my arms around you and tell you that you are loved. You are strong. You are beautiful.

I’m the one here to tell you…

YOU ARE NEVER GOING BACK!

My name?

My name is 160.

It’s nice to meet you.

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

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Post run blues / food

4 12 2010

I had no idea there was such a thing as “Post Run Blues”

Now what?

However, after finishing my first half marathon: I have them. I feel sad and lost and not sure what to do with myself. I haven’t run since Sunday (though that will change in a few hours) and when I do get out there in a few hours with my friend Michael, I’m not sure how long I want to run for or where I even want to go. For the last four months of my life, I’ve been preparing to earn my 13.1 wings. Every time I ran (whether it was a mile on the treadmill or for 2 hours outside) the thought of crossing that finish line was always in the forefront of my mind. Last weekend I put all my hard work, thought processes and just plain old sweat into action and came away feeling elated and more in power than I ever had in my entire life.

 

Now I just feel like blah.

I’ve been doing some reading on PRB (post run blues) and am not so shocked to see it’s a common occurrence. I didn’t experience it after any of my shorter races so I wasn’t really prepared for the initial let down of finishing the race on Sunday. When I crossed the finish line I felt like a strong runner and now I’m worried that I won’t even go a mile once I step out my front door in a few hours. I wish someone had told me to expect this feeling of “okay now what”. I guess I experienced it a little when I finished my first triathlon back in September but even then I was thinking about the half marathon. At this point of the adventure, the biggest challenge I had was earning my first 13.1 and now that’s over.

I’ve picked a few “short” races to get to through the rest of the year. Funny how six months ago those “short” races seemed so long in distance. 5k’s and 10k’s seem short to me now. Fun runs. Something to do for 30 – 60 minutes. I’ve got some great challenges picked out for 2011 (including RAGNAR for July) and hopefully finding an Olympic distance triathlon to shoot for (why everything wants to happen the same time as Ragnar, I can’t figure out), but for now I’m just going to sit with my PRB, get through the holidays and keep reminding myself that now that I know I can run 13.1 miles, the race world is my oyster.

___________________________________________________________________________

I’ve been wanting to blog about my relationship with food and what I’ve learned about myself over the last 11 months (more so in the last month since hitting goal weight). I get nervous writing about food. You’ll notice I don’t blog too much about what I eat, or  what my daily caloric intake is was or take pictures of my food. While food intake was is a big part of my LCJ it’s a more private affair. This isn’t about turning down an extra piece of cake at a birthday party, or sneaking in some fast food before heading home to cook dinner for the family. It goes much deeper as I’m sure many others out there experience.

I think about food even more so now that I’ve reached goal weight and have gone into what the world of weight loss calls “maintenance”. I’ve decided I can’t rely on counting calories for the rest of my life. It’s not conducive for me. It works for some but it’s too emotionally binding for me to do it at this point of the journey. Counting calories was a safe haven for me while losing the weight. Now it’s become bothersome and counter productive. I’ve been reading about Intuitive Eating and for the last month have been giving it my best shot.

I’ve learned a lot about myself over the last month.

Well let me rephrase that. I’ve lived with my behaviors for 35+ years so I’m not really “learning” about myself. It’s more of a “ohhhhhhh so that’s what they call it” type of epiphany. Funny thing about life: you really think you’re the only one. That is until you read something and go “oh wow, so other people do this too?”.

That’s sort of where I am at this point of the IEJ (Intuitive Eating Journey) – discovering that my relationship with food (while private) is not so uncommon in its behavior. I want to delve into it more but for now I’m just figuring out how to go through the day without counting a single calorie and giving myself permission to eat (what a concept!). The last 30 days post goal weight have been successful. I’m weighing in at 169 consistently and have not had one panic attack over food (been stressed out almost to the maximum yes – but no panic attacks).

While the each behavior alone could easily have a blog post dedicated to it, there are some things I’d like to point out about my relationship with food just so I can start to make sense of all the information I’m taking in.

  • I eat almost consistently in survival mode
  • I am afraid food will not be available to me
  • When I eat, I often think about what it was like for me to eat as a child
  • Bulimia while it gave me a sense of control it also allowed me to eat more food and feel safe
  • I eat competitively when other people are involved
  • The eating behaviors forced on me as a child, have evolved to eating behaviors I force on myself as an adult
  • I don’t trust myself around food or my ability to have a healthy relationship with food
  • I live my life meal to meal and think about food more than anything else (except money)

So there you have it, my relationship with food in a very very small nutshell. As the weeks go by I’ll blog more about each of these behaviors as they make themselves known to me. For now, I’d like to know what your relationship with food looks like. Under control? Out of control? WTF? Counting calories? Eating Intuitively? Reading any good books about this shit?

Time for oatmeal.

 

 





Sub 30 in Sub 30 and Oh Hey I ran a Half Marathon Too.

30 11 2010

This has been an incredible week as a runner.

As a fairly new person to the world of running (I ran my first 1/2 block just this past February at 250 pounds) I believe there are events in your life that shape you as a runner. There is of course the first time you step up to  the starting line of your first 5k and just as equally important the first time you cross the finish line. There is the first time you buy your first pair of running shoes, not off some random shelf, but from a professional running store and they talk to you like “one of them”. There is the first time you run  double digit miles and survive to tell about it. There is the first time you get a swag bag and realize that the shirt that comes in the bag is not to be worn during the race but to be earned and worn after crossing the finish line. There is your first sub 30 5k finishing time and there is the time you run your first half marathon.

I did the last two less than 4 days apart.

I did them this week.

Neither of these two events are less important than the other. One does not shadow the other or take precedent. Both are momentous in their own rights. One helped me to see that the other is possible. One helped me to see that I am possible. I have been running now for close to 10 months but in the last seven days it has been cemented: I AM A RUNNER.

So let’s get to the races!

On Thanksgiving I did the Norpoint Turkey Trot with my friend Michael. It was cold. It was snowy. I was worried I was going to fall so the thought of doing 3.1 miles in under 30 minutes, while it was there,  it was the last thing on my mind. The half marathon was just a few days away and this was just going to be an easy way to burn a few extra calories before the food festivities. Now just a quick note here; Michael is a runner. He’s got long legs and can move pretty damn fast. I don’t. I know I can run about a 10 minute mile so the idea of actually doing my first sub 30 (in sub 30 degree weather) was on my mind but I didn’t want to say anything just in case I started running and it wasn’t going to happen. We cross the starting line (wearing our Santa Hats of course) and off we go onto the snowy streets of North Tacoma and I’m thinking about eating pumpkin pie…

We cross the first mile marker. I know I’m running faster than normal. My lungs are a little sore from the cold air but I feel great and hey I’ve got a Santa hat on so all is good in my world. I look over to my awesome running partner and say (a little labored) “What’s our time?”. He looks at me…Okay maybe he didn’t hear me. “What’s our time Michael”.

8:44

NO WAY!!! I mean I’m not dying. I’m not stumbling trying to keep up with my feet. I feel great. I feel like I can keep up this pace so maybe, just maybe I will finish this race and earn my first sub 30 time. I quickly do some calculations (because we all do math in our heads while running right?) and even if I slowed down to my normal pace I could squeeze in under 30 minutes. We keep running. Mile marker two and I look to Micheal…

8:46

I have just run the fastest two miles of my life. Ten months previous it took me the same amount of time I just spent running two miles to even run one mile. Another quick calculation and I knew that if I ran that last mile at a 12 minute pace I would not only PR but I would earn the elusive sub 30 goal. What started out as a fun run before the gobbling of the turkey had just turned into one of those events that shape you as a runner….

Oh snap!

The last mile?

All. Up. Hill.

Head down, I focus on the fact that it’s the last mile and no matter what happened at this point I’m going to finish under 30 minutes. I want this. I will have this. I don’t have to run fast, I just have to run. The entire time Michael is talking me up this hill and before I know it I’m cresting the top and running towards the finish line. I crossed over earning my first sub 30 time and blowing my last 5k (33:00) out of the water!

27:16

10 / 77 (age division)

88 / 468 (women)

260 / 861 (overall)

Something else happened as soon as I crossed over that finish line. I stopped worrying about the half marathon that was taking place just a few short days later. I knew I was going to show up to the starting line. I knew I was going to finish and it didn’t matter what happened in between because I had just accomplished something equally as important to me as a runner. I stopped thinking about the “what if’s” and only thought about the “I can”. I stopped with the “I wonder” and immediately began to think “I will”. It didn’t matter what happened because I am a runner and as long as my feet carry me over the finish line it was going to be a great race.

I’m not even sure where to begin with this beautiful experience? It didn’t just begin on Sunday morning when I woke up at 3:30a and began to think about earning my 13.1 wings. It didn’t begin on Saturday when I spent every waking hour going over in my head the check list of things that I needed. It really began Friday morning, standing in line waiting to pick up my racing packet. In a sea of runners, I was standing among them. No one knew me. They didn’t know the journey I’ve been on to reach this milestone. They had no idea that this time last year I weighed 103 pounds heavier or that this was my first half marathon. I was just one of them. Oh except for the fact that I kept crying from pure happiness to even be standing in this line, I was jumping up and down from nervous excitement and every time someone passed me I shouted “Good luck on your race Sunday”.

“Hello, my name is 9577”. This is the highest number I’ve ever raced in. I mean I’ve had triple digits but never quadruple digits. For the half marathon alone there were over 9,000 participants. In total there were 17,000 runners / walkers!!! It’s quite an overwhelming feeling knowing you’re going to be one of 17,000 people crossing the same finish line by the end of the day. It’s an overwhelming feeling knowing you are going to be crossing the finish line period.

 

This is the sign I had on my jacket while I ran. I don’t know about you but knowing I’m about to run the farthest I’ve ever run and do it with 17,000 other people, I need all the encouragement I can get. But this wasn’t just about needing encouragement. I knew there would be other people out there just like me. I wanted to connect with them even if just for a few minutes as we pounded the pavement towards the next mile marker and man did I connect. Every mile there was someone else spending a few seconds of their race with me. Congratulating me. High fiving and fist bumping and telling me to keep going. I met people that had lost a few pounds and were trying to keep it off. I met people that had lost 120 pounds and were fighting for their lives, one mile at a time.

There I am. I know it’s hard to see but look real close. Yhea, that’s me smiling. SMILING!!! I am about to embark on one of the most physically trying events in my life and here I am smiling. I’m nervous but I don’t feel out of place. My husband is taking this picture and God Bless his heart for standing there because once I take off there will be nothing for him to do for the next 2+ hours but wait for me to cross over the finish line. It’s cold and in a mile or so I’ll be warming up. Him, not so much. Oh yhea and that’s my bad ass running jacket that I got at the expo for half off (I run fast AND I’m thrifty!)

As I crossed over the starting line I took a long deep breath and had a conversation with EFT (Emotionally Fat Tara). I knew she was here with me. I made a deal with her. I wouldn’t run the entire 13.1 miles. I’ve been doing a 9 min run / 1 min walk split and I felt that this would really help me go the distance. Instead of relying on my HRM to tell me when it was time to walk I let the mile markers tell me. Funny thing is the mile markers were attached to the porta-potties. Each time I came to a mile marker I would walk for one minute. and I would let EFT say whatever shitty thing (pun intended) she wanted to say but under no uncertain terms was she to yap her mouth at me once the minute was up. Oh she thought she’d get the best of me (“Oh my God, we have to do this 12 more times?”, “You know you can always pretend to fall down and no one will know”, “Is that a cramp in your leg? Maybe we should stop”) but after mile marker 8 she pretty much  shut the hell up knowing I wasn’t going to stop for some silly little whining.

I had a goal of 2:30:00 so I knew as soon as I crossed over the starting line I would be spending the next 150 minutes running towards that medal waiting for me at the end of the race. I knew I was going to get it. I just kept reminding myself that this was my first half marathon: enjoy it. I didn’t need to prove to myself that I could run fast. That happened days before. The only thing I needed to do once I started this race was finish it and if you know me then you know my motto; “You only need to do two things: Start and Finish. Everything else is a party while you’re moving”

And it was a party!

I took in the environment around me. I ran with my eyes open and my mind clear. I let the encouragement from those around me carry me past each mile marker and before I knew it we were crossing the half way point and I was at 1:12:00 and feeling great. I had quickly adapted to those running around me and bobbed and weaved my way through throngs of people and since I had run this course of the race with Team in Training a few Saturdays before hand I knew the toughest part of the race was coming up and I was ready. Mile 7 – 11 was a steady incline. It was hard to run after walking for my minute but each time sixty seconds went by, I took a deep breath, waited for someone to give me a thumbs up as they passed and it was all I needed to keep going.

When mile 12 came by I was in uncharted territory. Everything up to this point I’d done in previous runs. From now until the finish line would be the longest I’d ever run. During that one minute walk I made it a point to say out loud “Can you believe we just ran 12 miles? How awesome is that?” and all the runners around me started whooping and hollering. I had been running with my music but as soon as I started that last mile toward the finish line I turned off my music to take it all in. I was running slow but still within my goal. My watch said I crossed over mile 12 at 2:11:00 (ish).

I was really going to finish this thing.

I had to work at keeping myself calm during this last mile. I didn’t want to be a crying mess and have them snap a picture of me finishing something I never even dreamed possible until a few months ago with snot running down my face (sweat yes, snot no). So many things cross your mind as you see mile marker 12 go by and mile marker 13 come into view:

I can’t believe I’m still standing upright.

I wonder what the medal looks like?

I hope I can find my husband.

Ohhhhh, my first space blanket!

I can’t wait to wear my marathon shirt first time I run after this.

Remember, look up not down when you cross over.

Wow, look at all the people cheering us on.

OH MY GOD THERE IS THE FINISH LINE…

RUN TARA RUN!!!

So I did.

2:23:04

397 / 590 (woman’s age division)

2779 / 4380 (woman’s half marathon)

There is so much more to this race. All the people cheering us on. The military holding American Flags at mile 6 with the names of fallen solders. The “where’s waldo” woman that kept popping up every 3 miles with her cowbell, dancing in the street telling us to keep going. Kids with their”run mommy run” signs or the dads stopping to snap a picture or two with their family before moving on. The people being tended to on the side of the road and all of us looking at each other wondering if that’s going to happen to us. The splitting of the 13.1 runners from the 26.2 runners on the course and saying a little prayer for them as you know they have so many more miles to cover and you smile inside because you’re pretty sure some day you’ll be doing the same thing.

Nothing I say will ever convey what it was like for me.

I am not the same person that started the race.

I love the person that finished.

 

 

 

 

 

 





Meet Natalie and Olivia

11 09 2010

Today’s run is dedicated to Natalie and her niece Olivia!

Olivia was diagnosed with Leukemia when she was 2 years old. It was a scary time for all of us, but most especially for my brother and my sister-in-law. Olivia is their youngest child. As a baby she was a very vivacious happy baby and the spitting image of her sister Anna. Then she started getting sick. She was taken to the doctor and after a battery of tests they diagnosed her with Leukemia.

After that followed a long course of treatment. Even at her young age, she took it like a trooper. My brother once described her as stoic when she went for her treatments. she didn’t fuss or cry, even with all the needle sticks she was subjected to. She has developed some food intolerance as a result of her treatments as well as some cravings. She is not a big sweet eater, but she does like salty things.

Last year after much coaxing from friends, my brother sent in a request for Olivia to the Make-a-Wish foundation. Olivia’s wish was to meet the Princesses. So Make-a-Wish sent the entire family to Disney where Olivia got to have lunch with the Disney princesses. She was in her glory. She even had a tiara and wand.

Olivia is currently doing well and is as about as normal as any other ten-year old.

This run will be week number 7 out of 19. Only 12 more weeks to go!!!! If you  or someone you know has been afflicted by Leukemia/Lymphoma I would be honored to share your story and dedicate a Saturday run to you. Please leave a comment on this post and let’s plan a dedication!

Tara’s Team In Training Page

$1586 / $1800 raised!