Posts Tagged by sports

A Reflection on 3 Years of Running and 33 Years of Life

For my 300 post, in this 3rd month of 2013, on what just happens to be my 33rd birthday, I thought I would reflect a little on these past 3 years.  That’s a whole lot of 3s!!  I think you might see a theme forming here.

It’s quite unbelievable for me to see how far I’ve come both physically and mentally in that time and how running (runDisney in particular) has helped fuel that change.  I try to share both my accomplishments and my struggles here on RAD, but I wanted to look at it all together and also share how this journey began.  Hope you’ll stick with me here…I’ll consider it a birthday present if you do 😉

Yes, that is me...

Yes, that is me…

In my early years, I was always very active.  Horseback riding, field hockey, lacrosse…I loved sports.  But then I became a teenager and things like friends, boys and yes I will say it smoking cigarettes (because that was cool right?!) took priority.  I ate poorly and I didn’t exercise.  I was unmotivated, lethargic and overweight.  Sadly, this lasted into my late-20s.  I went through exercise phases where I would religiously go to the gym but that always only lasted for 6 months or so and then I would give up.  Don’t get me wrong, I was happy…I just wasn’t healthy.

It wasn’t until my honeymoon to Walt Disney World in September of 2009 that I decided that I needed to make a change.  I was coming up on my 30th birthday and I couldn’t keep living like this.  I needed to get healthy for my new husband so I could stick around for a while.  While we were in WDW, the 1st Expedition Everest Challenge was taking place and they were also promoting the now defunct Race for the Taste 10K that October.  Seeing all of those people walking around with their medals really lit a fire under me and I decided I was going to run the Race for the Taste in 2010!

Seriously...how fun does this race look?!?

Seriously…how fun does this race look?!?

Imagine my surprise when a few weeks later, it was announced that the Race for the Taste 10K was no longer happening and it was being replaced with the Wine & Dine Half Marathon.  I couldn’t run a half marathon…that’s insane!!  I took a few months to contemplate it and looked at various training plans along then way, and for my 2010 new year’s resolution I decided I was going to run that half marathon.  Holy crap.

I invested in a treadmill and started with the Couch to 5K that February, which I found to be manageable.  I started eating better and quit smoking (for good this time!).  I continued with the plan through the spring and then the injuries started.  Shin splints, ankle pain…you know all that fun stuff.  Plus as my mileage was increasing (and by increasing I mean 2 miles total), I was having issues with energy because I wasn’t eating properly.  Knowing what I know now, I was basically doing everything WRONG and because of this I’m sad to say I gave up.

That’s right I gave up.  I’m not proud of that, but it happened and trust me…I felt really crappy about it.  13.1 miles just seemed completely unattainable   I was seriously struggling just getting to 3!  The kicker was, I had already booked my trip for that weekend and had family coming down to cheer me on.  Now I had to break the news that I wasn’t running and I was ashamed.

Sad Panda

It was around this time that I was becoming more active in the online Disney community and to my surprise there was a large group going down to WDW that very weekend for an event which has become known as Epic October.  Many people were running the 5K that weekend and I decided to make that my new goal.  I could do 3.1 miles and I had a huge support group there as well!  Hey B even signed up!  It was the first race for so many of us and we were all a bundle of nerves together.

Look at that group of kids!

Look at that group of kids!

The 2010 Mickey’s Halloween 5K was one I will never forget.  Not only because it was my first 5K, but the course was run through the Magic Kingdom, which they haven’t done since for a 5K.  I feel lucky to have been a part of that.  I also formed some amazing friendships that weekend.  Because we went through this experience together, it has formed a very special bond that still exists today with most of us.

My first runDisney castle shot!

My first runDisney castle shot!

S&B Halloween 5K 2010

That race was really hard for me.  I look back and think about how I struggled through that last mile.  Honestly, I didn’t enjoy the running…the friend part yes, the running part no.  I was so turned off my the running that I actually stopped completely after that.  Plus the rest of that fall and the first half of 2011 were crazy for me so my motivation for exercise was lacking.  I was finishing my MBA while working full time and I started to fall back into my unhealthy habits.

Hey I graduated!

Hey I graduated!

Just before what was becoming our annual trip for Epic October 2.0, I once again registered for the Halloween 5K after much peer pressure from my friends.  Looking back on the prior year, I immediately regretted the decision but I was going to follow through.  You can read all of the details of the race here, but the short story is that it changed my life.  I had a different feeling when I crossed the finish line that time.  One of serious accomplishment and I just wanted to do better!

2011 Halloween 5K...red faced and proud!

2011 Halloween 5K…red faced and proud!

Later that night I saw my friends Sarah-Irene and Amanda cross the finish line at the Wine & Dine Half Marathon.  That was it…all I needed to get the kick in the ass to start this journey.  The sheer pride and excitement I saw on their faces sealed the deal for me and as they say…the rest was history.

My Inspiration :)

My Inspiration 🙂

I got home from that trip and immediately started training for the 2012 Princess Half Marathon and haven’t looked back.  Since then I’ve taken on a healthy lifestyle of exercise and clean eating (well about 75% of the time…I’m human!).  I’ve run 4 half marathons, 1 full marathon (race recaps here) and have become addicted to CrossFit.  My confidence has blown through the roof, I have a much more positive outlook on life, and I just FEEL GOOD!

Looking back on my entire 33 years while writing this has been fun, but difficult as well.  It’s hard to see all of the damage did to my body early on, but I don’t think that I would be where I am today if I didn’t have those experiences.  I’ve also realized a few key things (I’ll give you 3 since we’re sticking with that theme) that have kept me going…

  1. I am stronger than I ever thought possible – mentally and physically!
  2. A good support system is critical.
  3. Facing your fears is terrifying, but highly rewarding.
SO WORTH IT!

SO WORTH IT!

This little blog was born out of my need to keep myself accountable for training for that first half marathon, but it has turned into so much more.  It has opened up so many possibilities for me and led me to do things I never thought I would do.  The most rewarding part of it is sharing my story and then hearing yours.  I can’t even begin to say how humbling it is that I have actually inspired people to make changes in their lives.  Me?? No way!!  Mind boggling.

And I don’t plan on stopping any time soon.  I can’t wait to get that next PR and see where this amazing body of mine will take me.  It make be bruised and beaten, but it’s the only one I got and damn it I’m not going to waste more time.  So where will the next 3 months, next 3 years, next 33 years take me??  No idea, but I can’t wait to find out 🙂