Interstellar Adventures

September 16, 2005

Your Questions Answered — Round 2

Filed under: Uncategorized — by InterstellarLass @ 9:21 am

Abby: What made you decide to train for and run a marathon? Laura: What made you decide to take up running in the first place, and how did it evolve from running for a workout to running to perpare for marathons? Or did you set out with a goal to run marathons at first? I’ll answer Laura’s question first, because it will then lead to Abby’s. Sorry for the long response.

I am not a runner. My body has never been built for it, and I’m not fast by any stretch of the imagination. When I was a kid, every now and then I would run around the neighborhood with my mom, but more to keep her company than I actually liked to run. I was sort of ‘middle of the pack’ in PE as far as running went, and I never even tried for track and field. In high school I was on the swim team. Butterfly and backstroke were my specialties. I actually used to do the IM, but I would always get DQ’d for my breaststroke kick. I blame a faulty hip. I hated to sweat, and swimming was great exercise. Two to three hours a day, five days a week. I was in excellent shape; my average resting heart-rate was in the low 50’s.

Then, after high school, I quit working out all together. I went to the UK for the summer, took up drinking and smoking, and then continued my bad habits in college. I had my kids early, and although I quit smoking during my pregnancies, I would pick it back up again soon after. Some hard times and experiences left me pretty depressed for quite awhile. The combination of all those things, especially the pregnancies!, caused me to gain quite a bit of weight. And, I just stayed that way.

I met my friend Judy at my old employer, B&P. Oh, this place also added to my list of anxiety-causing stressors. She picked up running about three or four years ago, and I knew when she was training for her first marathon. I thought it was cool. And, I’ve always been an ‘armchair athlete’, glued to events like the Olympics, Iron Mans, Eco-Challenge (before Burnett sold out to corporate), and the like. Not big on the professional sports, but anything individual and challenging, I’m all over it.

Last August, when my STB-ex and I were in the midst of our brief reunion after a long separation, I made the decision to quit smoking. It was my early birthday present to myself. I had always said I would quit before I was 30. Then, Judy sent me an IM and said “Hey, wanna do this?”. Well, heck. I don’t look like those two chicks on the home page, but it said people with no experience could do it. So, I looked it over and said ‘Sure’! I don’t think she expected that. But once I committed, she couldn’t back out.

I hadn’t been on a bike in years, much less a mountain bike. And, I couldn’t run a quarter mile without stopping. I had just quit smoking and was still overweight. So, I decided I needed a little practice. I did some Google searches, and I found Adventure Team. I looked at their site, their forum and a few events, went to Target and bought a knobby-wheeled bike for $50 and a helmet, and showed up. They were super patient with me, and they were so nice and encouraged me to return. So I did.

Judy and I did the Women’s Adventure Race together, and it was a great experience. For me at least. I think she had a little bit of fun too. Right Judy? But, I was hooked. I had done a practice race with the AT group before, and I think the practice race was harder than the real thing. I wanted to do more. We also did trail running, and some road running. But AT is more about dirt. I did the Bandera 25K in January, a practice AR with my friend Steph, another 25K in Tyler in February, and then my first major adventure race.

Then came March. My STB-ex moved out, and I was crushed. I skipped a couple of AT events, hid in my house for two weeks, and then decided to be a little like Forrest, and just run. When I ran, my anger and my pain and my stress melted away. It was an outlet for me. I could think or not think, and I was by myself. It was time for me. So, I set some goals for myself.

I ran my first half-marathon in April. My plan was to do some tris and more ARs, and I was going to run Chicago, but Judy wanted to do San Francisco, and wanted someone to do it with, so I jumped on the bandwagon. She gave me an initial training schedule, and then got me to join the Run On! marathon training group. I also came to realize I only had time to train for the marathon. In June and July I did my second and third major ARs. And then I put those aside for the time being and focused on my marathon.

So what was it that made me decided to do all this? Well, some of these things were the inspiration for me to start. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I had no energy and felt like crap all the time. I keep doing it because I feel like I’m actually accomplishing something. I see this huge challenge in front of me, and I think to myself ‘Wow, can I actually do that?’. And then when I do it, I’m proud of myself. After years of no-to-low self-esteem in dealing with my STB-ex and self-neglect because of the host of issues that came along with him, these are things that I am actually choosing to do for myself. I’ve lost nearly 40 pounds since January, and even though I haven’t seen the scale move much more than a quiver in the last couple of months, my body is changing shape. I can see it when I look in the mirror, and I can feel it when I put on my clothes. Nothing in my closet fits me anymore. I look like a hobo in too-big pants, and I’m cinching my belt tighter to keep them on. I’ve met some great new people, and done more running in one year (over 500 miles I think) than I even think I’ve done total in my entire life. I like being active, and I’m getting my kids to do it too.

So really, I owe the kick-in-the-pants to my friend Judy. She’s a hard-core road runner, and she frowns when I tell her about my next off-road adventures. I’ve stayed on-road for her (and in my own best interests) through this first marathon, but after Oct 23, I’ll get back in the dirt again.

Thank you Judy for pushing me, and then reining me in when I get off-track. I admire you. I think you’re crazier than me sometimes, but I think you’re awesome. I wish I had a little more of your discipline, and maybe it’ll grow on me. And I’m glad you’re my friend. I can’t wait to share that fancy boutique hotel with you, and I can’t wait to see you dash off the start ahead of me. And then I can’t wait to cross that finish line, looking for your smiling face, sharing a big hug and then shedding a tear or two with you that we’ve accomplished such a feat!

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