“The moment you want to quit is usually right before something amazing is about to happen. Never give up!”
I’m competitive, or at least I think I am, but I lack the confidence at times. I friggin work my butt off; literally! I work hard to set and beat my goals, but man do I lose my way sometimes. About 3 years ago I started getting involved in group exercise at my local Y. Specifically BodyCombat and BodyPump. I was not feeling so great about myself. I had had two babies and wore my motherhood scars and as I call it, my kangaroo pouch, with pride. I still do. I just wanted to lose some weight and gain some confidence and feel better in my own skin. I exercised here and there, but of course was not seeing results fast enough. Don’t we all just want to workout once and instantly see results?
It was May 2017, when one of my best friends proposed running a half marathon together in Disney World for the Disney Princess Half Marathon. At first, I told her she was effing crazy! But then I thought about it and thought THIS was the perfect goal to have and work towards. I had continued going to Combat and Pump 2-3 times a week and slowly started running here and there. While we trained for the 9 months we had until race day, we signed up for 5K’s and 10K’s to help us prepare. Many times, I thought, what am I doing? The day would come when I would have to “train run” for the day and would have to get in 10 miles, and I would not want to do it. But then I would run those 10 miles and the confidence would build back up. If you have ever heard anyone say that running is A LOT more mental rather than the ability to actually run, they are so right!
I had a lot of problems as I trained and got myself in shape. During a lot of workouts, even at the gym in the air conditioning, I would have to stop mid class and go out to the hallway because I was so weak. My blood pressure would drop drastically. At the time, I thought all my body wanted were carbs (gluten). That was the only thing that was getting me through workouts. Goldfish crackers, pretzels, cereal, oatmeal, etc. I craved what I thought were carbs but really it was the gluten. I would start to crash and then I would just fix the crash with more gluten. During long training runs, I would have to bring with me several running goos. They are squeeze pouches that runners will eat during a long race. They are gel like consistency of basically sugar mixed with some electrolytes to give your body a boost after your glucose is drained. I did a lot of training runs with my best friend. She never needed these goos. I would nearly crash just 3 miles in.
So, the Disney Princess Half Marathon race day came, and I thought I was ready. I wasn’t happy about the 3am wake up call to get on the bus to drive us to the start line to then wait 2 hours, but the energy from the 20,000+ people was indescribable. Our shoes were tied tight, our “running goo” was packed, our glittery tu-tus were straightened and with the sound of the horn, and our shoes hit the pavement with purpose. This race was so much fun! The entire race she and I stayed together. We took a selfie at each mile marker to document.
When we crossed that finish line together, it was a joy that I cannot even begin to describe to you. We ran that race in 2 hours and 35 minutes. With all our selfie taking, we didn’t think that was too bad for our very first half marathon.
A few minutes after crossing that finish line, I was NOT feeling good. Something was wrong. I could tell my blood pressure was super low. I had to eat FIVE of those goos during the race AND a packet of energy gummies. My body was constantly crashing. I told my friend that something was wrong, so she immediately jumped in and found an employee to help. She brought me a wheelchair and I was wheeled a very, very long-distance weaving through the crowds to the medical tent. They poked my finger to check my blood sugar, I was at 80. They checked my blood pressure; I was 110 over 70. They checked my heart rate; I was at 90. All normal ranges and all common numbers I consistently have. They gave me some Gatorade and crackers and I felt better enough to walk out of there.
That race not only brought out the competitiveness in me, I HATED the time we got. I wanted a better race time. But it also started me thinking about my health. Why was I always so weak after running or exercising?
Since that race, my goal has been to run a half marathon in under 2 hours. So, I was on a mission! I signed up for two more half marathons. 6 months after the Disney Princess race, I was diagnosed with Celiac on August 27th, 2018. As I navigated this disease and what I could and couldn’t eat while I worked out, I kept with my goals. My next half marathon came on November 10th, 2018. Just 2 -1/2 months after my diagnosis and going gluten free. This race sucked! It was my second half marathon to run in my life and it was a tough one because the racecourse had you run over 3 tall bridges. I also went into the race with a head cold. I still did it and ran as best I could but only shaved off 2 minutes from my PR (personal record) completing this race in 2 hours and 33 minutes.
After that I was hard core. I was already signed up for The Best Damn Race for February 2nd, 2019. I was starting to feel better since going gluten free. I would go on training runs and not even need to eat a running goo. Workouts were a breeze; I do mean that in an unboastful way. Working out is not easy, pushing yourself is not easy, but since my diet had changed, I wasn’t getting weak or near fainting during or after workouts.
Race day came for my 3rd half marathon. I had prepared, cross trained, had a kickass playlist ready, continually read my motivational vision board, prayed and thanked God for the ability I had to run a race like this and thanked Him for guiding me to my diagnosis and for my health getting better. When that gun shot went off signaling us to start, my heart pounded with excitement and adrenaline and I was SO determined to shave time off my PR. As I passed each mile marker, my excitement built. Adrenaline, runners high, happiness, pain, aching. The mental game was in full force to push myself to finish. Part of my mental game is repeating my own mantra in my head, “You are beautiful, brave, confident, smart and strong.” (Yes, I have it in alphabetical order, so I’ll remember it duh! I like things organized haha!)
The finish line was in my sight, I saw my mom and dad on the side lines cheering me on with so much joy and pride on their faces. As I found the last bit of energy in my bank, I crossed that finish line with a time of 2 hours 10 minutes and 59 seconds. I shaved off 23 MINUTES!!! I was at a loss for words. The joy, excitement, relief, gratefulness.
Now… I’m in training season for my next half marathon and I could not be more excited and determined. I am on a mission to reach my goal of 1 hour 59 minutes 59 seconds. 10 minutes may not seem like a lot of time but in the running world, even shaving off 1 minute can be tough let alone shaving 10 minutes off!
I lose my confidence often. I compare myself to others. I see women who seem to be in similar shape as I am, and they run faster than I do. I get discouraged. I lose sight of my goal. Then the mental game starts. I am constantly working on stopping the negative talk inside my head and the comparing. We are all so different. Some may have health problems they don’t know about like I did at the beginning of my “getting in shape” journey and during my first half marathon. Some may be faster, slower, stronger, more confident. The best part is the goal. Set a goal. Create your mantra. Stop the negative talk. Build your confidence. Stop comparing. NEVER GIVE UP!
“Never allow anyone to take away your sparkle. Be kind and laugh and love often.”