Here it is, part two of my one year anniversary in review. You can read part one here.
The day I decided to change my life was the most difficult step in my journey. I remember walking into the gym intimidated. I was never really a gym person, actually to be honest I was never really a athletic person. Before having Michael I tried to maintain a "healthy" weight by going on different diets. Once I reached my goal weight I would stop dieting and within a month the weight would come back on. But this time it was different, I wasn't standing in the lobby of a crowded gym with the intentions of losing weight. I was there to change my life. Something much deeper than being skinny. But becoming healthy has its perks, and one is healthy weight loss.
After I signed up for a membership I decided that I was going to invest in a personal trainer. Someone to help me hold myself accountable. For two months I met regularly with my trainer to go over new strength training routines and talk about my progress. My trainer, GeraldDean, was inspiring. And one day, on a whim, I signed up for the Walt Disney World Wine and Dine Half Marathon (it was in the middle of the night and I was only going on 3 hours of sleep because of a sick child). I had told myself that if I could run 3 miles I could easily get to 13.1 miles. So I informed my trainer that I wouldn't be coming in as often and would be focusing on running outside. My training went from three miles (in May) on a treadmill to 12 miles outdoors by the end of August. I couldn't believe that I was able to clock so many miles in one run.
As my training progressed through the summer, my happiness increased. I felt better about myself. Not the way I looked but how I felt mentally. It was like a weight was slowly lifting off my shoulders. During my long runs I would pause my Garmin and stand on the sidewalk overlooking the Hudson River. Many times I would close my eyes and breath in the salty air allowing the sun to just beat down on my face. Life felt amazing. Allowing myself the time to take in the little moments wasn't something I had done much in the past. I was beginning to understand what it meant by living in the moment.
As the summer drew to a close, I started to anticipate my first half marathon. Disney was right around the corner, but so was the start of school. I quickly learned that I had to start juggling my PhD program with my running. Something that not many PhD students do (from my experience). So to squeeze a run in during a busy day I would bring my shoes and shorts with me. Between meetings I would sneak out to get in an easy three. Running in Manhattan was much different compared to running in Queens.
Before I knew it, the Wine and Dine half marathon had arrived. When we got to FL I was nervous, but it really didn't hit me until the day of the race. As I walked out the door of our hotel room, I was solo. My husband, son, and brother were going to go to a park to watch the fireworks. I made my way to the starting line with thousands of other people. Everyone seemed to have a running buddy but me. For the first time since I started this journey I felt lonely. It wasn't until I got into my corral that I met another girl that was also running solo. We started talking, and like me, she started running to help her overcome some crazy life events. Before our corral moved up to the starting line she said something that has stuck with me since, "We do this to become stronger, healthier women. But we also run to show the world that we will not be broken." That race was the most challenging run I have done. At one point I thought I was done. But I knew that there was no turning back. This was me and only me, and I had come too far to give in so easily. At mile 12 my husband waited for me. We both cried happy tears. He was so proud of me. In that moment he wanted to start running also. When we got back to NYC he did, and since he has run every race with me (the new connection we made through running has also made our relationship much stronger).
After the Wine and Dine I refused to stop running. I knew winter was coming but I had to keep up with my routine. So I went back to the gym. When I arrived I had found out that my trainer had left to pursue bigger opportunities. This left me feeling directionless. So I went back to running outside until the first snow fall.
In November, I suffered a minor ankle sprain. I know some will probably shake their heads, but this was my first running related injury. The idea of getting hurt caused me to put my shoes away for a while (a month to be exact). I didn't want to risk getting hurt. Until one day it hit me that running was my Zen, my place of calm and reflection, my life blood of sane. It was the moment that my husband said, "Go run before you go crazy" that I realized I couldn't give up. So I took my shoes out and went for a run. The wind in my face never felt so good.
Since that point I have ran 3 more half marathons (Disney Half, Disney Relay, and Hyannis Half) and I am currently signed up for 4 more. People have asked me why I run so many races. The truth is I love the race vibe, but most importantly it gives me an excuse to run. I can not skip a run because I have to train for the next race. It has been my way of insuring that I don't lose the time to partake in the activity I have found such deep love for.
This past year has been amazing. I have found my way of coping with stress and have learned how to train my mind to think in a positive way (negative thoughts don't get you 13 miles). I have also learned that being mentally and physically healthy isn't a destination (like thin) but a constant progression through life. I have bad days (just like everyone), those are the times I cherish my runs and really take it all in. Those are the days that I find are the most important to put on my shoes and just go.
I have lost a lot of weight, and the only reason I know this is because my pants don't fit. I refused to keep track of a number on a scale. Instead I listened to my body and ate what felt right. I didn't want to be focused on a number. I just wanted to continue to work towards my next long run. Recently, I did go back to the gym where I met my new trainer. Alexandra's goal for me is to run faster and stronger so I can stay injury free and be able to enjoy years of running. I am looking forward to the next chapter of this journey and to see where I am next year.
Overall I am extremely happy with the outcome. I am a completely different person compared to a year ago and I couldn't imagine going back to the way I was. This is me. I am a runner.