I am a huge fan of the reality television show "The Biggest Loser." It really is one of the most inspiring things on TV, and the transformations both in body and mind that the contestants go through are incredible. The first time I told myself I would run a half marathon was during the second last episode of Season 12, the contestants, who only 12 weeks prior could barely move their bodies through a single mile, run a marathon. As I sat there, alone on my couch, probably stuffing my own face with junk food I thought "really Sara, if they can do this, what's you're excuse?"
Mine is not a story of weight loss, but it has been a transformation for me non the less. At the time, I was 23 and minimally active, the only thing maintaining my figure was the determinedly strong metabolism I'd been gifted with that kept me waif-like thin through to college. As I entered my mid 20s, it was beginning to slow down. More importantly, so had I.
I grew up playing every sport I could try my hands at, basketball, softball, soccer, volleyball, track and field, cross country, lacrosse, ballet and jazz dance you name it. I was active all through high school and well into university. However, as my science course load grew heavier with each year, and as I began to spend more and more time glued to my laptop computer, my level of activity fizzled to a stop. While I may have still been thin, at 23 I was horribly out of shape, and not at all happy with myself.
In Barcelona, Summer of 2011.
So sitting there on my couch, Christmas and a new year around the corner, I told myself it was time for a change, next year I would run a half marathon. I declared it my New Years Resolution, and the first of my 25 goals before 25. I signed up for a Dailymile Account (which I have been neglecting to update lately), bought a membership for the gym in the building where my lab is and got running.
The first mile I ran, after the past few years of inactivity was painful, physically, mentally and emotionally. To distract myself for how badly my body was performing, my friend and I (like us females tend to do) laughed about how one runner flailed her arms as she ran. Ran laps around us that is. However I stuck with it, and by spring was signed up to run a 10km race during the Calgary Marathon. And my new boyfriend Kev (a bit of a fitness junkie) would be cheering me on at the finish line.
Summer running along the Bow River, stopping for a photo with the Peace Bridge.
I impressed myself with that first 10km, and then again with the Spartan Race in August, and a second 10km in September. I signed up for Calgary's last chance half marathon in November, and began working my way into longer runs. More fit than I had been in years, I hit the wall when I began suffering from horrible shin splints.
It was time to face the facts, the half marathon just wasn't going to happen that year. I suppose I could have walked it anyways, but it just wasn't in the cards. I wrote this post, and postponed the goal.
2013 started great, Kevin and I were headed to the beach (Cuba) for a week in March, and we were both determined to be beach body ready. I worked my butt off, kept up with the running, did a 10km on St. Patty's Day in a blizzard and felt great. However, as spring rolled into summer, and my life got incredibly busy with traveling and school I wasn't really working as hard towards my goal as I should have.
But I had paid my registration for the 2013 Lululemon Sea Wheeze Half Marathon in August, and I was not going to back down. In the month before I committed to running three times a week, got in a couple 14km runs (with hill climbing) and one 16km (my longest run ever). Kevin shook his head a me for how little I had trained, he would never commit less than 100% to a goal. A trait in him which I admire and love him for.
I told myself I would give it my best shot, and finish in less than 3hours, expected I'd probably be walking the last 4km. I hoped that the relatively flat race course and sea level elevation would help me get through it.
Before the start, in the 2.5-3 hour wave.
I decided to run with my ipod (usually I don't) and put together a playlist of songs that would keep me pumped up. I installed a pacing app, and set myself to run the first half hour straight, then do intervals of 10min running 1min walking for the rest of the race. It was me, a pair of running shoes (I wore the asics) and my stubborn determination (for which Kevin always teases me, but I hope also loves) versys 21.4km and an army of 10,014 lululemon-clad runners.
You won't spot me in the video and there are no pictures of me running (our cheering squad was a bit hungover that morning), but I don't need that kind of evidence of my accomplishment that day. My accomplishment became a part of me the second I crossed that finish line.
My left foot was bleeding from a blister, my knees screaming in agony, I had chafing on my thighs and from my sports bra. I was exhausted and grinning from ear to ear. Despite not feeling prepared I rocked that race, and exceeded my expectations by far. I stayed with my pace, no cheating until the last mile. And even then, with the help of the super motivating 2h30min Pace Beavers finished strong and running across that finish line.
I need to thank my running buddy that day, Sarah (@setulk) who set this goal with me, ran with me for the past year and a half and finished strong that day too. I need to thank Kevin, who I called the minute I crossed the finish line so I could share my success with him, and who sees a world of potential in me and challenges me to meet it. I need to thank my family who always supports me. Thanks to everyone who is a runner and tweets or blogs about it, I find so much inspiration from this online community. And lululemon, who despite happily taking more of my money than I should be spending there, put together the most perfect, motivating and inspiring race for a first timer like me. I plan on being back next year, and shaving another 25 minutes off that time!
If you look close, you can see my name in the top of the 'S'