Friday, March 22, 2013

Shufflin' in Celebration

It was one year ago this month that I got my butt up off the couch....and went shoe shopping.  I returned home with a pair of white and purple running shoes that I vowed would be my ticket to a new life, the kicks that would be the key to kicking my slothful ways and losing the weight.

Friends, I had no idea what I was doing.  I used to joke that the only way you would ever see me running is if something sinister were chasing me.  See, I made jokes about it because I was overweight and couldn't even imagine what it would be like to run.  On purpose.  Like, for fun.

So, in March of 2012 I strapped on my new Brooks shoes and downloaded the Ease Into 5K app on my husband's iPhone because my P.O.S. Droid phone couldn't handle it.  I started slowly by following the plan's instructions of alternating short intervals of running with long intervals of walking.  After the first two days, I felt like I was going to die.

No joke.  I'll never forget asking Evan to help me stretch out my legs because they were screaming in pain so badly that I felt like it just might be in my best interest if he put me down like a horse with a broken leg.  I laid back on the couch and we was pushing my leg back toward my head to stretch out the muscles and I was hollering in pain only to realize what such a position much have looked like to a random passerby who happened to be walking by our very uncovered living room window at the time.  So I was not only in pain, but also mortified.

But I kept going.

I ran a 5K distance for the very first time in May of 2012 and then it was just about making it a habit and doing it faster and faster.  I was supposed to run my first official race on Labor Day last year, but then I came down with a terrible stomach flu the night before and lost out on my shot.

It was all as it should be because it made my personal victory at the 2013 Madison Shamrock Shuffle that much sweeter.  It was poetic justice.

One Year and seventy five pounds later, I completed my first 5K race.

My dear friend Julie signed up to run this race with me and I was slightly intimidated by the fact that she has run several 5Ks in the past and has also completed a triathalon.  We dressed in our green get-ups, complete with sparkly shamrock tiaras, and I geeked out a little when I got my first racing bib.  I'm seriously the biggest dork on the planet.

We headed down State Street with about 5,000 other race participants and I got myself all jacked up as the seconds counted down to the start of the race.  They played "Jump Around" which is like catnip to Badger students and alumni so of course I was jumping up and down like a lunatic.  Quite frankly, it served to be a pretty decent warmup since the temperature in the sun was hovering at around 20 degrees or so.

The environment was absolutely electric, but I would be lying if I said the race was easy.  Any Wisconsin alum will tell you that running up Observatory Drive, the road that snakes up Bascom Hill, is no joke.

But I did it.

My goal was to finish the race in less than 30 minutes.

I approached the finish line and started to push myself as hard as I could.  Well, as hard as I could without dropping my iPhone, of course.  Girl's gotta Instagram, you know.

I saw the clock ticking on the side of the chute and I knew I had done it.  I did a victory fist pump in the air as I crossed the finish line and I knew justice had been served.

My official time was 27:48.  My average mile was 8:57.  I finished 57th out of 420 in my 20-29 age division, which makes me pretty proud considering I am now officially at the very tippy top of that age bracket!  As soon as Julie finished the race we high-fived and congratulated each other on a job well done.

Then we re-hydrated with beer.

The race was so much fun, but it was more than that for me.  It was validation that I had accomplished a big goal.  It was confirmation that I was no longer the same person I was a year ago.  It was a reminder that it is possible to make a decision to change and to do it.

What's up next?  I'd love to run at least one more 5K race this year, possibly even two if I can manage it into my schedule.  Then in 2014 I will run a 10K.

By the time I turn 35, I want to complete a half marathon.

Now excuse me while I go brush my teeth and gargle Listerine because I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.

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