Sunday, May 23, 2010

A Brief History of Pushing My Limits

Four years ago I was a smoker. There was a time in my life (when I was living in France) when I was able to smoke an entire pack of cigarettes during the day and then smoke almost another entire pack if I went to the clubs at night. My math might be lacking, but I figure that's about a two-pack-a-day habit.

Then I met my husband. And he told me that he would never marry a smoker. So I cut down, and tried to quit, but he did end up marrying a smoker. I didn't think I would ever be able to kick it. But in February 2006 I quit for good. And I thought, "I'll get healthy! I'll get my lungs back in working condition! I'll take care of my heart! Look at all the nice, good things I have to live for!" I said all these things, but I didn't really do anything about it. I mean, I guess I quit smoking and hoped the rest would take care of itself.

Then my husband and I bought road bikes. And I started biking to work. I loved it. I loved the fact that I was getting some exercise, but not really having to take time out of my day to do it. I was still a huge wimp, and didn't bike more than 15 or so miles. Ever. And hills? No thank you.

Then I got pregnant. And eating good things became a priority, because I was solely responsible for the health of a completely dependent life. Well, eating mostly good things. And a lot of ice cream, if I'm being perfectly honest. And that ice cream, it stuck around. My final weigh-in at the hospital was 199 pounds before my progeny was ejected.

Then I had a newborn. And I was 180 pounds of flesh and bone. I didn't like it. I didn't feel healthy. I felt slow and frumpy. Don't get me wrong - I was very happy to be a new mommy and grow into my new job as stay-at-home-everything. But I had never had weight concerns before. I was not healthy, and I didn't know exactly what to do with myself. I think I got a little depressed.

Then Maggie started her Hot by Thirty campaign. And I got on board. It was good incentive to eat a little bit smarter. I stopped buying processed food at the grocery store, I started paying more attention to my portions. And a little of that weight came off.

Then I bought a running stroller and started the Couch to 5k program. And I liked it. When I quit smoking, I made what seemed like an unattainable goal: to run a 5k with my husband. Someday. That someday was April of 2009. I had to walk up the big hill in the middle of the race, and I finished in a little more than 34 minutes. I was awfully disappointed. I like being good at things, and running was never one of them.

Then I ran another 5k a month later on Mother's Day 2009 with Lucy in the stroller and finished in 33 minutes. And I didn't have to walk any part of it. That was better. I was more confident. I was starting to understand how to take better care of my body. I learned that eating right is fine and dandy, but the exercise is what my body responds to as far as weight loss. By the time my thirtieth birthday rolled around, I had lost twenty of those pounds.

Then, at some point, I started thinking differently about running. And it became something else entirely. It became quiet time. It became one thing that I could do for myself, and by doing it for myself, I was helping my family. (Bonus.) It became something that I could be proud of myself for that wasn't attached to any body else. I could meet my goals and I could congratulate myself, and I could make new goals.

Then I started pushing myself. And it was sort of exciting. I started thinking, "Well, if I can run 3 miles, why couldn't I run 4? Or 5? Maybe my next goal should be a 10k." And I kept running. I got my first runner's injury, shin splints, and I took care of them. I got new shoes and really nice running stuff because all of a sudden, it made sense to have some quality gear.

Then I signed up for a half marathon. And I started training. In my head, this was the ultimate in There's No Way This Will Ever Be Possible. Even more than that first 5k. This was the Unattainable. I started thinking about eating to give myself good energy, and I started running almost every single day. My long runs on the weekend got longer and longer - from 4 to 6 to 10. And more. And more. And my body could do it.

Then during my training, 12 more pounds melted away. And I fit in all of my old clothes. My pre-Lucy weight (which was already on the heavy side) was 16 pounds ago, and I'm only a few pounds away from my wedding weight.

Then I turned 31. And I ran that half marathon. I did better than I expected to do. I knew my body was ready for it, but I did absolutely not want to feel disappointed in myself like with that first 5k. So I set a goal time of 2:40:00, with the caveat that I would concentrate on running 11ish mile splits (so focusing on finishing closer to 2:30:00). At mile 10.5, the Bubba and Lucy were there clapping and waving. I had to concentrate for the next two or so miles on not crying, I was so overwhelmed with emotions. So proud of myself for coming this far, for feeling so good, for not giving up on myself. So pleased that I could be a mother and wife that my family could be proud of, that they could come and cheer on and share the victory. I picked up my pace and gave the last half mile everything that I had. I crossed the finish line in 2:22:03, and my Bubba and my Lucy were there to give me hugs and high-fives.

I feel like such a winner.


Carrie said...

Oh my goodness- I cried just reading that! I am so, so proud of you. You're amazing and you're inspiring me more than you know.

Lindsay said...

You're definitely glowing in that pic. Well done! Loved the recap. I was sort of a smoker too, and ultimately quit b/c my husband thought it was gross. Thank goodness for that.

Emily said...

You look fantastic, and I know you must feel it too. Lucy is LUCKY, so very lucky, to have a mama who puts her health first. And I love when you get to that point with something where it doesn't even MATTER if you are being healthy because you love it so much. Proud of you, Liz!! Huge congratulations on the half marathon!

Holly said...

Oh I just loved that. So inspiring! Good for you Lizzie, you rock!

Elizabeth said...

Woo hoo! I loved reading that. It was so inspiring. I can't get wait to get back to it and start back down that road myself.

Mama Montes said...

Wow, Liz. That's so inspirational. Thanks for sharing your journey!

Tara said...

Okay so I totally got misty reading this. Go you!! You should definitely be proud of yourself!

(I'm still stuck at the "I did one 5k... meh" phase.)

shannon.on.park said...

Such an inpirational story. You started with the couch to 5k program? I've been thinking about doing this and really need to make some changes. Thanks for the story. I've been reading your blog for awhile. Our daughters are about the same age.

Anonymous said...

Such an inspirational story! I am so proud of you !!!! Adam is so lucky to have you as his wife. Love to you Mike and Marge

Kate P said...

WOO HOO, Girlie!!! Way to run!

Wes & Teresa said...

Such an awesome story, Liz. Congrats on all that you've accomplished and all that you will accomplish in the future. Very inspirational.

maggie said...

DUDE. I am so sorry I didn't get Two Twenty Two right away. HOLLY GRILLED CHEESE! Of course, I am still glad you post things like cake recipes. Good to balance it out. :) LOVE YOU.

Jennie said...

I got a little teary reading this. Thank you for sharing and inspiring :)