Monday, March 12, 2012

Hey. I Did It.

I finished a half marathon.

I’m not sure where to begin or how many details to give you, gentle readers.  So I’ll start from the beginning.

Remember this?  That was the day I wanted to run away, but I had no idea where to go.  So I dug into the back of my closet and found some sneakers.  I put on a winter hat to keep out the cold.  I gave myself some pigtails, and I went out in the heart of Washington Heights.  I disregarded doctors who said I couldn’t do too much cardio.  I didn’t care that medical professionals said I should constantly mind my heart rate and blood pressure to avoid having seizures.  I had to run.  So I did.  I ran until I couldn’t breathe.  I ran until I didn’t feel anger or pain or anything.  I just ran.  I got about a mile and thoughts started creeping in,

(This was me that first run back in 2006.  My tweezers were clearly packed away...)

“Maybe the doctors are right.  Maybe I shouldn’t do this.”

I turned around and walked home.  On that mile walk back down Fort Washington Avenue from Fort Tryon Park, those thoughts changed,

“Stop it.  You can do anything you want.  If you want to run, then run.  You are in control for once.  Don’t let that go.”

This became my motto:

I decided I was going to eventually work up to running a half marathon.  I had no idea how long it would take.  I didn’t care.  I needed a long-term goal in the back of my mind.  I needed something just for me that only I could work toward.  I knew I would have a number of impediments along the way, and I didn’t care.

I went to the doctor for one of my many check-ups.  Dr. Rein is a former runner herself.  She was supportive but echoed my realistic fears that this just might be too much.  She gave me signs to watch for, and gave me words of caution that unlike 100% healthy people, I would need to hold off on overly stressful days.  When life caved in, I wouldn’t be able to relieve the stress with a nice run in the park.  I would have to take those days off and keep my heart and brain in check.  My other two doctors were not completely in agreement with Dr. Rein.  The neurologist (who I find to be a imbecile with a God complex anyway… and I subsequently no longer see) said I needed to stay on the meds I was on which would not work with a training schedule necessary to complete a goal of running a half marathon.  My gynecologist said it would be ok on some fronts but that overall it might not be a great idea on others that I won’t go into here… (TMI, Joy)

I went online and downloaded the Chubby Jones podcast for Couch-to-5K runners from iTunes.  I can’t say enough what a believer I am in this system.  If any of you want to run a 5k, or a 10k, or just get your butt off the couch, do.this.program.  Start tomorrow.  Start next weekend.  But do it.  It’s a 9-week to prep you for a 5k. 

My 9-week program took 9 months.  And I still had to walk some of the race.  There were days of stress I had to take off… in fact there were weeks here and there of stress.  There were days of seizures as I weaned off the meds.  There were also days of frustration at my progress, or lack thereof.

Shortly after I did that first 5k in Central Park, I had a gyno check-up like I too often do.  I didn’t get great news.  She (and her horrific bedside manner) told me I’d need to stop running for awhile while I went through a little treatment plan to rid my bizness of some bad cells and polyps and cysts.  I was disheartened.  She saw my face fall and assured me I’d be able to pick it up again once we got this taken care of.  Of course she also told me that my lacking sex life was not helping the situation and I needed to get a boyfriend.  (See? Horrific bedside manner... again, TMI, Joy)

I left her office upset on a number of levels.  But the biggest disappointment was that I had become accustomed to running in the evenings.  I felt good about doing something for myself for the first time ever.  So I planned a trip to Paris in the meantime.

A few months later I was able to resume the running.  However, I was nearly back to square one.  So I picked up my trusty ipod and downloaded Chubby’s newest C25K podcast.  This time it only took about 4 months to get back to a 5k status.

Fast forward to the summer of 2011.

I started training for a half marathon scheduled for the end of September.  I used Jeff Galloway’s program.  Then I got an awful case of strep throat.  I lost some training time and went to the doctor in August.  She said I couldn’t do the half.  It was going to be just a bit too much to push in the coming weeks.

Trying to do what I was told, Katie and I ran a 5k through Animal Kingdom, and I vowed to myself to continue the half training.

Needless to say, when I posted this, I was more than a little terrified.  And in the two months following, my life was consumed with running.  When I went to Arkansas in January, I ran.  When I had opportunities to go see Oscar nominated double-features with my peeps, I ran.  When I had the chance to go out on dates (which I'll fill you all in on that area of the ole life soon), I ran.  I ran when I hurt, I ran when I was tired, I ran when I had fever.  I even hurt my back in December and ran against the pain with the help of my physical therapist.

And on February 26th, I finished a half marathon.  It was hard.  I was in a lot of pain throughout.  I wanted to quit a couple of times.  But when I crossed that finish line, I said "Hey.  I did it."  And then I cried.  With Selby and Sal on the sidelines, Katie at my side, and a number of you in my ears through my iPod playlist, I finished a half marathon.  Me.  The girl who's sometimes physically broken.  I finished 13.1 miles.  If I can do it, anyone can.

Seriously.  I have the best friends on the planet.

*To read Katie's take on the weekend and see a few more pics, go here