Yesterday I ran my first marathon! I can’t believe I am now a marathoner, especially because four years ago I weighed 320lbs. I was sad, overwhelmed and I didn’t believe in myself. Somewhere along the way to becoming morbidly obese I had stopped believing in myself. I didn’t believe I was capable of losing weight and keeping it off, I didn’t believe I could walk a few miles, I didn’t believe I could change my relationship with food. I wasn’t ready to attempt to tackle these issues, probably because I had already decided I was a lost cause, but I decided to read “The Spark” anyways. Slowly, with teeny baby steps I began to change my life.
As I started to see my hard work paying off it made me wonder what else I was capable of. In July 2012 I began the “Couch to 5k” program. I weighed 260lbs at the time. It was hard. Honestly, I think getting out there and trying to run a minute for the first time at that weight was harder than running a marathon yesterday. It felt terrible, it was overwhelming and I was so slow. However, I stuck it out. I almost quit a few weeks in when I wasn’t able to run for the three minutes on the schedule that day. But I didn’t quit. I kept chipping away. The first time I ran 20 minutes straight was one of the most amazing days of my life. I started to believe that maybe I could in fact become a runner. Oh how I wish I could go back in time and tell myself that I was in fact already a runner.
For the marathon I decided to pace myself very conservatively and try to enjoy it as much as possible. I decided I could always push after the half mark if I felt good but I wanted to try not to burn out too fast. I am so glad I took that approach! At the half point I felt really good, but I didn’t feel like I could push and still have fun and enjoy the course. I knew my husband would be waiting at the Wide World of Sports complex to cheer for me, just before mile 20, so I just focused on pacing myself and getting to him. We did a loop around the baseball stadium and he was in the bleachers. I gave him a kiss, handed him my mp3 player (it chose yesterday to die, grrr) and he handed me the hat that I wore for my first 5k and first half-marathon. It was such a great pick-me up to see him! I was really surprised at this point how good I still felt.
Well, that started to change at mile 22. I had to stop to use the restroom and there was a line. Standing still for a few minutes really made it hard to get going again! I had some mantras ready for when I ‘hit the wall’ but the thing that came to mind more than anything was “This isn’t hard, being 320lbs was hard”. It’s true. As hard as running the last few miles of a marathon was, it was hard it a way that made me feel alive. It was hard in a way that showed me what I was capable of. It was hard in a way that made me feel completely in touch with my body. When I was 320lbs it hurt so much to live with that weight everyday and yet I was also so numb inside. Yesterday what I experienced the last few miles of my marathon felt like the absolute polar opposite of that. The other thing that really pulled me though the last few miles was looking down at my wrist because I wore the stop watch that I used when I started Couch to 5k and bracelets my daughters made me. Looking at my wrist reminded me of how far I’ve come and who I was doing this for.
Crossing the finish line, looking up and seeing my family cheering for me was amazing! I cried. They put a metal around my neck and I was proud of myself! Sometimes I have a hard time being proud of myself and seeing how far I have come, but yesterday I felt like I was going to burst with pride!