Being Fat and Female in a Gym

When I walked into the gym yesterday morning it was delightfully empty save a few guys and one gal. I was there to lift some weights and then meet up with one of the girls from my small training group to do the stepmill. I don’t know what is about deadlifts that I like, but man, I like them and I was excited to play. The stepmill, well, it makes me feel accomplished.

It didn’t take me too long to notice one of the gym’s trainers working out*. He noticed me too. After my workout, he approached me and introduced himself. Nothing wrong with that. “If you ever want help with exercises or nutrition, I’m a trainer here. Feel free to ask to me any questions. Are you just trying to lose some weight or tone up? You really don’t want to do a lot of that (pointing to the stepmill and meaning cardio.” He was nice and non-aggressive in his tone, but he immediately assumed I was trying to lose weight. Being fat and female in a gym must automatically mean you’re there to lose weight. Or fat. Sure, I wouldn’t be upset to lose some fat, but that’s not my focus anymore. Part of rejecting the fat phobia and diet culture is realizing that there is nothing wrong with being fat. Yeah, guys. That’s right. It’s okay to be fat. It’s okay to love a fat body. What’s not okay is wasting your life hating yourself and your body, not living in some pursuit of the cultural expectation of the ideal woman. (Men of the world, I know you are not excluded from this, but I am a woman so I am writing about women.)

What was really exciting about this encounter, is that I didn’t immediately retreat to a place of shame and self-loathing and “gee, I really do need to lose weight” or “I must have looked dumb working out.” Nope. I say it again. NOPE. I was able to evaluate the situation and take it without emotion. Hey, this guy is still in the mainstream diet world. The world where everyone desires to be thin and thin equals happy and you can’t have happy without thin. He wasn’t trying to hurt me. He was trying to help (and maybe get a new client.) I told him honestly, I was working out to feel good. That’s what exercise is about. It’s a reward for your body. It’s fun. It brings out a primal drive. It makes other parts of day to day life better because it makes your body, heart, and soul happy. And it just feels good.

 


*I work at this gym, though I’m currently taking a summer sabbatical while working on recovery. My gym is pretty great. I’ve met this trainer once or twice while I was working, but it was long enough ago that I probably look different. Also, I wasn’t dressed in my gym uniform (which is seriously the best work uniform ever. It’s a black logo t-shirt with whatever pants I want to wear – yep, yoga pants.) Since I’m talking about my gym, I would be remiss not mention that there are great trainers there. I’ve been lucky to work with one of the best in KC. Yesterday, I even caught myself correcting my wrist position on a lift.


Here are a couple of great blog posts that deal with a similar theme.

https://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/2014/09/25/prescribed-to-fat-people-diagnosed-in-thin-people/

https://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/2015/05/22/tess-holliday-promoting-obesity-and-fat-role-models/

Pharmacology, Tattoos, and a Clean Kitchen

Dear Blank Page,

I can’t wait to tell you what I’ve been up to lately. Aside from dropping in to experience the shopping event known as Lilly for Target — just for kicks — I’ve been working on cleaning and organizing bits of my house. No pressure, just small bits. Well, I started with a biggish bit; tackling some bothersome issues like dirty toilets, litter boxes and my kitchen sink (which by-the-way looks brand new again now that I scrubbed it.)

I guess this sounds pretty ordinary and maybe not any bit impressive to most people. That’s okay. When I’m depressed and bathed in anxiety I have no will to care about most things. I drop out of life, lose focus, and hunker down in some deep part of my brain. The mere fact that I not only care, but that I’m acting, well…that’s a really good thing.

I’m not entirely open with people about how deeply affected I am by mental illness. I share articles on Facebook, but I never say, “I loved someone who suffered. I am someone who suffered. It’s been around me my entire life.” I told you that I’m getting help. Finally. Really aggressively, seriously trying to recover. My mental illness and shame has manifested in several ways. One way was drinking. I no longer drink. I’ve also struggled with disordered eating and an eating disorder since I was a young girl. Those behaviors are proving challenging to change. But, the progress I’m making with my depression and anxiety is helping and giving me hope that I can recover. I am working with a counselor, an MD, and a registered dietitian. They are good people and I feel safe with them.

I tell you, I was so resistant to medication for so long. It frightened me. Dependency, bottles on bottles on bottles, false hope. I tried medication after medication when I was in high school. It was terrible. I watched my mom try medication after medication. It was terrible. But I decided to try again at 33 and 11/12ths. I was getting worse. I could see the cycle happening. And the thing is, it’s working. It’s helping. But it’s not just the medication. It’s the help too. Anyway, I’m feeling good.

Also, on Saturday I went for a consultation for the tattoo I talked about a couple years ago. It’s going to be a little bit different than what I described that day, but I’m finally taking action. I’m exited but also kind of scared and anxious. I’m supposed to go on May 7th to get it inked on my right forearm. I’ll show you when it’s done.

So, I guess that’s it for now. I just wanted to say hi, see how you’re doing and let you know what’s new.

Take care!

Katie

 

Wrap Me Up in Sheets of Paper

I have a habit of buying notebooks. I don’t know what it is, but I love a new notebook – all those blank pages ready for thoughts, scribbles, lists, dreams, drawings and plots. Tonight, I opened one of the several that was sitting on my desk at home. My plan was to draw out ideas for my wrist/arm tattoo on the blank pages. The tattoo is meant to remind me of a few things: my mom, my spirit of hope and fire in my soul, my connection to nature, the connection between body, spirit, thought, and emotion. It’s a lot to for a few lines of ink on skin. But I know I can do it.

Anyway, I grabbed a green composition book with a pen clipped to a page with a mundane note about a wireless key. As I walked back downstairs I scanned the pages and noticed pages and pages of words I’d written about myself while doing exercises from “What Color is Your Parachute.” This was a notebook from the end of 2011. This was from a transformational period where I was job hunting after leaving my job of 6 years. This was a notebook from the last few months my mom was still alive. (A side effect of my mom’s passing is that I tend to measure time in “when Mom was alive” and “after Mom died.”)

The words are quite different from what appears in my current journal. There’s a page with values. Those are the same. There are lists of goals. Boy, I have a tendency to expect a lot of myself. There is a list of commandments I wrote after rereading “The Happiness Project.” Still relevant.

I have deep ruts created by the repetition of negative thinking and habits born from shame and unmet needs. In January, I reached out for help. While I’ve written privately, finding out how to share more publicly has challenged me. Embarrassment, shame, and fear have kept me from being open about my life over the last couple of years. I’ve known for a long time that something about how I feel isn’t quite “right.” Though, right and wrong isn’t really a good way to view feelings. I’ve worried that people will treat me differently. I’ve worried that people will worry. I’ve worried that I will feel worse. I’ve worried that it will impact my work, though my anxiety and depression already have. These are only the beginning of the worries.

The truth is, I’ve lived with anxiety and depression, self-harming behaviors and thoughts for a long time. Cycles and patterns, I could make a quilt.

I am still me. That has not changed. I still cherish animals, adore my nephew, believe in kindness and truth, compassion and love. I still love jokes, smiles, and laughter. These other voices inside of me are tricky and persuasive. They offer comfort in their harm. But I am finding the other voices. The voice that wrote the values. The voice that wrote my talents. The voice that’s warm as sunshine (trite, but work with me here), and playful.

Impish, spritely, gentle, and strong. Silly, caring, serious, and funny. Inquisitive, thoughtful, spiritual.

I’m working on a new internal infrastructure to fill the ruts and build new roads. (Do NOT insert overused Robert Frost quote here.)

I am still me.

 

 

[Did anyone read this and think I was about to come out as a lesbian? Because when I proofed it I could totally see that. But, I’m not; just plain old mixed mood disorder, terrible body image and disordered eating- though girls smell better and have nice hair and shoes.]

18 Mile Long Run Mantra

I sit here now freshly shaved and showered with my calves encased in bright pink compression sleeves. Like a girl less than half my age, I’ve just used a sharpie to write on my right arm and my left foot. A poorly scribbled bird with the words “faith, hope, pride” occupy the slim inside of my wrist while only a single word is scrawled on my foot: everyday.

I can most closely compare my emotions of late to a deflated, over-used bouncy ball. It can no longer reach the highs it once did and finds itself more quickly plunging to the ground. I wrote a post yesterday going into great detail about some of the reasons I feel this way, but in the interest of internet attention spans and keeping on topic (maybe someday I’ll be an editor — even if it’s a night school writing class) I will give you the following summary:

  • Working two jobs is emotionally taxing. Not only do I have less free time (I’m an introvert remember) but the reasons behind the need for the second job add their own level of stress: money.
  • Marathon training. I feel like I’m not doing enough. Between feeling terrible and achilles pain (which caused me to back off training) I’ve been worried that I’m not doing enough to prepare my body (and mind) for 26.2 miles of work.
  • Health issues. I haven’t been feeling well. I mentioned mental health, but physically, I’ve been feeling off. Why?
  • My lady bits are out of whack. I’ve had issues in this department for a long time, but this year they’ve been worse. I’ve missed work and it’s impacted my life. My last pap was abnormal and showed atypical glandular cells. This is apparently a pretty rare result and warrants a colposocpy from an OB/GYN (which is not rare). I had that on Tuesday. It also warrants an endometrial biopsy. I was prepared for the colposcopy and the possible cervical biopsy (which they did because there were spots seen), but the endometrial biopsy was a surprise. No need to imagine any of it, it’s not pleasant. What I did not expect was the intense emotion I would feel after the appointment. I’ve spontaneously cried in the ladies room at work, I’ve yelled, enraged, at other drivers and I’ve contemplated every bad thing this could mean.  THANK YOU, INTERNET.  The thing is, if they say “nothing is wrong” why have a felt so terrible month after month? Anyhow, name an emotion (other than the joyous ones) and I’ve likely felt it this week.  And if I even so much as think about “I wish my mom was here to talk to” I start to cry.

Okay, so there is my summary. But that’s not even the real topic of the post. That’s your back story.

Tomorrow, my long run is 18 miles of which 6.2 will be run as part of the Plaza 10k. I’ve been very anxious about this. However, tonight at the ripe hour of 7pm as I was working on my pre-bed night before a long run ritual – expanded race edition — I started singing and dancing. I felt…relief? What I was singing was Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds.” While not the most mellifluous, my voice gradually opened and soared — like birds (if birds sound like chipmunky frogs.) I kept repeating “don’t worry, about a thing…every little thing is gonna be alright.” Singing is believing.

I shook my booty — unafraid (okay a tiny bit afraid) of pulling a muscle or using too much stored glycogen the night before a big run! But I realized, there isn’t anything else I can do. I can’t make biopsy results appear any faster or change their result, I can’t get out of the run, I can’t change the weather or my body or anything really. But I can control my thoughts and my attitude. I can sing about those three little birds and hope my neighbor doesn’t think I’m drowning in my bathtub.

When I finally got in bed to carry out the official “wind down” I thought, “why not give myself any inky reminder of that kitchen karaoke performance?” Why not draw on myself like a twelve year old. I’ve been thinking about getting a tattoo on my wrist ever since my mom died last year, so why not test it out? A bird tattoo and/or a meaningful word or phrase is exactly what I had been considering. But I haven’t been able to decide between several words: faith, hope, pride. In the last voicemail my mom left me she said “I’m proud of you every.day. of my life.” It’s stuck with me. I hear her voice without even having to listen to the recording. It’s carried me at times the way knowing she was always there carried me.

Three little birds: faith, hope, pride — everyday, I’m alive.

Confessions by Katie

For the past month or two I’ve really been thinking about adding meat, eggs, dairy and seafood back to my diet. I started with dairy in the form of yogurt and then finally added cheese last week (but in very limited quantities.)

Last Sunday, I ate chicken. It was in my burrito bol from Chipotle. It felt strange, but it tasted pretty good. “Okay,” I thought, “I can do this. I can eat chicken sometimes.”

However, today when I tried to eat chicken on my salad it was not the same. I had about 2 bites and I didn’t like the taste and I didn’t know why I was even trying to eat it. I still don’t like the idea of an animal dying to feed me. I don’t need help increasing bad cholesterol, I don’t like the idea of animals living in captivity or factory farming and blah blah blah everything most vegetarians and vegans will spout and everyone will tune out (including the spouter.)

What was really unsettling to me was why after over a year of no meat I was suddenly thinking about adding it back in when none of my core beliefs or feelings had changed.

Today with fork to mouth it clicked in my brain. I’ve been depressed. My mood has been out of control up and down, but for the most part, I’ve been pretty down all the time. That leads to feelings of indifference. Which can lead to no longer caring about things you once cared about — like say, animals dying to feed you.

Secondly, I’m tired of feeling different. Maybe no one cares. But it gets tiring to be the special diet restriction person. “Grabbing a quick bite” doesn’t really exist for me. Part of that is my choice, but a big part isn’t. LORD, I’d LOVE to be able to just go eat without caring. Or eat without getting sick. Grab a sandwich or a taco or a burger. But food is more than just tasty stuff I put in my mouth. It’s ethics and feeling shitty and nutrition. I can’t eat without thinking about nutrition any more. Sometimes that leads to over-indulgence because it gets so tiring to try to be so perfect all the time. I try to thnk about all the things I CAN eat. And there are tons and plenty. But add in social dynamics or lack of money or time and it just spirals into a web of indecision.

My problem with eating for nutrition is that I also eat for pleasure. Food has always been something I could enjoy. My escape. Comfort.

We recently had an ice cream sundae bar at work and instead of my usual non-participation, I had a scoop of ice cream with half a banana and some Hershey’s syrup. And someone of course commented. “Hey, Katie is eating what we’re eating!” I do usually have something in those settings, it’s just not usually what is being provided.[ Generally, that’s due to the whole no-gluten thing. Lately, I’d even been thinking about testing the gluten thing again. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe it was all in my head. I mean, that’s what the media wants. And then I accidentally ate carrot cake with whole wheat flour and DEAR LORD did I feel like hell. I didn’t know what it was at first, but once I realized what it was, it matched up perfectly based on timing of consumption and symptoms. Dumb.]

The other part of the equation is weight loss. I am FREAKING out on some level about my body and my weight loss. Even though I see messages every day about loving your body and accepting yourself and I know I’ve lost 90 lbs, I am still unhappy. I still only see a fat blob. I have freaking acne that won’t go away and a protruding belly that I fear will always be there. After losing 90 lbs and running 4 half marathons — I’M STILL FAT.  Not only am I still fat, but acne covered and homely. I haven’t worn makeup in ages (partly because my skin is so sensitive and partly because I’m lazy.) I just don’t feel attractive on any level. Yay depression?

With the depression has come a real struggle to avoid emotional eating and make good food choices. I thought if I could make myself eat things like chicken, I could help my weight and fat loss. People always talk about lean protein. Maybe I could do a week or two of lower carb and high protein and drop some weight fast! Yes! That’s the ticket.

Any how, I’ve been trying to deal with the emotional roller coaster and I’m lucky because I have good friends who have been there for me when I’ve vacillated between wanting to lash out in anger at people and when I’ve wanted to put my head down and cry. I’ve honestly just kept expecting to wake up and suddenly feel okay again. That hasn’t happened. It doesn’t work like that. Not really. I’ve added on to this taking “THE pill” for the first time in 16 years to help with some issues and so far it’s just exacerbated most of the demons. I’m still holding out hope that I’ll normalize in less than 3 months. There are other factors that are large contributors to my stress, anxiety and depression but I have word-vomited long enough for now. Just please know, I’m not being a nancy-pants. There are real things, valid things, to be causing my feelings. And even if there weren’t; even if I just felt this way with no reason to which to point (and part of it probably is that) that would be okay. (I have to tell myself that. I still have trouble believing it.) So, thanks for reading if you did.

The Darkside

So mainly randomness today.

I’ve spent the last few days feeling very unmotivated and far from my “I want to hug the world” self. This generally happens once a month (ahem) but differs in intensity. This month for whatever reason is one of the more intense months. My irritability is near the surface and my attitude in the pot. I can usually hold back on food cravings during this week unless the emotional side is off kilter. So this week I’ve had gelato, candy, macaroons and accomplished none of my chores!

The only thing that seems to excite me is the anticipation of a new running route. The only time I’ve run through downtown KC was for a race. The streets are closed down and there’s hundreds or thousands of other runners. It feels safer. You don’t have to worry about traffic so much and you can just go. Tonight’s run is a different story. I’m setting out on the streets of downtown Kansas City because they offer a challenging terrain (hills) and a change of pace (ha!) My next two major races also start and end in downtown KC (Hospital Hill Half Marathon and Kansas City Marathon) so I need to get some practice running in the area.

I’ve been feeling pretty negative about my running lately. After my non-stop workout challenge I had some pain in the back of my leg (still feel it in the morning) so I decided to take a week off of running. When I did run again, I felt so slow and off. Flashing back to my training the last few weeks, months whatever, and honestly, I haven’t logged that many running miles. I’ve been doing tons of cross training: yoga, Pilates, personal training, elliptical, spinning. While these are all great for overall fitness and I truly enjoy them, I know that to improve in running and get past some of the blahs, I need to actually RUN.

Anxiety has been playing a part in my performance. As has negative self talk (why are you so slow? so-and-so is better than you.  is that my fat bouncing? gazelle, you are not.) Instead of enjoying the challenge of running, I’ve been indulging in the darkside of running. The doubts. The fears. The lazy. (Okay, I know I’m not “lazy” — but I’m not dedicating myself as much to running.) I dread my long runs. DREAD. Hours of boredom. Alone. Where will I run? Having to drop water. (I might get a belt but as a gal with a sizable midsection, belts are pretty unappealing.)

Anyway, this post is dripping with negativity and I know I need to KNOCK IT OFF. I still enjoy running. I do! I hope switching it up today will be a good step towards getting back into a routine. Hospital Hill is only 2.5 weeks away! And soon after, I need to start my training schedule for my first ever full marathon! I mean wow. I’m still excited and hopeful about that so not all has been tarnished!

P.S. Somehow I was lighter on the scale this week when I totally expected to be the same or heavier (after all that eatin!) Bodies are weird.

P.P.S. I said this stuff to someone today and I really need to take my own medicine:

“At least you got out there. Some day you will look back and realize how far you’ve come. Never feel bad about your stats. They just are. They reflect the workout not you.”

I am a Winner

I officially hit 31 days of working out IN A ROW on Friday, May 3rd. Saturday I was on my feet a lot hosting a baby shower for my sister-in-law (BABYHENRYBABYHENRYBABYHENRY! Come out come out and play!) but I really took yesterday off.

Completion of those 31 days also means I won The Bet! Hello, I was so not in the mood to fail. There were a few days I’m sure I wouldn’t have worked out if not for the bet, and I’m better for having pushed myself and gotten myself back on track. In addition, I also finished my no sugar April, though a bit less successfully as I had sugar the weekend of Rock the Parkway. I also apparently learned nothing from the no sugar challenge because I ate sugary things all weekend (not in obscene amounts or anything, but definitely not a good level for me.)

Oh well. I lost a bit of weight and my clothes are definitely looser and I felt fitness gains in my running and with pilates and yoga — so April was a good month for me.

As I was nearing the end of the month, I decided I needed to do another challenge for May. You see, I love peanut butter. So creamy! So salty! So satisfying in oatmeal, on bananas, on apples, off a spoon, straight out of the jar! And the problem is I was enjoying too many of those experiences each day. I wasn’t eating sugar, but sure was eating extra peanut butter. Sigh.

So, with this self-knowledge, I knew what I needed to do for May: reduce my reliance on peanut butter. But, I can’t have just one thing! I must be obsessive!  I give you my list of May challenges and goals:

  • Reduce my reliance on peanut butter. This means limit myself to one serving per day, at most. I ended up running out of peanut butter a few days before the end of the month so I made my own nut butter (which ended up really being nut paste.) So far, I’ve only used it a few times in my oatmeal and never more than 1 tablespoon at a time. It’s a proprietary blend of plain old peanuts, almonds and a teaspoon/tablespoon of coconut oil.
  • Because I obviously didn’t change my habits, continue with my sugar challenge. This time, I’m not going 100% no sugar, but I’m putting boundaries on my “treat” consumption. No more than one treat per week. I’m also still going to avoid foods with added sugar (except for an occasional Chobani because those are delicious or protein bar.) I generally feel gross if I eat foods that are packaged or processed and oh, I’m in major budget mode, so I need to limit my food spending and processed foods are spendy.
  • Decided yesterday: I’m going to do a plank a day. I think I should work on building up the time. I had to do 3 this morning as part of my workout and I should have asked how long the holds were. Probably a minute. When I started they were 15 seconds. I know I can hold longer than a minute, but I should set a numeric goal to hit by the end of a month.
  • And the funnest of the fun, a group challenge! Cheryl and Jason decided to do 45 minutes of cardio 6 days per week for 4 weeks and if I succeed at this also, I get a free session! Most of my workouts in April were at least an hour, so I have a good base.

Since it’s already May 6th I’m going to keep this challenging going right up to the day before Baby Henry’s due date*: June 6th.

*June 7th — MARK YOUR CALENDARS!

Real Talk: Races and Paces

This morning one of the most widely known organized races in KC is happening: The Trolley Run. It’s a lovely course featuring a nice downhill jaunt that winds from Waldo to the Plaza. I’m not sure the last time it was sunny for a Trolley Run, but it sure is today. A bit chilly, but nothing the right gear and the first mile won’t fix.

I am not running this race. I do, however, have race envy now that I see people checking in and posting about it. It’s a route I know and it’s only 4 miles so please. [This week I’ve been reflecting a lot on distances. How only a year and few months ago I was slogging through a mile feeling like everything wanted to burst and create a giant Katie puddle and now I’m all, eh, whatever it’s ONLY 4 miles. You’re just starting to settle in at 4 miles. WHO AM I?!]

Goals and Real Talk

I’m waxing sentimental about how glorious the morning is and how jealous I am of everyone doing the Trolley run, yet I’m sitting on my couch in my jammies under a blanket (with cats of course) trying to gear up for my own run. It took some mental effort to get me out the door yesterday, but once I did I was so pleased with myself. I’m more tired today than usual due to being up later at my sister-in-law’s brother’s 30th birthday party. By the time I left everything in my body hurt — and I was starving. And everything hurt. It was a case for some ibuprofen. Apparently, working out hard for nearly a month and then standing for four hours and not eating dinner and barely drinking water (bad Katie!) take a toll. Even though I drank some water and ate some nice oatmeal when I got home, I still awoke feeling pretty run down.

It makes it a little odd that I’m so inspired to write about the races, paces and goals that have been swirling in my head. I feel like I’m at a point where I need to set some goals for myself. I know I’m feeling fitter and stronger, and this morning’s lack of get-up-and-go is transitory (I have company and le tired from choices made last night) and I can get through it. I can’t NOT workout today. I made a bet. So I give you:

Races, Paces and Goals (did that first part make anyone else think about Reese’s Pieces? just me?)

  • Hospital Hill Half Marathon, June 1, 2013: This race is creeeeeeping up! Holy cow it’s almost time to taper and I feel like I never really settled into the groove of my training. Yet, I feel the strongest I’ve ever felt and I’m running the best I’ve ever run. Though the course is ridiculously challenging with its hiLLs, I’m still going to try for a PR. I know in my heart that I could have PR’d at Rock the Parkway if I hadn’t been in such a dreamy “Look at all the pretty! Puppy!” state, but maybe that’s also what helped me do so well — I was RELAXED and enjoying the experience. My pre-race nutrition was top notch as was my hydration. I took time to thank the volunteers and to high five the awesome kids who were doling them out. My HHHM strategy is to line up with a pace group and make sure those pacers know who I am. I’m still hoping to someday get under a 2 hour half, but for now, I’m shooting for 2:30 and maybe 2:25. Tough with this race because of the hills. But with the up comes the down and that break from the monotony is always helpful. If I can remind myself that when I get tired it actually helps to breathe and pick up the pace at that moment, I’ll be okay.
  • Plaza 10k, September 15, 2013:  This one looks really fun and it’s in the Plaza area which just evokes a certain homeness to me. As much as I like living on the edge of population where it’s easy to slip away to nature, I adore and miss living in the heart of the city. My goal is to get back there in the next 5 years. I’m going for a time goal here too. Maybe when it gets closer I’ll have to set a new goal, but for now, my goal is to do this in under 1 hour. I’m hoping for a 9 min/mi pace or faster.
  • Pink Laundry 5k, October 6, 2013: This is a race I just randomly found while trolling mararunning.org at lunch. Something about the quaint Lee’s Summit location and the story of why it exists — and all the pink — made me feel like this is a race I should run. Check it out, but be prepared to cry a little when you read the backstory.
  • Waddell & Reed Kansas City Marathon 2013, October 19, 2013:  So, some of you will remember my posts about the Chicago Marathon. I would still love to do it, but I was stressing myself out terribly about it. It’s just not in the cards for this year. It’s funny, it took one conversation with Cheryl about it to make me realize I was twisting myself into knots for no reason. The event will still be there next year. And maybe I’ll be going for a PR. Realistically, I’m just not in a place to do the fundraising or to pay for the expenses of traveling. Money sucks. However, I so thoroughly enjoyed volunteering as a course monitor last year at the KC Marathon that I knew I wanted to be a part of it again this year. My original grand plan was to run Chicago the weekend prior and then volunteer for KC. But, you know, life. I really looked into myself and thought about why I want to run a marathon and why I do not. The do nots are all about fear and self-doubt. The whys are all about achieving a dream and connecting to something greater. The why is pride. I can do it.
    • Running KC makes sense on so many levels and once I stopped making myself sick thinking about Chicago, I started to get excited and feel joy at the thought of running KC. I may not get the incredible crowd support or flat & fast course that comes with Chicago, but I have a higher likelihood of getting friends and family out there on the KC course and man, those hills? I LIVE here. Finding a fully flat route in KC is harder than you’d think. As long as I train hills and run smart, I will be fine. I think I’ll setup with a pace group and they adjust for the hills so, that’s cool with me. Running this race is also helpful for me when it comes to food. I LOVE TO EAT. But with my dietary restrictions and propensity setting off an intestinal war within myself, I have to be really careful. Traveling requires A LOT of prep and planning so I know what to eat. It’s pretty mentally exhausting honestly. And I just don’t want to risk eating something that will trigger outrage in my gut. Also, post race food is CRITICAL. Girl gotta eat! And my gut will be wound up after the race so post-race food is just as important as pre-race food. MINSKY’S PIZZA: I AM COMING FOR YOU! CC. Glace’ Ice Cream.

The Real-ist Real Talk — Training

I mentioned that I don’t even feel like I’ve settled into the groove of my Hospital Hill training. It’s strange not to be so regimented, but also freeing. I’m running, but I’m also incorporating a lot of the other activities I enjoy and which make me stronger. I don’t understand training schedules that are all running. Isn’t that boring? And isn’t that how people get injured? I took the pilates class at my gym for the first time last week and I really enjoyed it. It wasn’t easy, but it was so worthwhile. I did cardio first so I was nice and warmed up. I don’t want to have a schedule that makes me give up my classes. I’m also really committed to keeping my twice weekly workouts with Cheryl. Where I am now? I wouldn’t be here without her support or her pushing me. I see people post things which amount to “you don’t need a trainer.” Honestly, I disagree. Finding the right trainer is such a life changing experience.

That leads me to my next serious, soul-sought thought: I need to work with a group or a coach for this marathon training. I’m excited and I really want to do it, but I need that extra support. I will do better on those long runs if I don’t have to worry about dropping water and pre-planning my course. And when I get to 16+ miles, I’m sure having someone around will probably help. I enjoyed my first few long runs on my own during HHHM training, but they were shorter 6 mile and under distances that didn’t require water strategy. I need that extra accountability. The fact that I know myself and that I am extrinsically motivated (what other people think matters to me) is an advantage in planning. I’m thinking about trying The Runners Edge Group in KC. I’ve been studying them and they seem to be the real deal. They run the Smart Pacing group that participates in a lot of the big races in KC. The group seems large, diverse and something that is really important to me: they have set pace groups for group runs. That was a problem for me with my old group and ultimately, one of the reasons I didn’t have trouble walking away. No one ran my pace and it was really hard to connect with people. They were already in established pods. I couldn’t keep up or break in. I’m hoping a bigger group with better organization might be a better fit. Don’t get me wrong, I like running alone, but having that group of people in my pace might be beneficial. I just need to figure out what my pace actually IS. Also, not having to worry about route planning and water.

I also know that I need to keep some focus on my diet and working on burning off more fat. I can see fitness gains with the changes and I know running will get easier as I lose more of this fat. I set a really aggressive goal for myself (135 lbs by August 1st — last time I weighed myself I was 165), but I am going to be okay if I don’t meet it. Actually, one of the reasons I was stressing out over the marathon was because I want to hit my weight loss goal and I’m afraid race training will really interfere with that. But, you can’t wait for things to be perfect. If I wait until I hit this weight loss goal to go after a marathon, I think I’ll regret it.

Now that I’ve put all this out there, I’m terrified.

Rock the Parkway Recap

If I’d written and published this post when first I started on Sunday, it would be colored only with joy and excitement, pride and confidence. But how do you write a race recap after the horror of what happened at the Boston Marathon?

I’ve never run a marathon. (No, 3 half marathons don’t count even if the sum of the parts is more than 26.2 miles.) I’ve logged hours on my feet, developed blisters upon blisters and beloved calluses. In those hours I called upon anything and everything that would just get me through the pain of hills and speed sessions or tedium of long runs.

In running we talk a lot about reaching that something inside ourselves. A voice, a desire and tenacity. But I’ve found that there is something extrinsically linked to my running experiences. I melt into a deeper, freer fluid connection to everything around me. When I don’t fight this unity and instead absorb it – breathe it – in, 2, 3, out 2, 3 – I will gush about how good my run was and everything in my life will be brighter and shinier. My ability to show love will be on par with when I’ve had a few too many. You see, I’m not good at expressing affection AT ALL. I’m somewhat bubbly, yet quiet. Sedate, yet jovial. But I’m guarded. Why I’m like this, I don’t know. Why are any of us who we are? We just are.

Running has connected me back to myself. It’s connected me to my joy and lightness. It’s connected me to my deepest, unprocessed grief.

The spectators, most random, are part of that extrinsic motivation. They give you that push as if sending you a boost of energy from their chilled, sign-holding fingertips. Children high five you excitedly even though you are gross and sweaty and spitty and maybe wearing snot you didn’t quite rocket. Dogs sit patiently, and adorably, along the course offering a calming break from thinking about your pace or how many more miles you have to cover. Those dogs man, they are course therapy. I mean, think how great it feels to look at lolcats or YouTube videos? You get them IN REAL LIFE when racing. No need to sacrifice.

I will never understand what lives inside a person and makes them want to so badly to hurt others. To smother joy with a blanket of terror and grief.

But grief drives us. Running is therapy. Did they hope to destroy that? Did they just know there would be a lot of distracted people?

The odds of me running the Boston Marathon as anything other than a bandit are slim. I’m not a fast runner – not yet. I will be someday. I know I will. Still, to BQ I’d need to be able to run a 3:35 marathon. My best half time is one hour under this. Yikes.

Most of the people who were hurt in the bombings had probably already sacrificed for the sport. That makes my heart ache.

And now, my Rock the Parkway recap as told in pictures. It was a truly lovely run. My goal was just enjoying the course and the experience without focusing on time. I could have PR’d if I’d pushed in a few spots, but I finished the race with a smile and cheers for those left on the course. I even had energy to go home and do housework. NO nap was taken! I think I’ll line up with a pace group for my next half marathon and see what I’ve got.

Running from Fire

Sitting on my couch draped in my red blanket, I feel safe. Sadly, that sentence is now out of date because I’m currently at work. My toes are a little frozen and I’m draped in a drab green blanket. (Hey, blankets are awesome!) I started this post a couple weeks ago — like I started 3 other posts. Apparently, one should finish writing and then hit “publish.” Whatever. But, in truth, more than my blog is stuck in “draft” mode.

Universe, I’m putting it out there: I’m afraid of running. That thing that I glowed about? That thing that consumed me for months? I’m terrified. While the rational part of me knows it’s ridiculous and I need to just push through, the other side of me, the what-the-heck do I call it side, is pretty freaked out.

After the half marathon in November I kept running – just shorter distances. And then I got busy and it started getting colder and I realized I liked wine and lounging on Sunday mornings and not having wind burn on my face. I felt disconnected and disheartened with my running group as I never made a connection with any of the other members. Now I’m out of the running habit and not sure I can do well.

You see, I was really disappointed with myself. Even though I beat my previous time and barely walked, the level of effort I expended (physically and mentally) made me wary. I want to be fast, ferocious and strong. I want to be lean and FAST. I don’t want to feel like a heffalump clump-clomp-clumping along. [No offense to heffalumps; they are cute and purple and have cool friends.]

I’m fighting an image and a goal. I’m fighting a desire. I’m fighting the fact that I still have a lot of work to do before I reach my goal. These goals of mine are at times overwhelming and entirely exhausting and I’ve been at them for a LONG time. I needed a break, which I took, but I’m finding that getting back into action adventure fitness weight loss ass-kicking hero(ine) mode is not a smooth transition. I suppose my expectation shouldn’t have been that I’d hop right back in and everything would be peachy. Struggle will never leave. Seriously, I’m just ready for the part where I’m good at running — and that’s a big part of my current issue. I’m not really that good at it. I’m not terrible and I probably could be good – some day — DAMN YOU, SOME DAY! — but I also have this perfectionism thing. I need to be the best (or one of the best.) Instead of using this as motivation to keep going, I’ve let it stop me and feed the doubt until I’m terrified to try.

So tonight my goal is to make myself do it. I shall run (though on a treadmill because brrrr!) And then I shall make myself do it again. And I’ll set a new goal or two. And I’ll achieve them because somewhere inside this terrified, purple heffalump is action adventure fitness Katie — heroine of her own life. (cheesy!)