Tag Archives: Races

Almost Famous

Jen Double Runner Magazine

Almost famous…OK, not really, but I am in my first magazine article!  Well, OK, I’m included in a picture in a magazine.  OK, I’m in a crowd in the upper corner of a photo, but I’m in there!

It’s not being in a magazine that makes me smile as much as the type of magazine it is…it’s a running magazine!  Who would have thought when I started my gastric sleeve journey that I would ever find myself included in a magazine that was all about running?!

This non-athletic over weight woman is now a healthy running woman and she couldn’t be any happier or prouder!  Yeah, me!

Thanks for letting me share my “15 minutes of fame” with you at Down the Scale…

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Running Toward New Challenges

I’m the kind of woman who needs new goals. They can be small ones like getting my kids to put away their dirty dishes to big ones like maintaining my weight loss. I thrive on new challenges, especially when it comes to running. From new places to run to different types of races, I’m always searching for the next big thing to keep me motivated and inspired. This past Sunday I tried a new type of race and it was just what I needed to keep me going on my weight loss journey.

Not my best time for a 5K, but for my first trail run, I'll take it!  Running is one of the best things to come out of my gastric sleeve surgery journey!

Not my best time for a 5K, but for my first trail run, I’ll take it! Running is one of the best things to come out of my gastric sleeve surgery journey!

A few months ago, I received an email about the Double Adventure Run. It’s an 8K race, but split into two parts. First you run a 5K, take about an hour break and then run a 3K. This one took place at Land’s End which is full of trails by the Pacific Ocean with incredible views including my beloved Golden Gate Bridge. I knew this distance was doable as I’ve done a bit of trail running and I did a 10K in April. This seemed like the perfect challenge, especially when my 11-year-old son, Jack, asked to join me.

Jack and I arrived early at Land’s End on race day. If you’ve ever participated in a running event, you know about the energy in the air. This was a small race of less than 200 runners, but it was still exciting. I’ve found many runners to be very friendly and encouraging, especially when you have a child with you. We chatted with other runners and took our pre-race photos in this scenic locale.

I’d love to say we ran the race together, but I can’t keep up with my athletic son. Jack tried to go to the front of the starting line, but I made him go to the back with me. Pacing is not in his vocabulary just yet, so I knew he would start trying to keep up with the master runners. As a soccer player, he’s used to sprinting and I have to remind him that 5K races are a different type of running. This wasn’t his first 5K, but he did the first one with a friend so they paced each other.

My obliging son did start the race with me. We were only about a quarter of a mile in when he batted those big blue/gray eyes at me and politely asked if he could go ahead. I wasn’t finished saying “OK” before he grinned and went running ahead. As much as I wanted him to run with me, I knew I had to let him go. He knew to stay on the race path and wait for me at the end. Part of me hoped I would catch up to him, but I was doubtful.

And my doubts were correct when I came to the first 100 step staircase. I knew I wouldn’t see Jack until the end as I huffed and puffed up the stairs. The 5K race started nicely downhill and then up a relatively easy incline, but this beautiful park is full of evil, killer stairs. I’ve walked and run a bit through Land’s End before, but when you’re in race mode it’s three times as hard. Fortunately the other runners around me seemed to feel the same way. There was a feeling of struggle and determination in the air along with a lot of heavy breathing. This mixed with the salt air and sweat made this race unique to say the least.

After this first staircase I realized I wouldn’t be able to have a PR (personal record) for this 5K part of the race. I begrudgingly told myself this was OK. This was my first real trail race with hills and staircases. This 5K would be the new baseline for trail races I decided so I pushed through to the end.

Here is my amazing son running to finish the 5K portion of our 8K race.  He inspires and motivates me with his athletic abilities!

Here is my amazing son running to finish the 5K part of our 8K race. He inspires and motivates me with his athletic abilities!

Running to the finish line, I finally saw Jack. Nothing made me happier than seeing his smiling face! He finished 11 ½ minutes before me and I was proud for both of us. Jack said he chatted with other runners throughout the race and one particular runner recommended he try to pace himself. He said he tried to after she talked with him. I just smiled at him instead of saying “I told you so!” Sometimes being a parent means keeping your mouth shut.

We weren’t done yet! It was halftime, so to speak. We had about an hour to rest, stretch, hydrate and dance to “Shake it Off” about 10 times before the 3K race. I really enjoyed this time to hang out with my son. We talked with other runners, many of whom congratulated Jack. I love races that have such a positive spirit. While it is a competition I’ve found everyone to be encouraging to each other.

I must admit it was hard to get pumped up for the second race even though it was only a 3K. (OK, I never thought I would say “just a 3K” ever in my life!). It’s a bit strange to think about racing again after a break, but once we start lining up, the race energy got me going.

As before, Jack went off on his own. This is the time I wished I brought my headphones. I didn’t plan to run with music like I normally do since I would be with Jack. Silly mommy, thinking her baby would run with her! I can’t say I completely enjoyed running without music, but it was a good experience. It was such a beautiful place to run that I really took in the views as I ran. I’m sure it was a safer way to run through the narrow dirt paths and up the steep stairs too. But sometimes when you’re slowing down, having the Foo Fighters sing loudly in your ears motivates you to pick up the pace.

While I didn’t particularly run a fast pace during the 3K, I finished with a smile on my face and received a big hug from Jack. I need to start bribing my husband and daughter to come to these races just so I have them waiting for me at the end. Nothing is better than having the people you love waiting for you to complete another challenge. So my little runner finished with a total combined time of 49:51 and his momma finished with 1:09. Would we do it again? You betcha! Splitting the race into two parts was difficult, but fun. Trail running is such a great change from road races and I plan to do more.

Every race I do gives me more things to work on like running more hills and increasing my pace. Finding the motivation to keep active and heathy is sometimes hard, but for me, finding new challenges is helping me as I head into year two of my weight loss journey. I plan to keep on running Down the Scale for a long, long time…

Here we are after running our first 8K race!  I'm looking forward to sharing more runs with my son!

Here we are after running our first 8K race! I’m looking forward to sharing more runs with my son!

So this is Middle Age?

Yes, I'm a middle-aged woman!  At 46, I'm in the best shape of my life!  My weight loss journey keeps getting better and better.

Yes, I’m a middle-aged woman! At 46, I’m in the best shape of my life! My weight loss journey keeps getting better and better.

Happy birthday to me! Last week I celebrated my 46th birthday. Yes, I did say celebrate. I’m proud to be 46 which I guess would be considered to be middle-aged. What does it mean to be middle-aged? For me it means:

*Being in the best shape of my life! Losing 100+ pounds means I am in great health. I don’t have high blood pressure any longer and I’m not pre-diabetic. I am rarely sick and my last doctor visits have all been check-ups with good results.

*Being physically active! If you told me two years ago that I would be a middle-aged runner, I would have asked what you were smoking. Never in a million years would I have imagined myself running and entering races.

*Being able to keep up with my kids! I had my children at what the medical profession calls “an advanced maternal age”, so I originally had the mindset that I would be on the sidelines watching my kids. Wrong! I love walking and hiking with my family. I am thrilled and proud that I now model healthy living for my children.

*Being a priority is OK! I used to think that my needs and desires needed to be last in order to be a good person. I felt I should say yes to all requests and maintain relationships even if they weren’t healthy. Finally, I realized that to be the healthiest and happiest person, I need to make myself a priority. Taking care of myself, makes me a better mother, wife, friend and person.

*Being unsure is OK, too! When I was in college, I was terrified of not knowing what I wanted to do with my life. That fear was pointless as I now proudly say that my life is turning out pretty well! Even in my younger years when I didn’t know what I wanted to do or who I wanted to be, I managed to figure it out. Now that I’m middle-aged I’ve realized life is always changing and that it actually is a good thing. I’ve realized that I’m the type of person who actually thrives on changes and new goals. It makes me stronger and that is actually a positive and not a negative!

So, for me, middle-age is a gift. It doesn’t mean being old or being settled or being stagnant. It’s given me an incredible gift of looking back at the first half of my life and realizing it’s been pretty good! Sure I’ve had heartbreak, challenges and pain, but I’ve learned from all that. I’m sure I’ll repeat some of it again, too. And that’s just fine with me. I see how I can face challenges and continue to grow into the person I want to be…for now at least. I know that Jen, the middle-aged woman, will continue to change as the years go by. I look forward to seeing where I go in the next 46 years!

Running Down the Scale

Here I am in 2012, 2013 and 2014 at the races! I love see how happy I am every year after the race.  And I'm happier that I look and feel healthier every year!

Here I am in 2012, 2013 and 2014 at the races!
I love seeing how happy I am every year after the race. And I’m happier that I look and feel healthier every year!

Last Thursday I ran my third Thanksgiving Day race. While my speed improves each year, I am most proud of my increased confidence in setting and reaching goals. Running is more than just exercise; it keeps me focused and motivated to keep living a healthy life. While I knew running would help in my gastric sleeve journey, I didn’t expect the many positive results it would bring.

My last two races were 5K races on city streets. My friend, N., and I decided to switch to another race in our neighborhood. It seemed like a great idea until I received the first email from the organizers. That’s when I noticed that it was a five-mile race not a 5K (3.1 mile) race. In the words of Scooby Doo, “ruh roh!” Not only was this race an extra two miles, but the course wasn’t on roads, but mostly through grass fields and woods. N. and I decided to do it anyway. What could go wrong?

My head told me there were many things that could go wrong! The race was only nine weeks after my abdominal hernia and tummy tuck surgeries. My incision was healing slowly and my abdominal muscles were sore and strained from time to time. I only started running four weeks before the race so I didn’t have much training or miles under my belt. I had every reason to back out of the race or at the very least change it back to the 5K race. Believe me, I thought about it often in those weeks preceding Thanksgiving. What kept me committed to the new race was one thought: all I have to do is finish. That simple phrase kept me training and made me show up on Thanksgiving morning with my turkey headband and running shoes on.

Here I am getting ready for the Thanksgiving 5-Mile Race!  I love that running on Thanksgiving has become a tradition.

Here I am getting ready for the Thanksgiving 5-Mile Race! I love that running on Thanksgiving has become a tradition.

All I really needed to do was finish the race to feel successful. I’m not a competitive runner…with anyone but myself. I only need to be competitive with myself. I ran two earlier races with hindering factors and I finished. If I could do the first race 100+ pounds heavier and finish I could do this new one. And last year, I ran four and a half minutes faster than the previous year with my abdominal hernia still intact and I finished. I could do this even if it meant I was the last person over the finish line.

But I wasn’t the last over the finish line! I finished with my best running pace ever. But more importantly I loved the race. There is an amazing energy on the starting line of a race, especially one with people dressed as turkeys and pilgrims! I lined up with the other runners and followed the lead runner dressed as a turkey though the course.

I managed to actually run the first two miles which surprised me. I am more of a walker/runner but the excitement kept me running. Throughout the race I ran when I could and walked when I needed. I finally realized there is no shame in walking. Many people were doing the same. Again, I kept in mind that I just needed to finish.

When I came to the three-mile mark, I had to make a choice. There was in fact a three-mile walk I could do or keep going to the five-mile finish. I came up on the literal fork in the road and chose the five-mile. I really wanted to finish five miles I decided. At that moment I realized I could do it!

I made it to the five-mile finish line with a smile on my face! Nothing feels better than accomplishing a goal that you set. Even though I had doubts up until race day and even in the beginning of the race, I kept going. Running is the perfect metaphor for my weight loss journey: do your best at your own pace and you can work through your doubts and fears. I never thought something as simple as running would give me such hope, joy, and confidence.

Another Thanksgiving Day run is done and the turkey headband is back in storage. My running shoes are not. I am already signed up for another run! This one is a 5K with my son in January. Am I worried about keeping up with my naturally athletic son? Yes, I am, but you know what I say to that…all I need to do is finish. Wish me luck as I keep running Down the Scale…