Friday, March 8, 2013

Where it all started...

I was a sickly child. So sick that I couldn't keep up with my peers. In grade-school PE classes they made us do the presidential fitness tests, and I can remember trying to do them in 2nd or 3rd grade but by the time I was in 4th grade, I couldn't participate at all. I struggled with ongoing respiratory problems throughout my early childhood, but was only diagnosed with debilitating allergies and asthma when I was in 5th grade. The damage to my self-esteem was already done. I wasn't the most overweight child, but as the asthma and allergies got worse, and the dosages of oral steroids got higher and higher, I gained weight. I remember running the mile in 2nd or 3rd grade and having other children make fun of me. I was walking along at the end, huffing and puffing, and because it was taking so long, they just stopped the timer and scored me as an incomplete. That was the final time I attempted to do the run. Every year thereafter, I was excused.

That was around the same time I started going to a special summer camp designed for children with asthma. At this camp, I learned to manage my asthma, learn my triggers, and enjoy outside activities. But I also learned that things would be different for me.

I'd never keep up with the other kids. And I'd certainly never run.

It isn't like that was just an assumption that I made as a child. This was something I was told. I would go play with the other children, I would attempt to run around on the soccer field, I would trigger an asthma attack, and I would be with the medical staff for the next 5 hours where the pulmonary doctor (yes, there was a pulmonary doctor on staff at my summer camp) would tell me that I shouldn't be running, and could forget about ever really doing it again.

So I did. (Well that's not really true. I ran briefly in 2004 when I was at the law enforcement academy. But it was an awful experience and I was happy when it was over. So lets just say I was told to forget about running, and I did)

In my teens and 20s, I made some mistakes. I did things I shouldn't have. Of all stupid things, I smoked as a teenager and into my late 20s, quitting for significant periods of time, only to start again when life got really stressful. I don't need any lectures about how asthmatics shouldn't smoke. I already know it was a dumb thing to do, but for a long time, I was on a path of self-destruction. But that is neither here nor there... just know that I smoked for a long time, and it was dumb.

And I put on a lot of weight. For a period of time I was relatively thin. Then I met my husband and got happy and gained weight. Then I lost my job and got miserable and gained weight. Then I went back to school for my masters degree and it was like being a freshman in college again and gaining the freshman 15, but worse. Then I got too busy, and after getting my black belt in karate, I had to take a leave from martial arts to focus on school, and (surprise surprise) I gained weight. A Lot. Like 60+ lbs.

So my husband and I started Weight Watchers. And just like the commercials about weight loss, I lost a little weight, he lost a lot. And he got really active. He started spending a lot of time with our friend Shannon who was also trying to lose some weight, and they started running together. They started Couch to 5k. They invited me to come with them, but if there weren't monsters chasing me, I couldn't see a point. I vehemently refused.

And then they set a date to run a half marathon together with our friends Kevin, David, and Steve. And once again, it was something I couldn't do. They were all planning to run the Disney World Half in 2012 and I was jealous that they were doing a trip to Disney without me, so I found a way to include myself in the trip. I would go, and volunteer at the packet pickup, then on race day for the half marathon, and the following day for the full marathon... they would run. I would be there to support them and see them cross the finish line... I'd get a trip to Disney, and I'd earn complementary park passes. It seemed like a win/win.

Except it wasn't.

It was a great experience watching them all finish their half marathon (my husband's first!), but it was bitter sweet. I was incredibly proud of my friends and I was excited that they met their goal. But I was devastated at the same time. This monster green jealous streak spread through me faster than I could say supercalafragalisticexpialadocious, and I wanted to scream ANYTHING YOU CAN DO I CAN DO BETTER!
Me  wearing 5 layers of clothes, greeting my husband Ray, and friends Steve and Shannon at the finish

And about 20 minutes later, I came up with this (not-so) brilliant plan to do better than my husband, and plan to run the Goofy Challenge the next year.*

A half marathon is 13.1 miles. A full marathon is 26.2 miles. The Goofy Challenge is the Disney Marathon weekend challenge that combines a 13.1 Mile race on day 1 with a 26.2 Mile race on day 2 for a total of 39.3 miles.
Ray and Me after he finished his first half marathon

39.3 miles for the girl who:
  • was carrying 60+ extra lbs,
  • who couldn't walk to her car through a parking lot without getting winded,
  • who was told she would NEVER run.
  • Who didn't actually want to run.
Who the heck was I kidding?

Nobody will ever accuse me of not dreaming big. Little did i know that the first 0.1 mile will getcha.

*when the weekend was over and Ray and I returned to our normal lives, I reassessed and decided that perhaps pulling off a Goofy Challenge in 365 days was a bit far fetched. But perhaps I could pull off a half marathon in that time period. But first, I would need to get my butt off the couch.


  1. I am glad you are sharing your journey with others. Keep up the hard work and good luck with the Goofy (is a great challenge!)

    1. Thanks Damaris,
      I am not sure Goofy is in the works for anytime soon... at least I can tell when I have a goal that might be a bit unrealistic. But maybe at some point I can pull an ultra off.

  2. Woot. Congratz on running. It's interesting how we tend to reflect back on our childhood experiences when we reach a turning point in our life. So glad you decided to take up the running challenge. I just found out about your blogg and will definitely keep reading. :) Keep up the good work Amy :P