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yes, i did it. i completed my first half-marathon this past sunday. [note: 2013 new year’s resolution goal…check!] for those of you unfamiliar with this addictive world of running, a marathon is an ungodly 26.2 miles, with a half-marathon being, well half that: 13.1. this fact alone just irks me. why call it a half? it belittles my very accomplishment. like, well i’m not quite as good because i just did half. not cool. i mean shorter triathlons they call “sprint tris”. i am therefore proclaiming that a half-marathon should be renamed so as to restore some bit of dignity to those of us that still wake up at the crack of dawn to run our little hearts out for thirteen miles. thirteen-point-one to be exact. don’t forget that point one. that lil’ sucker might be the hardest of the entire race.
so here are my mile-by-mile musings of my still-to-be-renamed-shorter-than-a-marathon-but-still-a-big-deal race:
on your marks: the energy is infectious at the starting line, especially with my young whipper-snapper of a boyfriend who i swear wakes up with a smile slapped on his face every single day. i only say this in envy as i am so not a morning person. but this particular morning i was chipper, regretting my inability to fall or stay asleep, but excited nonetheless. today i wasn’t running for time (okay, i’m still competitive): i was running for momma. the gun fires: we’re off!
mile 1: ego check
wow, my heel hurts. oh and my hamstring. i really should have slept more. why does my heel hurt? my heel has never hurt! oh great. ok body: don’t fail me now. just go numb – you’ve got a ways to go. and why are people passing me? like the dude that is wearing converse and the chick with the pink tu-tu is passing me. pace yourself, ang, don’t worry about anyone else around you. at 7:55 pace you need to keep your ego in check and focus on your race.
mile 2: dear lord
my sweet boyfriend (kevin) breaks into prayer: thankfully we both keep our eyes open. um, dear God please help us make it through this race. i mean, we’re solid…we got this, but it’s never a bad idea to have J-man on your side for good measure.
mile 3: slow your roll
hey, kevbo, you’re flying at 7:30 and i know it stinks royally to have the dudes passing us but trust me: we gotta pace ourselves! at least we have a view of the ocean. talk to me: let’s distract each other because we have a ways to go. and honey, slow down.
mile 4: we got this
seriously, we’re solid…way outrunning the 1:50 pacers behind us and already left the 2:00 hour pacers in the dust at the finish line. ha!
mile 5: and away they go
the 1:50 pacers, that is. bye-bye. but we’re on your tail. and what’s with the pacers being sponsored by “snail’s pace”. way to boost my self-esteem when the snails are passing me by!
mile 6: c’mon baby
you got this! kev hits his wall so we slow to a walk through the water station for a (very) quick pit stop as he rips off his shirt to get his second wind, and away we go. i was so NOT complaining. *whistle*
mile 7: *smack*
that’s the sound of me hitting my wall. luckily kev had recovered from his and i wish i could’ve ripped my shirt off, but that’s just not very lady like. instead i make a quick detour to the lovely port-a-potty en route, cursing that i’d drank too much gatorade somewhere along the way.
mile 8: strategy sets in
when physical energy starts to wane, mental mapping takes over: we chart out our strategy to get through the next 5 miles. “pace it baby”. i think i said that about ten times and i promise you that is no technical running term. let’s just keep miles 8-11 at a 9:00 pace, nice and easy, and then we’ll kill the last 2 miles. okay?
mile 9: nice and easy?
there are times a 9:00 pace is nice and easy – and this is not one of them. slowing down to 9:30 at times, we’re struggling to just keep pushing through but luckily we have some down hills to our advantage. free fall your legs…enjoy the pace. see that hill ahead? enjoy the the jaunt downhill while it lasts…pain is right up ahead. hmm, metaphor for life, perhaps?
mile 10: holy hill.
while i dominate hills for some reason, i still hate them with a passion. i think it’s the fighter in me. i see a hill, tuck my head down, and lean into it. you’re so not going to conquer me. and off i go, with a pace of about 8:30 up the longest hill known to man (okay only about 3/4 mile). keep going girl, you got this…don’t stop til you get to the top.
mile 11: help me!
post-hill with only 2 miles to go, my theory on man-handling the hill seems to have turned around and kicked my butt. chest pounding, side-stitches, and a little dizzy: i can’t go anymore. “help me” i cried out to kevin a few times, not knowing what exactly i wanted him to do for me, but i cried out nonetheless. c’mon babe…we’re almost there, he would coach me as i would slow to a trot….i’d pull ahead and then i would look back and he was slowing to a walk right behind me. we yo-yo’d our encouragement just to get through, pushing each other that we only had 2 miles to go!
mile 12: running angel
shuffling my feet and turning the corner with just a mile to go, the end was in sight but my body was not having it. and about then i hear kevin yell out: “julz!” my dear sweet friend had ran the 5k earlier that morning, finished, and ran backward on the half-marathon route to come find us and run us in. maybe i was a bit delusional, but i swear i had visions of little white wings and a halo with nikes on. you’re right on pace – “you look strong…you guys can do this” she cheered and all i heard was “whah-whah whah-whah, whah-whah whah-whah”. it was a blur. the only thing that kept me running was knowing that she’d come for me and i didn’t want to let her down. “go ahead kevin” she yelled at him (later he told me, he was just fine at the pace he was but he had to speed up with her yelling that). he sped up, the little speed-demon, and she whispered to me: “don’t let him lose you!”
mile 13: all heart
we turned the corner with the finish line in sight and julz gave me a running push: go get it girl! and off i went. numb legs, but full heart, knowing that i could do this. knowing that i wanted to finish with kev, he was about 50 feet in front of me and somehow i dug deep, put my little noodle legs in gear, and ran my tail off.
point 1: for momma
wanting to cry and shout all at the same time, i was right on his tail: “babe!” he turned, and about 20 feet before the finish line we sprinted across the finish line for an emotionally exhausting finish. our goal was to finish in under 2 hours and our four tuckered out legs crossed that finish line at 1:57:04 with an average pace of 8:37 which even impressed us.
we didn’t do this to beat anyone (although we’re highly competitive). we didn’t run it to get in shape for summer (however that’s a nice byproduct). we ran this one: for momma.
i know you’re proud momma: look at your little girl go. and i promise i’ll get a pedicure to pamper my little tired feet. red toes, just for you momma.
to say that writing this blog post is tough is quite an understatement. it was just over 2 months ago that i was HEARTbroken to learn that my sweet momma had been diagnosed with leukemia. february 10th to be exact. and a very quick 18 days later she went to be with Jesus. i had all the faith in the world that if anyone could kick cancer’s butt, it was my stubborn, healthy mom. turns out she had a very rare, fast-acting form of cancer, FLT3 which is a mutant of AML. maybe some day i can share more, but it’s still so fresh. i’ve went from full of peace and joy that she’s not in pain to anger and sadness that my best friend is now gone. and somewhere in between those two ranges of emotions is numbness: where i spend most my days. and i don’t share my story about my mom for pity. or for sympathy even. i share it to be real.
see i haven’t been in the mood to blog about getting fit for summer. or to ramble on for pages about losing those last five pounds. because to me, that hasn’t been my reality. my new reality is learning to live my life without my mom who i talked to every single day…taking care of my family as best i can from 1700 miles away…getting out of bed on days when i don’t feel like it…sorting through emotions that creep in and out of my mind that leave me feeling exhausted…trying to understand why i’m almost giddy happy on some days and not feeling guilty….imagining my future without my mother when i still feel like i need her. that is my reality. and next to probably the most amazing friends and family and a very merciful God, the only thing that’s gotten me through is doing what i do best: take action.
so here’s a weird coincidence that i just now realized: the very day i signed up for and blogged about committing to my first half-marathonwas the very same day i found out about my mom: february 10th. like, i hit publish in wordpress right before i got in my car to head to the gym, called mom and dad… and got the news. and now, 12 weeks later i sit here the night before reflecting on what has transpired. only 2 weeks into my training program, i dropped everything to go back to be with mom, then in less than 24 hours of my arriving she was gone. the next 4 weeks were a blur spent in colorado with my family with the last thing on my mind being running or training. a few therapeutic runs here and there, but training, not exactly. upon returning to some semblance of life in california i found running to be the very outlet i needed to process the pain, deal with the depression, and connect with God and my mom. at first the running was more out of distraction and honestly a fear that if i didn’t train for the half-marathon i’d already committed to, i would either not be able to finish, or die trying. and in the process i found healing in those morning runs all by myself; joy in the sense of accomplishment with each long run conquered. only 6 weeks consistent training under my mizunos, i shall lace up my sneakers tomorrow at 6:15am not to win…not to prove anything…but to run with all my heart for my mom.
i love you momma…your girl wants to make you proud.
determination will get you far in the gym, but nutrition is the foundation to training success. while breakfast steals the spotlight as the “most important meal of the day” (which, yes, it is) – what you put in your body right before those killer workouts is arguably even more important when setting out to reach your fitness goals. having the right amount of protein + carbs before your workouts will not only help you go longer and be stronger, but will also help your body recover and prep for your next gym session. the tough part: knowing what to eat + when to eat it in order to fuel your body to crush your workout!
you’re in luck: we’ve got the details on what to consume, when to fuel up, and why!
click here to head over to EBOOST to learn all there is to know about pre-workout fueling. then check out our facebook challenge for the chance to win!
p.s. my guest blog post may contain proper capitalization… prepare yourself. :-)
it seems like there’s a “day” out there for everything. like, did you know there’s a national organizer’s day (yes, ocd-ers unite) and a national lowercase day (holla!)? and oh, by the way, yours truly happens to be born on national stick-to-your-resolutions day. ironic? i think not. so, i took it upon myself 3 years ago to create national BLOG YOUR HEART OUT DAY in an effort to help spREaD the word about heart disease. someday, hallmark will recognize this holiday. until then i have joined forces with the American Heart Association and Go Red For Women, as well as our 4 fab featured bloggers to rally bloggers around the WORLD to blog to their heart’s desire on this one day.
here’s a fact: heart disease is the #1 killer of women. and fact: nearly 90% of fitlosophy’s customers are women. hence, it’s a cause near + dear to our hearts. do you dabble in blogging or do it for a living? blog already. have friends who blog? tell them to join – everybody’s doing it. then, hop on twitter and rally anybody and everybody to join us for a tweetchat with GoRedForWomen and AHA at 11am PST TODAY (02/22) to #GORED. there will be giveaways, sharing of stats + facts, polls…did i already mention giveaways? look for #BYHO2013.
i could ramble on (which i usually do) but i received an email today that warmed my heart. what was meant to be a heartfelt email to us about her love of fitbook, opened my eyes to the seriousness of heart disease. read on to see how one of our very own fitbookers was affected and the actions she took to change her life. be inspired.
“This email has been a long time coming. I wanted to share my story and let you know that fitbook has honestly changed my life. I’ve been with you since day 1, when the very first fitbook was released and I’ve gone through many, many fitbooks! My brother passed away at 30 years old from a heart attack that was shown to be correlated with his high-fat, high-sugar diet and sedentary lifestyle. He had the heart of 70 year old. Before he died, he took me aside and said I had to change my lifestyle or I would end up like him. I was determined to make a change.
I picked up a fitbook on a whim while at Target and little did I know how life-changing it would be! Keeping a fitbook journal of my lifestyle was transformative. It kept me accountable. It revealed my habits and behaviors. It made my goals more realistic. It helped me see what worked and didn’t work. Because of my new lifestyle, I am much healthier– physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually.
I lost my house in a recent fire and though this house fire was devastating to my entire life, the healthy emotional and mental gains that fitbook helped me achieve has given me the strength and positivity to get through this dire time. You’ve gained a fitbook customer for a lifetime.
You, fitbook, and the fitbook team are truly a blessing. Fitbook has been a tool that has helped empower me to become the healthiest person I can be and I am truly, truly thankful for that. I am much more in control of my life now and I know my brother is smiling down on me each day. Just wanted to share my story. Keep up the great work, fitbook!”
thank YOU vanessa for sharing your story…warming my heart…but more importantly inspiring others to make a REAL change in the fight against heart disease.
bless your heart.
p.s. wanna know how YOU can make a difference? click the BYHO badge on this page to learn more. now, go BLOG your little HEARTS OUT!
i’m supposed to be BLOGGING MY HEART OUT right now to spread awareness around heart disease. and i can’t. not right now. (but i will) right now my lil’ heart hurts because of another nasty disease. heart disease may be the #1 killer of women, above all cancers combined, but cancer has hit way too close to home and right now has consumed my focus. broken my heart.
on my way to the gym monday night i called my momma to check in on her. and i knew immediately that something was very wrong. i pulled my car over and sobbed as she and dad told me that she had just been diagnosed with leukemia.
my mom. cancer. i have felt pain in my life and nothing could compare to hearing that heartbreaking news – it terrified me to my core. and still does. she is my best friend. how can this be happening? it shook me. something that always seemed sad but so foreign to me had just i
nvaded my life in a whole new way. being 1700 miles away, i felt so helpless and panicky, anxious and alone. and through the outpouring of support and endless stories of survival, the only thing that calms me is hearing her sweet voice and praying over her. she’s such a trooper. with sense of humor well in tact and still her same stubborn self, this whole experience has put life in perspective in one quick moment. it has deepened my faith and walk with God and has already strengthened our family. see i don’t think God did this, but i know He has the power to heal her and use this for good. and so i shall try to share parts of my momma’s story in hopes that it can help others. and just in this short time, here’s what i’m learning through all of this.
what really matters
calling my dear friend marcia for support, i reached out to her because she knows cancer all too well. overcoming ovarian cancer at a young age, she went on to create mylifeline.org, which is a free resource for cancer patients and caregivers. through the tears, i had to laugh as she told me that: “people who’s biggest problem in life is those last five pounds really have it good.” and that hit home. while being healthy is important, in one instant it put everything and everyone in my life in perspective. i get cranky when i miss a workout or when my pants get a tad bit snug. i stress about my business and gripe about traffic. it clicked for me that nothing really matters in this life except our loved ones who are here today and could be gone tomorrow. what would it look like to live a life around what truly matters?
RED tip: love your family? then be there for them. because all they really want and need is you. heart disease IS the #1 killer of women so if you don’t make the choice to get healthy for yourself, do it for them. trust me. all i want is my momma healthy and well. instead of dreading workouts, fit in 3 30-minute walks per week with a loved one and you lower your risk of heart disease by 30%. do it for the one’s you love.
God bless my momma, all my life she’s been a worrier. a class stress case, and she knows it. not one to ever give up control, i am a perfect example that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. but now, she (and we) are faced with something that leaves her no option. and it’s a beautiful thing. the woman who always has everything under control has gracefully given it to God. we don’t know why she got this nasty disease – she’s very healthy for the most part. but if i had to guess the one thing that could’ve done it – it would be stress. and what was my response to this very dire news? like momma, like daughter, i panicked. anxiety set in. and then the same woman who i learned that response from was the one to calm me. told me to give it to God. and pray. it’s not in our control.
RED tip: relax. stress is the leading cause of so many diseases, including cancers and heart disease, because it weakens your bodies immune system through elevated cortisol levels. it stressed me out (ha!) to learn that you have a 40% higher risk of having a heart attack just by having a high stress job. you may not be able to control your work or every stressful situation you’re facing, but you can control your response to it. personally, the primary reason i workout is to handle stress. my latest find: yoga. studies show that people who regularly practice yoga have significantly lower blood pressure which is a key indicator of heart disease.
listen to your body – and act (quickly)
only time will tell how soon we caught the cancer, but luckily mom went to the hospital fairly quickly. she went in thinking she had a serious bout of the flu. i wish. she is high energy. like she can out-shop me any day of the week. she doesn’t miss a day of work. she’s for the most part a very healthy and beautiful 50-ish (i’m not outin’ ya ma!) woman. but for about a week she had extremely low energy, was really nauseous, and after powering through a few days at work, she finally called in sick. by the time the weekend rolled around, dad took her to the hospital. with stubbornness running rampant in our genes, luckily she knew her body well enough and responded.
RED tip: know your body and know the signs. dizzy, shortness of breath, nausea, chest pain, heart palpitations – all signs of heart disease. but less than 1/3 of women feel chest pain as strong as men do which is why twice as many women die from heart disease. so i’m all for being a strong woman, but don’t be stupidly stubborn. get to a doctor quick and you have a 90% chance of surviving a heart attack.
get healthy – for health’s sake
she is taking chemo like a champ. when she checked into the hospital her white blood cell count was up around 300,000. i learned that most leukemia patients go in around 100,000, hence the team of doctors working 24-7 to get her blood count down. after the first day of chemo they got her down to 100,000…then 60,000…down to 9000…and now, she’s at 3000 (thank God). apparently her liver is holding up to the treatments beautifully, which can be a concern with chemo. i’m no doctor but my guess as to why she’s doing so well is because she’s overall a darn good picture of health. she’s always on the go (you can’t get that woman to sit down!)…she’s at a healthy body weight (even though she gripes about her thighs)…she gets regular check-ups…she doesn’t smoke and i don’t think she even had a glass of wine until she was well into her forties (at my coercing). she jokingly told the nurse not to leave any marks on her when he was taking the bone marrow sample; she didn’t want him to ruin her career as a bikini model! funny, yes. but isn’t that so true? we worry about the physical part of being healthy – not so much the health part of being healthy.
RED tip: you may want to lose 5 or 50lbs because you want to fit in your jeans, and what ever it takes to motivate you, so be it. but aside from losing your muffin top, you’ll be gaining your health. and that’s priceless. did you know that carrying extra belly fat increases your risk of dying from heart disease by 3 times? and stop smoking already – you increase the risk by 2-4 times.
whether it’s cancer or heart disease, the truth is that they are both serious. they both take lives. cancer is the second leading cause of death, second only to heart disease which kills more than 800,000 americans every year with more than half of those being women. all i can do for my momma is love her…pray for her…and give it to God. and all i can do for heart disease is my (small) little part in helping to spread the word with BLOG YOUR HEART OUT. if i’ve learned anything through this it’s that life is precious and i’m choosing to make some sort of difference. big or small.
RED tip: so join me, won’t you? BLOG YOUR HEART OUT this friday- just blog about heart disease. learn how easy it can be to do one little thing that could make a BIG difference.
and my momma? she’s gonna be just fine. i’m learning that all i can do is trust God through this. lift her up in prayer every moment of the day and have amazing FAITH that she is His little girl – He’s got this. between God and mom’s spunky, stubborn self, Cancer doesn’t know who it’s messin’ with!
with all my HEART,
i did it. in true angela-style, i am an absolute procrastinator: all signed up with 12 weeks (yes, one fitbook) to train. and not one day more. nonetheless i signed up for my (very first) orange county half-marathon. my love of running goes way back to when i was in high school and started going on long runs on the back roads in the country. it was my escape. whether it was a scorching hot summer day or a windy misty morning, i craved hitting the ditch-bank behind my house and scampering for miles, hearing nothing but my feet pound the dirt. and while i somehow loved the isolation, i also adored my long runs with my dad who would hop on his bike to keep me company and ride alongside slowly. i’ll never forget: he got me my first subscription to runner’s world magazine and that was the beginning of my love affair. one that would continue throughout high school, into college, and well into my adult years. and then almost two years ago (wow how time flies), yours truly gracefully broke her tailbone – in two places. [note: the author does not wish to revisit how this injury occured to avoid any further humiliation, so if you wish to know, you must read “falling flat on your a**: it happens”] that not only quickly ended my running, but put my entire heiny on hiatus for a good year. and even now i have days where it might hurt, but i’m officially declaring myself healed and in celebration of that i’m doing what i’ve always wanted to do for years. run a half.
and here’s my why: it’s 3-fold.
i mean frankly, i’m just proud of myself for signing up: it was one of my 2013 #iamMORE goals. i’ve had the browser open to the registration page for 4 weeks. and i finally clicked, paid, and it’s on. no turning back. so exactly 12 weeks from now, on cinco de mayo, i’ll be a runnin’ son-of-a-gun. i may be limpin’ across the finish line, but i’ll be smiling (and perhaps sipping a skinny margarita) to celebrate my accomplishment!