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Welcome to Walk Fiercely!

My name is Christa Hamra and I am just an ordinary middle- aged woman living in West Virginia, the most unhealthy state in the country. I have titled my blog “Walk Fiercely” because I have come to use that as my mantra. I might not be an athelete…but I am determined! I’ve found that the only way for me to be successful in staying active and healthy is to continue setting new goals for myself. If you think you can’t do it, you CAN!


Latest Posts

The Bitch is Back!

Bitch is Back

If you’ve ever read my blog, you will know that I often referenced music.  As I resurrect my blog after more than a year, I felt it appropriate to give homage to Elton John in my title.

You may be asking why I decided to start writing Walk Fiercely again.  The answer is simple.  I had to do it for me.  I hope others will read it and get something out of it.  But the truth is I’ve let myself get so far off track that I need to do anything and everything to “get my groove back”. Stella has nothing on me! Every time I think about it I just can’t believe I let it happen.  Even as I would be eating enough for 3 people at each meal, I would be disgusted with myself and yet I just couldn’t stop.  It is a terrible feeling and wrecks you emotionally and mentally.  Now is the time to regain control over my health. That starts with getting back to what worked for me in the past. This blog is an essential part of that plan.

I started Walk Fiercely because I was excited about where I was with my health and fitness at the time.  It was a wonderful year of writing and sharing.  But it was hard to think of topics every week.  So I gave it up.  My last post was May 16, 2016.  Since then, I have had a huge setback in my goals.  Over the last 16 months I have faced many challenges, mostly emotional.  I tried not to use them as excuses.  I am responsible for what I put in my body and exercising regularly.  But everyone else kept saying “you’ve been through so much” and I started believing it. I would feed (pun intended) into that theory by adding with everything going on I just don’t have time to focus on me, eat well, workout, etc. Total crap!  It has always been a constant struggle for me to eat well and exercise.  At the slightest upset to my schedule, I would get off track and had to crash into something before I could get back on track. Every time, like most people’s stories I hear, I ended up heavier than I was before.  No more!  I can’t let this continue.

I’m not saying my challenges weren’t real.  To put it in perspective, over the last year and a half my sister (who is my soul mate and best friend) was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent treatments, my brother lost his job and was unemployed for 9 months, my mother fell ill with dementia, had some other problems and ultimately passed away, I had a dear friend pass away from a very rare case of bile duct cancer and I struggled with my own health issues and loss of taste/smell. I have to admit, that is a lot for someone to go through without any side effects.  Consciously I never thought I was reacting to all of that.  Realistically, I’m sure that was part of it.  The good news is my sister is cancer free and thriving, my brother has a job, we gave my mom the greatest send off to her final resting place and my health issues are being addressed.

feet on a bathroom scale - isolatedNow it is time to get real.  I would normally never reveal my weight to anyone, much less in a blog that is on several social media forums. But the point of the blog is to put it all out there, as honestly as possible, making it a cathartic experience.   Since March 2016, I have gone from 170 lbs (I was already on my way up) to today, weighing in at 224 lbs.  Holy cow that is hard for me to say!  I almost choke on the written words. This is the heaviest I’ve ever been in my entire life.  Every time I think about it I just can’t believe I let it get this out of control.  I ate when I was happy, sad, bored, depressed, socially and any other excuse I could find.  And “portion control” wasn’t even in my vocabulary.  I have been eating everything in sight. I was never full, carbs and sugar were my best friends.

But the disappointment and disgust I have in myself has finally surpassed my love of food and bad habits. So I am taking steps to get back to a good place.  Below are just a few of them and will be explored more in future blogs.

  • Seeing a counselor who specializes in living a healthy lifestyle
  • Made a vision board to remind me of my goals
  • Returned to the gym and started an exercise program
  • Starting a new nutrition plan
  • Changing my mindset to know that I deserve to be happy and healthy

I hope you will follow me through this new journey and see where it takes us. We are in this together.  As was before when I wrote the blog, I am always interested to hear your feedback, blog topic suggestions and own personal experiences.

Look for next week’s blog, How I got here. Believe me, it will be a whopper.  And sign up to receive the blog every week on the website.

Website: www.walkfiercely.com

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Thank You…and Goodnight

It is with a heavy heart that after 52 Walk Fiercely blogs I am taking a hiatus from writing.  I loved writing them and the support I’ve gotten from everyone, the people I’ve met, the friends I’ve made and I hope the humor and help I’ve given the readers.  But it is very hard to find relevant topics every week and the time to write about them. So I am taking a break to regroup and recharge.  I can’t say for how long.  There might be sporadic posts if the mood, or topic, strikes me.  Don’t rule me out completely. And if there is a topic you want me to write about, let me know.

Let me leave you with this thought.  Today on a local radio station (V100), they said based on a survey of West Virginians, 32% said they could run a marathon without training for it.  I call bullshit!  Having trained for marathons more than once, I can tell you it ain’t that easy.  Below are some statistics (source: statisticbrain.com and Runners World, Everyday Health).

Marathon Statistics
Percent of the U.S. population that has run a marathon 0.5 %
Record time for the fastest marathon ever run 2:03.59 hours
Total number of U.S. marathons held annually 570
Total number of people who finished a marathon annually 581,811
Average cost to run a marathon $67
Number of marathons that cost over $100 to enter 41
Average number of calories a woman burns during a marathon 2,880
Number of miles in a marathon 26.2 miles
Average number of miles ran per week during marathon training 40 miles

I’m thinking if only half a percent of the population has even run a marathon, then the ones who say they can do it without training are clearly ignorant to what is involved in such a task, both mentally and physically.  I am proud to include myself in that 0.5%.  Looking at the other statistics and how I stack up, I complete a marathon in about 3x the time it took for the fastest ever marathon. I am pretty sure I’ve paid more than $67 for most of my races, whether it was a half or a full. The calories burned sounds about spot on.  Although since my reward after a race is usually Tudor’s Biscuit World, I pretty much blow those calories shortly after the race.  I fall behind a little bit on the average number of miles per week.  I usually average about 30 miles a week. But for me, it gets the job done.

I’m throwing down this challenge.  To anyone who wants to do a marathon without training for it, join me in doing the Hatfield & McCoy Marathon in Williamson, WV on June 11th.  Gives you enough time to by some new shoes and get a “cute” new outfit for the race.  But not enough time to train and condition.  The first person to take me up on this challenge, I will pay your entry fee.  You think you’ve got what it takes, BRING IT! You can email me at christahamra@gmail.com or comment through the website.

Until we meet again, stay strong, stay active and always Walk Fierecly!

sleeping baby meme

 

Boston Strong!

boston_marathon_logo_smallLast week was the 120th Boston Marathon.  A race steeped in tradition and history, as well as adversity with the 2013 bombing.  It is one of the top marathons in the world, currently ranked #6.   Several members of the Tallman Track Club competed in the race, making Charleston, WV proud.  As a marathoner myself, and one who knows she will never get to Boston, I am fascinated by the experience. So I decided to do something a little differently this week, a Q&A with a few of the participants.  You’ve probably read about WK Munsey in previous posts as one of my mentors.  I have known Sarah Fletcher since college.  If you’re doing the math that’s about 25 years (ugh!).  Both of them have completed the Boston Marathon numerous times.  TW Moore is a member of the track club and competed in his first Boston Marathon this year. Getting his feedback as a first-timer was also intriguing to me.

Let’s meet our esteemed panel of fierce competitors.

WK Tutu memeWK is an avid runner, having started in 1983 so he could go up the 6 flights of steps at his elevator-less office without passing out. Since then he has completed 28 marathons! He has been involved with the Tallman Track Club in Charleston since 1986 and took over the leadership role around 2005. Asked how the club has changed over the year, he sites electronic technology as a game changer, making getting the word out to members and prospective members much easier through email, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

 

Sarah Fletche MemeSarah was a 400 and 800 meter runner in college, and a damn good one!  But running a marathon never crossed her mind until years later.  Her first marathon was in 2004, 10 years after graduating from Marshall Unversity. Since then she has completed a total of 7 marathons, 4 of which were Boston and the Marine Corp Marathon, #12 in the world.  She is definitely a “go big or go home” kinda girl. And in that spirit, she has also completed both traditional and off road triathlons, adventure racing and the WV mountain bike series.

 

TW memeTW was on the cross country and track teams in middle and high school, but didn’t get back into running until 2009 when he and his wife moved to Charleston and he decided to tackle the 15 mile Charleston Distance Run, a challenging race steeped in history in its own right. His first marathon was the Marshall Marathon in 2012.  Since then he has packed a punch completing a total of 6 in 4 years.  This being his first Boston, he notes that it was filled with emotions from both ends of the spectrum. But he wouldn’t trade the experience for anything in the world, with his family there to cheer him on.

 

Question: What has been your favorite race and why?

WK: The Boston Marathon.  The Boston race is one where everyone in the town takes ownership.  The organization, volunteers, spectators and the course itself all make it a standout race.  Plus you have to qualify for the privilege to run. A close second is the 15 mile Charleston Distance Run

Sarah: All-time favorite race would be the Ironman in Chattanooga (told you she was fierce) because the training was such a commitment but the accomplishment is unmatched. It is the longest Ironman at 144.6 miles where the standard is 140.6.  Favorite marathon would be Boston because of the fan support and volunteers.  Throughout the whole 26.2 someone is always cheering for you.

TW: The Chicago Marathon because the course was flat and fast and this race was my qualifying time for Boston.  Favorite all-time race is the Charleston Distance Run because it is a great showcase of our town and the history of the elite runners participating in the earlier years is pretty amazing.

Question: Tell me about your experience in this year’s Boston Marathon.

WK: The first thing is not to get too amped up. The crowds are incredible and if you have your name displayed on your bib get ready for the spectators to scream it the whole 26.2 miles. And if you are a 60 year old man rocking a tutu, you better be ready to own it!

Sarah: My favorite moment from this year’s race was when the female winner, Atsede Baysa, gave her trophy to Bobbi Gibb, the first woman to complete the Boston Marathon. This was the 50th anniversary for women.  Took them 70 years before women could run the race.

TW:  This being my first Boston Marathon as I made my way to my corral I went through a serious of emotions- excitement, anticipation, anxiety, nervousness, impatience, hunger and worry were just a few. I was happy with my overall race, but will be much better prepared if I attempt it again. Having “Heartbreak Hill” at mile 21 after 3 other hills in sequence just seems cruel.  A notable aspect of the race is the spectators. At 3:00 pm I had finished the race, made it back to my place and showered, I was standing in the kitchen and asked my wife what that noise was.  It was the crowd a block away still out cheering for the runners.  It was incredible!

2016 Boston Marathon medals. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

2016 Boston Marathon medals. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Question: If someone wanted to train for a marathon, what advice would you give them?

WK: Be consistent in your training. The body likes routine and in the last 3 weeks really hone in on your marathon goal pace.

Sarah: My advice would be to get fitted for correct shoes and replace them often. Start your training slow and gradually build your mileage to avoid injury.

Question: This one’s for TW. We all know the saying “How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice.”  So how do you get to the Boston Marathon?

TW: Practice, practice, practice! Practice on a consistent basis. If the practice becomes a habit, great things will follow.  Practice with people, especially people faster and more experienced than you. Faster runners push you outside your comfort zone. Experienced runners can give you advice and motivate you. I was much more comfortable before each marathon because I talked about the course strategy with runners who were more experienced than me. Practice alone.  Running with others is great.  But running is inherently an individual sport. You have to concentrate on your training and that requires a lot of focus on what you are asking from your body and how it responds.

Question: Finally, is there anything else you would like to add or advice you would like to give?

WK: Running has been an incredible gift.  And to enjoy running you don’t have to be the fastest, strongest or the most gifted, you just have to be willing to get out the door and go!

Sarah: Exercise on any level promotes good health.  So my advice is to get out and move! Quality of life improves with exercise.  Encourage exercise on any level and set the example.

TW: If you run, you are a runner.  Do not be intimidated by where another runner is in their development. We are all somewhere on the running continuum and we all have the same struggles and triumphs.

There is so much more wisdom that these three have shared with me.  And I could go on forever.  But I know I need to keep it a reasonable length.  I hope this has given you some insight into the dedication, commitment, joy and fun that running, walking, staying active and having goals can bring to your life.  If you want to know more about WK, Sarah or TW or have specific questions you would like to ask them, let me know and I will try to connect you.

Website: www.walkfiercely.com

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