Taking the First Step….Literally

My typical modus operandi when I try to correct the wrong of letting myself get heavy again is to start with the food and not the exercise.  I’ve always thought that would be easier. If I eat right for a couple of weeks, I can’t help but see the scales go down a few pounds, thinking I’ve gotten too big to effectively do any exercise. And if I lose a few pounds first, THEN I can incorporate exercise when I hit a plateau. For some reason, this time was different. CDR Logo

I have known for months that I was out of control.  I have a full length mirror. I knew what I looked like.  But I just kept shoveling food in my mouth.  I thought if I started walking again it wouldn’t help me lose weight, but maybe it would help me not gain any more weight.  See, these are the kind of things that you justify in your mind when you are in this harmful and constant state of denial.   That being said, back in late Spring I decided I was going to do the Charleston Distance Run on Labor Day weekend.  It is a 15 mile race…with hills! I did this race in 2015 and killed it, as a walker not a runner.  But that was also 50 lbs ago.  In my mind, I had to have a goal or I wouldn’t be committed enough to make it happen. And the goal had to be something I would have to really work for, not something I knew I could accomplish without trying, like walking a 5k.  Signing up for the race would force me to get in shape and be ready in 5 months.  Seems like a long time, but when you start so far behind the starting line, you need as much time as you can get.  As usual I started out very enthusiastically.  And so the first steps were taken.

With my friend Jennifer at my side to encourage me and train with me, after a month or so my enthusiasm waned as it often does.  But Jennifer was still there to push me and train with me.  And Labor Day still seemed so far away, plenty of time to work up to where I needed to be. Just when I thought I had it under control, I remembered….HILLS!  I hadn’t done any training on hills and time was quickly running out.  I decided to look at the race website and see what the time limit was.  It was a 4 hour time limit, which equals a 16:00 mile. In my heyday, hills or no hills I could do a 16:00 minute mile with my eyes closed. In fact, I would have been completely disappointed if my time wasn’t under 15:00 with the hills.  But, times change and I just didn’t think I could sustain that speed for 15 miles plus the hills. Granted, you can still finish the race even after the time limit.  However, from a mental standpoint I never want to finish a race after the allotted time.  It just makes you feel like you failed in some ways, as opposed to feeling like you just successfully completed a 15 mile race.  Now I had to decide, do I want to regroup or do I want to bail? In the past, when I’m in this state of mind, I would have bailed.  This time I chose to regroup.  Turns out there is a relay for the 15 mile race- 3 mile flat leg, 5 mile hills leg and finishes with a 7 mile flat leg.  I just needed to come up with 2 teammates. My mind goes into game plan mode. I knew I wanted to do the 7 mile leg because I am all about the distance, not the hills.  I knew Jennifer would do a leg.  She loves hills because she burns more calories that way. When I mention it to her, she agrees immediately.  Who will round out the team with the 3 mile leg?  Who else to be by my side besides my “twin”, aka my sister. I wasn’t sure if she would be as enthusiastic because she had also become pretty sedentary.  But I asked and she said “I’m in!”  The team has now been formed and we need a name. That one is obvious- Team Walk Fiercely, of course!CDR Donna action

Even after having the team in place, I had conflicting feelings.  On the one hand, I didn’t quit.  I found a way to make it work.  But on the other hand I was still upset with myself for not working harder to accomplish the original goal and one I had completed before.  I believe this is a normal phenomenon that most people would feel.  I also believe it is this same reaction that falls under “don’t be so hard on yourself”.  And I agree.  Why do we beat ourselves up about these things?  It is still a step, literally, in the right direction.  So embrace it, be proud of it and make it the best 7 mile flat race you’ve done.

I had no worries Jennifer would kill her 5 miles.  She is a fierce competitor and when she sets her mind to it, she just does it.  It’s one of the things I admire about her most.  I have some of that drive in me. But it comes and goes. Both my sister and I were worried about our times.  We said we wanted to keep it under a 15:00 mile.  And we didn’t want to let Jennifer down.  She had sacrificed a day of her holiday weekend that she could have been with her family camping just to do this for me.  We trained up until race day, with lots of hopes and prayers that we would perform well.

CDR Jen actionThe day came. The forecast called for lots of rain.  But that morning was not too hot, cooling overcast and no rain- perfect conditions for a race. Donna started out first as Jennifer and I waited for her on the Southside Bridge.  When we saw her coming up the bridge, her arms were pumping, her legs were moving in rhythm and she was determined to get to the hand-off.  Jennifer takes off. In less than an hour she is coming down Louden Heights to hand off to me for the final leg. I take off and just pray I can keep my pace the whole time.  Most people who do a race, whether they run or walk, change their speed throughout.  But I tend to start at one speed and stay there. I followed the route through downtown, actually passing some people, taking in the sites of our beautiful city and keeping my eye on the prize.

I told my sister I would probably get to the finish around 11:00.  Well, she missed it.  Why?  Because I finished much earlier than I thought!!  As I crossed the finish line I look at the clock.  The unofficial time says 3:17:37.  The official time was 3:17:27!  That might not sound like a great time to you.  But when I compared that to my time when I did it all myself, we actually beat it by 7 seconds. Woo Hoo!!  The best we could tell with our split times, my sister had an average of about 14:45, Jennifer’s was under 11:00 and mine was about 13:50.  We ALL performed better than we thought we would.  Such a proud moment for us!!

CDR Sis and I finish lineI think the lesson to be learned here is that the idiom of “just put one foot in front of the other” holds true.  Without taking that first step, you will never get to the finish line.

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2 Responses to Taking the First Step….Literally

  1. Jeff Baird says:

    Very inspirational Krista. You are starting to get me motivated to start getting myself in better shape.

  2. Christa says:

    Thanks Jeff. Like I said, just take the first step. The rest will follow.

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