Decisions are hard

It would be so much easier to let someone else make decisions for me. Decisions are hard. Sometimes I have deep heart-to-hearts with myself. Sometimes I talk things out with a friend. I always pray for guidance. But no matter how you go about it, actually pulling the trigger on a decision is scary!

And so, I sit here at a cross roads.

Do I do it? Do I give up on it all together? Do I put it off?

And after a lot of soul searching, praying and talking things out with a close friend, I’ve made a decision. I’ve said it out loud and I’m surprisingly at peace with my decision.

And yet, I’m still hesitating pulling the trigger and making it public to family, friends and the Internets.

Here goes.

I have decided not to do the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon this year.

I’m just not where I want to be physically, to even consider doing a marathon in less than 10 months. It would be different if I wasn’t 80lbs overweight. It would be different if I wasn’t just now building myself back up to running a 5k distance without stopping to walk. It would be different if I wasn’t recovering from a nasty bout with plantar fasciitis and dealing with a pesky knee that decided to start acting up this week. It would be different if I had been injury-free for the past year and ran the two half-marathons and countless 5ks I registered for.

The deck has been stacked against me. And I’ve got to play with the hand I’ve been dealt.

There is a very good chance that when I do run Lakefront, that it will be the only marathon I ever do. I don’t want to half-ass it. I want to run the hell out of that race. I don’t want to be satisfied with finishing before they close the course. I want to have a time goal and I want to beat it. I want to be smart. I want to train smart so I can run smart.

So I’m giving myself another year. Honestly, the thought of doing Lakefront was starting to give me stomach problems and panic attacks. If I was closer to my goal weight, I wouldn’t be doing this. I know that even at my current size, if I followed a training plan, I could do the race. I just don’t think it would be a good experience. The toll running that far during training would take on my body – my knees, ankles and feet especially – could possibly affect future fitness goals. I need to drop more weight before I should train for something as big as a marathon.

So, 2011 will be a year focused on having fun, working hard and losing weight. Oh, and there’ll be a couple of half marathons and maybe an extreme/adventure race thrown in there.

And, as long as there isn’t an apocalypse, I’ll run the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon in 2012.

Hiding the pain… with wine and pizza

I don’t really know how to start writing this post. It’s been in the works in my mind for about two months. I’ve just been too afraid to start typing, mostly because I knew it would force me to let go of the hurt, the frustration, and the negative feelings that have been running through my head this fall. I wasn’t ready to let go. I wasn’t ready to stop eating my feelings (I’m kind of an expert). I wasn’t ready to admit I failed.

But here goes.

I’ve failed.

I’ve gained weight back. Not all of it… and not enough for people to notice (I’m still hearing the “hey you lost weight girl!” comments…”) But I know. I know I’ve gained back pounds I fought so hard to lose. Call it self sabotage… but when I realized that running the Las Vegas Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon was slipping farther and farther out of reach, I began to retreat. I went to a dark place deep inside. I ate horribly (well it sure tasted good). I rarely worked out. I considered turning to alcohol and nicotine. Luckily, I only hit the bottle in moderation – except for Vegas weekend, but more on that later.

Family, friends, coworkers knew what was happening, but they didn’t know just how hard I was taking it. To be fair to them, I hid it well. I hid the hurt. I hid the anxiety. I hid the frustration. Ok, I didn’t hide it all, but I hid the severity of it. When friends would talk about a training run or about their excitement for the race, I put on a brave face, smiled and acted happy for them.

But inside, part of me was dying. Part of me hated that it came easy to them. Part of me wanted to scream, “PLEASE SHUT UP. I CAN’T TAKE THIS ANYMORE.” But I didn’t. Sure, I would make snide comments here or there… but I never wanted to take away the joy from my friends. So I hid the pain deep down inside…along with a few pizzas.

It didn’t help that I was a mentor for Team Challenge (which was in itself, pure joy). I would get my butt up for early practices… only to see the team head out for their runs. I would return home, feeling angry, jealous and frustrated.

Here is the starting line of the RNR Las Vegas, as seen from my hotel room. I heard the gun go off and the crowd of 30k runners cheer with excitement. It was then that I finally let go of the pain. I sobbed in my hotel room for a good 15-20 minutes. And then, something clicked.  It was time to stop the pity party, put on my big girl pants (pun intended) and cheer my heart out for my teammates. I’m not gonna lie, I drank my feelings that day… but I also drank them away.

A few days later I officially sent off the bad mojo and made the decision to stop sabotaging myself. And while I’m not quite there yet, I’m actively going in the right direction. I’m committed to meet my fitness goals for 2011.

I fell victim to my pain. Instead of fighting it, I let it take over. It consumed every fiber of my being. And while I haven’t fully expelled it from my body, I have released it.

Begone bad mojo.

Begone bad behavior.

Begone bad thoughts.

Begone.

Sniffles

Dear Zappos,

Please kindly fuck off.

Thanks,

Amy

These e-mails are getting more and more depressing.

DNS for Vegas

Well it’s official. I will be a DNS (did not start) for the race in Las Vegas Dec. 5. I’ve had a feeling this was coming but now I know for sure.

My plantar fasciitis is all sorts of jacked up and in an effort to avoid cortisone shots and other extreme measures, I have to take some time away from running. I’m also going to be getting custom fit orthotic inserts for my shoes.The molds were made this morning at the doctor. I’m not excited about dropping $200 on two little pieces of plastic, but I’m told they will last my entire life… and if it gets me running again, I’ll do it. Or I’ll go on a payment plan.

Time to focus on non-running activities until the ol’ foot is fixed.

And… to add insult to injury (literally)… Here’s the ol’ e-mail from RnR with race confirmation details:

Thanks to all who donated and supported me in this journey. I will still be travelling to Vegas with the team, I just won’t be running the race.

Trying to stay positive in a sea of setbacks

Knee. Ankle. Knee. Foot. Ankle. Foot. Shoulder. Foot. Knee. Foot. Foot. Rib. Foot.

I have had so many setbacks in my training and journey to health. It seems like each time I take one step forward, something sets me two steps back.

I have worked hard to not let this affect me but, to be honest, it tears me up. I’ve tried to put up a strong front. I’ve tried to be nonchalant about it all. I’ve had some moments of public disappointment about my injuries and setbacks. Mostly, I’ve tried to convince myself it was ok.

Truthfully, it’s been blow after blow after blow, both physically and mentally.

It’s draining to stay positive when all you want to do is ask God, “Why does this keep happening to me? Why do I keep having injuries? Why do I have to be so freaking cautious in my training? Why is it easy for everyone else to train without setbacks?”

I’ve tried to be strong. I’ve tried to set a good example for others who say they are inspired by me. I don’t want to let them down. I don’t want to let you down.

But it’s all a lie.

It sucks.

From knee problems and a sprained foot/ankle to plantar fasciitis and a subluxated rib, I’m sick of it. I’m sick of it all.

I am sick of being excited about an accomplishment, only to a short time later have to pull back.

I want to run. I want to run far. I want to run fast. I want to be the best. I want to compete. I want to race.

I don’t want to be the last to finish. In fact, I don’t want to be anywhere near the back of the pack.

But that’s where I am.

Why can’t I be happy with where I’m at? Why am I constantly comparing myself to others who’ve been at this so much longer than I have? Why can’t I be happy, knowing that I have completed a half marathon, instead of being disappointed I walked more than 10 miles of it?

Why does it kill me to know — that despite my hopes, my prayers, my careful and smart training post Napa and during training for Vegas — that there’s no way I will be able to run a full 13.1 miles in 11 weeks? That was the plan all along. Just finish the race in Napa. Then run the hell outta Vegas. I’m 11 weeks from the race and the furthest I’ve gone is 3.8 miles, and that was mostly walking. Yesterday I ran for a mile without walking, and while I’m so freaking happy about that, the accomplishment is clouded by the knowledge that I can’t keep that pace going for more than a mile.

I know I need to focus on the positive, but I’m tired of focusing on that. I need to vent. I need to cry.

I’m trying to be smart. I’m trying not to push myself too hard. I’m trying to listen to my body. I’m trying to listen to my trainer. I’m trying to listen to my coaches. I’m trying to be positive.

I’m trying.

Swimming and being comfortable in your own skin

You know, it makes me sad to think how much time I missed out on swimming these last four years. I bought a swimsuit 4 weeks ago and have gone swimming every single week since. I love swimming. I always have.

I could have been a lifeguard when I was in HS but didn’t want to sit out in the sun all day (gotta protect my gorgeous porcelain skin). Swimming was always one of my favorite summertime activities.

As I got older (and fatter) it became less and less exciting and more and more anxiety-causing to go swimming because I was so uncomfortable in my own skin.

Three years ago, I weighed 10-15 pounds less than I do now. Then, I wouldn’t be caught dead in the pool. Now I’m very comfortable in my swimsuit. Sure, I’m no SI swimsuit model, but I can wear a suit in public without rushing to wrap myself in a towel.

I guess you finally just say to yourself, “Get over it. If people are judging you because you’re fat and in a suit, they’re the ones with the problem. They can go screw themselves.”

So here it is world, me in a swimming suit.

Coincidentally, all of these photos involve me drinking copious amounts of alcohol. The day before my half marathon. Nice work.

PS. Screw you Sarah for looking so amazing in that itty bitty bikini right next to me.

There’s the margarita again. In the pool this time.

I swear, we didn’t have anything to drink.

Lessons I learned from my first endurance race


Last weekend, I completed my first half marathon. I wasn’t first, and I wasn’t last. My time was, well, twice that of some of my friends, but in the end it didn’t matter. I checked the ol’ half marathon off my bucket list. I also learned some valuable lessons throughout training and the race itself. Oh, and I got a kick-arse medal. Let’s not forget about the medal.

Before the race:

  1. Pee. Trust me on this.
  2. Drink lots of water all week long, especially the day before and morning of the race. This is why #1 is important.
  3. Don’t drink four margaritas 18 hours pre-race, even if you tell yourself it’s okay because you’re getting top-shelf margaritas on the rocks with extra lime and salt on the rim. Margarita salt is not an acceptable substitute for an electrolyte sports drink.
  4. Go to the race expo. Pick up your packet. Make some impulse purchases you will later regret because everyone else is buying that balance bracelet. Stare at your race bib. Smack yourself in the head for thinking you could actually do a half marathon.
  5. Follow a training plan. There are so many plans out there – find one that works for you and your schedule. Mine included 3 days/week of walking and/or running, 1-2 cross training or strength training days and 1 active recovery/yoga/pilates/easy walk day.
  6. Don’t be afraid to modify the plan. I suffered many setbacks due to knee problems and a sprained foot/ankle. I made adjustments (like biking or doing the elliptical instead of walking or running because they were low-impact). I had to cut one long “run” short because my foot hurt so bad. Continue reading “Lessons I learned from my first endurance race”

Race Report: Starting (and finishing) my first half marathon

“The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.”
– John Bingham

It started out like any normal Sunday. Well, any normal Sunday where you get up at 4 a.m. to get ready and catch a bus at 5 a.m. to your first half marathon. You know, the usual. My first half marathon experience was nothing short of amazing. God spoke to me through Freddy Mercury, I never stopped to use the bathroom, I ran about 3 miles, I kept smiling and joking throughout and got to see almost every single teammate along the way. I am so grateful for this experience.

Me and Coach Anne – the cool kids in the back of the bus.

Team Challenge Wisconsin met for one last team cheer before the walkers nervously boarded our fancy bus to Napa. I was a ball of nerves. Yes, I’m smiling in the photos above, but my stomach was in knots. What had I done? Did I really sign up for this? What the hell was I thinking? Who in their right mind – at 249 lbs – would do a half marathon? I mean, really…

Well, I guess I’m that crazy fool.

Shortly after we boarded the bus, Dave, one of my teammates, said to me, “You look nervous.” Duh. Of course I was nervous. I had been dealing with an upset stomach all week leading up to this moment. Continue reading “Race Report: Starting (and finishing) my first half marathon”

6 days til the big race

Can you believe the big race is just 6 days away? It all seems like a dream. Someone pinch me. I honestly never thought I would be doing this – training for a half marathon, raising $3800 for Crohn’s and Colitis research and flying to wine country for a race?

Insanity.

There’s nothing else I can think of – except insanity.

I would like to thank each and everyone of you for your love, support and financial donations. Without you, this would have NEVER happened. Your e-mails, phone calls, blog comments, tweets, Facebook comments, letters and encouragement have made this possible.

Together, we have raised $3800 for Crohn’s and Colitis research and programs – like sending a child with IBD to a special summer camp with staff trained to deal with these diseases. Together, we are helping CCFA fund cutting-edge research studies at major medical institutions. Together, we are helping find a cure for the diseases that have plagued my family for too long.

Since January, I have lost 25 pounds and 36 inches. I have pushed myself harder than I thought possible. The human body is amazing. And it’s not to say that my training was problem-free. I was plagued by knee problems and then a sprained foot (which I just so happened to roll my ankle yesterday afternoon while walking the dog). I’m down but I’m not out. I’m praying that a lot of rest, ice and ibuprofen will allow me to finish what I started more than 4 months ago.

I will have my cell phone with me during the race. You can watch my progress by logging on to http://www.twitter.com/amykant as I’ll be giving updates via Twitter throughout the race. The race starts at 6:30 a.m. PT. So for those of you in the Midwest, start praying around 8:30 ok? 🙂 Based on my pace, injuries and previous long run/walks, I have a goal of finishing in less than 4 hours. Perhaps there will be a miracle and I’ll finish sooner than that… but I doubt that will happen. My super-not-so-secret goal is to finish by 10:10-10:15 a.m., but honestly, I will be thrilled to cross the finish line on my own two feet (or crawling – just so long as I don’t get carried across the finish line, I’ll be ok). Expect lots of “oh crap this hurts” tweets from me on race day. Maybe I’ll include a photo or two. You can feel free to text/tweet me during the race, but I do not plan on responding to these messages until much later. I might be able to read your messages during the race, and your encouragement is most welcome!

Post race, I plan to visit the medical tent (or the hospital, whatever) or find a tub of ice to sit in. I will also start consuming copious amounts of wine at the post-race party. I will have to numb the pain somehow, right?

I will be writing the following names on my forearms as a reminder of who I’m running for:

  1. Grandma Irene
  2. Beta Epsilon Alumnae Chapter, Alpha Gamma Delta
  3. Alex (from Rachel)
  4. Katie F.
  5. Phillip V.
  6. Robin C.
  7. Uncle Will
  8. Andy K.
  9. Carol R.
  10. ViNeta Bombria (from Carrie)
  11. Scott H.
  12. Angie & Joe Sorge
  13. Aunt Janice
    The last .1 mile is for me. 😉

One more thing – would you be willing to respond to this with a word of encouragement/inspirational quote/funny anecdote? I want to read through these li’l notes on race day as I am bussed to the race (it’s a 30-45 min drive). I will need some encouragement and who better to help me out than my family/friends?

Thanks again for everything.

PS:  A special HI for reader Melinda whom I met this weekend when I volunteered at a water stop for Badgerland Striders. I don’t even know you but you’re awesome.

Easy walk with the dogs turned – oh crap I may have just effed everything up

My parents said they would drive down to the eastside so we could take the three dogs for a walk at Lake Shore State Park (one of my absolute FAVORITE places to run/walk). We drove down to the parking by the lighthouse and headed out along the water to the park. Not even a quarter mile in I lost my footing on the sidewalk/grass (sort of missed the sidewalk) and rolled my BAD ankle, scraped up my arm a bit, got grass stains on my pants, and bruised my ego.

My parents gasped. I sat there in shock, not knowing if I should cry, scream, swear or crawl back to the car.

I was so scared that I completely messed up my left foot/ankle. I’m pretty sure I rolled it. Which, you know, is really awesome 7 days before you’re traveling to wine country to complete your first half marathon ever.

I sat on the ground for a while. My dad and another guy who saw me fall offered to help me up but I turned them down. I didn’t want to move. I didn’t want to know if I had just taken myself out of training for the final week. I didn’t want to know if I would still be able to do this race.

Honestly, I think there was a part of me that wouldn’t have minded being side-lined from the race. I’m already at the point where I am not going to be anywhere near my initial time goal, due to knee problems early in training and then this whole sprained foot business.

I moved my ankle and it hurt, but wasn’t excruciating. It was important I pick myself up and keep going. I knew that if I retreated back to the car, I would have a huge psychological barrier next weekend at the race.

I stood up and took a step. I’ll be honest. It hurt. A lot.

But I kept going. As I walked, it hurt but I was able to do it without too much pain. My ankle/foot is definitely weakened now. Although, maybe whatever I did will have knocked things back into place. Who knows.

All I know is I am in a lot of pain right now, so I wrapped it up and iced it for 20 minutes. I’m going to do that every hour til bed and hopefully things will be better in the morning.

Otherwise, I might really be sidelined for Napa. And I don’t think I can handle another blow. Please say a li’l prayer for my left foot/ankle. I can’t not do this race.