Dear Emily

Well, the time has come, and I’m one sentence into this and already sobbing. You bitch.

I guess I just don’t know how to say goodbye to my best friend. I know, I know, there’s that bullshit line “It’s not goodbye, it’s see you later.” But it is a goodbye. It’s a goodbye to a woman I’ve known she she was a fetus. It’s goodbye to the baby I fed a bottle to while watching Sesame Street. It’s goodbye to the person who knows me better than anyone else in this world. It’s goodbye to the one person who can simultaneously piss me off one second and make me hug her the next. It’s goodbye to my sister, my roommate, my best friend. Things will never be the same again. We’re growing up. Well, at least you are. I’m not quite ready for that just yet.

We’ve been through so many ups and downs over the years. We played dolls, Barbies and made crafty messes around the house. You might not remember this, but one time I threw a book you wanted to look at across our bedroom. It hit you in the face and you had a nose bleed. Oops.

You used to be that bratty little sister who always copied me or just didn’t understand my life because you were so young. You were the little sister who wrote funny stories like “My brother sits on me and it hurts,” or, “I’ve got the goosebumbs.” You will ALWAYS be 8-years-old in my mind. ALWAYS. And I will never let you live down the time you tried to school me and Andy with your geographical prowess, “It’s Nova Scot-tia, DUH!”

It wasn’t until you were an upperclassman in high school that we got close again. We could talk about boys, the stupid things I was doing in college and the stupid things you were doing in high school. Then there was that dark and dreary time in your late teens/early twenties. You know what I’m talking about. We lost touch, and it was one of the hardest times of my life. I thought I had lost you forever. And then, then you came back to us. You came back to me.

We started a new chapter as roommates in quite possibly the coolest flat on the east side. We spent the first night in our new home drinking margaritas in my bed while watching FRIENDS on my computer. You finally got to experience those crazy college years most of us get out of our systems when we’re 20.

We had rotisserie chicken. Remember? You don’t? Let me remind you.

We made that house our home. We’d cuddle up on the couch under blankets because we were too cheap to turn the heat above 58. We’d hold hands and giggle while watching GLEE. We’d strategize about how we’d kick ass at “The Amazing Race” (Which, BTW, we WILL win someday. We just have to audition first).

We would yell at each other, going from one sentence of “Fuck you” to the next “I love you.” It’s the kind of relationship only sisters could have.

We’ve had so many amazing times over the last two years. Here are some pictures to remind you of some of my favorites.

And now, you’re leaving. You’re moving on to the next big chapter in your life. A new city, a new home, a new state. I couldn’t be happier for you whilst simultaneously wanting to do everything in my power to get you to stay.

Who am I going to have spontaneous dance parties in the living room with? Who’s going to be there at home to give me a high five when I come back from a run? Who’s going to make tacos and burp unabashedly? Who else could I run a 5k with, only to get lost and make our own?

What’s Beep going to do when she can’t hide out on your comfy bed, or snuggle with Auntie Em on the couch?

I don’t know how to say goodbye, or how to tell you just what you mean to me. If you could see me now, you’d probably make fun of me for the ugly cry I got going on. I know I would if the roles were reversed.

Don’t be a stranger. I will answer your phone calls. I promise. And you know how much I hate to talk on the phone. But I will answer your call anytime, any day.

I fucking love you, you stupid bitch. I’m gonna miss your face. But then, I’ll look at that ugly ass picture of you and your hamster from when you were 8. And I’ll laugh. Actually, I’ll probably snort-laugh. Cuz that’s how I roll.

Love,
Amy

PS. This. Oh and this.

PPS. There’s still frosting on the passenger’s side door and seat from when you dropped your goodbye cake last weekend. Feel free to clean it up before you go.

 

Supporting the Purple Team

Way back when I watched The Biggest Loser. Then I stopped. Mostly because it made me feel bad about myself. Why couldn’t I lose 10 pounds in a week? Why was it so hard for me to lose weight but it was just flying off them?

Then I grew the hell up and realized: 1) it’s a tv show 2) all these people do is work out. That’s not to discount the amazing things they are able to accomplish while on the show, but when you’re in real life, it’s just not gonna happen.

Of course, it also takes a lot of determination.

I started watching again Season 9. There were a couple of contestants I really liked (Um, hello Sam). Season 10 was ok. But then there was Season 11. I felt a connection to two contestants in particular. They’re sisters and I see so much of myself and my journey in their stories.

 

Look familiar? Yeah, that’s me. Both of them. Olivia (left) started the season at 261 lbs. Hannah (right) started at 248 lbs. My current weight? About 253 lbs. My starting weight? 274. Yes, I’m down about 20 pounds but I was once down 30 lbs. I’ve been pretty stable around my current weight for about 6 months. I need a kick in the pants. And I have these gals to thank for it.

Photo: Olivia and Hannah's FB pages

And now… look at them! They’ve lost even more weight now and are the first pair of sisters to make it to the finale together!

I know that the rapid weight loss they’ve experienced isn’t realistic for my life (there’s no way I could lose that much weight in 5mo while working full time and fulfilling all my other commitments) but I know I can get to where I want to be just like them if I kick my butt in gear.

I had a bit of an epiphany this week which I will examine in a future post, but it boils down to this: I am my own worst enemy when it comes to weight loss. The working out regularly is no longer a problem for me (hello, just did a half marathon). It’s the food. It’s an addiction and I just need to learn what will work for me.

Olivia and Hannah, thanks for inspiring me to kick fat in the butt. Now kick some butt and win tonight!

Read It: Published on the dailymile blog!

While you’re waiting for my race recap from this weekend (I started writing it yesterday, hope to finish it soon!), you should check out this blog post I wrote for dailymile. I’ve been a member of dailymile since January 2010, and as you might recall, I blogged that dailymile as one of the social media platforms that saved my life.

The blog post, Running alone while in a group, describes my struggles with being slow, running solo and how dailymile makes me feel like I’m not running alone anymore.

I’m just excited I was able to also include photos of all my running besties and FitMKE peeps in the article!

What are you waiting for? Head over to the dailymile blog and read my post – now!

 

Slow running… it’s the new fast!

Reposted from FitMilwaukee.com:

I’ve never been fast. I don’t even know if I’d ever care to be fast.

A lot of times, you hear about how fast people run races. Don’t get me wrong. I have a time goal. It’s just no where near that of my close friends. When they’re running an “easy” 9 min pace, I’m busting my ass trying to keep a sub 15 pace.

I consider myself a runner. I run/walk and I’m ok with that. Of course, I’d love to get to the point where I’m only running and not walking unless I really need a break. But, I like the freedom that walk/running gives me. If I only ran, my workouts would be less than a mile. But with slowing things down and alternating between running and walking, I’m able to cover many miles.

This weekend, I ran just over 6 miles in about 90 minutes. Am I going to win an award any time soon? No, but I was beaming with pride when I realized this was the FASTEST I’d ever done 6 miles. A year ago, I was run/walking at a much different pace. I would hope to average 16-17 minutes per mile, but be happy with anything less than 18:30. Now, my slowest walking pace is in the 16-16:30 range… but usually falls between 15-16. My previous FAST time is now my SLOW time.

I know that as I lose weight, my pace and endurance will continue to improve, but I don’t expect to be qualifying for Boston ANY time soon.

I’m focusing on creating attainable goals for me and my body. And, if slow running is the key, then I’ll embrace it with a big sloppy kiss.

Last week, I wrote a very cathartic post on my blog about how difficult it is for me to run with anyone else. Go on. Read it. If you’ve ever felt like you’re not good enough to run in a group, read it twice. I’ll wait.

Done?

Ok, good.

The response to this post was overwhelming. Emails, gchats, comments, Facebook messages, etc. I never in a million years expected people to respond as they did. (I’m still surprised anyone reads my blog.)

I realized that I’m not alone in my running insecurity. Then I noticed some talk on Twitter that was all too familiar to me, “Oh, you won’t want to run with me. I’m super slow.” This is my general response when someone asks me to run.

It forced me to swallow my pride and do something I’ve been thinking about doing for a couple of months now. I’m starting a slow running group. All are welcome to join us (there’s a group on Facebook)… and there will be a forum coming soon. You don’t have to be fast or slow or even a runner to join us. Walk/run/crawl/skip whatever the hell you want. The key to this group is acceptance and no judging. Yeah, I said it. Don’t judge. Don’t judge people for being too fast. Don’t judge people for being too slow. We’re all in different places in our fitness journeys. We’re beginners. We’re veterans. We’re runners (or walkers).

We’ll be having a group “run” Monday, March 28th rain or shine. Meet us at Lake Park in Milwaukee at 6pm. We will be near Lake Park Bistro. I’ll probably have a 2-3 mile route planned, but you can feel free to do as much or as little as you like – and, please, please, please go at your own pace. Don’t feel you have to speed up to catch up with someone else… especially if your body isn’t cooperating. Go at your pace. Do your own thing… and I’m sure you’ll find someone who’s at your pace! It sounds like we have people with an average pace (whether running, run/walking or walking) of anywhere from 11-18 minutes per mile. If you’re faster or slower than this – please still come and join us!

I’ll leave you with these words from John Bingham, the father of slow running:

“It was being a runner that mattered, not how fast or how far I could run. The joy was in the act of running and in the journey, not in the destination.”

I need to learn how to share

I need to learn how to share.

Yes, I’m an adult and I know how to share just about everything in my life. But there’s something I have a hard time sharing.

Running.

This may sound odd, coming from someone who has a huge group of running friends – many of whom she MET through running. Even stranger to hear from someone who joined Team Challenge to train to run two half marathons… who went to practice every Sunday for months to go running/walking with others.

Yes, I have a REALLY hard time sharing my running time with others… besides Beep of course. She can run with me anytime.

Why do I have such a hard time sharing running with others?

Perhaps it’s that over the course of the last year, I’ve become accustomed to solo running. I’m not fast enough to run with my running besties. Well, I’ll meet for a group run, run with them for a minute and then my huffing and puffing slows my pace down to something more comfortable. Or, I’d join them on my bike on their long marathon-training runs.

I think this all started last summer when I was training for the Napa to Sonoma half marathon with Team Challenge. I was a run/walker. I aligned myself with the walkers, as I mostly walked, especially on the long “run” days. I didn’t really consider myself a runner. I could run for an eighth or quarter mile at a time, followed by quite a bit of walking. My body and my lungs weren’t ready for consistent running.

Now that I finally consider myself a runner, I have a hard time sharing this with anyone else. It’s like my private Amy time. I’m alone with God’s creation (outside) or trying to lose myself in the music on my iPod on the treadmill at the gym. Don’t even think about talking to me when I’m on the treadmill. Yes, guy at Bally’s who is crushing on me, I’m talking to you. There is nothing attractive about a 250-pound woman running on a treadmill. EVERYTHING is bouncing. Well maybe that’s what you’re liking, but I can assure you I do not feel pretty. So quit trying to get my number while I’m running.

I have an anxious nervous feeling in my chest when I think about actually running WITH someone. What if they’re faster than me? What if they get frustrated when I have to stop to walk? What if they don’t consider this a workout? What if I look ridiculous? What if I fail? What if they get frustrated that I don’t talk when I run? That I don’t want to talk because it will take up precious air that I could use to bust through my lungs on this run?

I’m sure my friends wouldn’t feel this way when running with me, but it’s always in the back of my mind.

I’ve gone to the gym for a treadmill running date with Annie… but for some reason that was different. We could each go at our own comfortable pace and it wasn’t a big deal. I think I was more comfortable with this too because she’s seen me at my very worst as my Team Challenge coach.

But then a friend, Katie, asked me to meet her for a run at the gym a couple of weeks ago. She wanted to try out the track at the gym. She’s new to running so I agreed. I warned her repeatedly that I was slow and took regular walking breaks. She didn’t care. She was excited to go with someone else, as she doesn’t have a lot of friends in the running community. We warmed up with a walk and I kept track of laps with my Garmin. I felt the need to apologize whenever I had to stop to walk, but she was amazing and would stop to walk a lap or two with me. One time I told her to continue running if she felt up to it and so she did one extra lap while I walked. Overall, I had my fastest time for a 3mi run on this workout with her. It was fun but I still felt awkward. I don’t know why, I just left feeling like a fool.

You see, when you’re out on your own… no one knows how long you’ve been running when you take a walk break. No one knows how far your run is. No one knows but you. But when you run with someone, there’s this feeling like I need to make sure I keep up so they don’t think I’m a loser. Maybe it’s just me, but this is a huge insecurity for me. I’m slightly tearing up as I write this and the fact that I’m tearing up makes me sad.

Yesterday I met up with one of my best friends, Rachel, who wanted to join me for my walk/run. She was so sweet and said, “Now, we will go at your pace. Whatever you want to do. I’ll go with you.” This was amazing. But, even though I was with someone I’ve known for almost 9 years, who knows more about me than most people, who knows my struggle with weight issues and fitness… Even with her I felt nervous about running. That and the fact that I forgot my inhaler at home had me saying, “You know, we’re walking at a pretty fast clip today. Let’s just keep walking fast and not run.”

Why did I do that?

Why?

Rachel, of all people, wouldn’t have judged me. But in the back of my mind, I was worried that she would. And so I settled for a fast walk instead of my prescribed walk/run.

By about mile 3 (of the 4.65 we did)… I was feeling guilty. But I also didn’t want to be all “hey, lets runnnnn” so I continued on the fast walk til we returned to her house.

I drove home, disappointed in myself for not even trying a run with her.

I picked up some lunch and headed home. I cuddled with Beep and watched some HGTV and fell asleep for a little afternoon nap.

When I woke up the intense guilt was ridiculous. I felt GUILTY for not RUNNING. There was really no physical reason for me not to run- except for the fear that I would have an asthma attack without my inhaler.

So, I got Beep’s leash and went out for a mile. We averaged 14:15 on the run that was just over a mile.
If my earlier morning “run” had been a good workout, I don’t see how I would have been able to so easily run just a few hours later.

I obviously have some issues I need to work out with this whole running solo business. Races are different… people are running with you but they’re really not. I just have never had to rely on anyone but myself on my runs and maybe that’s why I am so possessive of my precious running miles. Maybe I just can’t stand the thought of starting a run with a friend and then having to tell them to run on ahead… Maybe I need to just get over myself. Maybe I need to go back to therapy.

I don’t know the answers. I just know that I need to learn how to share.

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.