If I Can Be a Runner, ANYONE Can

Hello from Destin, Florida! We are having a great time relaxing and unplugging a bit. Please enjoy this guest post from Michelle and read about her journey from the couch to the runDisney Princess half marathon!

In the middle drawer on my chest of drawers, where I keep my jewelry, is a palm-sized silver medal with a purple ribbon. It says 2015 Disney Princess Half Marathon, and when I look at it, I smile. I smile because I’m proud of myself, and because I still can’t quite believe I actually did it. I smile when I think about how far I’ve come and all the changes I made to earn that medal.

Princess Half Medal pic (2)

Between August 2013 and February 2014, I lost almost 30 pounds. Before that, I was about 60 pounds overweight with high blood pressure. I also suffered from arthritis in my hands, hips, knees and feet. When stress built up, as it often did being a middle school teacher, and 42 year old mother of two young children, I would find myself facing a day or two of fatigue so extreme that taking a shower was too big a task for me, and every joint in my body ached. In my life, though, with my children, taking it easy isn’t really an option. My husband’s job involves long hours and working on Saturdays. He often isn’t home much before bedtime. My kids are great kids, but they have needs to be met. And they deserve a mom that plays with them and pays attention to them. I began to resent those times of fatigue and pain. I resented my body that seemed to be rebelling against me. I resented the fact that stress made me want to do things like eat bags of Double Stuffed Oreos. A stress eater under stress. It wasn’t a pretty cycle. Feel bad, eat, feel worse about myself, eat some more. I knew something had to change. I just didn’t have a clue how to start it.

One day in March 2014, while surfing the time suck that is Pinterest, I discovered an interesting looking pin.

There was a picture of a lady in a cute running outfit in front of Cinderella’s Castle. “Disney Princess Half Marathon”, it said. I remember thinking, “How far IS a half-marathon?” A quick Google search got me to the answer…..Thirteen point one miles. I clicked on the pin, and read what others had to say about this race.

“Run through EPCOT and the Magic Kingdom……dress as your favorite princess…….run through Cinderella’s Castle…….pictures with characters…..and at the end, you get a big, pretty medal.”

On that day, sitting in my recliner, I KNEW I had to do this. I knew nothing about running. My personal philosophy on running had always been that if you ever saw me running, you might want to run also, because something big and hairy was probably chasing me. Not only was I not currently running, but I wasn’t engaging in ANY form of exercise. Prior to having two children, I used to enjoy the gym: doing the elliptical machine, weight machines and for a while, I regularly attended Body Pump classes. But in the last five years, nothing. Still, I was unfazed. I kept picturing Cinderella’s Castle and that shiny medal.

My wonderful husband’s reaction to what I had decided to do was pretty much what I expected. His brow furrowed, and he kind of stared into space while he chose his words carefully. “You know that’s for people who run, right?”

“Yes, dear. I know it’s for people who run.”

Again with the furrowed brow and the carefully chosen words. “You know you DON’T run, right?”

I looked him dead in the eyes and said, “I’m going to start.”

And start I did. I did an internet search for running plans for non-runners, and found a plan that suggested alternating walking for four minutes and then running for one minute, for a total of a 30 minute workout. The plan suggested increasing the running and decreasing the walking by one minute until you were running for five minutes. Reading over this plan, it seemed very doable. So, on the first of April, I began. I knew I probably looked really slow, but I really didn’t care. I just knew I had to change what I had been doing and do something different. I ran two days, then took a rest day. After three to four running days of doing the same interval, I would increase the run and decrease the walk. In June 2014, I ran my first 5k. It was hot, and I didn’t run nearly as much of it as I would have liked, but I finished with a pretty respectable time of 44 minutes.

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Training for the Princess Half began in earnest in late October. My sister-in-law jumped on board with me and we trained together for it. I’m so glad she did, because as we increased our mileage on weekends, I learned that long runs by yourself just plan stink. Throughout the fall and into the winter, we ran. Our training schedule had us running two to four miles on Tuesdays and Thursdays with longer runs on Saturdays. Days got shorter, and the air got colder. Before I knew it, I had to buy a new pair of running shoes, and we were running upwards of seven miles on Saturdays. Considering that I had only been running for a short time, racking up those kinds of miles was mind-blowing to me.

All of our training and hard work paid off, though. We completed the 2015 Disney Princess Half Marathon in three hours, thirty minutes and some change. Considering the fact we stopped for a half a dozen character pictures, and I had to walk a bit between miles 7 and 10, I was really pleased with the time. Crossing the finish line and getting my medal gave me such a feeling of accomplishment.

Castle pic (2)

I’ve stuck with it, too. Since the Princess Half, I’ve done a couple of 5K’s, a 10K and another Half. I’ve already planned the events I’m going to do for the rest of 2015, and making plans for 2016. I’m studying designs to make my own medal hanger. I’m sure at some point my body won’t be able to do this anymore. But that day isn’t here yet.

Deciding to run the Princess Half, going through the training and then completing the Half is one of the few times that I’ve ever set a goal for myself and actually followed through and attained it. It taught me that truly, my body is capable of WAY more than I would have thought. I’ve told plenty of people my story of how I got into running. I’m hoping that someone who hears my story will be inspired to do something like this for themselves as well. If I can do it, I know that anyone who wants to can do it as well.

QOTD: What was the thing that made you start running, and realize that you could do it?

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