9.5 miles with the Goblet of Fire and ITB Pain

Happy 2019!

Holy smokes! I can hardly believe how quickly the end of 2018 went by!

I hope everyone had a safe and wonderful holiday and new year celebration. We got to spend time with our family and friends, and it was fantastic, as always!

I also got to spend a lot more time on the treadmill, which made me happy and accomplished. On 12/21 I did a nice 8mile run in 1:43:15 (12:52 min/mile pacing). Die Hard was playing, so it went pretty well. Compression socks and foam roller recovery had me feeling good!

I followed that up with a 4 mile short run on 12/27 that I finished in 51:47. I thought this was a good pace, especially considering that my IT Band started tweaking with some pain. I babied it a bit the next few days, but was back at the gym on 12/29 for a 9.5 mile, which I did in 2:02:03 (12:50min/mile pacing). I’ve found that the 3:1 run/walk ratio works for me very well (3 minutes of running with 1 minute of walking) and allows me a good down time without letting my muscle fatigue catch up too quickly. it also helps when the gym plays adrenaline pumping movies like Hunger Games and HP Goblet of Fire. It helps me focus on something besides pain/time/pacing/exhaustion/negativity.

 

However, despite having awesome movies to keep my mostly pre-occupied, my ITB pain did cause me some concern. I need to get my it under control first and foremost, especially before my next long run. I attribute this new development to the fact that I’m sitting at work much more than I ever used to and my hamstrings and other muscles have shortened/tightened. I’ve started adding more strength and stretching into my down days (which is most of this week, so I can allow my ITB to relax a bit). I’m confident that that will help it out.

My bestie gifted me a new runner’s log book for Christmas, and another friend gifted me some new compression socks! My mom bought me brand new wireless headphones (that play music through your cheekbones!). They’re the Aftershokz Trekz Air .

trekz

Super stealthy and sleek looking. They’re very comfortable and allow me to hear ambient noise around me, which is always good when running by myself. The info says they have a 6hr battery life, and they come with a small neoprene pouch to hold the headphones and their USB-based charging cord. (the company also includes a pack of reflective strips that you can adhere to any of your other running gear, which I think, is super amazing of them! I’m ALL about safety!)

I may have already tried them out while dancing around my apartment (much to my husband’s entertainment), but I cannot wait to see how they do on a run. I’m also curious how using them will affect my phone’s battery life when on a longer run. I usually keep my phone on airplane mode, which I can still do with the Bluetooth on, but I’m curious to see if there’s a significant increase in battery drain. We will find out soon enough!

What awesome health/workout/running gear did you get during the holidays?

 

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Vacation and Winter

I’ve been silent for far too long.

That happens when you go on vacation for almost two weeks and then head directly into the holidays. Talk about a jam-packed schedule!

In any case, vacation was fun and I got a ton of steps in. I wanted to do a run on the island (we went on a cruise) but there was a tropical storm and I opted not to run. After 14 degree weather for Thanksgiving, and a rainy and cold Hartford 5k; I decided that I’d had enough weird running weather for now.

My goal now is to get back on my training schedule. We are officially less than 65 days away from the big races and I’m starting to freak out. I haven’t done more than 6miles yet. I know I have time but I want to make sure my body will be up to the challenge. After getting sick on vacation and being in a lot of pain, I’m nervous. Still slightly excited, but the nervousness is overtaking. I can literally feel my anxiety raising every day. My doctor just did more blood work to check my food allergies. She thinks the reason I was in pain is because my stomach is starting to reject more foods. Yippee! If that’s the case, I have to come up with a special nutrition plan while I’m in training to make sure I’m getting the caloric content and nutrients I need. 184 foods are being tested. We shall see how this turns out.

To get myself back into training, I’ve been challenging myself to jog in front of the tv at home. If I’m not at the gym, at least it’s something. Tonight I will be doing my PiYo to start getting my core back into shape- it has been woefully neglected. (Although, I did wear bikinis on the cruise and I was pretty confident in them. Wandering the decks without a cover-up and all). Tomorrow and Saturday will be back to back runs so that I can take the holiday off and be ok with it.

The shots I’ve been getting do have me feel like I’m gaining weight back. I’ve been battling the same 5 lbs for the past few months- up and down. it’s not the worst thing on the planet, but I would like it to be done and gone. Ugh. It’s a constant struggle. I just need to get everything back under control and into a routine. Then, I can close out 2018 with a bang and ring in the new year and new adventures!

The Downside of Training, The Upside of Perserverance

 

Training runs have been going pretty well, which makes me happy.

However, when you live with a chronic illness/auto-immune disease, and you want enjoy endurance sports, there’s always a price to pay.

For me, the price comes a day or two after a training run, and always depends on how much I pushed myself. It also depends on if I took proper steps BEFORE my training run, to ensure that my body was ready for the workout (this is where I usually fail).

Here’s what happens after an intense, or poorly planned, training run:

  • -extreme fatigue
  • -lack of focus/inability to focus
  • -body aches (more than usual after-workout muscle soreness)
  • -fluctuating body temp (usually my body temp drops and stays low for 24-48hrs)
  • -headaches/nausea/malaise

So, the question remains- why workout then? Especially knowing what can happen afterwards? The answer is simple- it makes me feel good while I’m doing it. And, in the long run, exercising is ALWAYS a good thing. Endurance running may not be the best activity for someone like me, I should do more yoga and low-impact exercises, but I love running. I enjoy the challenge, both physical and mental, that come along with training for and doing a race.

As it stands right now, the repercussions of my runs are not at a point where they debilitate me for too long of a time-frame, or inhibit me from going about doing my daily tasks (they just make it a little more difficult than it should be). They simply annoy and frustrate me.

Last night’s training run was a pretty decent one. I did 3.1 miles in 36:56. (For someone who is relatively slow, this is a good time.) I managed to snag a treadmill in the cardio cinema and watch some of Antman and the Wasp while I ran (and did a Zombies, Run! mission). However, while I prepped my body food-wise by eating a small high-carb snack with some protein, I did NOT take my late afternoon meds before I ran. Essentially, I didn’t replenish my energy stores or provide support for my adrenal glands before my run, which means all I burned out ALL of my energy supply. That makes today a rough day for me as I’m having trouble focusing (I’ve literally spent 45min typing this post), struggling to keep my eyes open (and avoiding the fake energy boost coffee will give me), and my body is, overall, sluggish as heck.

Am I going to let this stop me, though?

Never.

Zombies- The Best Way to Motivate Your Run

Alright, yall, I’ve gotten myself back on a good track for training.

It’s been two full weeks of getting myself back to a decent place.

Life has been hectic, as always, but I’ve been adamant about carving out time for training runs. I will NOT let the 19.3 miles in Feb get the best of me!

I added a little extra motivation to my runs by downloading the “Zombies, Run” app. I have to say, it’s pretty frigging cool! It puts you in the middle of a zombie apocalypse story line and gives you missions to complete. Each run/workout is a different mission you can choose from- and there’s over 200 missions currently. (At some point down the road, you can even create your own missions.)

In this zombie-fied world, you are a “runner”, someone sent out from the safe-haven/out-post town to collect vital supplies, rescue survivors, and help defend the out-post (depending on your mission). Along the way, you can collect other items such as first aid kits, weapons, food, etc. to help you continue to survive and build your base.

As you go about your mission, dispatch keeps you updated on where the zombie hoards are located. You’re bound to run into at least one hoard during your mission, and you have to out run them…. which means, you have to pick up your speed! If you get caught, you lose some of your precious items…. and I’m sure, eventually, fail your mission/become a zombie. (I’m trying REALLY hard not to let that happen).

I enjoy the fact that I can listen to my music in between story line updates, and that I can set the length of my mission (I usually set mine to 45min.). The audio quality and sound effects are amazing, and, again, the storyline doesn’t interfere too much with my playlist, but it chimes in enough to remind me I’m still on a mission.

The best part? It’s a FREE app. And it let’s me share updates on social media.

Especially around this time of the year, an extra spooky boost of motivation is just what this gal needed!

Check it out here: Zombies, Run Game

My 5k Experience and Recovery

My 5k on Saturday did not go as well as I had hoped.

However, I finished.

And, I finished BEFORE the fire chief, and under 45min. So, all in all, I will count it as a win.

I have to say, the biggest hurdle was the pain from my hematometra. I started out pretty well, and about 4 minutes in the pain started. Sharp, shooting pains in my lower abdomen. I had to stop and walk more than I wanted to because every time I ran, the pain would start again. So annoying.

I also did not take ANY of my meds for my CEBV. Why? Because I’m an idiot.

Honestly, here is how that inner monologue translated in my brain:

Thought: “Don’t take your magnesium before the race because you don’t want any issues while you’re on the course. Remember, there are no portos along the way. But, drink extra water and have something small to eat.”

Translation: “Don’t take any of your meds.”

I’m not sure how or why, but that’s pretty much what happened. And I could definitely feel a difference in stamina, energy, and overall enjoyment of the race. It wasn’t as fun as it could have been. It was a struggle.

The recovery period that day and the next wasn’t too horrible. I had some muscle soreness/stiffness, but nothing seemingly out of the norm. However, back to back days of work and long nights of rehearsals have made me completely exhausted. Like, I needed a Turbo shot in my coffee this morning just to feel semi-awake.

I take 2 thyroid support pills and 1 adrenal support pill in the AM. I take another 2 at lunch. Plus, I take 1 additional adrenal support around 5:30pm on days when I have rehearsal. Literally, I shouldn’t feel the need to sleep at all; I should be bouncing off the walls. Instead, I’m struggling to stay coherent and focused.

I mentioned to a friend of mine last night (who suffered from mono when he was younger) that people simply do NOT understand how severely debilitating the fatigue/malaise/exhaustion is unless they have experienced it. When people ask me how I am and I respond with “tired,” I don’t mean that I need a quick 20 minute power nap. I mean: I am bone-tired, mentally and physically exhausted, struggling to keep the brain fog at bay, and trying my hardest to keep my eyes open while simultaneously fighting the urge to simply just cry because I don’t know what to do about it all.

I just want to sleep. For days. Not hours, DAYS.

I look at my calendar sometimes and try to figure where and how I can fit some extra Zzz’s into my schedule. I know I have a lot to do: work, rehearse, learn lines/music/dances, volunteer, clean and cook, hang out with friends and family, get my training runs in, work on my yoga/flexibility, etc. but I have NO motivation whatsoever to do anything. That is the worst part (At least, for me). I’ve always been driven, determined, and motivated. Now, I’m mostly just determined to stay awake because I know I HAVE to. The motivation to do much else does not exist, and I don’t know when I will find that motivation again.

And, yes, I realize that I did this to myself. I took on too much, like I always do. I’m bad at saying no. I’m bad at taking care of myself. I enjoy being involved. But, I’m tired.

I have to find a better balance. 

The Shot

I have to say, as someone with a ginormous fear of needles, the shot today wasn’t bad at all. Props to my nurse because she was awesome and I hope she always administers my shots.

Last night was very rough. By 7pm, the pain was debilitating. I was out running errands and had to get home and just laid on the couch for the rest of the night. I had a castor oil pack on and felt like it was the only thing holding my innards in. My poor husband, I don’t know how he got any sleep with me tossing and turning all night. I even took Melatonin to help keep me knocked out, but the pain still woke me up intermittently.

Things I have noticed so far (after 7ish hours):

  • Nausea (I had two sips of my protein shake and was like…NOPE. And I finally just ate lunch at 3pm)
  • Irritability (although, whether that’s the shot, the fact that I didn’t sleep well, didn’t have my coffee until later than normal, or just regular ole BS, I don’t know)
  • Injection site discomfort (while the shot itself did not hurt when administered, my entire upper arm is very sore. You know how your legs feel after leg day? Yea. THAT)
  • Abdominal pain dulled (within a few hours of getting the shot, I no longer felt like I was being repeatedly stabbed in the abdomen. Instead, it’s a dull lingering ache. MUCH more manageable. Still annoying, but definitely not nearly as debilitating)

I’d say the main purpose, which was to lessen the pain, has been achieved. Here’s hoping that it continues over the next few months as the medication wears down. I’m still bloating after I eat, getting full quickly, and feeling pressure in my abdomen… but I doubt that the Depo will fix everything right away.

The nurse did tell me that I will need to start taking calcium supplements at some point because the Depo shot depletes the calcium in my bones. Interesting that my doctor didn’t mention it. Hmmmm.

All of this makes me hopeful for the future, including the 5k I’m running tomorrow.

I feel like I may actually be able to have a good run!

I haven’t felt that way in quite some time.

 

Getting Back To It

My training runs have been virtually non-existent, but I HAVE been moving, as I promised I would. I’m proud of myself for that! Between walks and movement rehearsals for my newest show, I’ve been getting in plenty of steps, so I’m not feeling as stagnant as I was.

I DO have a 5k this weekend and I’m very much looking forward to it! I cannot wait to get my sneakers on, put my ear buds in and JUST RUN. My only hope is that it isn’t too humid. I’m going to be safe and start off at a comfortable pace and depending on how I feel, I may push myself to see what I can do.

And, depending on how this race goes, as well as the recovery, I may decide to stay at the Half Marathon level for Hartford in Oct. Or I may end up dropping to the 5k race. I have to see what my body can handle. I have a LOT going on the weekend of that race and with my CEBV and E-issues, I do not want to end up back in the hospital. Again. Nor do I want to end up having my hysterectomy earlier than I actually need to.

yes. I talked with my OBGYN about my hematometra. My two options are: Depo shot to see if that will take the edge off of the pain, or hysterectomy (where I keep my ovaries). I mean, I’m not overly excited about either option, but I’m actually doing both. I’m going to do the shots for now and see if they help. Then, I’m scheduling my hysterectomy for the late spring, early summer of 2019 (hoping that if I’m smart and safe enough and keep my abdomen strong and protected, I won’t have to worry too much until then).  This means, I will do the Fairytale Challenge and then go for surgery. Otherwise, I have no other time to do it and still train for the race. (Not that I’m doing much training currently…but at least now I know I can currently finish). I do this to myself ALL the time- I cannot say NO and I over book myself. Le sigh.

I’m scheduled for my first shot tomorrow at 8:30am. It’s a high dose of BC, so I’m REALLY hoping it will set well in my system. We shall see. Apparently, one of the main side effects is weight gain. I may be shallow, but I’m not very excited about that. I mean, honestly, I JUST lost the weight (thanks, CEBV). Can’t I just enjoy being where I am for a bit of time? Like… forever? Does it always have to be a constant struggle?

Upside, maybe less pain will mean more training runs and that will help re-balance my weight. *fingers crossed*

Check back in over the next few days, I’m going to be logging any changes I notice with my shots (and my anti-virals).

EBV… The one and only.

Ok folks, I think we FINALLY *fingers crossed* figured out what is wrong with me…. physically, anyway. 

My blood work came back and my doctor told me I have a very high viral load for EBV.

What does that mean? Let me explain!

EBV stands for Epstein-Barr Virus. Or, as it is more commonly known, Mono.

Yup. I have mono. Apparently, it’s called Chronic Reactivated EBV, when you want it to sound official.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

  • EBV is like chicken pox and the virus can live in your system for LIFE. Whether or not it “activates”, is a whole other story.
  • It spreads easily through saliva and blood fluids. (Which is why it is known as “the kissing disease”.
  • A very large population, like almost 95% or more, currently has EBV. They just may not have any active symptoms.
  • It can takes MONTHS to recover from, especially the lethargy. Sometimes, up to a year or longer.
  • It can cause your spleen to become enlarged; it can damage your liver; it can create a breeding ground for other viral infections; and it often goes hand in hand with auto-immune diseases.
  • Triggers, especially stress and poor diet, can affect your immune system and make you much more prone to experiencing viral “activation”.
  • It will NEVER go away. It will simply become dormant.

Needless to say, I’m GLAD we figured it out. And a very special shout out to my doctor who persevered and never gave up on solving this puzzle. She’s a super hero!

I’m a tad worried because I stress easily (which could possibly explain why I’ve been sick for SO long) and I don’t want to continuously reactivate this stupid, stupid, STUPID VIRUS. But, now I have a (relatively) clear path to follow and that brings a huge sense of relief.

The anxious part of me is freaking out though. EBV spreads quickly and while it’s a known fact that most everyone has it… I worry about hanging out with my nieces and nephews. I worry about kissing my husband. About the stage kiss I have to do in my upcoming show. About the stage kisses I had to do in my previous show. I don’t want to get people sick. I don’t want to be Patient X.

The rational part of me knows that by working with my doctor to lower my viral load, I will come out of “activated” status eventually, but it’s not a 100% guarantee that I won’t reactivate.

It’s scary. It’s frustrating. It’s trying to meld the anxiety-ridden thoughts with as much scientific fact as possible, but sometimes that marriage doesn’t come as quickly as I would like it to.

I mean, I’m a runner. Am I going to haphazardly infect people while I run a race because I’m sweating? That’s a TERRIFYING thought! It makes me sick to my stomach.

But the stubborn Warrior part of me refuses to let this stop me from living my life. I just have to be smarter. But, how?

I also found out that I have a hematometra in my uterine lining.

Let me define that for you: a medical condition involving collection or retention of blood in the uterus” (Wikipedia). It is most commonly treated by surgical dilation or removal. As of right now, that’s all of the information I have on hand (and all that I care to Google because this particular issue makes me INCREDIBLY ANXIOUS). I have an appointment next Thursday to discuss all of this with my OBGYN.

I know not many people follow my blog (yet!). But please, send some positive vibes my way? I could REALLY use them right about now.

Winning Friday

It’s been an interesting week. Last Friday I was back in the hospital because, not only do my pancreas and adrenal glands hate me, but now, so too does my liver. In proper follow up fashion, I had to do a few tests/procedures/bloodwork this week so we can continue to eliminate what isn’t wrong with me. I’m not gonna lie- I’m not a fan of needles. In no way, shape, or form am I a fan- Like, my body goes into shock and shuts down, that’s how bad it is. So, needless (or needle-less?) to say, I saved my bloodwork until this morning… you know, the very last minute. I even put my Wonder Woman shirt on to give me a little “extra” strength (I’m a nerd, I know). In my defense, they stuck me in BOTH arms at the hospital last week, so I was giving my body time to heal (mostly so they wouldn’t have to jab me in my hand…. OWWWW), and it worked. 4 tubes of blood and a very supportive husband later, I was out the door WITHOUT having passed out. #winningfriday!

I was going to treat myself to a coffee, but I did that after my procedure yesterday and I still have half of my large cold brew left, so I figure I will just finish that. (I happen to have a slight coffee addiction. I love it. It loves me. It’s mostly how I maintain daily functioning. However, despite my addiction, I don’t drink a lot of it on a daily basis.)

My hope is that we will figure all of this medical stuff out and I can get back to training. I feel…useless. Although, that’s not exactly the correct word for it. I feel stuck. I WANT to run, but my body isn’t cooperating. I’ve come up with a game plan though. Instead of letting the weeks continue to fly by before my next half marathon, I’ve decided I’m just going to alter my training plan. I mean, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing, right? I’m going to go with the flow!

This Sunday I should be doing a short 3 mile run. Instead, I’m going to do 1 mile. That’s it. 1 MILE. Maybe this way my mind and my body can connect and go, “Hey! This isn’t that bad. We can do this!”. My hope is that with a short run, I won’t completely overexert myself and the recovery time will eventually get better. I start rehearsals next week for another new musical, so in the down time between getting out of work and getting into rehearsal, I’m going to go to the gym and just walk on the treadmill. Not run, not jog, and definitely not sprint…. but walk. Keep myself moving. If anything, maybe it will just help me feel like I’m being productive and get me “unstuck”.

Can I just take a minute to share what an awesome husband I have?

I mean, honestly, I feel so incredibly lucky that we found each other and that he is who he is. He was by my side all day last Friday when I was in the hospital. Today, he woke up early and went with me to get my blood work done this morning. He helped keep me distracted by talking with me about our upcoming Disney vacation. On top of that, we work together (different departments) and he takes time throughout the day to stop into my office and check on me. He helps me learn to de-stress (something I’m really bad at) and encourages me to try new things. Last night, he signed me up for a “Do It Herself” class at Home Depot. The lesson was on building a hanging planter with your home address on it. I was the only person who went (with him right there with me, taking photos) and so I got one-on-one attention from the woman at Home Depot. We cut the wood needed to make the planter, and then I stained it (and dried it under the hot air dryers in the ladies’ bathroom), nailed all of the pieces together, and added the numbers.

You guys, I MADE A THING! And it came out pretty well! What do you think?

planter box

Now, I know the “8” isn’t spaced correctly, but there was a knot in the wood and the number wouldn’t nail in so we had to move it. Seriously, we broke the first “8” trying to get it in, so eventually I gave in and moved it. I debated taking the other numbers out and re-nailing them, but then I decided not to. My OCD will just have to deal with it. Maybe.

I’m a pretty crafty person when it comes to doing stuff with kids. I used to do DIY things ALL the time for my previous job, but this was different because it was something I had always wanted to learn to do. My husband knew that and encouraged it. I sometimes struggle to find the correct words to use to express how I feel and this is one of those times. It’s hard to explain how impactful this was for me. I guess all that I can say is sometimes, it’s the small things that mean the most.

Oh! One last thing before I stop typing. I’ve decided to give this blog a facelift (already). I debated on keeping this blog solely focused on running, but I’ve already de-railed from that idea. The title will still stay the same (because I’m always running crazy, even if I’m not “running” running), but the blog itself is going to focus on lots of things: running, my health, Disney, my day to day life, my coffee addiction, rehearsals, friends and family…. everything. Because…. why not? It’s who I am.

You Don’t Look Like a Runner

Warning: We are about to get emotionally deep here, y’all. Hang on.

I remember the first time I realized that I was different. I was in elementary school and standing in the lunch line to get my milk. I usually always brought my own lunch- a sandwich or sometimes, if I was lucky, a Lunchable. Another girl came behind me and said, “Why are you in line?” I turned around to face her and responded that I was getting my milk.

“Oh, good,” she replied. “I thought you were getting a second lunch and I didn’t think you should do that. You should be eating Jenny Craig or something instead.”

And with that, a whole new world opened up to me. It’s not a very kind world, either. There are no sparkly unicorns, rainbows, fields of flowers, or anything remotely bright and beautiful. This world is harsh, judging, and full of jabs meant to bring you as far down as they possibly can. It is bleak. It is cruel. It is a world I am choosing to leave.

They, being the experts, say that children are like sponges; that kids can remember the darndest things, and absorb everything around them. It is true, to an extent. I can easily recall this memory, and most every other time I was made to feel different, but can I easily remember what the “E” in Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally stands for? Nope. (Exponents. I googled it.)

Since this moment in elementary school, I have spent my life focusing on what I do NOT look like. Every time I look in the mirror, or see my reflection, I notice that I don’t look skinny enough. I don’t look pretty enough. I don’t look proportionate. I don’t look like my breasts are big enough, or that my butt is “junk in the trunk” worthy.

And maybe because I spent so much of my life hyper-focused on what I don’t look like, I noticed every single time someone reinforced that message. “You don’t look like a leading lady.” A director once told me. I was a senior in high school and going for the lead in our musical. We hadn’t even had auditions yet, and she already told me I wouldn’t get the part because I didn’t look the part.

Ok, I get it. The theatre world, and the performance industry overall, revolves mainly upon your appearance. You have to “fit” the part to play the part, right? In my opinion, sometimes. I think it’s ok to have curvy women play leading ladies (and I don’t mean JUST Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray)– as long as they can sing it and act it. Are we not as entertaining because we are curvy? Are we seemingly less talented because our dress size is larger? Some roles are meant to be filled by individuals with certain measurements- although, I’m not going to lie, I searched plays and musicals by character description and virtually NONE had physical characteristics that referenced dress size or physique, most had vague terms like, “sexy,” “beautiful,” “dancer,” etc. Take a look for yourself HERE.

What I’m trying to get at here is that people have told me numerous times that I do not look like a leading lady. But, what does a “leading lady” look like then? Each show is different, each playwright’s vision is different, and each casting director’s taste/vision is different- so how can the term “leading lady” be wholly not applicable to me? Who’s to say?

But, the title of this post is “You don’t look like a runner”, and all you’ve been talking about is acting…what gives? Patience. I’m getting to it.

When I started running, I was about 280lbs. I was slow and I took a LOT of walk breaks (I mean, honestly, you probably couldn’t event call it running because I trotted more than I ran, but I was moving and getting better every day). I read books and magazines about running and was proud to tell people that I had found a way to better myself.

Then, one day, someone reminded me that I didn’t look like a runner. When I mentioned that my three mile run earlier morning suggested otherwise, she responded with the fact that “I wasn’t toned and thin like most runners”. I wasn’t fast. I wasn’t logging dozens of miles every day. I didn’t look like what I claimed to be.

That was about 6 years ago. And although I now weigh 147lbs and have completed numerous 5k races, 6 half marathons, and a slew of virtual distance races (with the bling to show for them all)… I still don’t look like a runner. I have a lot of excess skin from my weight loss, so I’m not very toned (especially in my upper body). I’m still not fast, although I am slightly speedier than I used to be. And I still take walk breaks because I’ve found that while I CAN run long distances non-stop, it’s better on my lower back if I don’t.

But let’s pause for a minute and back track. Just what exactly does a runner look like? I googled “runner” and searched images. Here are the top three that came up:

runner 1Image from HERE
runner2Image from HERE
runner3Image from HERE

Let’s discuss the physical characteristics we see in these photos, shall we? I see individuals who are thin, toned, and muscular. Other words I would use to describe them are strong, determined, and focused. I have to say that I may not be thin, toned, or muscular, but I sure as heck am strong, determined, and focused. Seriously, ask my husband (he will probably throw in a few other descriptive words as well, like, stubborn).

But, we are mostly discussing the physical characteristics and, honestly, this is only three images that I searched online, so is it REALLY an accurate representation of what a runner should look like?

I don’t think so. I’ve done a TON of races and I’ve run with people from different cities, states, and countries. I’ve seen runners of all shapes and sizes- thin, curvy, young, old, fast, slow, muscular, non-muscular, etc. Seeing these individuals in our starting chorales at 4am, and keeping pace alongside them on the course, how can anyone say that they don’t look like runners? Literally, they are RUNNING, but yet they aren’t perceived as runners? Just like with acting, looking like a runner has NOTHING to do with your ability, solely your appearance and I’m tired of it.

I’m tired of hiding behind all of the things that people tell me I don’t look like. I choose to open my eyes and see myself for all of the things that I am based on my abilities, my talents, and my passions. I’m abandoning this bleak and harsh world of misconception and misperception, and choosing to move to a world where I am free to be exactly who I am, not who people tell me I am.

People come in all wonderful shapes and sizes. Who are we to tell them who they should be because they look a certain way? Who are we to decide what they are and are not able to do or become? Why do people have to LOOK like anything to BE something?

I choose to BE a leading lady (and I have been). I choose to be a runner (and I am, many times over). I choose to be whatever I WANT to be- not because I LOOK like something, but because I AM that something.