A blast from my past and a push to do more.

9 Jun

Before I taught Body Pump, or Boot Camp, or Pilates……I ran.  I was a slow runner.  I AM a slow runner.  But I ran.  And after I ran a race, I wrote.  I posted this on FB, but a lot of you did not know me then.  You only know me now.  The mean boot camp instructor 🙂

This was also the beginning of my fevers, extreme fatigue, and other oddities like anemia. I had no idea those things would lead to a diagnosis of an autoimmune disease.  But I KNEW during this whole process that something was wrong.  I had many runs where I could FEEL my body was taking a turn for the worse.  They say you always have an autoimmune disease in your DNA, if you have one, but that it can lay dormant for many years before it is triggered. I often wonder if this training was my trigger.

I am posting this because ANYONE can set a physical goal and meet it.  People often tell me that they can’t exercise the way I can because of this or that.  But I went from exercising on my own (walks and Tae Bo, back in the day) to pushing some of the finest athletes I have ever seen to their limits.  You can do whatever you expect of your body.  If you expect a walk to be your limit, then it will be.  If you expect you can make it through Body Pump and nothing else, then that will be your limit.  But if you want to set an even higher goal and are willing to train for it, you can ACTUALLY do it.  Don’t settle because of your weight or because of what you think you can do.

If you had told me 3 years ago that I would not only have run that half marathon and a few triathlons (mini), but that I would also be teaching Body Pump and Pilates and boot camp, I would have thought you had lost your marbles.

STOP slowing yourself down.  Get out of your own way!  YOU can be one of those people who runs races if you want!  Or who takes ballet as an adult.  Or who takes Zumba.  Or better yet, comes to MY classes!  No more excuses.  Lets get moving!

Here is what I posted on Facebook…..

As soon as my half marathon was over, I was flooded thoughts that I wanted to jot down. Most of them will be boring to everyone other than me. But I am writing it somewhere that I will not lose (I lose everything)…here! So don’t read this if you think you will be bored 🙂

So this journey started in about April when I got the idea at Starbucks with Michelle. One of Justin’s coworkers mentioned that she was going to train for the half marathon. I thought…wow! That is impressive. As I pondered this, I asked her about it and she said that she figures that if other people can do it, so can she! Suddenly in that moment, I thought…hey, why not ME? So I researched a little and found a reputable training group, bought new running shoes, and in what was a leap of faith for me, I bought one of those silly 13.1 magnets for the back of my van. I needed a solid commitment from myself and a constant reminder of what my goal was. I felt super silly, but gave it up b/c I needed it back there.

The first day of training, I was blown away by how normal the people looked! Sure there were some skinny people out there with muscular legs and cute outfits. But the majority were pudgy and wearing ratty old stuff. Yay! Good news!

I printed up my running schedule, posted it on the fridge, and diligently stuck with it. I paid my dues for not only the training group, but also the marathon. I knew that I needed to put my money in this game b/c the tight wad that I am would not want it to go to waste. Within about a month, my right knee started hurting. Bad. I found a good sports medicine doc and he put me on some meds to help. Within about a week of that, I got a bleeding ulcer in my stomach from that pain killer. Nice. I was off to a great start. 🙂 After quitting that medicine, I did physical therapy twice a day and started wearing a knee brace. I also cut my running by a third (the “runner’s rule of thirds”), took glucosamine, and prayed that God would let me continue this journey. The knee pain eventually went away and I picked back up on the schedule.

Every Saturday after a long run, I would call my mom on the way home and EVERY week she would get so excited with me as I shared how many miles I ran that day. I so looked forward to making those phone calls b/c she gave me such encouragement. Thanks, Mama. My whole family made me so proud. My dad, Michelle, Justin, even Daniella…. everyone was so sweet and encouraging and would get so impressed by what I told them. Their encouragement kept me going.

My Luck…he never once complained that I left him EVERY Saturday to go and run. He was my pillar. Although he questioned my sanity a number of times (he hates running!), he did everything in his power to support me and keep me going. Every night before a long run, he would lay everything out for me. Fill my water bottle, get my knee brace, my keys, my breakfast bar, my coffee…everything ready and in place. And EVERY run as I slipped out of bed he would whisper to me that he was proud of me.

Back to some obstacles along the way….I was also battling anemia. I had many, many weeks of lots of napping and lethargy. It was miserable! But I was resolved to keep running. No excuses. No excuses. If others can do it, why not me? I also started noticing an odd thing I did not expect. My scale was going the wrong way. I started this so excited that I would shed a few extra lbs. I did not care enough to diet them off, but what fun if running did that for me! I could not wait! But no, no, no….for me, the scale started creeping UP! Oh well, I was sure that once I got in to high mileage runs it would start coming off.

The summer was full. We traveled a lot and did a lot of fun things. But I never missed a long Saturday run. I ran in North Carolina one weekend on a sorry excuse for a treadmill that did not even calculate mileage. So I just ran for 50 minutes and hoped that it was 4 miles. That was my first time to ever run more than a 5k. My first big accomplishment! I ran at my family reunion with some cousins who were willing to get out there with me and do 6 miles in the August heat in south Texas(Thanks, Dee & Becky). I even did my first 10 miler on my treadmill b/c we were going out of town that weekend and I needed to get it in. Talk about a long run! 2 hours on a treadmill! YIKES! But God provided by allowing Reid (who does not like watching TV) to be extra good and willing to be alone for that long while I was in the office running. I know, child abuse. He can tell his counselor one day. 🙂

For 6 entire months, I never slept in on a Saturday but would get up and meet my training group at 6 am and go running.

Another neat provision from God. I asked him to let me meet someone to run with. On the first day out on a Saturday morning, I “happened” to be standing next to a girl who looked roughly my age. Always the talker, I struck up a conversation. That was day one of a running partnership that would last until the end. We found lots to talk about and moan about for some long, long runs. We would meet in the pitch black for morning runs if one of us could not make the group Saturday run. God provided a perfect partner for me!

The last month has been rough. My anemia was finally under control. And then I got a stomach bug. That cleared up within a few days, but I started getting fever every day. As I write, I am still (3 weeks later), getting a fever every day. I took 2 solid weeks off running and then did one run and had to get off after a few minutes. I missed our last 9 mile long run. I eventually got another 30 minute run in and then did a 6 miler as our last training run. The marathon was creeping up and I was not well. I had lots of visits to the doc and lots of blood tests. They still are not sure of what is going on in there. But I just knew that God had allowed me to get this far and would somehow let me run on Nov 16th.

The night before the race, I got everything ready….bandaids, lip protector, advil, knee brace, bib, safety pins, shoes and socks to change in to, camera, etc…. I was well hydrated, well rested, and ready to carb load. My family and my parents went to an Italian Restaurant and everyone patiently waited a LONG waiting list with me to let me get my fettuccine alfredo 🙂 Sweet family!

Another sweet memory….coming home after my first 10 miler on the road to my family in the driveway cheering for me and jumping up and down. I love them so much. See why this has been easy for me???

So race morning, my alarm goes off at 4:30am…we leave at 5:30 am. We get downtown and it is 35 degrees and windy. I was DYING! I HATE cold weather with a passion! We walked a little ways to a bus stop where we waited and waited for a shuttle to the start line. Eventually we got there, waited about an hour in line in a crowded Taco Cabana to go to the bathroom, and then finally made it to the start line. It was our turn and off we went!

I was bundled and shed my jacket right away. My feet were not there. I could not feel them for a mile and a half. Have I mentioned how I feel about being cold?!?! Anyway, my partner, Leslie, and I take off. She had a goal of two hours and 30 minutes. I had a goal of being out there and finishing. I knew right from the start we would not finish together. And that was fine with me. I did not want the pressure of feeling like I was holding her back from her goal. So off she went right away and I just let her go. I made a decision at the very beginning to walk through every water stop. I wanted to run the first 3 miles straight and then do a run/walk rotation of 5/1. I felt that I had trained that way, my body liked that way, and I was going to do it! And that is exactly
what I did!

It was GREAT! I loved it! I could not wait to see my family at mile 8 (where they would hopefully be waiting). I just kept thinking, I can get to 8 miles! I can do that! Keep going, Brittany, keep going! At some point, I realized that there were not nearly enough bands or cheering on this course. I realized that this run was just me and God. Nobody else. He had gotten me here and He would get me to the end. I had the best time out there. I would tell him when I was hurting and ask him to give me strength. I have never experienced anything like that run. Alone. But not at all. At mile 8 I saw Luck and Dani!!!!! I hugged them, started weeping, and left just as quickly as I got there. I cried hard for a while and realized I could not run while breathing that way. So I asked God to make my emotions go away and He did 🙂 I teared up a few more times when I realized I was really doing this thing!

About mile 10, I was beat. I had a HORRIBLE blister that felt like a constant bee sting on my big toe. My legs were no longer really there. I knew they were moving b/c I was, but I did not know how. I was running along SouthTown and kept thinking to “dig deep.” I did not even know what that meant, but I always heard people say that. Then I just said forget that and told God I could NOT go on without Him. There was NO way. The next few miles eventually went away and I found myself nearing the end. I knew I was way over the time I wanted. But I truly did not care. I would not have traded my slow, long run alone for anything in the world. The crowd started to get thick and the cheers regular. People were cheering for me! They were helping me finish! I saw the final hill (what moron made the race end on a hill?????) and made it up. I turned the corner and saw the finish line. I ran toward it. It was all surreal. 6 months of training for THIS!!!! And I did it! And I was about to cross the finish line! As soon as I crossed, I got my medal and started taking it in. I cried. But I needed to find Lucky. I called him. Then walked forever to get to where he and Dani were. I thought I was going to pass out.

We finally connected and I hugged Dani and Luck held me and I cried and cried. They were tears of joy and exhaustion and being overwhelmed and relieved and proud and some leg pain, too! It was over. I did it. I learned what it means to have a conversation with God for 2 1/2 hours. And how real he is. And how to rely on him for strength. And that I truly can do anything through Christ who strengthens me!

When we made it back to my parents’ house, they were all outside cheering for me. Michelle, Justin, Gabi, Reid, and my mom all jumping up and down. It was beautiful! I talked to my dad later (he had been in a tournament that day) and he could not believe I had done it! Lucky teared up all day long and told me how proud he was. The look in Dani’s eyes was priceless. Reid later told me “aggratulations, mama.” Luck went out and bought me a pie to celebrate. While he was gone, I put the kids in bed. We sat on Reid’s floor and prayed together. Dani thanked God for me being able to finish the race. Reid prayed for my blister to heal. It was an amazing end to an amazing day. I spend my life caring for my family. But yesterday, they paid me back for everything. I am blessed beyond words. Thank you family and thank you friends who cheered me on and inspired me to keep at it. Your facebook messages have overwhelmed me! I love you all!

And as a follow up, don’t ever train for a half marathon to lose weight…in the end I gained 12 lbs. Oh well! It was worth it!

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