Last week, I completed my third half marathon within 13 months.
13 months before that… I had never ran more than 3 miles in my life. Maybe even two miles? The only time I even considered running was if:
- I was required to run the mile in gym class (worst day EVER!)
- I was required to run the “warm up” lap for track practice (that is unless I could get away with hiding under the stadium bleachers and busting out only for the last 1/4 mile).
- It was freezing cold and I didn’t have a coat
- I was chasing after a beer pong ball
- My dog escaped from the house
- I was late for class and had a presentation or paper due
- I was trying to get to McDonald’s before breakfast was over
Okay, so get the picture. I was never a runner. Never thought I would be. Never.
But this past year, I have proved to myself that anything is possible. Anyone, within health reasons, can run. You might not run as fast or far as you would like, but I promise with time and dedication you will reach your goals. And I proved that last Sunday when I completed the Monumental Half Marathon in downtown Indianapolis on Nov. 5, 2011.
My goal was to finish the race in under 3 hours. I finished in 3:03 and 3:06 (in that order) in my previous half marathons. So, I was pretty determined to kick butt this time around and see a time under 3 hours. I didn’t even care if it said 2:59:59 - it was under three hours.
Unfortunately, I was overcoming back and foot injuries during my training for this race. In fact, there was a point where I didn’t even think I would be able to complete the race.
But after therapy sessions with my doctor, I was ready to rock. And she approved my participation.
My alarm went off at 6:15 am. Too early for a Saturday, especially when it’s 32 degrees outside and you are about to run 13.1 miles.
But with mis-matched socks, I was excited. Pumped up to hit my goal.
And by 8:15 am we were at the start line, freezing our butts off! Pictured below with my amazing running partner, Sabrina!
Our first mile was fast. The fastest I’ve probably ever done in a race, about 11 minutes. I didn’t have time to work on my intervals to stay around a 12:30 min pace because there were SO many people at first…and everyone was running. If I would have stopped, I am pretty sure I would have gotten plowed over.
So we kept running.
Now is an important disclaimer, I put my timing tag in my fanny pack. Don’t do that- it doesn’t pick up GPS signal. Put it on your shoe like they tell you to. No one except for God will truly ever know my finishing time, but basing it off my running partners time and the master clock, that is how I estimate my finishing time.
My first burst of inspiration came when I saw my friend Kaley Collier, who was outside of the Colt’s stadium in her cheerleading outfit!
“ASHLEY BEDWELL I FREAKING LOVE YOU!” She yelled at me as I ran by- it was the best burst of inspiration early on in the race.
We were going great on our intervals. But with no surprise, my body started to REALLY hurt around mile 6, which was when I told myself I would have my first energy gel pack. Vanilla flavored. I would pretend it’s a cupcake. Or a latte. Filled with pain pills.
And that’s what I did.
But miles 6-9 were the longest. I felt like those 3 miles lasted 3 YEARS! I started to get tight all over. Every single muscle hurt or felt swollen, especially my calves.
I was really excited when Sabrina stopped to use the restroom. I stretched and checked my Facebook & Twitter accounts. The messages inspired me. Made me laugh. Gave me confidence. Gave me strength. And with that, we took off running again.
About mile 9, I saw a sign that said, “YOU ARE SEXY AND YOU KNOW IT!”
Another burst of inspiration.
I started singing the song and stopped for a moment to do the “wiggle dance” and yelled back, “WIGGLE, WIGGLE, WIGGLE!”
It was beautiful and maybe awkward. But I did it anyway.
Right before mile 10, I came across my friends Meggie Dials & Adam Becker. They were on the bridge. The home stretch!
“HELLO CHEERLEADERS!” I yelled at them.
At this point, I was taking a walking break. I had Ibuprofen in one hand and a second energy gel pack in the other.
“HEYY!” Adam yelled.
“How are you feeling!?” Meggie asked me.
Instead of saying the truth…that my butt cheeks were numb and my body was aching all over, I yelled, “I am doing alright! THank you!”
And with that burst of inspiration, we were on the home stretch.
Three more miles.
You can do this, Bean said many times.
We are almost there.
But I was slowing and falling back.
My intervals of walking were becoming longer.
But thankfully, I looked at my watch and KNEW I would hit my time. Even if I did 15 minute 100% walking miles, I knew I would hit my goal and that positive thought kept me going.
With about half a mile left, I knew Sabrina could run all the way to the finish line. And I didn’t want to hold her back. I was sore and couldn’t run the entire time.
“Bean - I can’t run all the way there,” I said. “But you CAN! I’ll keep doing my intervals, but just go! Go kick ass and finish this thing!”
And with that, she took off.
“GO SABRINA!!!!” I yelled after her, so proud.
For me, I was alone.
I was left to push myself.
Left to inspire myself.
Left to make sure I did my intervals.
I saw the 13 mile sign.
Only .10 miles to go.
An older man pointed at me and said, “YOU! YOU CAN DO THIS!”
I’ll never forget that moment. His face. His smile. His voice. God bless the people that give up their mornings to inspire people like me to keep going strong. It was such a blessing. And the final dose of motivation I needed to finish the race strong!
“YES!” I said back. So sore. So tired. So weak.
I CAN DO THIS!
Another woman looked me right in the eyes and said, “You are almost there! Finish strong!”
I started sprinted.
Or what felt like sprinting for my weak body.
I have never pushed myself that hard in my life.
I came blasting across the finish line.
Moments later, I heard Justin yell for me, “ASHLEY!”
I felt like I was going to puke because my body hurt so bad. Everywhere.
But I was so excited because I hit my goal.
I walked up an older man gave me a sock hat. I think I said thank you. I hope I did. All I could think about was water and Jimmy Johns.
I kept walking forward and a woman put a medal around my neck.
“Great job!!” she said.
I felt special, usually they just handle you your medal and you have to put it on. But she put mine on.
Maybe because she saw my pain. Maybe because she knows the little things matter the most. Or maybe she heard my husband charging toward me saying how great I did!!
Justin came running up to the fence and gave me the biggest kiss on the lips and wrapped his arms around me. Thank God because I wanted to collapse.
“YOU DID IT!” He said.
“I think I am going to puke,” I said. “OMG, I did it…” Then I grabbed the pole for support.
I REALLY DID IT!
I reached for my phone and posted to my Facebook,”I hit my goal!!!!”
“Okay, now where is Jimmy Johns?” I said ready to plow through some food.
I am guessing that I finished about 2:54. So my new goal? 2:45 or less!
So, who wants to a run a half marathon with me in May?
Don’t start out too fast. Biggest rookie mistake. You are pumped up. There are thousands of people around you. Music is playing (sometimes). And in this case, it will be cold so I will want to get moving, quickly! But I have a plan. And I must stick to my plan of running and walking intervals. All I really need is to be around a 13:30 minute mile and I should definitely be under 3 hours. And our pace for the 10 mile run on Sunday was about a 12:40 mile. There is hope. OMG I WILL FLIP OUT IF I GET IT UNDER 3 HOURS! Mark my words! I WILL do the Bernie Dance or something crazy as I cross that finish line.
Bring fruit snacks. You burn nearly 2500 calories running 13.1 miles, at least that is what My Fitness Pal app told me. Fruit snacks give an extra burst of energy and hold me over until I pile down into some delicious food after the race. AND – I think Jimmy Johns will be at the finish line. That, my friends, is motivation. #WillRunForJimmyJohns
Stay positive. This one is easy at the start, you are happy and confident. Ready to kick butt, however- I must remember that I fall apart at mile six. Always. So I need to have a strong mind when my body fails me at moments.
Smile at everyone, even if your body hates life. This is important. Smiles can change your mood 100%. When I pass people (or more often when people pass me) who look like they just shit their pants or car just got towed in Broad Ripple after a long night at the bars– it’s not inspiring. Smile, people.
Inspire other people running / walking with random high fives and cheers! The people you meet during the race are incredible. I’ve met people of all ages. People running for all different reasons. People running their first race. People running their fortieth race. It’s beautiful, and I love hearing their stories about why they run.
Be thankful for the volunteers. I am never happier than when I see the volunteers standing on the side of street, holding out their arms with a cup of water. And even the yellow Gatorade- even though I absolutely hate yellow Gatorade, I drink it every single time. And I thank every single person for being there and for cheering us on.
STRETCH! My butt checks are sore from Sunday’s run and my back pain is a constant joy in my life (sarcasm). But I fight through it. I run through it. The best way to run through it, though, starts with stretching. Good, long stretches!
THANK YOU! I would like to thank YOU for supporting me. For reading my posts. For celebrating with me. For cheering me on each mile I complete. For pushing me through to conquer each race. It means the WORLD to me. Every phone call, every text message, every Facebook message, every Tweet- truly makes a huge difference. Your kind words and inspirational messages are what I think about when I am at my weakest points during the race.
I am going to be completely honest, I thought I was going to suck today on our 10 mile run. I kept texting my running partner and letting her know I might not go that fast.
I might struggle.
I might be weak.
I might be sore.
And we joked that later about those texts because she knew how nervous I was to run today. Mainly because I haven’t trained well and I am recovering from back, knee and ankle injuries from the Indy mini marathon in May.
But, I am happy to say we rocked this run! In fact, if we keep this pace, I will finally finish a half marathon in under three hours!!!
We decided to run on the Monon Trail, one of my favorite places to run - especially in the Fall!
Lexie & Sabrina knew my plan. Run 3-5 minutes and then walk 1-3 minutes. Typically, we ran 3 minutes and walked 2 minutes. The doctor said this would be the best way for me to finish the race healthy. And by golly, it worked.
Miles 1-2 were super easy. I kept talking about how great I felt. How fast I felt like my feet were moving compared to previous runs. I felt confident. My mental strength was exactly where I needed it to be in order to finish today’s long run.
While running, we shared stories about nearly everything. And my favorite part was remembering our first run together on this path. We were doing so much better this time around - faster and stronger. We walked probably 75% of the long run last year- but not this year, we had a good pace and it felt great.
Mile six is always hard for me.
Everyone has that hard mile that always tests their mental strength. And for me- that is mile six.
Mile six is where I completely fell apart on the track at the mini marathon last May.
Mile six is where I wanted to jump down one of the trails in my first half marathon…hoping to tumble down closer to the finish line. I didn’t even care about bumps and bruises at that point - because I already had bruised ribs, swollen hips and scraps on my arms a bike accident that was just 5 days prior to the race.
But I fought through mile six - I reminded myself that we were more than halfway done and if we can maintain this pace…we will certainly have a great race on Saturday.
Mile six was definitely hard though. At one point, it was hard to lift up my legs and my left foot was dragging on the ground.
“Pick up your feet,” Lexie laughed at me.
I was looking down at my feet as if they were attached from my body and said, “I know! I don’t know why that is happening!” I said back.
We took a few water breaks, stopped to stretch when needed and smiled at the strangers on the trail - especially this insanely adorable old man who had a smile glued to his face each time we passed him. It was a simple reminder to keep going - keep pushing hard to the end.
About mile 8 our legs were burning, knees were going out, ankles were swelling and I had lost feeling in both of my butt cheeks.
Surprisingly, my back was doing great. Not great like a normal person, but great for me. When I was running, I tried to focusing on my posture and remind myself not to hunch over when going up hills.
We slowed down for a bit and ended up walking the last mile and a half, only running here and there. We didn’t want to overdo it, especially with the race being next weekend. And even with the walking break toward the end- we still completed 10.5 miles in 135 minutes.
My confidence is soaring high and I am so ready for Saturday, which is great because I’ve considered not running in this race about 309.5 times. My fears and insecurities have been getting the best of me these past few weeks.
But, I am reminded to never let the fears of the unknown control your life. Seriously….no matter if it’s a fear about a poor race or a fear about moving to a new city, taking a new job or jumping into a new relationship. Do not live in fear.
If I finish this half marathon in 2 hours and 59 minutes and 59 seconds, I will be insanely happy. But if I finish this race in 3 hours 5 minutes and 59 seconds, I will still be insanely proud because fear did not win the race. There is only one person I am racing against and that is myself.
Picture: Enjoying my pumpkin pie blizzard after the 10 miler.
Today, I went to a chiropractor on my lunch break. I haven’t been able to run the same since my back gave out on me during the mini marathon in May.
So, I was a little nervous to hear what she would say. I’ve been pushing it off because I am supposed to be training for a half marathon - the race is on Nov 5. And I haven’t been doing a good job at it…mainly because I’m trying to listen to my body. Because I know if I push myself too far, too often - I will do some serious damage.The longest I’ve done during training is 5 miles…which isn’t good. This weekend I have plans to try for 6-7 miles for my long run.
My knees move inward so bad when I squat or move forward - bad posture when running…is a bad thing. The doctor wants to take it easy on the running until I can get build up strength again in my lower back, hips and butt. She gave me exercises to do, such as squats and leg lifts.
I still have about 3 weeks until the big race.
She isn’t sure how soon I should be running distance, but she promised we would move as quickly as possible through treatments and exercises. For now, she wants me to do light jogs and focus on the exercises she teaches me.
I battled all day inside my head about what I should do….
Should I run/ walk the race?
Should I skip it?
Should I just walk all of it?
Should I just go and cheer my friends on?
What should I do?
No matter the way I worded the question, I always came back to this answer: you can do it. You might not do it fast. You might even do it at your slowest pace. You might not finish strong. You might even be crawling across the finish line. But, you can do it.
So, I’m putting my mind to it. Because a healthy mind can you get you through anything- especially when your heart and passion is along for the ride.
How I Lost a Small Child
by Savannah Lynn Tielking
Okay, I didn’t really lose a small child. First off, I only know a few small children & I don’t think that I would purposely try to lose them (their mothers might kill me). But, I have lost 26 pounds since July 18th, and my good friend, Ashley, wanted me to write a post about it.
The Skinny on Becoming Fat
In high school I was skinny & in shape. I was in dance & cheerleading; pretty active. My friends told me I was skinny. I heard it from my family. Everyone wanted to be like me - a stick. At 5’9” and somewhere between 130-140 pounds, I was skinny. Fast forward 6 years & 30-something pounds; I found myself in a serious (comfortable) relationship, fatigued, lacking motivation, and full of excuses. I was an emotional (happy, sad, excited, scared – any emotion you could think of, I ate because of it) and bored eater. I ate because I had nothing better to do.
Wake Up Call
I was talking to my mom about her recent appointment at our family doctor. As she was talking to me, I realized that if I didn’t change my habits NOW, that I was going to end up in the same situation she was going through – but at a younger age. I went to see my doctor.
I was in denial about my weight gain for the longest time. I would tell myself over and over that I was fine, that I would lose the weight when I was ready, that I would eventually get into shape, and that somehow this would all happen without me trying too hard. It didn’t help that every friend told me I was skinny or that Iooked good. I didn’t feel good, I hated getting dressed up to go out, and I dreaded looking in the mirror (especially in a bikini!). I tried every extreme fad diet or exercise program that I could get my hands on. I would stick with it for a few days, maybe even a few weeks, but I would eventually quit. I didn’t have the right mind set or the self control. Even on the few times that I did try to lose weight the correct way, things didn’t seem to be in my favor. I spoke to my doctor about various problems (weight gain/not being able to lose weight, fatigue, depression, etc) she suggested a thyroid test. My mom has thyroid problems; it runs in our family. I went to have the blood work done and a few weeks later came back for a follow up appointment.
A couple of weeks went by and I headed back to see my doctor about my blood test results. She told me that everything was fine. My first thought? ‘Really? I was hoping this was my answer, this was the reason I wasn’t skinny anymore!’ I choked back the tears that were welling up in my eyes. I didn’t want to have problems with my health in 10 years, I wanted to have kids – eventually – but how the heck am I supposed to take care of another human being if I can’t take care of myself, most importantly - I wanted to be happy with myself again. I explained it all to her. She smiled, nodded, and hugged me. She told me that we could do this – together - and that she would make sure I was happy. She told me that even though I may have been eating right and working out, that maybe I wasn’t doing what was right for me. She handed me a brochure about Low Carb Diets. She explained that with my family history, that she felt this would be best for me. She wrote me a prescription for phentermine – an appetite suppressant/metabolism booster. She told me to do 30 minutes of cardio at least 5 times a week. I was told that if I did my part (dieting & exercise) that she would continue to write my prescription until all my weight was gone.
And It Began…
I started to diet, worked out hard, and the pounds started to drop. I felt awesome! I was hearing positive words from everyone around me. I loved the new way that my old clothes began to fit me. Everything was a bit looser; a little baggier. I can’t say that there is an exact science to losing weight. Every person is different and how you lose weight can happen differently.
Here is a list of things that helped me:
-Ask for help if you need to -talk to your doctor, don’t be embarrassed, they are there to help you!
-Portion Control – You can still eat great, and things you love just portion it out. Buy measuring cups, a kitchen scale, and read labels. Eventually, you’ll be able to just look at the food and know how much you can eat. Eat veggies, fruits, whole grains; you know all the things that are good for you!
-Count Carbs – this isn’t for everyone, and I suggest talking to your doctor before doing a low carb diet. I was told to eat no more than 10 carb servings a day. One carb serving equals 15 grams of carbs.
-Work Out!! I made sure to get my 30 minutes of cardio 5 times a week. I never stepped onto a treadmill during this entire time. I was addicted to the elliptical! I also made sure to weight train…build muscle!!
-Take Compliments- This was really hard for me to do. I realize now that those words of encouragement can really make you push yourself. After seeing me at the community pool one day, two of my cheerleaders told me that I didn’t need to wear a tankini. They said that I would look good in a bikini. I don’t think that they realized how much their compliment impacted me. On days I didn’t want to work out, I thought back to that moment, and remembered that these girls believed in me and that I shouldn’t let them down.
-Reward Yourself – Give yourself a non-food treat for reaching goals. Buy a new pair of shoes. Buy new workout clothes. Get a manicure/pedicure.
-Have Cheat Meals – Yes I cheated. But only ONCE a week! I would plan my cheat meals. If I knew that I was going out for dinner one night, or to a special event, I would plan around that. I would make sure that I ate great the rest of the week and the day of. I also made sure that I would workout extra hard the day of. Then I would ENJOY my cheat meal. Give yourself something to look forward to.
-Tell everyone you know about your new diet/workout goals – I feel the more people that know about your goals, the better you can stick to it. They will keep you accountable.
-Everyone has bad days – If you screw up, if you have a bad day or a bad meal, don’t let that get you down! Take that and grow from it. Don’t let it ruin the rest of your day/week. Everyone has bad days, don’t beat yourself up over it, and just don’t let it snowball out of control.
-Don’t get discouraged! – There was a whole week that my weight didn’t budge. I was TICKED. I took that anger and turned it into pushing myself harder at the gym. The next week I dropped 3 more pounds.
-Be Realistic – When I met with my doctor, I told her that I didn’t have a goal weight, that I had a goal look. When I could fit into a size 6 is when I would be happy. She then looked at my chart and told me not to go below 140 pounds. For my height, less than 140 would be unhealthy. She felt though, that I would reach my size goal and possibly go beyond that.
-Give into your cravings – If I craved something, I ate it, BUT ONLY A SMALL PIECE OF IT! If you crave something don’t hold back, because later on your may binge. Eating a piece of cake is better than eating a whole cake.
-It doesn’t happen overnight – Poor eating habits & weight gain don’t happen overnight. Neither does losing weight or changing habits. This takes time, and don’t let that discourage you!
-Educate yourself – Read articles about weight loss. Look up fun workouts online (YouTube is a great resource! There are tons of cardio dance videos on there!). Join a forum or support group. Ask friends to workout with you.
All of these things helped me get to where I am now. I am proud of myself, and thankful for the support I have continued to receive during this journey. If you are ready to make a change, find that inner strength and jump in two feet first. You’ll be glad you did. I am glad that I did!
Follow Savannah on her blog The Shape of Happiness: www.savannahtielking.blogspot.com