Which brings me to running - another theme that has somewhat dominated my attempt at blogging over the years. And now it's just one more thing that Crystal and I have in common, for her pending trip to California includes our first race together! Crystal and I will be competing in the Orange County Half Marathon on May 4th! It's not just the two of us, either - we are joined by my college buddy and now fellow California resident Amy Fujimoto. This race is my TWENTHIETH half marathon!!! The big 2-0!! Add to that two full marathons, and a handful of 5K, 10K and reverse triathlons and you could say that I've made quite a lifestyle change since turning 40 in 2008.
Go back and look at the photos from my 40th birthday party in Las Vegas. I had very cute hair and fun clothes that fit...but I was a fat girl. That's really all there is to say. I realize that "fat" is an insensitive word to use, but I was heavy, unhealthy, and depressed. I got my groove on with Weight Watchers in 2008 and really was dedicated for about 18 months. I was a svelt size 6 for a little while...but have yo-yo'ed for the past six years. Becoming a runner doesn't mean that you can eat whatever you want because you burn so many calories. In many ways, I've had to be so much MORE stringent about what I eat and when I eat it. And now, with just ten days away from my 20th half marathon, I'm more focused than ever to remain fit, healthy, and CONSTANTLY IN MOTION.
Awareness of health and wellness becomes very frightening when someone close to you becomes sick - first my father, who lost his battle with lung cancer in 2007; and my husband, Charles, who experienced some dire health issues just a little over 18 months ago. You really do think about the long term and wonder what might be around the corner for you. Some extended conversations with my sister, who is hypothyroid (as I am) got me thinking more about diet and blood type. And then...one of the biggest blessings of my life in the last year....joining a "little" running group on Facebook that was supposed to inspire and challenge me as I continued my pursuit of being a strong runner.
Yes, Jenny's Holiday Challengers fell right into my lap around Thanksgiving of last year. The idea: post your weekly running goals and cheer the other group members on as we muddle through the holiday season staying focused on our fitness. As our goals grew, or camaraderie grew. The group grew. The friendship, passion, support, inspiration...all grew. To EPIC proportions. And now I feel so amazing...so supported, so inspired...and am moving into my 20th half marathon next weekend with a renewed sense of myself. A renewed belief that I am a strong, empowered, fit, and healthy runner. I feel like this group of overachievers and fitness gurus have been my best friends all my life.
I worked in college housing for more than 20 years - as an undergraduate Resident Assistant, I attempted to build community for my fellow students. As a live-in Hall Director and Area Coordinator, I facilitated community building through supervising RA's and providing programming. As a manager and director, I helped point the arrow in the direction of how to build community. But I can honestly say that I've never experienced being a TRUE MEMBER of a community until now, with Jenny's Challengers. This entire week I've really gushed over this group, and I'm sure they are super tired of my rants of love. But I hope that they all know how much I've enjoyed being part of the community and I look forward to connecting further as we support each other through training, races, highs and lows in our lives.
So stay tuned - my goal for the week of April 28 is to countdown to the 20th Half Marathon with final training, race pace goals, tales of the expo, and race day shenanigans. Let's see if Crystal's visit this year keeps my blogging going strong!!