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A Marathon of Half Marathons

image1I have my clients keep “Celebrations and Confessions” journals. This is a journal where they write down some of the things that they feel that they need to confess as they go through their weight loss journeys. It’s a safe place that they can get it out, let it go and move on without beating themselves up to much over it and in the process of doing so, cause themselves to fall into the vicious cycle of feeding feelings and emotional eating.  It is also a place where they write down the things that they are proud of and the things that they want to celebrate in their journeys. 

Sometimes the only way someone else knows we want them to acknowledge and celebrate an accomplishment with us is if we make the effort to make them aware of what the accomplishment is.

Today I have a really BIG accomplishment I would like to share with you all and ask you all to celebrate with me.

IMG_5869Three weeks ago I ran the Star Wars The Dark Side half marathon with my partner-in-crime Jeff Newell. It was Jeff’s first timed and chipped half marathon and that was a really big accomplishment for him and that is what the majority of my focus was on. 

But it was a really special accomplishment for me as well. It was my 26th half marathon.

26 half marathons. A full marathon is 26.2 miles. I know this real well because I just ran my first full marathon last January when I took on the Dopey Challenge and managed not to die after 4 days of getting up early and running far too many miles each day. So 26 half marathons is quite literally a marathon of half marathons. That is quite a feat.

Pandora420lbIf you had told 420 pound me who could hardly stand in the kitchen and cook a meal without experiencing foot and back pain that just 6 years in the future I would be celebrating an accomplishment like this I would have wondered what sort of drugs you had been taking and why you weren’t sharing it, because obviously that was some pretty good stuff.

I look back at photos of that girl and I scarcely recognize her or the lifestyle that I was living back then. 

I think back to that moment that my Dad came to me and told me that he would love me no matter what, but that I was digging a grave with a fork and a spoon and that he was worried I wouldn’t live a happy and healthy life.

I started running as a coping mechanism of dealing with the loss and grief that I experienced when my Dad passed away. Running has been my way of staying emotionally connected to him even though he can’t be here with me anymore. When I run I talk to him, I share what is going on in my life with him and I always know that he is listening to me.

26 is just a number. But it is a number that has held a lot of symbolism for me in my life and in my weight loss journey. My father was born in 1926. It has always been one of my favorite years. When I had lost 260 lb. I got 26 stars tattooed on my back – one for every 10 lb. I had lost. The number 26 has great significance to me. 

13173693_10206671781488519_7014395854559789663_nI looked up my split times for this latest half marathon the other night and my fastest mile was mile 11 – my dreaded mile. Mile 11-12 is usually the one I struggle on the most. But in this last event I ran that mile in 10:01— Who ever would have thought this girl would be running a 10 minute mile. That astounds me.  I remember a day only 6 years ago that I couldn’t even walk a 30 minute mile.

I am amazed each day at the difference in my life the moment I started living it outside the confines of obesity. For the first time in my life I am experiencing life, love and happiness without having to try to change myself or who I am to feel like I earned it. I am just being me and enjoying every moment.  

Since Star Wars I have run the Myrtle Beach Diva and the Tinker Bell Half Marathon and now have 28 Half Marathons on the books and I am currently trying to decide what my next goal is going to be,

But for today, I am Nashville bound to speak and teach an exercise session at this years the WLSFA ( Weight Loss Surgery Foundation of America ) Annual Meet and Greet. — Now if only I can find the time to go to the Johnny Cash Museum while I am there.

Until next time, remember that celebrating your wins against obesity and sharing your story and giving yourself credit for your  successes can be very important part of your weight loss journey.

See you all in Nashville. Yeehaw!

DSSPostSig

Pandora Williams author of Desperately Seeking Slender is a  Cooper Approved Wellness Coach Trained in Weight Management Strategies and Motivational Speaker studying to become a Certified Personal Trainer.

Star Wars The Dark Side Half Marathon Recap

Star Wars The Dark Side Half Marathon…


13043727_10154044665041788_450721686740233485_nThe name alone should tell you why I originally signed up for this race. I’m a geek girl at heart and almost every man I have ever dated was a Star Wars geek. This half marathon was sure to help me get my nerd on and really who could resist running in an event that allows you to dress up in a Star Wars running costume.


I’m not going to call myself a RunDisney veteran, but I have run quite a few RunDisney races in the last two years of my post weight loss journey. My first RunDisney event was the Tinker Bell Half Marathon in 2014, I ran the Wine and Dine Half Marathon in 2014 as well. In 2015 I repeated both of those events to achieve another Coast to Coast Medal. This year, I participated in the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend and completed the Dopey Challenge running a total of 48.6 miles in four days.

12994472_10154044665071788_9019052707649389380_nI had very high expectations of the Star Wars The Dark Side Half Marathon. I expected it to be one of the best half marathons I have ever participated in. I expected it to be even more amazing than any RunDisney event I had done so far and regretfully I have to say that I was a little disappointed.

Things seemed really unorganized to me this time around which is not something I am used to feeling at a RunDisney event. With as much as we pay to participate in these events I just expect them to seem almost flawlessly organized. When I am dropping nearly $400 in registration fees for the privilege of running for two days in a challenge event I have a few set expectations.

I expect the characters that are available for photos to be there for photo ops both at the before and after gatherings. Many people were upset about how quickly the characters had gone inside the morning of the 10K and the morning of the Half. We were able to get quite a few photos after the half on Sunday morning. But I really felt like we got lucky. We got everything in RIGHT before the lines closed. There was a lot of pressure to try to get those photo ops and that’s not a good feeling when you are at an event that is supposed to be fun.

I expect the opportunity to run by all the characters that are on the route and take a picture of them. I’m not saying I expect the lines to stay open and that I expect the ability to stop and pose with each character. If I am not a fast enough runner that I can afford to spend the time on stopping and standing in line to take a photo with a character without jeopardizing making the required pace time I understand that. Close the lines once it is too late to take photos. But I do expect that the characters are out there and I am able to take a photo as I run by. Pulling the characters off of the route early seemed awful unfair to me.

I was running with a friend that was an absolute Star Wars nerd. This wasn’t his first RunDisney event, he ran the 10K part of the Dopey Challenge with me back in January. But it was his first RunDisney half marathon and he was very excited about the photos of characters. We were counting on the fact that even though he might be very close to pace time, I had the ability to run ahead, snap a photo and then fall back into the crowd with him. But by the time the latter corrals got there, lots of the characters had already been removed from the route.

I ran the 10k that was held on Saturday by myself. My very dear friend Carrie Zavitz was running it as well but she wanted to run solo. So we started together and then planned to meet at the finish line. For me  this meant running at my pace rather than that of whoever I am running with. I had an overall time of 1:23:00 and managed to get a photo of every character that was there and stop in several places to snap a quick selfie with a few of the characters that were standing around.

I expect to be able to get a beer at the finish line. — Lot’s of runners feel the same way. I promise, there was a lot of complaining at the finish line when there was no beer available. Apparently we were suddenly in county where we were not allowed alcohol before 11:30am on a Sunday. — I’m not sure when this rule suddenly changed because I know that when running the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend just a few months ago there was plenty of beer available after the morning runs. The only thing I can guess is that somehow finishing the race at ESPN Wide World of Sports instead of at Epcot changed the rules somehow?

The Dark Side Half Marathon race route was different to say the least. There were some things that I really didn’t love about it. The slanted road was hard for a lot of people to deal with. Luckily I had experienced this part of the road during other races and knew to stay to the left where it was a little more flat. The dirt road leading us back into EPSN wasn’t great either.

I think the most disappointing thing to me though was the lack of energy that I felt at this event. RunDisney events are usually packed with people dressing up in cool costumes to run and have this amazing energy to them that just makes you want to keep coming back for more. I really didn’t see THAT many people dressed up this year and the overall energy to the crowd was a bit dismal.

13007136_10154044623781788_6617418167074683873_nWhether everyone else was dressed in a themed outfit or not, I was. I love dressing up for runs. I rocked a cut little Storm Trooper costume for the 10k and a cute little R2D2 outfit for the half marathon. I have to give a big shout out to my sole-sister, running buddy and dear friend Ronda Rhodes for making sure that our costumes were amazing. If it had not been for her and her amazing last-minute sewing and alteration skills I wouldn’t have looked nearly as cute as I did out there.

My best friend, partner in crime and the first guy I have ever coached and taken to run a half marathon beside me, Jeff Newell, of DefyingObesity.org matched my R2D2 costume with a Storm Trooper outfit that required he stay on my right hand side the entire time we were running with “I’ve found the droid I’ve been looking for” written on the back with an arrow pointing to the left. We got lots of compliments on our outfits along the route that day.

IMG_5538I think Jeff will be telling a story for years to come about how I had gotten a little ahead of him and suddenly there was another girl running next to him. She was dressed as C3P0 and she had run up  beside him so that her friend could take a picture of her running next to him and said “It looks like I am your new droid.” Her and her friends that were dressed as BB8 and R2D2 took turns getting their photos with his shirt and then ran off.

This is my third time now taking someone through an online and long distance 20 week training program that leads them to a RunDisney Half Marathon – I learn something new as a coach every time I do this. This time I had the ability to make sure that the person I was training had some opportunities to run with me during the 20 week training leading up to the event. Jeff ran his first 10k with me back in October when he was visiting Raleigh NC for the Obesity Help Convention and then he was able to run with me in December, January, February and March during my trips to Boston and when he ran the 10k next to me during the Disney World Marathon Weekend.

As a coach this was a big advantage to me. I knew his patterns, I had run with him a couple of times so I knew the difference between him losing steam and him truly needing to slow down. It was easier for me to tell the difference between a mental struggle and a physical struggle and to know when I could push him and when I couldn’t.

IMG_5869Jeff was dressed as a Storm Trooper when we crossed the finish line and I have to give this man a lot of credit because he had been quite a Trooper through his training. Our training schedule ran from the end of November through April and in January he had experienced a major set back when he had to have emergency surgery to fix an intestinal blockage. It is not easy to get benched in the middle of a training program, spend weeks recovering before you can exercise again and then rebuild your cardio stamina back in time to complete an endurance event like a half marathon.  I give him a lot of credit for coming off the bench and running not one but two half marathons within three months.

I may have ran the Star Wars The Dark Side Half Marathon at his pace instead of mine, but I have no doubt that someday he’ll be running a pace slower than his next to me. Of course that’s only because those long legs of his are going to give him a much bigger stride than mine.

I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do come October when it’s time to run the Jazz Half in New Orleans where I’m leading a group of my friends in the WLS community in to their first half marathon. But I have a few half marathons to run before then so I am sure I’ll be seeing you for another race re-cap soon. Plus I have another blog to write to tell you all about the milestone I hit in my weight loss journey during the Star Wars The Dark Side Half Marathon. I’m going to save that for another day though. But until we talk again… get out there, get moving and find your happy pace slender seekers.

DSSPostSig

Pandora Williams author of Desperately Seeking Slender is a  Cooper Approved Wellness Coach Trained in Weight Management Strategies and Motivational Speaker studying to become a Certified Personal Trainer.
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Author of Desperately Seeking Slender
Jaime "Pandora" Williams

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