So what changed?
Well it all started in January of 2011. I was in countdown mode to my May 29th Wedding and whenever I saw a picture of myself, I cringed. It's not that I was that huge or anything. Honestly, I was only about 15lbs overweight, but I just hated how I looked (it mostly had to do with my ridiculously chubby face) and so I decided I was finally going to take control of my life and do something about it! I had 5 months to get my butt in shape so I wouldn't cringe at all of my wedding photos.
And what happened? I actually did it! I lost 30lbs between January and April 2011. Mostly it was just by eating healthy and counting calories (using MyFitnessPal), but I also exercised a little - about 4-5 days per week for 45 minutes or so.
So how did that turn me into a running-obsessed, outdoor enthusiast? Well, fast forward a few months to the summer of 2011. Now that I was at a healthy weight and a little more fit, I decided it would be fun to go on a few hikes with my now husband - an Alaskan Eagle Scout who grew up doing all things outdoors. Now, I'm not sure when exactly this next part happened, but sometime towards the beginning of the summer, I brought up the fact that it would be fun to hike Long's Peak. At 14,255 feet, Long's Peak is the only 14er on the north side of the Front Range, and the tallest peak near Estes Park - my favorite Colorado mountain town (and where we got married).
The only downside to wanting to hike Long's Peak, is that it is a class three 14er - and I was nowhere near ready to do a hike that difficult. So, my husband decided he would help get me in shape for it! We spent the rest of the summer hiking miles and miles of the Front Range, mostly in Rocky Mountain National Park, but also venturing a little further south so I could hike a few easier 14ers - Mount Bierstadt (14,060'), Gray's Peak (14,270'), and Torrey's Peak (14,267').
Unfortunately, the end of the summer came faster than I thought and with a few unexpected family trips, I didn't get to hike Long's Peak that summer after all. Nor would I get to the next summer (but hopefully I will someday!), as in November of 2011, we moved 5 hours across Colorado to a part of the state I had never been to - Montrose.
My first winter in Western Colorado also brought on my first bit of weight gain since my initial loss - about 7 lbs. When I noticed it, I knew I had to get back on track. So I joined a gym and started getting back into the habit of exercising. In June, after seeing a lot of people on Facebook doing 5K's, I decided, I wanted to do one. I had never liked running before (in fact, I used to say I hated it!), but I thought it would give me some motivation to stay active. On July 14, 2012, I ran my first 5K - Komen for the Cure in Aspen, Colorado, and I finished in 34 minutes and 42 seconds. I definitely wasn't fast, but I ran the whole thing and I couldn't have been prouder of myself.
Much to my surprise, after that first 5K, I kept running. Sometimes I would even go try out new routes without a plan on where I was going and for how far. Before I knew it, I had ran 5 miles without stopping. In October, I signed up to run an 8K (which I did in 46:58) at Black Canyon National Park. There was something rewarding and freeing about running outdoors and in new places that I had never noticed before.
In November, I had ran over 6 miles, and officially decided, much to my surprise, that I wanted to run a Half Marathon. Unfortunately it was winter and there aren't too many racing options in Colorado during the winter, so when I heard about the Canyonlands Half Marathon in Moab, Utah, I decided it would be perfect. The race followed the southern boundary of Arches National Park and the Colorado River on Highway 128. What more could you ask for, for your first Half Marathon? I signed up, spent the winter training (despite the freezing January we had), and ran it in 2:00:51 - finishing almost 10 minutes faster than my goal time! Crossing that finish line was such a great experience for me! For the first time in my life, I felt like I had accomplished something I once never thought possible for a non-athletic, former chubby girl who sat the bench at my High School Volleyball games.
After that Half-Marathon, I was officially in love! I joined a Wednesday Speed Work Group (complete with Ultra Marathon runners!!), and started going to group fun runs on Saturday Mornings. Meeting new runners kept me inspired (and still does)! I always figured marathon runners would be stuck up, but everyone is SO nice. They give me advice and run with me despite the fact that I'm nowhere near as fast as most of them! It's been a vital part of the runner I'm becoming. I am so grateful that I stepped out of my comfort zone and not only started running, but started doing races on my own, and going to these group events on my own. Wanting to become a faster and better runner also inspired me to focus on eating healthy again and I ended up losing an additional 15 lbs!
After completing my first half marathon, I kept up the distance running (in fact you might say, I've fallen in love with it) and have now completed the grueling 17.1 mile Imogene Pass Run, a few Marathons, and even a 50K Ultra Marathon! Long distance running was something I once never even dreamed possible for me, but now I've done it and even had fun in the process! It's amazing how much you can do with a little hard work and dedication!
This blog is the story of my training as well as any fun side adventures I may come across on my journey!