I am going to start by saying that I truly know NOTHING about running. I have never read a book, blog, or watched a video on how to. I do NOT consider myself a runner and I am sure if I was every evaluated by a coach or a real runner they would have no less than 1 million notes and criticisms for me. All of that aside – I FREAKING LOVE RUNNING.
When I started this journey back in April 2015 I was working on my fitness pretty regularly. I was attending Zumba classes at the local University. I was also getting to my school’s gym about 3 days a week to walk on the treadmill. Although I was happy to be moving and doing something….I felt like I was just going through the motions. Over the course of that summer I started to walk my dog long distances. I felt that was helping with my minimal weight loss at the time but it really was not something that I looked forward to doing. I did and continue to enjoy Zumba and other fitness classes that I can take locally – but nothing gives me the same sense of satisfaction and doing something as running does.
After my surgery in December 2015 – I had to heal before I could really get into the fitness aspect of this transformation. I thought that exercising would be the key to my success. I now know that I was only partially right – exercise is key – but only one of the many keys. I am learning that this lifestyle is all about balance and figuring out what works for me. Maintaining a healthy low carb diet, drinking my water, and exercising three to four days a week seems to be working for me so far. What I am also learning is that I have to schedule that exercise – whatever it is – into my daily life. I am a busy person.
I’m a full time mother of two active kiddos. I’m a full time teacher who takes on a lot of other awesome tasks at school. I support my husband in his coaching endeavors. I need to schedule in this “me time” and that time is mostly for exercise!
After about 2 months, I was cleared for full physical engagement. This meant that I could do any type of exercise – I no longer had to worry about it being low impact. This would have put me at about the middle of February. If you’ve ever been to Maine in February, you know that I was NOT going to be outside getting my exercise in. I did however pick up some Zumba classes and a really great underwater aerobics class. By having some variety and including 3 days on the treadmill (still at about 40-45 minutes) I was feeling good about exercising. I was also, at the time, getting the hang of my eating and what I liked – so things were really clicking!!
Fast forward to the end of March – we actually had a really mild winter – by Maine’s standards. The snow was melting and things were starting to smell like Spring. I decided that I would start to hit the road and walk outside – instead of in the gym. This was one of the moves I had made. I also started to take a kickboxing class – which was incredible. My husbands coaching seasons had come to and end…so now it was time for me to do what I enjoyed. This time around – it wasn’t lounging around at home and eating meals out at local restaurants. I wanted to have time to go to more classes and exercise. This was a totally new sensation for me. I wanted the time to make myself better – who would have thunk it? I asked my hubby to come on walks with me. Walking with someone is so much better than doing it alone. So, it became our thing. We would get home from school, change up, and hit the roads with our dog. We figured out a good walking loop – probably about 2 miles. Eventually one day – I told my hubby that I thought that I could run down the whole block without stopping. He, always encouraging, agreed. “You can do anything you want to do.” These are always the words that he uses to help me succeed. It has taken me a really long time to realize that – a) he means it and b) that it is true. I can really do anything that I want to do. So……I did it. I ran to the end of the block – waited for him, and we walked a little bit more. Then, we would get to another straight away and I’d run to the end of the block and wait for him. This went on for a few weeks. One Saturday morning, I went out by myself and I ran the whole thing from start to finish without stopping. It was hard, my lungs burned, but I did not collapse, and I lived to get up and do it again! That’s how it started for me. I just started and I haven’t looked back since.
By the end of April, I thought that I would try actually running a timed race – a 5k that I found happening in Calais. The purpose of the run was to raise awareness and funds for Native water rights in the state. The race was sponsored by the Maine-Wabinaki REACH group and it was an really awesome event. Before the race even started they did a full smudge ceremony and I really felt blessed to even be running the race. What a way to start my competitive running stretch!! I ended up coming in 11th – and I am not sure how many people ran in the race total – but my time was 38:04. I was just happy that I finished the race and ran from start to finish!! For me, that was the biggest victory!
Since my first race I have competed in 6 other competitive races of all different lengths. I have improved my 5k by – what I would consider – a great deal. My first time was 38:04. I did a race over Labor Day weekend and came in 3rd place for the women with a time of 28:43!! I got a trophy and bought 10 pounds of freshly steamed Maine Lobsters to celebrate with my family……victory has never been so sweet!!
My greatest accomplishment so far – however – was competing in the Machias Blueberry Run. This race takes place in August and is a 5 mile run through my little town. It draws a big crowd and we were over 200 people participating this year. Last August I put my youngest little man, Griffy, in a running stroller and pushed him through the kids 1 mile “fun run”. I had already started my journey with pursuing surgery so I had been exercising daily but still did not have my eating 100% under control. Alycia – my husband’s cousin’s wife (who is totally awesome, by the way) did the walk/run with me. She is a real runner and frankly, I am in awe of her ability to do all the amazing things that she does on a daily basis. I told her that I was in the program to have the surgery and that by this time next year I was hoping to run the 5 mile race. She might not remember this – but she said: “You know Mathy, if you say your going to lose weight and run this race, I believe it 100%. If anyone can do it, it would be you.” This has stuck with me over the course of the year. I was so excited to have her run the 5 mile race with me in August. She, of course, dominated and finished it in no time at all!! It took me 50:03 to finish the course. I had been running the course all summer for practice and I never finished it under an hour. So, you can imagine my surprise when I did it in just about 50 minutes. I was full on ugly crying when I approached and crossed the finish line. The whole last mile of the race my brain was telling me that not only could I do this, but that my body was made for this. Now, frankly, that might have been the endorphins speaking – but it felt so so so good crossing that finish line. Even sweeter was having my husband, my kiddos, and Alycia there cheering me on. My husband told me later that he was so proud of how strong and fast I looked as I came into the home stretch. This really meant a lot to me – because I never saw myself as a person who could ever run a full race!!
My exercise this summer pretty much consisted of running. I know that I should have done strength training…but I really caught the running bug. At the start of summer, I made a goal for myself to run 10 miles a week. By the second week of the summer I was blowing that goal out of the water!! My longest run was 12.3 miles long – it took me 2 hours and I did not move much for the rest of the day, but I did it!! At the end of the summer, before we went back to school – I added up all the miles I ran. My grand total was 233.8 miles. I checked it out on Google Maps and that is the equivalent of driving from my house in Machias all the way to Baldwin, Maine – which is out in the western part of the state. That’s pretty wild!!
Now that school is up and going full tilt, unfortunately, I have less time to run. A year ago, if I had uttered those words out loud, I would have made my hubby take my temperature. Today, I am legitimately sad that I can’t run as much as I would like to. What I am doing now is getting up around 445am and running my usual 4+ mile loop around my neighborhood. It takes me about 40 to 45 minutes depending on how tired I am. I have been running on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings. On Tuesdays and Thursday I take my little dog for a long (about 2 miles) walk. I get home with enough time each day to shower and get ready for school. I feel really good when I get my works out done in the mornings. I have a lot of energy and I think it helps with my teaching!! I am also easing myself back into fitness classes by attending a Tuesday night Zumba class. It’s good to keep moving and I love the music!! I will be upset when the snow starts to fly as I am sure that I will not be able to run outside – for safety reasons alone!! I guess I will head back in doors and hit the treadmill until the snow melts.
I have had a lot of fun with running and I have actually really enjoyed it. I have kept track of my runs and documented them on social media. I am sure everyone is tired of seeing my updates – but it really helps me to stay accountable. I have been overwhelmed by all the encouragement that I’ve been given from friends and family around the world!! I also get a lot of encouragement from my little community. So many horns honking and waving as I’m running through town. Every single toot and wave helps me get to the finish line…there is no doubt in my mind that it helps!! There are a bunch of older men that sell their goods on the Dyke and they cheered me on every morning this summer!! Later, when I see them in the grocery store or a local restaurant, they come up to me and tell me how proud they are of my determination and all my hard work!! It feels really good to hear that from people that are pretty much just strangers!!
Running has changed my outlook on exercise and being healthy. I feel so lucky to be able to do it and I’m hoping that I will be able to continue to do so. Running is a life long opportunity. Although it’s hard on the body…it does make me feel stronger. I have a great sense of accomplishment with each completed run. It has been great for my confidence as well. I know that running isn’t for everyone…but I’m glad that I took that first step.
As always – I hope that you found something useful here!! Let me know if you have any questions about my routine – I would be so happy to hear from you!!