Graduation! Oh Fraptious Day! I Have Gone 100K!

I apologize for the delay between the deed and the blog. I guess I didn't feel like it was really worth celebrating (ridiculous!), and now I am ready to reflect and celebrate. (Also, I promise never to ramble on this much again. Just this one time :) )

I completed Week 9, Run 3 on June 10, 2012. I envisioned running a full 5K with my entourage of supporters and a victory banner along picturesque country roads with the sun smiling down on me. As it happened, I ran 30 minutes (and about 3K) on a treadmill, avoiding a downpour. And then collapsing in a sweaty heap after 30 minutes. I had this secondary goal of running however long it took to get to 5K, which I did not complete. But my cumulative total for the program is just over 100K.

Still and all, I have a lot to celebrate. Especially when I look back on where I was before:

1.5 years ago: I could barely walk, and needed a cane. Stairs were a special challenge - I leaned heavily on the bannister and walls to support myself as I slowly climbed and descended. I tried to avoid activities that required taking even a single flight of stairs. I worked 5 blocks from the nearest subway stop, but often took a shuttle bus to the corner where my office was, because the walk was too arduous and long. I was in pain all the time.

October 2011: Life had really been kicking me in the teeth. I decided that I wanted to be healthy enough to participate freely in my own life. I completely changed my diet, and began a very modest resistance training regimen. I was a size 24, with a BMI of just over 40, and therefore morbidly obese. I had to buy clothes from plus-sized stores, and I hated it.

April 2012: With my new diet and exercise plan, I had lost about 40 pounds in 6 months, and lowered my BMI to about 33, and wore a size 14/16. My weight loss was definitely slowing, and I wanted to do something more to boost it. I could walk unassisted, with physiotherapy and orthotics, and could even use stairs without leaning on the bannister.

A good friend of mine had successfully done the C25K program many months before, and was still running and loving it. I thought perhaps I would give it a try.

I was frankly terrified that I wouldn't even be at the "Couch" level of fitness. I tried some practice laps around my living room to see if I could run/jog for 60 seconds even once. I could, although it was tough. I told myself I would do the program at my own speed. My goal was to finish in 15-18 weeks, allowing me lots of time to do the same weeks over until I was actually ready to progress. I expected it to be ugly, painful, jiggly and slow, but I determined to do it.

I had some very bad days. My first couple of runs nearly killed me, I was wheezing so bad. My chest ached. I had joint problems. I had anxiety and mood issues. Sometimes I couldn't even complete the runs, no matter how slowly I went. A couple of times, I slunk home defeated and in tears. I got the flu early on and had to postpone about a week.

But most of the program was wonderful! I got stronger, and my knees hurt less. I got an inhaler for my exercise-induced asthma, and my chest stopped hurting. (Then, sometimes I would forget the inhaler, and was delighted to find I could still run without keeling over.) I spent more and more time enjoying the scenery. I met more of my neighbors. I discovered beautiful, tree-lined bike paths winding around my neighborhood and into the hills and parks. I got lots of sunlight, and listened to the birdsong. I picked wildflowers. I felt like I really "won" every time I conquered a new challenge.

And I really did win. In spite of my poor health and low confidence, I progressed regularly, week after week. I ran veeerrrrryyyy slooooowwwlllyyy, but I could keep going through almost every run. At the end of week 6, I ran 30 minutes because I felt so good. At the end of week 7, I went 48 minutes, and 4.88 km. (I really wish I knew at the time how close I was to 5K, I would have gone the extra block!)

I was unhappy that I wasn't losing weight, with all the extra exercise and dieting, but my doctor advised patience. She said that it was common to have an "adjustment period" when adding a lot of cardio where weight loss slows or stops, but after the adjustment period, it would come off again even faster. For the first 7 weeks, I lost a whopping 3 pounds in total. (Less than I was averaging before starting C25K.) Then in weeks 8 and 9 I lost another 2 pounds - for a grand total of 5 pounds.

At the same time, I lost a full dress size (now size 12/14), and started getting a lot of supportive comments from people. It was funny. They seemed not to notice the first 40 pounds, but the next 5 apparently made all the difference!

Jun 10 2012: I can run for 30 minutes on a regular basis. Over the previous nine weeks, I have walked and run just over 100 km, which is especially awesome since I am pretty sure I would have literally been on the couch instead of out walking/running during that time. I lost a total of 45 pounds, and have a BMI of just under 32. I can wear clothes from regular stores, and often fit into medium tops and large bottoms (rather than extra-large). I no longer feel silly wearing leggings and running tanks. My asthma is well-controlled. My legs and joints are in good shape and hardly ever hurt. I can do squats (squats!) without serious knee problems. My mood is better. I look healthier than I have in many years. I've become totally addicted to running, and get grumpy when I can't go out, even on rest days.

June 22 2012: After completing my graduation run, I made a decision. I would significantly increase my strength-training regimen, while continuing to run 30 minutes 3x/wk. I lift weights for about 45 minutes, rest a few minutes, and then go do my week 9 podcast. Doing a major workout before the runs has certainly made it a challenge! I am not getting any faster, and sometimes I can't even run 30 minutes. Twice in as many weeks it has been more like "run 5 min, walk 1, rinse and repeat for 30 minutes". It may seem like a step backwards, but I can tell that I am working hard and getting stronger. I haven't actually run 5K yet, not even once, but I will get there.

And my doctor was right about the adjustment period. After losing 3 pounds in the first 7 weeks, I lost another 7 or so in the next 4 weeks, with no signs of stopping. I am down a total of 50 pounds now, and it feels amazing.

I tell pretty much everyone who will listen about how much I love this program. It has really changed my life in a short time. I am even hoping to enlist a friend to begin the program. I would go with her in addition to my normal workouts, and then I would have a running buddy!

I am not planning to disappear, so this isn't a goodbye. But I also want to thank the amazing community here. You are all so kind, so supportive. You kept me on track, lent me strength and perspective when I needed it, cheered me on, and made a huge difference in how I experienced this whole life-altering challenge. You guys are amazing. Thank you!

34 Replies

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  • What a fantastic, wonderful and inspirational achievement! You must be hugely proud of yourself. The entourage of supporters are all here on the message boards waving flags and cheering you on! We'd be there in person if we could! Keep up the good work and keep blogging - if that does not inspire some of the newbies I don't know what would!

  • I can just see you there! It's like a parade! Thank you. You are definitely keeping me going. :)

  • Imagine me running alongside you with a victory banner because I am! You are a true inspiration and a real credit to both this program and this forum. Believe me when I say that everyone who reads you blog is a supporter. This is just the start! Congratulations and be be proud, be very proud!

  • Thank you, thank you. I am swelling up inside with joy. Next time I stumble, I will see you running alongside me with my banner!

  • Wow congratulations to you on such a wonderful achievement. Thanks for posting such an inspiring blog :)

  • Thanks so much Minuette! You have been there with me the whole way.

  • Thanks for sharing this with the community. You must be proud. Virtual group hug is called for I think.

  • I love virtual group hugs! *HUG*

  • Wow. You are awesome. And such an inspiration. I'd like to add my banner to your parade! :-)

  • You are officially in the parade! Thank you.

  • Wow, I am so impressed! You are a running superhero! Never mind your graduation badge, you need a cape and a super hero outfit!

    My son is 13 and has a lot of joint problems, chronic fatigue etc. trying to mobilise at all when you're in pain is really hard, well done!

  • Love it! Maybe for Halloween.... I totally want a cape now. (I already have the spandex leggings, so I am half-way there.)

    Good luck to you and to your son. It can be tough when it seems like doing pretty much everything is easier for others - especially when you are a kid. The rewards are worth it.

  • Wow, what an inspirational blog, im just getting ready to go and run week 9 run 3, your blog will get me to the end

  • I am cheering you on too. Good luck on your graduation run!

  • What a truly moving and inspiring story! You have battled through so much to get where you are and I have always read your posts because they have spurred me on too.

    If there is one phrase I truly hate, its "going on a journey", but in your case it exactly describes your experience.

    I wish you well and do hope you will continue to post here. Your amazing story needs to be heard.

    Best wishes :)

  • Thank you! I am so glad to hear that others are helped too. Truly, being able to share with this community has made my experience better and more successful. I love it here, and plan to stick around.

  • AMAZING - I bet you can't stop smiling now! A real inspiration as I am also one of those who wonders if I can make it. Every time I doubt it, I'll go back and read your blog. Include me in the virtual group hug. Best regards.

  • I get days of self-doubt, but all I can say is - do it anyways. You totally can, I am sure of it. *Group HUG*

  • Oh Alaiyo, I have followed and been inspired by your story from the start and tried to absorb some of your sheer determination. I remember you battling through the snow for your early runs which made me feel sheepish for moaning when a bit rain fell here.

    I have been worrying that something was wrong as you have been so quiet after blogging so regularly throughout and am now sitting here with tears in my eyes to know you've made it to graduation and beyond. I am so happy for you. Everyone has had to fight their own demons to get through this programme but not many graduation badges are so well earned.

  • Thank you! I apologize for causing any concern. This is literally my first time blogging for anything, ever, and I didn't fully understand the implied contract between blogger and community - but I should have. I have real live friends here, who really care. And I am so touched. Thank you.

    I am nothing if not determined, but don't feel bad about being annoyed with the weather. I get cranky too. :)

  • Wow wow wow what an inspiration to me and everyone just starting out.

    I am just about to do w8r3 and after reading this I will do it even though I am a little under the weather.

    If you are on your run and see a huge banner that will be me and you deserve it.

  • Thank you! I see your banner in the parade too, and I love it.

    Best of luck on w8r3. If you aren't feeling great, do be gentle with yourself and your expectations. You will graduate very soon, even if you need an extra day to get better. (But if you feel up to it, go get 'em tiger!)

  • You rock!! You really do, amazing!

  • Thanks! Honestly, it is this community here that rocks. I might have given up at some point without everyone cheering me on.

  • How absolutely inspirational! Well done you, it's a joy to read of your triumph. You really are amazing!

  • Thank you very much. :) I feel quite a bit of joy too.

  • That's quite a story. This is a fabulous programme but ultimately it all comes down to individual people's efforts. Your story demonstrates the power of both. Well done; keep on running!!

  • Thank you, that is very kind. I certainly have put in a lot of effort, but without a great program, and the support of so many people (friends, doctors, this community) I doubt I be able to run. I will definitely keep it going.

  • Wow.. Thankyou for sharing. You should be really proud of your achievements.

  • Thank you, I am pretty excited.

  • Thank you for your wonderful inspiring blog. I just think you're totally fantastic!

  • Awww, thank you!

  • Awwwwww ! Alaiyo !

    Chief cheerleader here.........so so so pleased for you and so so so impressed.

    Your attitude and determination are truly awe inspiring and I know i've said it before but i definitely think you should write for a living............

    Really well done......................xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx :):)

  • A heartfelt thank you. You definitely get to be in the parade too. :)

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