Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Au Revoir 2013: Reflection on the past year(s)

As I look back on the previous year, as so many of us are doing right about now, I am really thankful and grateful for how far I've come. A year ago, in December of 2012, I was coming off of one of the hardest years of my life. In so many ways, I had been thrown for a loop, beaten, broken, challenged, and, I don't know, insert whatever downtrodden word you can think of there, and I'm sure it fits.

I was having a god-awful time with my son, who was spiraling out of control and getting himself into all sorts of trouble at school, with law enforcement, and in our home. I had found love after years of being single, only to have my heart broken when my boyfriend, who I had been leaning on during all of my parenting struggles, dumped me and disappeared from my life. I was in the midst of a fellowship program at work that, while providing me with lots of opportunities, had me transferring to new offices every three to six months, with no guarantee of a permanent placement once I finished the program. Trying to make a good impression at work while nursing a broken heart and trying to save my son from the school system, the criminal justice system, his peer group, and himself was daunting to say the least. So my job performance was not as good as it should have been, and I was worried that I would not find a placement at all and end up unemployed on top of everything.

But through it all, I was hopeful. I knew that somehow, I would get through it. Now, honestly, I did not know 100% that I would, I mean I had some really dark days, but I kept getting up each morning after crying myself to sleep at night. I often went through periods where I felt like I was ducking and hiding from the next thing that would fall from the sky or that was lurking around the corner. But I was determined to get through this period in my life. I wanted 2013 to be much better than 2012.

This is me in December 2012. I was so ready for that year to be over!
The above picture is me in December 2012. I look at that picture and see a woman that went through hell, but also was hopeful. You can easily see that I was overweight. In fact, I was around 180 lbs, which, on my 5'5 frame, was quite a lot of weight. What you can't see is the fact that in the midst of heartbreak and troubles at work and home, I had managed to train for and complete not only a Ragnar 200-mile relay race, but also my first 1/2 marathon, a trail marathon, no less. Running, I believe, was what saved me in 2012. At the moment that this picture was taken, I was in full acknowledgement that life had thrown me a lot of curveballs in 2012, but I was determined to go into 2013 stronger. I had kept running through all of the struggles of 2012, and I had decided to commit to accomplishing a major goal in 2013, completing a full marathon. I knew it wasn't the race, but the training, the preparation, that would strengthen me even further.

So, in 2013, I really got my running life. I focused on running three times a week, during the two races that I co-led as a run coordinator for Black Girls Run: DC, and once during a neighborhood run led by another team of BGR coordinators. I signed up for the Detroit Free Press Marathon on January 1, 2013. I developed a pre-marathon training schedule as well as a marathon training schedule. I ran 5Ks and other races in the area. I cheered at races and even got my son, who finally turned a corner, to run in his first 5K. And after a summer of training in crazy hot temperatures, on October 20, 2013, I did this:

Crossing the finish line of my first marathon. Picture taken by my son.
 And got this:

Marathon Bling
In 2013, I ran 1,000 miles, completed a full marathon, two half marathons, completed the Holiday Running Streak of running every day from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day (well, that will be official on 1/1/14), and even snagged a new love (my man reached out to me online after seeing a photo of me in my BGR t-shirt). My son is doing much better in school and is out of trouble with the law. I am in a position at work that challenges me, but that I love and see lots of growth potential. And I also managed to drop 15 pounds in the process of all of that!

December 2013, wearing pants I have not gotten into since 2010. Photo taken by my super hot boyfriend.
I grateful for the pain of 2012 and the progress of 2013. I am looking forward to the promise of 2014. I do not know what will be in the future, que sera sera, but I am determined to go use the lessons from my past as I go forward. I know that I am strong and am capable of handling whatever life throws at me. I know that I can push myself to do more and do better. I look forward to sharing my journey on this blog and in the conversations that I have with others as I embark on new goals in the new year. Let's make it a great one!!!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Wrapping Up and Starting Up

Happy Boxing Day!! Happy Kwanzaa!! Christmas came and went, and I survived with my running streak in tact. I have run every day since Thanksgiving, and will continue until New Year's Day. Then, I will take a "break" for a couple of days, until my regular Saturday run. It has been hard at times, especially when I had to get up extra early to run before a long day of work and a long night of partying, or when I had to force myself out into the cold at night after shopping and cooking all day. But doing this streak has shown me that it really is about having the mental toughness to tell the inner couch potato to shut up, cause the inner fit diva is going to go for a run.

Also, as of today, I have run 980 miles in 2013. Just 20 miles to go in order to meet my goal of 1,000 miles for 2013. I have been having knee trouble, so the remainder of my runs will be slow and easy, but I will get them in. I also have had to tape my outer thighs and my left foot. My body is telling me that it is being taxed, and I am listening to it, stretching and massaging my muscles. But I am not going to stop until I reach this goal, even if I am running a 13 min. mile the whole way.

Speaking of time, I have been getting a bit faster. I can comfortably run a 9:00 for a good amount of time...I can even get down to an 8:00 for a spell. Part of my early 2014 plans include really focusing on speedwork. It is not my primary goal, as I have decided to do a few things differently in 2014.

I will be starting a new challenge in 2014 (actually, starting  Monday, December 30, 2013). As a teaser, this challenge will include serious work in the gym and kitchen, as well as running and yoga work. The goal is to really move to the next level in my fitness in 2014, with major changes happening by Memorial Day, which is Monday, May 26. 2014. I am making this challenge more public than ever before. I want to share my journey with my friends and family so that they can hold me accountable and so I can serve as an example of how to create and sustain and healthy and fit lifestyle. I'm really looking forward to it, in fact, I am about to do some planning right now.

Happy Holidays!!!