Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Liberty 5k… A Personal Best

Last July 4th (2014), my niece (her name is Jennifer) posted a status update on Facebook about how she had just run a 5k with her dad for the holiday. I was 30 pounds into my weight loss at that time. And I was just barely getting to a point where I could walk at the moderate pace of 3 mph and still breathe (and by the way… I was pretty proud of that at the time!). The idea of being a runner was nowhere near being on my radar. At best, I was counting on that eventually I could up my speed to the point that I would be able to jog and still breathe. I had no idea that my brother and niece had kinda made that a thing (doing a 5k together on the 4th), but I fell in the love with the idea that someday I might be in a position where I could do that with them. And I mentioned to my niece then that by the time July 4th, 2015 rolled around, I would be able to do it with them. And so, that has been in the back of my mind for quite sometime. That become one of my "weight loss bucket list" items. Not just to do a 5k… but to do the one on the 4th with my brother and my niece (and any other member of my family that I could convince to join in!). For months now (at least since Thanksgiving), my brother has been asking me how my training was going. If I would be ready to do the 5k on the 4th of July. So, even though I've been able to do the 3.1 mile distance for some time now… I have been looking forward to that day for a LONG time. A couple of weeks before the race, Jennifer took it upon herself to get us all registered and by that time, another one of my nieces (Micah) had said she would do it with us too. So, our group of three was now a group of four.

Fast forward to the 3rd of July. The race is the next morning and three more of my nieces all said they wanted to do it as well. They are all younger (14, 9, and 8). The 14 year old is training to be part of the cross country team when she starts high school in the fall and she had some of her own money that she was willing to spend. So that was not a huge stretch for her mother to agree to it nor did it concern the rest of us. The younger two are in fairly good physical shape. But it is 3 miles. And they are young. And there was no question that the whole reason they wanted to do it is because we were. They just wanted to be involved. My sister felt like they were in good enough physical condition to be able to do it… but she was not willing to shell out an additional 40 bucks in registration fees just "for fun." However, the race did allow "ghost runners." So my sister gave her permission and even found a couple of $5.00 patriotic tech shirts at Walmart so that the two younger girls would feel apart of it. So, our original group of 3 had now grown to include 7 of us what were going to be running this 5k. Which thrilled me. I had wanted to be able to do this with my family. And now my family was wanting to do this with me!
The family that runs together stays together!

     My best time for a 5k was 43 minutes so far… and that's about where I expected to be. I expected both Jennifer and my brother to be slightly faster than me… but fairly close by. And I had no doubt that the 14 year old would leave us all in the dust. This would be Micah's first 5k and she really hadn't been doing any training for it… so I wasn't sure where she would fall in. I suspected that she would be fine keeping up with me as long as she could run… but that my endurance might be better than hers. As for the younger two… they could probably do some killer short sprints… but I was doubtful of their endurance. Three miles is kinda a long ways when you're that young!

Well, race morning comes. And it turns out my brother was on a time crunch. He is a member of the local search and rescue team and he had responsibilities to help direct traffic and shut down a particular intersection in preparation for the parade that morning. Basically, he had one hour to finish the race, get home, get showered and get to where he was supposed to be to fulfill his responsibilities. So, he takes off. The fact that he's tall and that one of his normal walking strides are equivalent to about three of mine (and I'm tall too!)… means that I had lost sight of him in the crowd early on. And of course I never even saw the 14 year old. She disappeared within about 30 seconds or so of the starting gun. I was doing okay with Jennifer… but as her dad was her ride home and she was aware of his time constraints… she started picking up speed too in hopes that she could catch up to him. So, I was back with the other 3. And soon, I started pulling ahead. Micah just said "Go for it, Shan! You're awesome!" And she and the two younger girls all hung back together.

Official results of the 5k
As I neared the finish line, I spotted the 14 year old waiting there to cheer us all on. Seeing her there and having her cheer me on gave me the strength to cross the finish line at a sprint. When I went looking for my results, I was amazed to see that my time was 39:57. I had said to my brother the night before that I would kill just to get into the 30's. I also saw my brothers time… 29 minutes and some odd seconds. I knew that was a personal best for him too as he had told me the night before that his best had been 33 minutes. It also placed him in 6th place for his age group. Jennifer was not able to catch up to her dad no matter how hard she ran… but she got a personal best too. She was only a few minutes ahead of me. The other three came in a few minutes behind me. Apparently the 8 year old had given up long around mile 2. And Micah had to keep prodding her along just to get her to keep on walking to the finish.

One another topic: While I was back in my hometown for the 4th, I contacted my favorite teacher from high school, Mrs. Street. She had undergone gastric bypass several years ago and had kept the weight off for the past 10 years. She also had skin removal surgery along the way. She looks amazing. But very different than I remember her from high school! I've been wanting a chance to talk to her about her experience. I wanted to know how she determined a good weight for herself. I wanted to know about her experience with skin removal. How much of her weight did she lose before having surgery, etc. So, we got together one afternoon for lunch. She was amazed when she learned that I had lost the weight through just diet and exercise. She had just always assumed that I had undergone some sort of bariatric surgery as well. And I'll tell you… after listening to her experience… I'm sooo thankful that I was able to do this without surgery. She had some truly terrifying complications afterwards. Honestly, she's lucky to still be alive. I love Mrs. Street. And I'm so glad to have had the time to visit with her. But honestly… it wasn't very helpful to me in getting any kind of answers. I asked her how she decided on her goal weight. She said she actually wanted to (and did) get down to anorexic level weight and then go from there to determine where she felt the best. Uh… no! I'm not willing to do that. I asked her when she had her skin removal surgery. She said that she waited for 18 months after her bypass surgery but she couldn't wait any longer than that. But that she continued to lose weight afterwards to the point that she ended up having to have additional skin removed. Yeah… not willing to do that either! However, she was adamant in her belief that having the skin removed was key for being able to keep it off. And I was encouraged to hear that surgery helped her get rid of the dreaded "apron." I HATE that part! That and my arms are what bothers me the most. I knew that surgery could help with the arms… but I wasn't sure how much they'd be able to do about the apron. After 175 pounds, it still just feels like fat to me. And I hate it. And I always wonder if there is anything that can really be done. But she said it took care of that. And to be honest… it does look like it did! There is no indication of an apron on her body. So, while it was good to see her and encouraging to see how good she looked… it wasn't terribly helpful.

But she did tell me a story that gave me an idea… So the day of the 4th I put it into action. My family got the biggest kick out of it. (See the picture below)

I got a temporary tattoo of the American flag
right there on the "flab
(aka: lots of loose skin!)" on my arm.
I posted this pic on FB with the caption
"Proudly may it wave!"