With less than four weeks until I leave for San Diego, I'd like to introduce another member of my Ragnar SoCal team--Cat. Cat first came onto the Ragnar radar when we were forming the From Fat to Finish Line team. We'd had an open spot, and several people "applied" to fill it, including Cat. It was ultimately filled by Meredith, but I could never get Cat out of my mind. Her story is definitely an inspiring one!
So when John and I started forming our Strangers to Sole Mates team, I asked Cat if she was still interested, and she was excited about it. I later learned that Cat was also going to be running the Chicago Marathon, so we made plans to meet up while I was there. Caitlin, Cat, and I all met the day before the marathon and had dinner together. Cat is absolutely fantastic! She's funny, and full of life, and I'm so happy to call her my teammate :)
Where do I begin? I have had been overweight my whole life. I am still learning to live and accept that I am no longer considered obese, or even overweight, anymore. Even as a child, I was always the biggest one in my age group. I think I was aware of this from a very young age and started my first diet before I even turned 12.
I have lost and gained so much weight over the last 20+ years that I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve lost 20, 30, 40 or so pounds just to put them back on and more. I was active when I was a child but in my 20's, things went downhill. Fitness, diet, and health all went on the back burner and I lost my way. Fast forward many diets (I tried them all: from Atkins, to the Grapefruit Diet, to diet pills, etc…you name it, I tried it), and many years, to June 23, 2011, when I finally had had enough.
I consider that day my “rebirthday”. It is the day I finally decided that I needed to change how I was living, or else I would end up with either a chronic medical problem like diabetes or high blood pressure, or I would die young. I was 33 years old at the time and weighed 245 pounds (I’m 5'6"); I was a smoker; and when I wasn’t working (I’m a nurse, by the way, so I should’ve known better, having seen patients living with complications of obesity), I was out partying with friends. I was lost.
So one day I was driving home and my scrubs were so tight on my legs I remember looking down at them in my car as I drove home, thinking I couldn’t wait to get into some more comfortable clothes. Wearing scrubs is like wearing pajamas, so the fact that my 2XL scrubs were tight was an issue.
I decided that if I was going to lose weight and get healthy, I couldn’t set limitations that I couldn’t sustain for the rest of my life. I needed to make lifestyle changes, not “go on a diet”. So I slowly changed my diet, and after a couple of months of walking, I decided I wanted to be a runner.
What made me decide at 220 pounds that I wanted to be a runner is beyond me… but I decided that that’s what I wanted to become. I did my first Couch to 5K workout and thought I was going to die after running for 30 seconds! I was ashamed I had let myself get so out of shape and so unhealthy.
But I kept at it, day after day, week after week, and on October 29, 2011 I completed my first 5K. That was the only running goal that I really had at the time. I still weighed 200 pounds but I ran the whole distance (probably more of a shuffle by mile 3).
When I crossed that finish line, something inside me changed. I decided my next race would be a half marathon. WHY, to this day, I can’t explain… but on February 5, 2012, I completed my first half marathon. I knew nothing about proper nutrition, running form, hydration and I picked the worst weather in which to do it (raining, extreme winds and cold), but again--I crossed that finish line! I think it was from sheer will power.
I then heard of a local running group, here in Galveston, run by Fit TRI Run, and I joined their spring program. There, I learned everything I needed to learn about running; and more importantly, I made some amazing friends.
I decided that the following year, I wanted to run a full marathon (do you see a pattern of how I just like to jump in head first into big races?). Well over the course of 2012, I completed 18 races and trained for my first marathon. I continued to lose weight over that time by just counting calories. I tried Weight Watchers, but I wanted to be more in control of what kind of calories I was taking in, so I used My Fitness Pal.
In January 2013, I completed my first marathon and I finally felt like I deserved to call myself a runner (I don’t know why I didn’t feel like I deserved that title before then--I had done over 20 races by then! But I still didn’t "look like" a runner so I didn’t think I deserved that title).
In 2013, I decided that I was going to do another marathon--the Chicago Marathon in October. At that point, my weight had plateaued around 180 pounds, and I was stuck there, but my running kept me going. I then encountered some medical issues in the summer of 2013, and I noticed my running/training was suffering, but my weight was suddenly dropping.
I was determined to get across the finish line in Chicago so after numerous doctors and tests, I continued to run. Running was an escape for me--it made me feel strong when my body was feeling like it was falling apart most days.
I made it to Chicago, and crossed that finish line in just under 5 hours, which was my goal. I have never had a better race in my life! I loved every single mile of it--I was just so grateful to be running that I took in every moment, and appreciated what I was able to do. I also got to meet Katie and Caitlyn in Chicago. It was so surreal to meet Katie because after reading her blog every evening before going to bed for a couple years it felt as if I already knew her! And Caitlyn was so sweet and her story was so inspiring. I am excited to be on this team with them!
A week after Chicago, I had to have surgery, and I’m still on a quest to get my medical issues under control, but throughout it all, I have kept running. My first question to my surgeon was "When can I run again?!" LOL! After I got the go-ahead, I started back to walking, then running, and now I have been sticking with half-marathons and working on getting faster.
I have now lost over 90 pounds, but my story and journey are not over. I have so many more things to accomplish and many more races to run. I can finally, proudly, call myself a runner. I am finally no longer considered "overweight" and I continue to work with doctors to get the healthiest I can be. I am finally living the life that I dreamt about forever.