To blog or not to blog

What a gorgeous Halloween morning!

We usually get rain every year for Halloween; but today happens to be great weather for trick-or-treating. I'm looking forward to passing out candy while I watch scary movies in the garage. Halloween still feels weird without Mark--this will be the third one without him! I can't believe it's been that long.

Cross country banquet and race pace run

Boy, was I sore this morning!

Yesterday, after I dropped the kids off at school, I went to Jessica's to meet her for a long walk. From her house, a lollipop route around the state park is exactly seven miles, so we chose to do that route. It took us about an hour and forty-five minutes, and my legs felt fatigued but good at the end. Then I woke up this morning, and I was SO sore! 

I never get sore from running (unless I do a crazy tough workout, then I might have a little soreness the next day); but switching things up yesterday by doing a long walk used some different muscles and I definitely feel it. It's a good thing! We already made plans to do it again next week.

The season is closing

I had a fun weekend with Jerry! He worked SO much the last few months, I never really saw him. They were doing a special project at work, and other than our vacation in early September, he only had 4 days off out of 70. He had this whole weekend (Friday through Sunday) off, and it almost felt strange to have him around ;)

On Saturday, my cross country team had our last meet of the season, and it was awesome. It was so exciting during the second- and third-graders' race, when some of the older kids from our team started screaming, "Austin's in the lead! Austin's in the lead!" Sure enough, I saw the golf cart zoom by, followed by Austin. (There were 80 kids in the race, so this was impressive)

Update on my From Fat to Finish Line teammates

Where are they now?

After the documentary From Fat to Finish Line came out on Netflix, I've gotten several emails/comments asking about updates on my teammates. If you haven't yet seen the film, you can watch it on iTunes, Amazon, or Netflix. (I also wrote about the whole process on my blog, from when it was just an idea, to the filming, to the race, and aftermath.) 

The documentary was filmed in 2012 and 2013, so there is a lot to catch up on! I asked my teammates if they'd be interested in sharing a brief update for my blog readers. This is going to be a long post, because there are so many things to share! (I did not get updates from Lealah, Ada, or Carly). Enjoy :)

Runner #1: Katie

Since I blog several times a week, it's no surprise what I've been up to; but, I'll post a brief update here in case you're new to my blog. After the Ragnar Relay with From Fat to Finish Line, I trained for the Chicago Marathon and ran a PR of 4:16. A family friend was diagnosed that month with terminal lung cancer, and I spent the next five months making his last days the best that I could help with (my blog readers helped a ton with that!). After he passed away, I started gaining weight like crazy, and I eventually reached 160 pounds (I was 133 in the film). 

I became injured with a stress fracture in late 2014, and it caused me problems for 10 months! I had to cancel several races, and my weight and race times suffered. When it healed, I started training super hard for a 10K PR using a heart rate training method. I dropped to my all-time lowest weight of 121 during training, and ran a 49:03 10K race in April 2016. I was thrilled! After the race, I stopped "training" and started running just for fitness. I had a deep episode of depression over the summer, and gained back a lot of the weight I'd lost last year. I'm now at 150 pounds, which is 103 pounds down from my highest, but still more than I'm comfortable with. I am working on getting back down to my comfortable weight of 130-135, but I'm not in a huge hurry--just taking it one day at a time! I used to think that I had to maintain a very stable weight to be considered "successful", but I've realized that my body fluctuates by up to 30 pounds a year (I gain weight every summer), and I've accepted that. Next May, I'll run my first half-marathon since 2014, and I'm looking forward to it :)

April 2016, when I PR'ed my 10K!

Runner #2: Meredith

Well here it is almost 4 years since I became part of the Fat to Finish Line Ragnar Team. I have maintained a 85-100 lb weight loss over the last 4 years. It is and always will be an everyday fight to keep my weight off, but it is a fight that I will never stop fighting. When I first joined the team, I had run some 5ks and 10ks and had just completed my third half marathon… Since then I have continued to do many races every year. My husband and I do around 25-30 races a year which include anywhere from 5ks to half marathons and everything in between. I have now completed over 25 half marathons with another 10 scheduled in the next 5 months.  I have also completed 2 full marathons. I have my second Ragnar coming up in March of 2017. 

Runner #5: Andrea

It's been over three years since we all met and ran the Ragnar in Florida. Since then, I have ran our local 39.3 race series (where you run three half marathons in less than four weeks), a handful of 5k's, and I've had two attempts at running a marathon (I had to drop out both times due to an old back injury). 

My biggest challenge hasn't been running, but in maintaining my weight. Weight loss has no finish line. Whatever you did to lose the weight, you will have to continue to do if you want to maintain your loss. I've managed to maintain a 20-pound gain. I've learned that I still struggle with emotional eating and when life throws me curve balls, I usually end up eating my feelings of stress, anxiety, happiness, sadness, (name any feeling). Although I know food doesn't cure any of those feelings or make you any happier, it's familiar and it's where I turn for comfort. 

I've also learned not to dwell on my "failures" with maintenance, because it's not actually failing, but rather learning what works and what doesn't. I remind myself often that I've kept off over 100 pounds, so gaining 20 pounds doesn't mean I've failed. 

Just recently, I've realized that I do really well when I have some accountability in my fitness and weight goals. So, I've signed up to work with a personal trainer three times a week and we will take measurements and weight every six weeks. It's a great way to measure my progress and set goals.  I've also been going to my Weight Watchers meetings every week which keeps me accountable with my weekly weigh in. 

I'm currently training for the Indy Mini Marathon in May and I'm looking forward to meeting many of Katie's readers there!

Runner #6: Rik

Since filming completed in January of 2013, so much has happened!

Building on the success of our Ragnar Relay in Florida, and the shape I got into to be camera-ready, I spent 2013 working with a professional running coach, looking to qualify for Boston. I trained very hard for most of a year, then ran the Indianapolis Monumental marathon in November and put up a PR of 3:29:37. It wasn’t good enough for Boston, but I was so close (needing a 3:25), I decided to keep trying.

I continued working with my coach through 2014, targeting a September race to qualify. Six days and 40+ miles a week – we turned running into a second job. That July, I ran a 20:36 at my company’s annual 5k, another huge PR. But by August, I started having some odd fatigue issues. I’d have plenty of energy to get through my work day, but I’d put on my running shoes and feel out of gas before going half a mile. My doctor couldn’t find a thing wrong with me. At my qualifying marathon attempt in September, I felt terrible from the starting gun, and dropped out halfway through, hugely behind pace and completely exhausted – I felt as if I would pass out. I discovered (eventually) that I had overtraining syndrome. And the only thing to do for it – stop running. Which was heartbreaking. And also a relief – I had been training so hard for so long that running wasn’t fun anymore. My Boston dream went on the back burner.

Since that time, I changed my fitness focus to having fun and helping others get started. I got certified by Road Runners’ Club of America as a Distance Running Coach (the same certification that Katie has!), and started a small side business coaching new runners. That has been really satisfying, spreading the joy of running to others, and seeing them discover just how much more they can do than they ever thought they could.

As a result of my fitness journey, my confidence and my willingness to take on new challenges have both grown, and I have seen that spill over into other areas of my life, including my career. About a year ago, I took a new position with my company that had me relocate from my lifetime home in Milwaukee, WI to Sacramento, CA. While a great career move and an exciting adventure, it definitely threw me for a loop with my health and fitness. I have been working a lot more hours, and it requires a lot more of my energy. At the same time, I left behind my regular running partners behind in Milwaukee. I struggled for months to find time, energy, and motivation to do more than 10 miles a week. I put on 10 pounds I didn’t need or want.

Thankfully, over the last few months, I’ve finally gotten my work/life balance back, begun to build a new social and fitness circle, and have spent the summer training with my local Fleet Feet training group for the California International Marathon here in Sacramento on December 4. That will be my thirteenth marathon, and my tenth state – I am on my lifetime quest to do a marathon in all 50 states. And that includes going to Boston, someday!

At my all-time heaviest, I was 275 (approximately). When we shot the movie, I weighed in at 180, which was my lightest - I was really concerned about looking good on camera but my wife felt I looked too thin, especially in my face. So, I found a comfortable weight of 190 and maintained it, until we relocated. I topped out at 200 a couple months ago, and as I write this today, I am at 197 and dropping, targeting 190 again. I know I will always need to keep an eye on my weight, but that’s okay. I am so much happier, healthier, and more able than I was before the journey started – it’s a small price to pay.

Runner #7: Jen Roe

The film was a life-changing and eye-opening experience. Having a difficult and emotional moment on film was super scary, humbling and hard. At the time I felt super uncomfortable and embarrassed that it happened at all and especially on camera but since the movie has come out I’ve found myself grateful. I appreciate that moment now because so many people have said they can relate to it. It makes me feel better to know that not only am I not alone in having hard times when running but that others can feel comforted that they aren’t the only ones to have felt that way either. I also have the benefit of looking back and really being able to analyze how I let those "voices in my head” really get to me. Because of that I’ve been able to do a lot of self-reflection and work in that area. 

Since the movie, I’ve gone on to do a few triathlons, a bunch of half marathons and my dream race - the NYC Marathon. In fact, I’ll be doing the NYC marathon again in November. I’m probably about 10 pounds heavier than I was in the movie but at peace with that as my doctor is very happy with all of my numbers. Running has helped me keep most of the weight off and my health exactly where it needs to be. I still consider many from the team very good friends and it truly was one of the best things that ever happened to me.

Runner #8: Linda

So much has transpired in my life since January 2013 and From Fat to Finish Line’s epic Ragnar Relay run from Miami to Key West. I am now balancing working a couple different part-time jobs outside the home with caring for my family and household. My kids you see standing with me in my before picture on the Brooklyn Bridge in the documentary are now 20 and 18 years old and attending college!

This year I turned 45 and it all hasn’t been frickin’ fabulous. After a fantastic year of running in 2013, I managed to injure myself. I tried to ignore it, but the pain wasn’t allowing it. I went to an orthopedist in April 2014 and discovered I had a torn meniscus in my right knee. I had surgery that July and went through 8 weeks of physical therapy. In that year, I wallowed in self pity and instead of meticulously watching what I ate, I reverted to old habits of comforting myself with food. I gained 25 pounds.

That didn’t stop me from gaining entry into my dream race, the NYC Marathon. If I was going to do one marathon, NYC was it. On November 1, 2015, my husband Charlie and I finished the NYC Marathon, hand-in-hand, content and honestly happy it was over. My time was less than stellar. I hit “the wall” very early in the race when us back of the packers were told we would have to move to the sidewalks in order to finish, even though we were still well within the projected time limit. (NYCM is a very back of the pack friendly event with an 8 hour time limit!). Even with that accomplishment, my mind still is the weakest part of my body and I fight the Negative Nelly in me constantly.

There may be a day when I need to tackle that distance again, but it’s nearly a year commitment and I’m not ready to give that kind of time to it right now. This year has been filled with New York Road Runner races, running the five borough races and gaining guaranteed entry for Charlie and I into the NYC Half Marathon, another iconic NYC race. I am still battling to re-lose the 25 pounds, and it is getting harder the older I get, but I’m not giving up. I know the weight is literally slowing me down, and my race times reflect that. I am trying to focus on the joy of racing and crossing the finish line with my husband and not the finish time. I am so very fortunate to have a husband who loves me no matter what the scale or time clock says. That means more to me than any medal or PR.

Runner #9: Jen Small

In 2012, I obtained my Personal Trainer Certifications (ACE and AFAA) as well as my USA Triathlon certification. I have been training and coaching on a one-on-one basis and as well as remotely. I continue to teach bootcamp-style fitness classes as well as cycling classes in both Southern and Western Maine.  I am still with Team Rev3 and love triathlon and endurance sports. I recently started mountain biking and trail running; I just love being outside at the beach and in the mountains.

My daughter is now 8 years old and is very active; she plays field hockey, and is on the swim team. She has also been involved in cheering, tumbling, and lacrosse.

The biggest change has been my personal life. The film highlights the struggles my marriage encountered once I lost weight and gained self-confidence. While we tried to save the troubled relationship, things were just too far gone and we separated 2 years ago. Honestly, leaving a toxic relationship was harder than losing weight but it was just one more part of my journey that shaped me into the person I am today.

I am so much happier now and have found a partner that shares my energy, adventurous spirit and passion for life. I am excited for the future and to help others find their own personal joy! I am returning to school again to expand my coaching and training education as well as study nutrition.

Runner #10: Allison

Running Ragnar with Team From Fat to Finish Line in January 2013 was an amazing experience! I came home and immediately jumped into training for my first marathon in October. In July, with training in full swing and feeling great, I found out I was pregnant with my first child! While I tried to keep training, I ended up withdrawing from the race and volunteering instead. I gave birth to my son in March 2014 and love being a mom; I could write pages on the phenomenal little man my now two-year old has become! In my last trimester, I gained 30 pounds (darn pregnancy cravings!) and picked up a nice case of sciatica, so I started walking, trying to work back to running. I also went back to school, working towards a nursing degree, in the fall of 2014, so I had a pretty full plate and taking care of myself fell by the wayside.

In June 2015, I started working out with a personal trainer and got my butt kicked 3 days a week before work. I was still having a hard time running because of hip/pelvic issues, but I found I love weight lifting! We focused on strength building and interval/Tabata training for cardio while I went to physical therapy for Achilles tendinosis. I was cleared from PT in August and decided, with only 4 long training runs under my belt, to run my second half marathon in October 2015; it went great! The hip/leg pain persisted though, so I had an MRI in April 2016 and learned I had two bulging discs. I stopped working with the trainer, got depressed, started eating, and gained back the 30 pounds I’d just lost. 

In August, I finally screwed my head on straight and started back at the gym, along with pool physical therapy. I’m down 10 pounds and taking it slow and easy. I was recently able to deadlift for the first time in months, and just ran my first 5K since the spring. One day at a time, staying focused, making good choices, and constantly being inspired by the FFtFL community!

Runner #12: John

Since filming the documentary, I have continued to run, finishing eight marathons and twenty-four long-distance relay races in total. I left my Mon-Fri, 9-5 life and now work as a consultant. The flexible time allows me to continue to travel and race in as many destination events as I can handle. I am also very active in the From Fat To Finish Line online community.

Personally, my life took another very public turn for the better when I began to devote as much attention to my mental health as I had to my physical health. Despite the ongoing stigma of mental health treatment, I’ve begun to share my story in hopes that it helps other people in need. You can read more about that at my Writer Blog and my post, Life Medicated.

Life is good, folks. And I’m looking forward to 2017, when I will celebrate my 50th birthday and my 20th wedding anniversary.

And there you have it! We are 12 ordinary people who lost weight, ran a fun race, still struggle with weight maintenance, and are determined enough to never give up. 

You can also read blogs for Leahlah, Jen Roe, Linda, Jen Small, and John.


2016 Purina Better With Pets Summit recap

(This post is sponsored by Purina, who invited me to the Better With Pets Summit. As always, all opinions are honest.)

I had a jam-packed couple of days! I only had one night in NYC, so I wanted to make the most of it. I bought a plane ticket for Jerry to come with me, and we arrived in the city at 8:00 on Monday morning. We took the subway to Brooklyn, which is where our hotel was.

The hotel that Purina chose for this event was stunning. It's called The William Vale, and it just opened about six weeks ago. Maybe it's just because I'm from a little country town, but I couldn't stop exclaiming how amazing everything was. We went up to our room, and the view from the balcony couldn't have been more perfect. Here is a nighttime photo, because the lights made it even prettier:

I wanted to just sit on the balcony all day, but of course we decided to go explore the city.

Spectating at the Detroit Marathon

I was SO excited today to go to Detroit and cheer on the runners for the marathon (and half marathon). My sister-in-law, Becky, came over at 6:00 this morning to head to Detroit with me. We really didn't have an agenda, other than to go to mile eight (just outside of the tunnel that comes back into the U.S.) and cheer on the runners.

We were going to park at the casino, which is where I always park because it's free--but they were charging $40 for parking!! That is crazy. We ended up finding a nearby lot for $20--still crazy, but I guess only half-crazy.

Getting back to speed work

What a crazy week! Cross country is coming to an end soon, so things will calm down a bit then. Right now, it keeps me pretty busy, though. Thankfully, it's super fun and I love coaching!

I had a really great run yesterday, too. It's been SO hard for me to get back in the habit of having a running schedule. It's kind of odd--for six years, since I started running, I NEVER had a problem with getting in my runs. But the past couple of months have been so difficult getting back in the groove. I've been lacking in discipline and motivation.

Motivational Monday #137

Even though I stopped doing Motivational Mondays, I received an email a few days ago that made me very excited. After getting permission from the woman who wrote it, I decided to post it here, because I'm sure you will find it motivating as well. 

This email came from Amanda, who had written me before this to ask a couple of running questions. She had decided to follow my "Your Best 5K" plan for a series of 5K's this fall. I was thrilled when she wrote to let me know how the plan was going...

Jeans and sweatshirts

Well, Eli doesn't seem to be giving any more thought to the Quiz Bowl stuff now, so I'm glad about that! A few people commented that sometimes when things like that happen, something better may be in store for him--so I hope that's the case with this. Eli's a sensitive kid (in a good way--he has a lot of empathy for others), and I just want him to be happy and feel good about himself.

He was nervous to go to church today because his Sunday school class was going to be standing in front of the congregation to sing and recite some Bible verses. I went to church so that I could watch, and he did great! I think he felt good about himself for doing it, even though he was embarrassed to go in front of all those people.

It's been pretty cold here the past couple of days! Michigan weather is so odd.


Yesterday was the toughest parenting moment I've had since I had my first child over 12 years ago.

Eli doesn't have very high self-esteem, so I'm always trying to encourage him to do things that he's good at. He's super creative, and very good at fishing and art, which don't get recognized very often. A few weeks ago, he asked if I thought he should try out for the Quiz Bowl team, and I said sure.

He went to tryouts for a couple of hours each week, and then on Thursday, he and three other kids were called to do a "practice". I asked him if that meant he made the team, and he wasn't sure. Yesterday, all the kids who tried out were given letters of acceptance or rejection. The letter was in an envelope, and there was a pack of Smarties taped to it. It said, "You're a smartie!"

What happened to my fitness?!

As I mentioned, I'm following my "Your Best 10K" plan to pace my friend Stephanie to a sub-60 race in November. When I told Steph that I'd like to pace her, I was thinking that training would be pretty easy for me, considering I ran a sub-50 10K in April. Well, today's training run was followed by a big slice of humble pie ;)

Musical hula hoops

I think I am finally over my cold! My voice is pretty much back to normal, and I haven't had to blow my nose at all today, so that's good. My hearing is about 95% back to normal, too. Hopefully I'll go another three years or so before getting sick again!

On Monday at cross country practice, I wanted to play a new game with the kids. For our practices, we do a warm-up, then about 30 minutes of running laps around a park, and then we play a game for about 20 minutes. The games are fun ways of getting them to run more without really realizing it, or to sneak in hill work (the park that we practice at has a hill).

My running buddy

This head cold is so frustrating. I've been getting a little better each day, but I still can't hear very well out of my right ear, and I'm still having to blow my nose frequently. I debated going to the doctor for an antibiotic, because I'm pretty sure I developed a sinus infection, but hopefully it'll go away on its own soon. Like I said, it's been getting better, but just so slowly!

It's finally feeling like fall here, and I'm loving it. I took Joey for a run today. I was feeling bad because I neglected our walks last week when my cold was at its worst, and Joey LOVES running with me.

Hello, October!

I'm finally starting to feel better! I rarely get sick, but when I do, it's always so rough. I spent the last couple of days with a horrible sinus headache, and it was gone when I woke up this morning, so I hope that is probably the last of it. I'm still a little congested, but it's definitely better than it was.

My eating has been thrown so off track since getting sick about 10 days ago. My head has been really congested, and I haven't been able to taste anything. Normally, you'd think that would mean that I wouldn't have an appetite, right? Well, because I can't taste anything, I never feel satisfied with my food! So, I just kept looking for satisfaction by eating more. I feel like I undid the progress I spent all month making.

Last night, I was starting to get my sense of taste back a little, so I wrote up a food plan for today and I am determined to stick with it!