Race Schedule and Results

Sunday, December 4, 2011

My beginning...

I recently found out that I was selected to be a FitFluential Ambassador.  This was really a cool thing for me because the ladies who have founded and grown FitFluential saw me as not only passionate about living a healthy, fitness oriented lifestyle, but also influential in the online and offline community in which I associate.  That's pretty cool.
The FitFluential concept stems from a balance of four ideas - Eat, Sleep, Move and Enjoy.  It's about fitting fitness into your life (aka... you don't have to be obsessed, you just need to make it work).  As I'm finding out more and more about what being a FitFluential Ambassador will mean for me in 2012, I'm getting more and more exciting.  I'm really part of an extraordinary group of men and women who share the same passion as me... living a balanced, healthy lifestyle.

One of the topics that we've started talking about as a group is the concept of just getting started. It's a perfect time of year to start living this balanced life. We all have a ":my beginning" story... and I don't know that I've ever shared mine.

Throughout my childhood, I was always active.  I played basketball, softball, and soccer.  I took dance classes.  I ran track (briefly... in middle school).  I loved spending my days running around the neighborhood, riding my bike and rollerblading.  When I went got to middle school and high school, I focused on basketball and soccer.  I was the captain of our freshman and jv basketball team for two years and a three year varsity letter recipient in soccer.  I ended up quitting my senior year due to some conflicts with the coach (aka, he was a jerk and I was a 17 year old who thought she knew better... which I probably did).  I continued playing club soccer for the next year. When I went to college, I ended up playing soccer for our school's team my freshman year.  But going into my sophomore year, we had a coaching change which scared me away, as well as a full class load as a bio-chem major.  See, at my school, you missed games and practices for classes, not the other way around.  I would have missed most of my season.  And that's when I stopped being active.  Completely stopped. 

By the time I graduated in 2002, I had gained about 35 pounds.  At the time, my mom was going through an amazing transformation of her body through weight watchers and one afternoon, while at their house, my dad told me I looked chunky. 

That's all it took. 

I know that he loved me unconditionally, but his always tall, lanky, athletic little girl had let herself go and it was showing.  So I joined weight watchers.  I learned about portions, and the value of eating more balanced food (I loved weight watchers in that I could eat what I wanted, but I know that I had more points to spend, the better I ate).  By January of 2003, I had lost about 25 of those pounds that I had gained in college and decided I needed something else to keep me going. 

I signed up for a half marathon - I just wanted to walk it.  This wasn't anything that anyone in my family had ever done.  But my mom had been walking with her weight watcher partner and they had signed up to walk a half that April.  She was my inspiration.  She had changed her life and I was on the way to doing the same.  So I slowly started  training.

I lived with my sister in a condo that had a gym.  So I went to the treadmill.  I was always alone in the gym so I'd put on MTV and walk. I eventually decided to try to run.  I remember the first time, setting the treadmill to maybe 5.5 and "jogging".  I was gasping for air, convinced that I had asthma or something because of the burning in my lungs.  That lasted about a minute.  I walked some more.  Each day I added more and more running, increasing not only the distance, but also the speed.  Before I knew it, I was running at a constant 10:00/mile pace for a mile... then two... then three.  My mind started to change and I decided that I wouldn't just walk my first half marathon, but that I would do a run/walk program.

Then I met my Tom.  He was a football player turned marathon runner.  I told him about my goals to run/walk the half and he totally supported me.  He didn't know the "old" me, the overweight me.  He only knew what I told him I had worked through, and saw my potential.  He challenged me to run the half.  And I did just that in April (totally to impress him).  I crossed the finish line in 2:11:00 - exactly a 10:00 mile.  I was over the moon.

I called Tom that night and told him what I had accomplished.  Instead of telling me how great it was (well he did that too of course), but he simply said "let's run a marathon together".  A what?  There was no way that I could double what I had just done that day.  But he reminded me that it takes baby steps, exactly like it did to go from gasping for air when I first started training to running the half.  I was on board.

For the next 6 months, we trained together and in October 2003, we crossed the finish line together, holding hands, of the Chicago Marathon.  I cried and said "I will never do that again".

Ironman distance races.  I've won races, and my age group, and I've joined a team.  I tell everyone I can about my passion because it's not just a hobby, it's who I am, it's what I love.  It's become my LIFESTLYE.

People have questioned my love of triathlon.  I've lost friends over it.  They didn't "get" why I would choose a hundred mile bike ride over "pool days" with the girls and margarita nights.  They didn't see that I balanced that... I could do those things AND the things I loved.  My family has come to learn that I need to get a workout in to feel good, to be happy, to get my day going.  You might want to be cuddled up on the couch (and I most likely want to do that too), but I'll do it after a swim, or a bike, or a run.  That's just me. 

This lifestyle has changed me.  I've grown to be more confident in my skin (and I'll be the first to admit that I'm not 100% there, but I'm working on it).  I love challenges and pushing my own limits.  I know that my body can do things that most people doubt.  I have learned that the words "I'll never do that again" are usually replaced with "when can I do that again".

Thinking back to when I started, here are my 7 things that changed my life:

  1. Start small - don't make a goal that might be attainable, but will frustrate you if you don't hit right away.  I started with losing 5 pounds.  Then 10 pounds. Then 10%.  Then 20 pounds.  I ran for 1 minute, than 2, then upped my speed to 5.6, and 5.7.  If you start and say "I'm going to run 5 miles today", you won't. 
  2. Reward yourself when you hit small milestones, but with things other than food - if you ran more in a 30 minute workout that you walked, splurge one something like a new running top or maybe a pedicure.  Something that is going to motivate you to keep moving.  Food rewards only sets you back.  
  3. Tell people about your goals.  Everyone that I knew, knew that I was on weight watchers.  They knew that I was signed up for the half.  And I asked them to check on me so that I was accountable.  No need to be embarrassed of where you are starting... we all have to have a "beginning".
  4. Don't worry about looking funny.  I remember being so happy that my gym was empty because I was a big girl trying to run and I'm sure it wasn't pretty.  But thinking back, I would have done it if the gym was busy.  I had every right to be there.  I still look funny when I run (I run with my thumbs up).  But whatever... I'm telling everyone that I'm awesome... that's why I do it!
  5. Be patient.  It took me a long time for my lungs to stop burning.  And it took me a long time before I could run a mile.  And then before I could run two miles.  It took me months to lose 35 pounds. It's not a fast process... 
  6. Along with #5, don't compare yourself to others.  It's hard to do when someone in a similar situation to you (or so you think) is skinnier, faster, stronger, etc. than you.  You don't know their story, their "beginning" and you don't know how hard they've worked to get there.  Just focus on you, your accomplishments and remember that's all that matters.
  7. Keep smiling... even when it gets hard, and it will, fake it till you can make it.  There are days when I wanted to give up.  There are days I still want to give up.  But I choose to do these things.  If I do them with a scowl, it's because I'm not enjoying it.  And if you don't enjoy it, why do it?  Find something that makes you smile and stick with that!
What is you "my beginning" story and what tips would you give to someone just starting to write their story?

If you want to be involved with the FitFluential community, come join as a FitFluential Enthusiast - FitFluential is open to everyone who is passionate about fitness and living a healthy lifestyle.


Running, Loving, Living said...

Great post and what an inspiring story!!! Congrats on becoming a FitFluential Ambassador!! I am loving "meeting" all the other Ambassadors via their blog, hopefully we all meet up in person someday.

Steve said...

awwww. thanks for telling us about you. U R a special person for sure. :)

I am so so so glad I read your blog. :)


Cotter Crunch said...

i think this can relate to so many areas of life. I remember first getting on a bike and falling over. I remember feeling silly try to make every GF. Great story and great inspiration COlleen!

Unknown said...

You truly are a great ambassador, Congrats Colleen! I love your story- mine is very similar! I was overweight and starting "jogging" 5Ks, then sprints tris, to where I am now :) It took a long time, but the journey and the lifestyle has been worth it :) I can't wait to see what your year brings!

Anonymous said...

Great post Colleen! Working on my "beginning" post right now. =)

Heather Iacobacci-Miller said...

What a fantastic story - so inspirational! Thanks so much for sharing and welcome to the FFA group!

Heather-O said...

Thanks for sharing your story Colleen. #5 and #6 are the ones I need to work on the most! #7 is my favorite...its kind of fun to smile when it hurts!

Heather-O said...

Oh and CONGRATULATIONS on being an ambassador!

George said...

Great story. Can't wait for y'all to move down here so you'll have all sorts of NEW events to do!

misszippy said...

Welcome to the the FF club! What good stuff they have in store for all of us!

Love your story and of course, totally relate! Great set of tips.

Caratunk Girl said...

This is so awesome, such a great story!! LOVE it, you rock! XO

Welcome to FF!

Ironman By Thirty said...

Congrats on your ambassadorship!

It is great to see how you got started in this sport! "This lifestyle has changed me." <--- Love this! That is what this sport is - a lifestyle. It isn't a miracle cure-all program that you can start and end and everything is hunky dory after that. It takes a lot of time and dedication over the span of a lifetime.

Good luck continuing on this journey and as always, I can't wait to follow along!

Matthew Smith said...

I totally learned a whole lot about you in one post. Congrats on being FitFluential. That sounds pretty cool, and you're definitely one for the team. All of those points at the end are spot on. Oh yeah, and I run with my thumbs up too! The photographers at races always think I'm giving it to them, but I'm just running! :) Tom sounds like such a blessing in your life! He's an encourager and a motivator! Good for you guys!

TriMOEngr said...

Thanks - I needed to read this right now. I am frustrated pretty regularly by how slow the "beginning" process is. I did start relatively small (a sprint tri, but on a "just a slice above a couch potato" training plan). And I did reward myself along the way with things other than food. I've put a few of my big hairy goals out on my blog, but probably haven't told as many of my closer friends about all of them. I got a "talking to" from another blogger (Keith) about worrying what people thought so I've been working on not worrying so much about what I look like while I'm out there trying to git'r done. Patience is definitely a virtue I need to pray for more. I try to look back at how far I've come and be thankful, but I always want to be at the "fitter" version I'm shooting for faster than I'm getting there. And it is hard not to look at the old lady kicking my butt on a "fun run" and not be annoyed by it. I always smile at the finish line even if not so much the rest of the time. So I think all of your points are well taken. My beginning story is on my blog. I like reading others' stories! Thanks for sharing! Wouldn't have called Tom for a football player. :) Never would have guessed anyone could have ever called you "chunky". AWESOME about your mom being your inspiration. I pray that I can be that for my children.

Congrats on the FF ambassadorship! Way to go!

Heidi Austin, PT, DPT said...

thanx for sharing... i think you laid out some great advice for beginners. i think it's good to start small and then dream big :)

Karen said...

LOVE this - thanks for sharing! I cracked up at the asthma comment. I have a friend who struggles with her running and is convinced she has some kind of ailment along those lines. (she has been checked out by a doctor and she doesn't...). I am pretty sure she is just going through the same struggles we all do when we start. Congrats on becoming a fitfluential ambassador - so exciting!

Janine said...

Congratulations on being selected as a FitFluential Ambassador! I am a new Ambassador as well! What a great "my beginning" story! So easy to relate to, and wonderful tips too. It's so important to start small when you're just beginning, but push yourself at the same time. You are capable as of much more than you think you are!

Unknown said...

Great story Colleen thanks for sharing!!! Congratulations on being a FitFluential Ambassador!!

Michelle said...

You really are inspiring!

Anne-Marie said...

Awesome post!! You really gave a lot of great advice here!

I love how you said you ran the half marathon to impress Tom!

Alisa said...

LOVE this post! I applied to be an ambassador too =)...don't know if I made it or not though.

I think the more we can spread our love of living a healthy lifestyle the better.

I love hearing "beginnings" stories mostly b/c I get so inspired! I love your advice about setting realistic goals. It's so true if you try to go from couch to marathon it's not always realistic. I also loved that you ran that half marathon to impress a guy =) and that that guy is now your hubby and the two of you are super awesome athletes together.


Alili said...

Colleen, I love this! You are definitely a worthy Ambassador! :)

Carolina John said...

Congrats on the FF! It's a neat program. I didn't know you did weight watchers. Kelley did it too, and lost 85 lbs. She loved it. I lost about 70 total, about half of that came from her WW influence.

Unknown said...

Congrats on the FF thingy!

Cool story, didn't know you guys ran the first one together!

Maggie said...

Awesome! I love your seven steps/tips - for newbies or anyone looking to kick start their everyday training.

Congrats and thanks for being great inspiration for the rest of us! :)

MCM Mama said...

Awesome story! Thanks for sharing! As I return to normal mileage after injury, I really need to remember #5!

Shannon (IronTexasMommy) said...

We have such similar stories (other than different sports when we were younger): Active until college. Gained weight. Found Weight Watchers. Got healthy. Started with Running. Ran a marathon. Went on to do an Ironman. Awesome! :) Congratulations on the being an Ambassador! They couldn't have picked a more inspirational and passionate person!

Jason said...

Colleen - such a great story and fills in the blanks that we all have in our blogs. WE can't post all the stuff all the time so this helps and I thank you for that.

Now about this thumb thing. Maybe you started that because you wanted to get picked up by a passing car so you could stop running?

Big Daddy Diesel said...

Congrats on becoming an ambassador, they are lucky to have you

Thanks for sharing your story, it was like a flashback, reminded me of the drive up to toledo

Michele said...

Great post! I was selected as a Fit Fluential Ambassador as well!!

Your story is amazing - I can TOTALLY relate to the section you discussed how you have lost friends b/c of your passion to train and compete. So many of mine don't understand why I devote so much time to it - and how I can choose running an ultra over spending time getting my nails done.

Just found your blog - looking forward to following your blog - I'm signed up for my first Ironman this summer (NYC)!

Jill said...

Just found your blog from Racing with Babes. I love when you read blogs and you can so identify with who is writing it. Thank you for your honesty!

This comes the day after I blogged about making tri's my focus for 2012.

Looking forward to reading your blog on a regular basis. I'm so excited to start doing tri's and hopefully a half ironman in the next year or so. I want to work towards that before I make it my main goal.

Thanks again!