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Winds of Change

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The pavement stretched out before me this morning, sun beating down, warm spring breeze in my face and through my flowing skirt, as I peddled my bike to work. I breathed in the smell of fresh cut grass and thought - this is the first scent of summer. And how beautiful it is!

I've been daydreaming all day about getting home tonight and sitting out in my yard with a magazine and an iced Berry LaCroix water, taking in the remains of one of the most beautiful days I have ever experienced.

It's making me emotional, these winds of change. Not just in the change of seasons, finally to something warm and sunny, but because I can see and feel and taste the change in me. The things that I have denied and shied away from for so many years. The thought that maybe, this year, I can begin to embrace all of those wonderful things that I have been loathe to experience because...I couldn't.

My dear Sparkfriend LOTUSFLOWER wrote the most beautiful blog today about everything she's looking forward to doing this summer.

It brought tears to my eyes knowing that someone else has felt the same things that I have - the gorgeous summer days spent on the couch avoiding shorts, and bathing suits, and activity.

I AM a creature of nature. I love sunshine and lake breezes and the feeling of my skin turning brown from spending time outside in the warmth. And for far too long I have ignored this part of myself. I have literally kept her sheltered inside a dark hole and have not let her breathe the air she so longs for. But not this summer! I haven't sat on my couch in over 3 weeks now. And I like it that way!

Despite the scale's need to disappoint for the past few weeks, today I broke out my first sundress of the season - an item I bought to celebrate my 100 pound weight loss in April. When I bought it, it was still a little tight, but today I put it on and it is loose, and flowy - it fits perfectly. It has confirmed that regardless of what the scale says or does not say, my body is still in this fight. I am enjoying my day of spaghetti straps and bare legs - sunglasses still firmly on my head in anticipation of my trip home.

Here's to the beginning of the season! One of bikes and barbeques, running and reading outside in the sun, pools and ponds, hikes and lighter hair. I embrace my love for the great outdoors. The smells and sounds of summer. A smile on my face the first time I heard the familiar bells of the ice cream truck on my street this week. Gulls circling a picnic lunch. The roar of engines of cars that are just as happy to be out from under the dustcover as I am to be freed from my plastic covered winter windows.

I am anticipating my most active summer yet. Already I have cancelled my bus pass in lieu of riding my bike to work as much as possible. With the extra money I save, I can hopefully buy myself something fun! There will be swimming and training for a 10K in August. And I am just so happy that I am ENJOYING being outside, opting to walk 4 miles home last week on a simply beautiful spring day. It's refreshing for the soul, taking a moment to smell the blossoms and feel the breeze. I feel awake and am excited for all of the new opportunities that the season has to offer.

Wishing you all the best summer yet! Look for me on the patio!

emoticon emoticon emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ALOFA0509 5/15/2011 1:40AM

Beautiful Blog!!! Rock On Sista emoticon

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LYNN2BTHIN 5/13/2011 3:32PM

    Congrats on how amazing you feel and getting to enjoy being that "outdoors" person that you deserve to be. I read your friend, Lotusflower's blog too....Hers was great also and I've now added her as a Spark friend as well. Thanks for sharing the link to her blog. I love the outdoors too but like you I sheltered myself from it a lot because of my weight. I have 143 lbs to lose and I hope by next summer that I will feel so confident as you do to want to do way more stuff outdoors! I can already tell a huge change in myself and that is with only doing this for 2 months so far and losing 17 lbs. I know you are a walk/runner of races and I'm getting ready to do my first 5K walk excited. Keep up your awesome-ness!!

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ELENA_DIEM 5/13/2011 11:57AM

    faaaaaaantastic! :)

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SHORTSGIRL 5/13/2011 11:32AM

    Its amazing that we deny ourselves the simplest pleasures of life. Love your blog emoticon

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MOMASAURUS 5/13/2011 10:54AM

    Thank you for making me smile... and wishing I were outside!

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TEENY_BIKINI 5/13/2011 10:40AM

    Wow. What a beautiful blog. The first paragraph alone was just so vivid. I get it though - and I am sure many people do. The old life is really gone. Isn't it? Sometimes I wonder I think - I can't believe I did this or thought about myself "that" way - after all, it's not that long ago that we decided to change our lives.

I am so happy for you. I am so proud of you as I am sure you are too.

Adventures await, beautiful. And you deserve every single one of them. Go get 'em.


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CALLIKIA 5/11/2011 2:54PM

    Me too! I feel as if this is just another opportunity for me to make up for every summer I spent hiding and cursing the heat instead of enjoying my life and the beautiful world around me! CANNOT WAIT! Not waiting actually. Every nice day we've had, I've been out in it doing SOMETHING - tennis, walking, running (only little bits...shhh ..don't tell the PT). On Monday I went to the sports store for a volleyball. My new goal in life? To have a car packed full of balls and equipment for every sport imaginable so we can all play together all dang summer! And muddy hiking boots (hence the immediate need for a plastic mat protector for the back of the of the first accessories we bought! *lol*)!

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POLSKARENIA 5/11/2011 4:22AM

    The summer's here too, and it's wonderful. As soon as I am able (curreently post-op for abdo surgery) I will be out there on long walks, bronzing that skin to perfection, eliminating the pasty white for a while. On with the BBQs, long summery evenings... Come on SUN...don't let us down!!

Lovely blog - well done you!

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ON2VICTORY 5/10/2011 11:04PM

    we are finally starting to thaw out and I am actually beginning to believe that we are actually not going ot get hit with any more snow. I feel like i am crawling out of the weather fallout shelter and actually believing that it is finally going to get nice... I am with you, I cant wait for summer and how wonderful it is going to feel to get out and enjoy it!

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LOTUSFLOWER 5/10/2011 10:41PM

    YES for that sun dress and for the smell of grass and for opting to walk the 4 miles home, and for not taking the bus, but biking it, and for running a 10K this summer!!!!! I cannot WAIT for it, and I'm excited that we will be doing some of these things together -10K for sure and I'm gonig to try to get you out to Millennium Park one of the Saturdays this summer! Save me a seat on the porch and I'll bring a flower for your hair! It's been too long to ignore these parts of ourselves. Well, for me, discovering that outdoors "self", and for you rediscovering that woman within. I am SO darn proud of you for reaching 100 lbs. lost and give the scale the hand, that sun dress tells the story. emoticon emoticon emoticon

p.s. that picture of me with Marlo was from last summer, after my first 5k, can you believe it? I had already lost 40 lbs. too at that point. Thanks for noticing the difference, I feel like a different person too!

p.s.s. thanks for linking to my blog, you're the sweetest!

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JENNSWIMS 5/10/2011 9:51PM

    Congrats! Congrats for having a pretty dress that fits beautifully, congrats for enjoying the sunshine on your face, and congrats embracing and not fearing summer and all that summer entails.

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JLPEASE 5/10/2011 9:18PM

    Great blog!

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REDHEADMOM2U 5/10/2011 9:07PM


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GARDENQE2 5/10/2011 8:54PM

    Great blog! Enjoy every minute of the summer! emoticon

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REDDIRTRUNNER 5/10/2011 8:21PM

    Me too me too! I came to this realization a few weeks back as well. How genuinely GIDDY I am for summer! Really being able to enjoy the fun of summer. I have avoided the water park with my kids forever. They have never been to a water park! This summer we are going! SO many things we missed out on, hating our bodies. It's so sad! I am so excited for you and your sun dress and your SUMMER! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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LAURIETAIT 5/10/2011 8:11PM

    I read your blog, closed my eyes and I could feel the sun on my face! Thank you because I'm starting to think summer will never arrive in WInnipeg. Can't wait to hear all about your active summer.

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SBHPATRICK 5/10/2011 8:07PM

    Perfect blog - I'm finally feel like I'm coming out of hibernation!

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    Absolutely! If you want this as badly as I want it, then you want it BAD! This is such a great, insightful, well-written blog post. This summer is going to ROCK, damnit, and we're going to enjoy every friggin' minute of it!

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SNOOPYLUV85 5/10/2011 8:05PM

    You rock! It's as if you knew someone needed to hear this. Thank you!

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ROXELLS_WARRIOR 5/10/2011 7:42PM

    I'm so ready to join you! Thanks for the sunshine today :)

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JENJESS48 5/10/2011 7:29PM

    I am feeling exactly the same way! Apparently spring fever has caught on here at SP! I busted out my peep toe shoes today for the first time this season. Gotta love it!

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CANNIE50 5/10/2011 7:27PM

    lovely emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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KT-NICHOLS-13 5/10/2011 6:59PM

    "I feel awake and am excited for all of the new opportunities that the season has to offer." I'm looking forward to hearing all about your journey & adventures.

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Bike Love

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

My bike's been on the street for 2 days and already she has a boyfriend...

I found her canoodling last night with this fine young Blue Boy.

I guess Spring Fever is really rampant this year. How about a little love for her owner???


At least he's a Schwinn!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MELISSAJANEY 5/13/2011 1:00PM


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SHORTSGIRL 5/13/2011 11:07AM

    Very your pink bike. emoticon

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ON2VICTORY 5/8/2011 8:09PM

    hmmmm this sounds like a romantic chapter from "Gone With The Schwinn"

ahhhh love is in the air...

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MARINO124 5/6/2011 3:15PM


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KIWILVR24 5/5/2011 11:42PM

    emoticon too cute!

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LAURIETAIT 5/5/2011 7:03PM

    It is spring and love is in the air. I hope you don't have to find a home for a teeny little tricycle in a few months. As for you, have you had a good look at is owner? Maybe you can double date?

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FYREDRAGYN 5/5/2011 5:54PM

    Very cute. emoticon

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OVERHAULING-ME 5/5/2011 12:55PM

    LOL...Love it!

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LINJO66 5/5/2011 12:08PM


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RED_WRITINGHOOD 5/5/2011 10:12AM

    Love that bike!!!!!!

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SLFRISBEY 5/5/2011 9:15AM

    Hahahaha! I am scared now, mine was hitched up next to the mobile puppet bike/theater! She's got a strange fetish if that's the case! Love that you're doing it! I think I am back on the horse so to speak tomorrow!

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-POOKIE- 5/5/2011 7:33AM

    emoticon Goodness!!!!

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POLSKARENIA 5/5/2011 3:32AM

    I share the aaaaah's for the bike - it must be her beautiful colouring....
As for her owner's situation - I'm not sure if hanging around on the street in like mode is the way forward for you ;-)

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MAMADWARF 5/5/2011 12:20AM

    when you wrote schwinn, all I could think of was Wayne's world: SCHWING!!! lol...

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CANDYGETNFIT2 5/4/2011 11:07PM

    I've got a bike almost just like yours! And mine's pink too! Ah, it's in the back of the garage! You've inspired me. I'm going to pull it out tomorrow and ride to the post office to get the mail! I hope it doesn't rain!

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LOTUSFLOWER 5/4/2011 10:36PM

    I think I have a crush on your bike emoticon

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MIQUEY73 5/4/2011 9:42PM

    Thanks for the giggle! emoticon

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KRISKECK 5/4/2011 9:27PM

    You. Are. HILARIOUS!!!!! HAHAHAHAHA! Thanks for making me laugh!

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THEAPPLESASS 5/4/2011 9:17PM

  bow chicka bow wow!

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    Love this post! You are too funny girl! I also adore your pink bike and am a little jealous. My bike is going in for a tune up tomorrow, I promise!

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    Love this post! You are too funny girl! I also adore your pink bike and am a little jealous. My bike is going in for a tune up tomorrow, I promise!

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KT-NICHOLS-13 5/4/2011 8:21PM

    Very Cute! We similar bikes - love the basket on the back. I need pull Big Yellow out of hibernation and make an appointment for her to get a tune-up.

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The Language of Losing Weight

Monday, April 25, 2011

One thing is pretty certain in this journey - when you lose 100 pounds, people are going to notice. There's no getting around it. And in today's society, that also means that people are bound to make comments about it. Here are just a couple of things I've learned about how people talk about weight loss and what it can sometimes mean for the person on the other end.

Spark People aside, I am a person that doesn't like talking about my weight. I was brought up in a family who thinks that appearance is the ONLY thing to talk about and, unfortunately, it's really turned me off wanting to hang out with them. If you're like me in this regard, you know that family gatherings always revolve around a ton of food and then the subsequent guilt that indulging in this food brings. They talk about who's "up" and who's "down" and it feels like everyone is constantly being measured against the thinnest member of the party (most recently my aunt and uncle who went on some crazy pill plan to drop to their smallest ever sizes).

My last visit home was at Christmas at which point I was down about 80 pounds. And even at 80 pounds I felt like a disappointment. My mother had taken much pleasure in telling my family that I had been losing weight before they saw me, so rather than have my new appearance be a nice surprise, she had built it up to epic and unmeasurable proportions like she tends to do (I also come from a family of over-exaggerators) which meant that everyone walking through the door was looking for something. They were looking for the image that they had built up in their own minds about this phenomenal amount of weight that I had lost. I was trumped. How could I possibly live up to those grand expectations? After all - I am only human. So I came home from that trip disappointed and defeated over something that should have been joyous.

These types of people - the ones who like a good story and love even more to over- embellish - I call "The Storytellers". I find they like to talk about weight loss in those same exaggerated terms: "OH MY GOD, you're just wasting away!", "You're a ghost of the person you used to be!", etc. etc. But if you take a good look at those words and really analyze what it is they're saying, you'll notice that YOU aren't in there at all. It's all about the story, all about the build up, all about the pleasure THEY get from being associated with you - the newest fantastic thing that just happened TO THEM. YOU are not wasting away at all (if you're doing this the right way). YOU are perfectly whole, and healthy and wonderful. YOU are not a ghost of any former self. In fact, YOU are probably feeling fuller and more sure of who you are now than ever before. At least that's how I feel. So it strikes a funny chord in me when I hear comments from a Storyteller. What you must remember with these folks is that Storytellers want your story for themselves. Even though they may be close to you, they ultimately aren't interested in YOU, they're interested in the fact that you've done something amazing that they can now go and talk about to pump themselves up. My response for a Storyteller: I smile, acknowledge that they have made a comment about something I'm not willing to indulge in conversation about, and then expediently change the topic - usually to something about them, because they've always got a good story to tell about themselves.

During my whole weight loss process, I have shared an office with my co-worker who also just lost a pile of weight last year. She is now at goal and has been a big supporter of mine (she recently brought in another 3 bags of her old clothing for me) since the beginning. We have a couple things in common as far as the process is concerned - we both run, we both enjoy clothes shopping. But that's about as far as it goes. She lost the weight with Weight Watchers (a program I have been pretty upfront about despising since the get-go), and she's a vegetarian (another thing I find tricky since I LOVE meat and tend to eat a higher protein diet). She also LOVES to talk about herself and her own process and how all of it ties into my own journey. Not true. She often uses my weight loss as an excuse to talk about her own habits and insists regularly on telling me what she's eating for breakfast, lunch and dinner and what her weekly running schedule is, even when I don't ask.

These people I like to call "The Me Toos". I often find that these are the folks who will latch on to any aspect of your own success to take the opportunity to remind you of their own accomplishments. They usually refer to your weight loss in terms of "Congrats on your 50 pounds lost! When I was down 50 pounds...", or "You're getting small enough now that you need to watch out for this...". Some of it can be useful advice, but under no circumstance is my story anything like her story. I appreciate the heads up, but in a lot of cases, I'd prefer to find out things for myself. Especially since a lot of this is so new and wonderful for me. A Me Too might be jealous of your success. Maybe they were in the spotlight for a while and were receiving all of the office glory, but that has now faded and you are the one receiving the newest bought of accolades. Enjoy it! My response to a Me Too: Smile, give them space to talk about themselves for a bit, take the useful bits of advice if applicable, and then gently change the topic or remind them that you'd rather talk about something else.

Just today I saw a friend that I haven't seen in a while. He gave me a big hug and we had a nice long conversation about life and what was new. I could tell that he was itching to say something for the whole conversation, but it wasn't until the end that he finally came out with "OK, am I crazy, or have you lost some weight?" I laughed and said, "Yep" which he followed up with - "Well, you look awesome, but I didn't want to say anything!"

These are my favorite types of people. The ones who KNOW that it's socially bogus to talk about a person's weight, but who still acknowledge that a change has occurred. These guys are more than happy to say their piece (usually a very sweet and meaningful compliment) and then to move on with the conversation. They never pry for more information. They're just happy that you're happy. We'll call these guys "The Genuinely Friendlies" since that's exactly what they are. And they're few and far between as far as I've experienced since mostly I'm used to meeting "The Interrogators".

Interrogators pose as Genuine Friendlies at first, but the follow up conversation is usually a barrage of questions about what you're doing, how many calories you're eating, when you go to the gym, how many times a week you exercise, etc. etc. They treat you not as a person, but rather as a self-help book because obviously, YOU have the secret to success. Interrogators get mad when you brush off any explanation with sayings like "I just decided to change my life" or "I'm just eating better and exercising" since those aren't REAL answers in their mind. They want the truth! (And so sometimes you have to lie to give them what they want). Though I loathe the Storytellers, Interrogators are probably the worst type of person for me since I just don't like talking about it and they won't let you off the hook until you do. Methods for dealing with Interrogators: Smile, answer only the questions that you feel comfortable answering (which may be none), and then remember a meeting that you're late for.

So far I have been pretty successful in keeping people at bay when it comes to discussing my weight. (Spark People aside since this is my one and only outlet to blog and discuss at free will my whole journey and progress and I LOVE notes and questions and WOOHOOs from my Spark Friends). My general opinion on the matter is that it's really none of anyone's business - and I think by honestly thinking and believing that (and thus projecting that opinion and belief out to the world) people have left me alone. I know the comments are only going to get worse from here on out. What I have managed to do is highly noticeable at this point to absolutely everyone.

But the next time you encounter a person in your own life that is obviously working on themselves, be wary of which of these categories you fall into. Some people live for the positive feedback from others while losing weight, but you have to realize that at some point that's going to stop and people will stop noticing, and then you will have to get those positive kicks from other sources. Unfortunately, for a lot of us, our positive kicks tend to come from food. See the bad cycle that starts? If you set yourself up to expect comments, but take away the need for them, you're setting yourself up for a much longer and more sustainable way of life without the need for other people to notice what you are doing all the time.

I think the media's over-saturation with weight loss stories, television programs about it, magazine articles, latest fad diets, etc. have only lead to a society that is obsessed with weight gain and the subsequent loss thereof. They've made this process, which is a very complicated and meaningful thing for a lot of us, into a 30-second spot on the latest entertainment program. A blip in time - not even a millisecond of that grand idea of "15 minutes of fame" - which even in its entirety, if compared to what we're actually doing here, is just completely ridiculous. We're talking about LIFE, and they're talking about a quick entertainment fix. And if the media is talking about it, it makes it socially acceptable to make comment about it to the people it affects without any regard to the real issues at hand, the amount of hard work and dedication that it takes, or the actual PEOPLE for that matter. I don't disagree that we have a huge problem with obesity in America, and certain topics NEED to be discussed. But do yourself a favour and don't become fodder for someone else's water cooler conversation. You're worth WAY more than that!

The more we invest in ourselves and our own process, the less we need by way of other people to create our success for us. We have the power within ourselves to feel and to know when we're doing great. Sure it's nice to be acknowledged every once in a while - and the people in your life who are important and who matter will take care of doing that for you (along with a few great Spark Goodies from some wonderful Spark Friends). But ultimately, it's all YOU baby! All the way to the top. Have faith and believe in yourself and the battle is already half-won.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DUNLAPMOM 5/16/2011 10:14PM

    emoticon Thank you so much! Beautifl blog! I am new here and was blog stalking and came across yours, I dont know what catigory i fall under because i am so new to this but.....I am definatly more informed after reading this! Congrats to your success. You worked hard for it!

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YAZZY010 5/5/2011 10:16PM

    super awesome blog!

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    Im really grateful for this post. I needed to be reminded that even when I reach goal, things will not just be magically perfect.

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MUPP1970 5/3/2011 8:28PM

    Very well said... perfect! Thanks for sharing.. and BRAVO to you!

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    I don't just like this blog...I LOVE this blog. Everything you said is so true and so right on!!! Thank you soooooo much for posting it. This is exactly what I needed to read. I am glad that I am not the only one who feels this way.

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    I love, love, love this.

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MESEATURTLE 5/3/2011 8:13AM

    Excellent blog!!!! My best friend is a "me too".... I just figured now ...
U have it dot on!!!!

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NSMOOMAA 5/3/2011 7:37AM

    Awesome and very insightful. I am back at Spark People after a month good excuse. You are an inspiration and your thoughts rtae so rel and honest. I can identify with you.
Thank You!!!!! emoticon emoticon

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AML05030 5/2/2011 11:04PM

    I think there is another group that I shall call the a sub interrogators group: the EXCUSES. They are interrogators who not only won't take the little advice you give them, but also complain about their own weight predicament but also refuse to see or even try to fix their predicament. They imply that you must have so much money to buy healthy food, or soo much time to work out and how "they can't so that because of school... Because of work... because of baby [insert name]...." They are "Me toos!" mixed with "Interrogators" mixed with bad vibes. It's sad how many of them I have met.

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FOREVERFAYE 5/2/2011 5:59PM

    Loved this blog!

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MARIE_S 5/2/2011 1:41PM

    awesome blog! It can be hard enough to figure out your own feelings/motivations for weightloss without feeling obligated to explain it to others. I agree it should be a personal subject.

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SHELLYBABE2 5/2/2011 8:11AM

    Thanks for sharing, have you always been so wise? - gonna use a few tips to get around the interrogators/storytellers in my life, not gonna feel so drained the next time it happens to me!


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    Great post. Thanks for sharing

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SWTHNY- 5/1/2011 12:52PM


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REDVELVET21 5/1/2011 11:09AM

    Your blog was right on time for me!!! Thank yOu!!!

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    Self-gratifying? Pah. Sugarbaby seems to have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed.

I think I may have to bookmark this, because it's SO TRUE! I started to read about Interrogators who treat you like a self-help book, not a person, and I literally said aloud, "YEAH!" I just can't believe how perfectly you nailed this.

Woot! xoxoxo

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TEENY_BIKINI 5/1/2011 8:17AM

    Great read on a Sunday morning with my coffee. I hate talking about it too.

"usually to something about them, because they've always got a good story to tell about themselves." LOL. Too funny.

I seem to live around a bunch of interrogators... never thought to say I had to go to a meeting.

Excellent blog, gorgeous.


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SHRUTI_SARAOGI1 4/30/2011 1:29AM

    Great blog! I understand exactly what you mean! In India it's very common for people to comment on your weight openly. It doesn't matter if it's your immediate family or a relative u haven't met in 15 years, they all feel they have a RIGHT to comment on your weight, your skin, your clothes and about everything else there is about you that they can talk about. Everyone feels its their DUTY to lecture you on how you should "take care" of your health, skin and clothes. It's very annoying. It doesn't matter if the person giving you the advice is so fat that they can't manage to get off the couch by themselves, they can still lecture you. I have lived away from my family for about 7 years for my graduation and post graduation and every time I come home, for the first day ALL everyone talks about is whether you have lost weight or gained weight. They actually make you turn around a couple of times to CHECK you out!! Good thing you are not in India or you would have definitely killed a few hundred people by now. emoticon

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SUGARBABY60 4/30/2011 12:20AM

    well if it is compliments on your wt loss that you don't need lets try for no compliments on this blog...I found it selfish and self gratifying... but that is only my opinion.

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STEPH-THE-WOMAN 4/29/2011 11:29PM

    Absolutely right. Well said! It's all about awareness so that you can learn how to handle inappropriate comments and selfish people. It's funny to observe reactions or behavior of some people once they know that you know how disingenuous they

Excellent blog!

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DEBLYNN323 4/29/2011 6:48PM


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MADIECATJEN 4/29/2011 6:06PM

  what a great blog, you hit the nail on the head and I have been struggling with these characters and myself. Thanks again for blogging!

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PIKARA 4/29/2011 4:42PM

    Great Blog!

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FYREDRAGYN 4/29/2011 3:18PM

    This was a wonderful blog. Thank you SO much for posting it.

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TEAM-SARAH 4/29/2011 3:17PM

    For the most part I totally agree! It's great when people notice and congratulate you... not so great when they want to pick it apart. For me, it all depends on who it is. There are certain people I'm close who I want to discuss these things with. But... weight loss is just something that's happening as a side effect of me changing things in my life... I am not my weight loss. I am not my diet, I am not my exercise routine. I'm happy to pass along wisdom and help to those who ask... but I can always tell who really wants to know and who is just being nosy.

... what I really hate is when someone seems to genuinely want help and then I tell them what I'm doing and WITHOUT FAIL, 99% of the time there's a total look of disappointment. Like... they were hoping I was going to tell them about some magic pill and instead I told them it's hard work. At least at that point they shut up and we move on... Great blog :) Thanks for sharing.

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JAICAI 4/29/2011 2:35PM

    Love your blog, very motivating, especially the last paragraph. You're right, I don't need others to tell me I'm doing great, I know I am. Thanks! emoticon

Comment edited on: 4/29/2011 2:36:30 PM

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MARATHON_MOM 4/29/2011 2:04PM

    Great blog!

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AJAYZCHAOS 4/29/2011 2:03PM


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TARANITUP 4/29/2011 1:30PM

    I LOVE THIS! soooo true, your categorization of these types are RIGHT ON! I have encountered all of them!!! One such Interrogator stalks my facebook so bad I finally had to remove her becuase ANY comment I made she turned back to my weight loss and questions about it :) (CRAP - did I just become a ME TOO?)

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YICHE12 4/29/2011 1:12PM

    Good blog! emoticon

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ALANNAG30 4/29/2011 12:15PM

  Great blog!!! Love it!!

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MCJULIEO 4/29/2011 10:57AM

    Genuine Friendlies make life so very sweet!

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LALA0123 4/29/2011 10:11AM


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BEFITWALKING 4/29/2011 9:11AM

    I really enjoyed reading your blog. I too have endured some of those same folks who see begin to see only your weight loss and forget about the person you still are. Thanks for being so positive and helpful!

Much success to you!

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BOOTYLISCIOUS3 4/29/2011 7:09AM

    great blog

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GRAMPIAN 4/29/2011 6:47AM

  Perceptive blog. emoticon

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MEETNEWME 4/29/2011 5:37AM

  Yeah! nice one

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LOVESLIFF 4/29/2011 4:54AM

  Many thanks for your post. Needless to say we also need to look for those sorts of people in ourselves. I can identify myself in there too for sure. :D

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LACHELY 4/29/2011 3:09AM

    Girl thank you I have been here for a long time and i am working hard but i have lost and gaing back my weight... I feel just like you say in this blog!!! THANK

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DWILCZKO 4/29/2011 12:45AM


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ADVENTURE-GIRL 4/29/2011 12:16AM

    I love this blog. I have had many experiences with these types of people and their responses to my weight loss. You are so right, we can't let there prying affect our journey.

Congrats on your weight loss!

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COLD_GOLD 4/28/2011 11:40PM

    that is a great blog entry!

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CORDIA72 4/28/2011 11:13PM

    Every word you wrote is SO true! Thanks for sharing!

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GETTINCUTE 4/28/2011 10:31PM

  I agree with a lot of what you have to say and I feel the same way about people noticing the weightloss. It comes to a point where you loose so much that people are going to notice. Part of me want acknowledgement that I am working hard, but part of me does not want people to notice me or talk about it. Being overweight lends itself to the notice/don't notice me mentality. You're right! A short nice comment is the best.

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GOCYCLE 4/28/2011 9:41PM

    Very incite-full blog. Your concept of accountability (whether the spotlight is on you or not) gave me pause. I hope that I can remember your words when I need them...

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RUNJEWELRUN 4/28/2011 8:49PM

    Love it!!

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WELL-ROUNDED 4/28/2011 8:17PM

    You speak the truth, woman! Unfortunately, I have no choice but to deal with my storytelling mother. Ugh. I am so tired of the interrogators, who are usually looking for the magic pill that makes you slender. What I say when they ask me 'how I did it': One day my switch flipped, my resolve to change my lifestyle was solidified, and I have enjoyed working hard at it every day since.

Great work and keep writing your insightful blogs!



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BARCLE 4/28/2011 6:57PM

    Loved this blog. You have encapsulated the types of people encountered on a weight loss journey just perfectly! I really enjoy your writing style; you've certainly got a real way with words.

Congrats on your achievements and such an awesome blog emoticon

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BRAVACHASER 4/28/2011 6:05PM

    No kidding! Great Blog! Keep up the good work!

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Voted Popular Blog Post: View All Popular Posts

1 Year of Spark (And 100 Pounds Lost) - A Celebration

Friday, April 15, 2011

Today has been a pretty incredible day. And yet - it's been just a day like any other day. And I guess in a way, that's what makes it so wonderful.

I stayed up late enough last night to see the midnight hour roll over and officially ring in my One Year Sparkversary before heading to bed. After a good night's sleep I got a knock on my door at 7:15am - Peapod with my grocery delivery for the week. I put away my groceries and crawled back into bed for a few more minutes of shut-eye, my warm cuddle kitty at my side. When I finally decided that it was time to part ways with my flannel sheets, I padded to the kitchen and stepped on the scale. Here's what greeted me:

I ran for my camera and jumped on and off again. Yep - it was solid. Just one year on Spark and EXACTLY 100 Pounds lost. I did it. On the very day of my anniversary. It's serendipity at its best.

I wasted no time in logging onto my Spark Page and updating my status. And that's when it hit me. As I typed: "IT'S OFFICIAL!!! I've lost exactly ONE HUNDRED POUNDS in ONE YEAR on SPARK!!!" I burst into tears. In fact, as I'm writing this, I'm still getting teary eyed just looking at those words. One hundred pounds. And a whole year of doing something that I never thought would happen for me.

All of those moments when I was at my absolute rock bottom, when I had lost all hope of ever being able to dig myself out of the obese hole I was in, never in a million years did I ever imagine that I would accomplish what I just did today. I never thought it was possible to stick to losing weight for a year - my longest previous attempt was about 3 months. And 100 pounds? Forget it! That was a fictional dream number that was only attainable in my worst nightmares of starvation, deprivation and personal torture.

So how did I do it? Well - it's pretty simple actually. For the past year I have:

Enjoyed fries & cheeseburgers, drunk too much wine, lazed around on the couch all day on Saturdays, partied with friends, ate pretzels and drank beer & gluewein in Germany, stayed up way too late, woke up way too early, feasted on my family favorites at Christmas, snuck extra cookies off the cookie tray, ate a giant double chocolate cupcake for my birthday, slept in when I should have been exercising, consumed too much salt, and enjoyed the heck out of every single bit of it!

But I didn't do all of that stuff every single day. What I did do (almost) every single day for the past year is:

Drank 8 or more cups of water, tracked my nutrition religiously in the Spark Tracker, weighed and measured (both my food and my body), took up swimming, took up Zumba, took up running, learned that I LOVED all three of those, reveled in a good night's sleep, ran races, walked EVERYWHERE in Germany, took a run on the morning of my 30th birthday because I could, documented my journey with photos and blogs, made new friends, went to therapy and had some major psychological breakthroughs, supported my friends, went running on Christmas Day because I could, gained confidence and determination, and enjoyed the heck out of every single bit of it!

The biggest realization over this past year, however, is that I haven't changed. I am still the same person that I have always been, and losing weight and Sparking for a year hasn't taken any of that away. The reason I had so much fear about starting a weight loss plan a year ago was because I thought it would mean that I would have to give things up...and not just THINGS, but pieces of myself. But with Spark I have not sacrificed. In fact - I have only gained. I've gained friends, and support, and knowledge and courage. And all of those things that I have gained have made up so much more than 100 pounds of weight. I may be smaller in body - but I am not smaller in spirit. I am FULL of happiness.

Thank you to Spark, and thank you to all of my Sparkfriends who have followed me and supported me along the way. You mean the world to me and I look forward to celebrating many more momentous occasions with all of you. Stay tuned for my official 100 Pound Blog which I plan to post soon after another fun photo shoot with my friend Greg (my official reward for getting to where I am now). My Year of Ones continues with my push for Onderland - only 13 pounds away! I'll also be running my first 10K, first 15K and will hopefully hit my goal of leaving behind Obesity forever.

I have a long way left to go - I have 100 pounds left to lose. However, I'm content that this is my life now and however long it takes me to get there is what it will take. I know that if I keep doing what I'm doing, the weight WILL come off. It has to. I'm not giving it any other choice. But I'm also not giving up any of the fun I've had this year. Every cupcake, every beer, every morning sleeping in was totally worth it. As was every run, every swim, every day within my calorie range. I'm living my life, one day at a time, to the best of my abilities. And I'm enjoying the heck out of every single day of it!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:


    Congrats! You have a lot to celebrate!

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COMPUCATHY 7/8/2011 8:50PM

    Congratulations! Tomorrow is my one-year Sparkversary and I am doing a search for good ideas of ways to celebrate. I love your idea of staying up and ringing in the day at midnight! I'm going to do that! I'm so excited. I've lost 67 lbs this year...and am over half-way to goal. Thanks for the inspiration! Spark on! emoticon

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BRUCE1963 4/29/2011 12:42AM

  Good job! Congratz!!!!! emoticon

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LEIGHANNE25 4/27/2011 5:50PM

    Congratulations!!! I have nearly 100lbs to lose and its very inspiring to hear it really CAN be done, and without pills or surgery. Great job!!


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SARAWALKS 4/27/2011 1:05PM

    Jen, this is wonderful! emoticon emoticon
Somehow I got unsubscribed from your blog...but now I'm back...glad I made it in time to celebrate your sparkversary!
Here's to a wonderful trip into onederland! emoticon

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AMELIASEWS 4/27/2011 12:10PM

    Congrats! Way to go!

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WENDYBIRD_ 4/27/2011 12:00PM

    congratulations on your success! I really appreciate your honesty and candor, it's really refreshing to see someone able to lose weight and not lose themselves and acknowledge that every cupcake was worth it in addition to every run.

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LOVINGMYSELF101 4/27/2011 11:54AM

    I was 313 in January, now 290, and reading your story gives me so much hope. You have really made some life changes, and you should be oh so proud. I am proud of you. How do you congratulate someone that has put in a year of work and actually lost a whole 100 lbs? If I could, I would buy you a rose for every pound you lost. Here's a dozen anyway...

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

You deserve a big WOOOO HOOOO!!! Too! (((HUGS))) -Rose

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EJMULLER 4/27/2011 11:39AM

    Congratulations! (I'm reading your back entries. Not stalking. Really.)

You are my hero - I hope to be where you are in a year. I've got over 100 pounds to lose too, and I hope I can write an entry like this in a year or so.

Thank you!

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SARAHSSUNSHINE 4/27/2011 10:44AM

    Congratulations! This is SO wonderful, and I'm so happy for you!

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HAPPY_ME10 4/27/2011 10:39AM

  This is such a fantastic blog. I don't even know you and I am so proud of you!! I only became a member of the Spark Community yesterday and it is people just like yourself who are motivating me. Whenever I feel the urge to snack on something I shouldn't, or feel down-hearted as if I can't reach my goals, it's people like YOU who will come to mind and inspire me to be the best that I can be.

Thank you so much for sharing your fantastic accomplishments and good luck with your journey!

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CORDIA72 4/25/2011 1:54PM

    Great Blog and Congrats on reaching your goal of 100 lbs lost! Thanks for sharing!

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KATNANA3 4/24/2011 2:06AM

    Wow! That is so awesome...You Go Girl!!

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KATNANA3 4/24/2011 2:05AM

    Wow! That is so awesome...You Go Girl!!

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JSPIN74 4/23/2011 6:53PM

    Congratulations on all the progress you've made this year, and finding it's still a life well-lived emoticon

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EMILYBBB 4/23/2011 3:29PM

    Congrats! I am so happy for you! What an inspiration! You go, girl!

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FREDDYB29 4/23/2011 1:41PM

    Wow. just lookin at that scale makes me envious. Although I'm not far behind you at 228. you give me hope!

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KIM1198 4/23/2011 1:17PM

    An amazing blog! Loved every word! It made me think of myself and where I want to be in a year! Congrats to you!

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BRIGET66 4/22/2011 7:51PM

    wow..what an amazing job you've done!
I wish you nothing but continued success...100 lbs is no easy feat. But you did it!!
Yeahhhh you!!

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    Love it!! Keep your positive motivation! emoticon

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TONISTRELEC 4/22/2011 9:23AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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MOMRUN4HEALTH 4/22/2011 12:43AM

    Great Blog....I actually cried when I could feel your excitement coming right off this page. Congrats and Good luck on your future weight loss....Though you won't need it!! I feel inspired to stay on track and lose my weight too!! Thanks for the boost I needed it!

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ITALIANSPYCE 4/21/2011 10:50PM

    Fantastic...I could imagine the anticipation when you stepped on the scale and how poetic it must of been to have such a big loss on such an important day...koodoos spark sister!!

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TINYDANCER 4/21/2011 3:14PM

    what a beautiful post. It brought tears to my eyes too. Congratulations beautiful.

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GREENMAMA 4/21/2011 2:14PM

    Wow! Thanks for the inspiration! I love your balanced approach.


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69NURSE 4/21/2011 2:06PM

    Needless to say, your blog brought tears to my eyes as well. I love success stories - not just of weight loss, but of life lessons. It is super when someone realizes life is worth living and you can do just that and still eat healthy, be stronger and more fit no matter what age you start your journey. I started my journey at age 61 and I didn't have nearly the obstacles you have dealt with, but I still am happy to be 20#s lighter and able to do 2 sets of 15 modified push-ups....LOL Enjoy this great success and the joy it brings. YOU DESERVE IT. emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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SASSYJAERAE 4/21/2011 2:02PM

    Congratulations!!! Keep up the great work!

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LUV4CHOCOLATE 4/21/2011 1:18PM

    Amazing accomplishments!

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MICHCLEARY 4/21/2011 1:18PM

    A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. What a great blog! Congrats and keep on going!

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TWOBOYS3503 4/21/2011 1:16PM


Congratulations are definitely in order and well deserved.

Keep up the great work!!!

A true inspiration, indeed!!

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MARATHONBOUND 4/21/2011 1:10PM

    Amazing post!!!! You are AWESOME! emoticon emoticon

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MARMAT23 4/21/2011 12:46PM

  You sound so young, so happy, and so very, very full of life. Good for you. I need to read these blasts of excitement to recreate the love of life within myself. Thank you for sharing your success and your bubble of energy. You inspire me!

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WIZBANGLIZZY 4/21/2011 11:52AM

    Congrats on the success!!! GREAT JOB!!!! You are such an inspiration :)

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CARLA-216 4/21/2011 11:49AM

    Congratulations on your remarkable achievement!

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WILLIAMV3 4/21/2011 11:46AM

    Fantastic! Congratulations! emoticon emoticon

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KARLYNCANDOIT 4/21/2011 11:38AM

    emoticon You are a success story!!

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HELEN_BRU 4/21/2011 11:33AM

    Good work . . . great results!

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JOYMEDSALE 4/21/2011 10:06AM

    How wonderful! Congratulations! You are a great motivator for the rest of us!!

How proud you must be!! Woo Hoo!

There are not enough good adjectives to describe how great an accomplishment you have achieved.

Keep it up! Thanks so much for sharing!


emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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SHARON-MARIE 4/21/2011 8:23AM

  I love you attitude, Jenn! Wow

Congratulations on all your hard work and its results!

Be blessed,


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JODIWHITE19 4/21/2011 12:29AM

    Congrats!! wonderful blog!! Truly inspirational emoticon

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CHICAGOHEALTHY 4/20/2011 11:39PM


I am so proud of you! Did you play the lottery on Friday? I mean really 100 lbs on your 1st Anniversery! What a day. Definitely serendipity at its best!

emoticon on an incredible journey so far!

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THICKS4U 4/20/2011 11:04PM

  Great Job! I really enjoyed reading your blog. Your comments were real life and powerful. Anyone striving to lose weight should be inspired. Deprivation is not the answer, living each day to the fullest, making positive changes in eating, exercising and journaling is the answer. You inspired me to stay focus and have fun doing it! Eat a cupcake every now and again! emoticon

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THICKS4U 4/20/2011 11:03PM

  Great Job! I really enjoyed reading your blog. Your comments were real life and powerful. Anyone striving to lose weight should be inspired. Deprivation is not the answer, living each day to the fullest, making positive changes in eating, exercising and journaling is the answer. You inspired me to stay focus and have fun doing it! Eat a cupcake every now and again!

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JERSEYGIRL24 4/20/2011 10:22PM

    Very impressive. You should be extremely proud of yourself

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LADYANDREA2012 4/20/2011 10:12PM

    emoticon Great, inspirational Blog!!!! Your journey sounds great!!! Keep it up and keep sharing with us. I hope you do not mind: I added you as my friend!!!


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TRFHMS 4/20/2011 9:21PM

  This was an inspiring post for someone who is just starting this journey. Thank you!

Oh and emoticon

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SHARILEE_OHIO 4/20/2011 7:23PM


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ROYALTY1022 4/20/2011 6:11PM

    Enjoyed reading your blog and thank for sharing your amazing journey. Congrats on reaching your current goal and must success in the future. Peace... emoticon emoticon emoticon

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BELLASMOMMY2008 4/20/2011 6:09PM

    Wonderful story!!! GREAT JOB GIRL!!!

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BELLATRIX1224 4/20/2011 6:08PM

    great job!

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Going With The Garmin - Shamrock Shuffle 8K Race Report!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The heat was on (pun intended) for me the morning of Sunday, April 10, 2011 as I awoke early to gear up for my first 8K race. Race day jitters promptly interrupted a fine dream about puppies and kittens (seriously, I'm not kidding...I was dreaming about puppies and kittens running through grassy fields) at 5:30am as my alarm sang out and the sun began to peep through my blinds. Though I hit the snooze button once for good measure, I knew I wasn't going back to sleep. My brain had pretty much been awake and rarin' to go since about 4am. I was nervous. And well I should have been - my last long training run for this race ended disastrously - my body tanking after 2.9 miles due to dehydration and heat exhaustion. And already the thermostat read 66 degrees at 6am. It was going to be a HOT one - and I wasn't sure I was going to be able to handle it.

But I had my plan in place. The Saturday before the race, I made sure to look back in my Spark Nutrition Tracker to see exactly what I ate before the last time I remember having a REALLY GOOD run. Sure enough, it was a really healthy day - oatmeal for breakfast, Subway as a treat for lunch, and a homemade chili-mac with beans that is totally delicious and down home comfort food for dinner. No surprise either that the dinner included pasta which made for great fuel the next day. So I decided to repeat that day verbatim on Saturday - not only on a nutritional front, but also for the mental prep. Just knowing that I was feeding my body things that had made for a great run the last time was an added boost of confidence for this time around.

I went to bed early and surprisingly managed to fall asleep relatively quickly, despite one final text message from work asking about a late-night show that was going in.

So back to race morning - I didn't have the ingredients to make the same breakfast I had had the last time I had a great run, but I was confident that my prior evening fuel was equally as important and that what I needed to do right now was to just manage to get something in there and keep it down! I started with a bowl of organic chocolate puff cereal topped with chocolate almond milk (a delicious little treat) and then while watching an episode of my favorite tv show on Hulu, crammed down a bagel & cream cheese topped with a banana. Seemingly a lot of food, I was definitely STUFFED at the time, but I also knew I had another 3 hours til race time which would end up to be perfect timing to digest and yet still be sufficiently fueled. I washed it all down with a bottle of water and a large cup of tea.

The time had come to gear up. I had packed my race bag the day before with a change of clothes and socks if I needed them, a bottle of water, my Garmin and heart monitor, iPod with rocking new playlist and race day information. At the Expo I was lucky enough to score a new adidas tank and a new Moving Comfort sports bra for cheap and a set of new BondiBands - one matching my new tank perfectly with a bejeweled "run" written across my forehead. I donned all my spanky new equipment. I looked like a runner! And a fashionable one at that! My nerves quelled at this point. I took a couple of deep breaths and smiled. Let's do this.

Laced on my shoes, zipped up my purple Fila running jacket (though I really didn't need it), and stepped out my door into the early morning. Transportation to the city was a breeze - bus to train (packed with other runners!) and a short walk over to Grant Park. Though the crowd seemed to be moving quickly, I just kept telling myself to slow down. Take it all in and just relax. I knew I had a ton of time before the race started, and I needed to save my energy for the run.

I arrived at gear check and deaked over to the Port-o-lets straight away because the water I had already consumed was kicking in and because you gotta use those things EARLY or else it's gross. Then I headed to the gear check tents to wait for Kathy (LOTUSFLOWER). Try as we might, we never connected before the race, but I was really happy that I at least got to text her before I checked my phone to wish her a fantastic race.

A first look at the gathering crowds and the city skyline in the background:

Gear safely away, I headed to the start Corrals. I was in G, but they were pretty poorly marked so I ended up standing in H for a good long time, looking for Kathy until I figured out that G was further up. She had the same problem turns out - I must have moved to the real G right before she got to H, so I ended up ahead of her and she never was able to move up. But I kept myself busy and my mind occupied looking for her green shirt among the thousands of green shirts and her pink princess BondiBand.

I had learned a lesson at the 5K I ran in November. I get nervous dry-mouth syndrome right before I run - I have later learned from listening to a really informative RadioLab podcast that this is the normal human reaction to stress. In times of deep stress, the body's digestive system shuts itself down, and digestion starts with your mouth and saliva - so naturally when you're under pressure, your saliva dries up! So I grabbed a cup of water before entering the corrals and was hanging on to it until just before I started running. Worked like a charm! I took a swig and ditched my cup right before my corral took off for the race.

Unfortunately, that wasn't until 9:40am when the race officially started at 9am!!! Each corral was held back 2 minutes from the end of the previous corral - so since I was all the way back in G, it took a LONG time for us to advance to the start line! The sun was beating down at that point and the temp was nearing 75 degrees. I was thankful for the lake breeze for sure! But then, all of a sudden the people in front of me started moving, and then jogging and then there was the start line right in front of me. We were on our way! No more time to think about the weather, let's get a move on.

The first portion of the race lead us under a tunnel which was damp and cool and lovely. Lots of excited racers were whooping and hollering - their voices echoing off the tunnel walls. I laughed to myself - taking in the feeling of absolute joy with my fellow athletes. After a short incline, we were back out into the sunlight and rounding the corner to Grand. I had memorized the race map in my head and I could visualize my little GPS marker moving along the streets as I ran...beep beep beep beep. Steady as she goes, always moving forward! As long as we were in the shadow of the buildings, this race wasn't all that bad. And check it out! We're running through the streets of Chicago! A turn of another corner and we were on State Street and I could see the Chicago Theater sign. I almost got teary eyed at that point it was so beautiful. You see all the advertisements for the Chicago Marathon and various other races in Chicago with athletic-looking people running past this iconic image, but somehow I never imagined that one of those people would actually be me someday. But today it was!

Here's where it got tough though. In my head map, the trek down Jackson wasn't as long as it actually was. In my head map, the streets were also totally flat - which wasn't the case as we were rolling up and down the bridge overpasses - not "hilly terrain" per se, but certainly not flat either. The bridges were also tough to run on because unlike the paved streets, they are corrugated metal and I could feel the difference through my shoes.

Luckily, my killer 8K playlist saved the day. I am proud of myself for knowing my own running psychology well enough at this point to plan a playlist accordingly depending on how songs make me feel. Song after song hit the spot perfectly, and to get me through the tough stuff, I was literally spitting aloud the lyrics to P!nk as I was running down the street to the 5K turnaround. Call me a crazy person, but I sing, laugh and talk aloud to myself during my runs. It gets me through and keeps me focused, not to mention I think it helps in side cramp prevention. Spitting out words and exhaling my lungs fully during my runs really helps with my breathing - so I don't know if there's any truth in it - but hey - whatever works, right?!

At the 5K split I looked down at my watch. Already 2 minutes faster than my PR! Yahoo. I was right on schedule and so planned to slow at the 2nd rest spot for a Gatorade. I know you're not supposed to do anything differently on race day, and I've never fueled during my runs, but at this point I was fading and I knew I needed it. We turned the corner into another cool underpass and I saw the cup litter - I had reached sustenance! Which also meant I was solidly into the last stretch of the race. I slowed to grab a cup of the neon yellow liquid and drank it down as quickly as I could while keeping up a slow jog. How do people not get this stuff all over their face? Cause I sure did! But it tasted great - and whether or not it "really worked" my brain was refueled and since I assume that it worked, that means that it did!

Back out of the cool tunnel and into the hottest stretch of the race for sure. Wide open and blazing sun all the way back to Michigan Avenue on Harrison - temp at this point had to be a solid 80 degrees - it was SWELTERING. Really thanking myself for grabbing that Gatorade at this point. I new I had to push it to make it through, just keep running, one foot in front of the other. "Move Along" comes on my iPod and I feel a smile work through my entire body. Ever since SLIMKATIE posted her weight loss video with this song as the theme it has made me think of all my Sparkfriends and everyone who loves and supports me through challenging moments. I thought about Kathy and where she was on the route, and I imagined her cheering me on with the rest of my Spark Buddies waiting for me at the finish line. Don't worry about time at this point, just worry about finishing and finishing strong. Running. No walking. No. Don't even want to talk about walking. We're not gonna do it...

And then we rounded the final corner. And there before us was THE HILL. Remember how I said I talk to myself out loud during my races? I think at this point I said something to the tune of "Oh, you have GOT to be kidding me!" Unlike other people who have run this race before or who were prepped in advance for THE HILL at the end of the race, I knew nothing of this. In hindsight, it's probably a really good thing that I didn't or I may have talked myself into walking a portion of the race. But it was too late now. No turning back. And no walking as we started the steep incline to the top. Eminem was shouting his profane lyrics in my ears and I was listening to him word for word. Don't you dare stop. Don't you dare give up. Just keep pushing to the top of this - you will overcome! And overcome I did. It was a slow run, but I ran that hill. And when I was done running the hill I could see the finish line. With the heat it was like a mirage in the distance - hazy and just out of reach.

I don't remember much of the distance between that hill and the finish. I was in the zone at that point and I tuned life out completely. I know that the song on my iPod changed, but without looking I couldn't really tell you what it was. All I was focused on was my heartbeat, and my breath and my feet on the pavement. Bang, bang, bang in my ears as that finish line got closer. And then, it was right there. Right there in front of me and I felt the rubber mat through my shoes as I crossed it. I let out a yelp of joy. And then another. I had done it. I had run the whole race! And a quick look down at my watch to hit stop told me that not only had I done it, but that I did it in record time!

Still in a daze catching my breath, I stumbled over to the Finisher Photo area:

I downed a bottle of water and headed for the gear check area which was already starting to fill up. I knew I needed to get to my phone because we had a Spark meet-up planned for 11am and already it was 10:50am. I got my gear without too much of a wait and started to walk to our meet-up location when I got the call from Kathy. She had finished and was on her way as well! We exchanged excited congratulations and hung up quickly to get to the meet-up location.

Finally allowing the post-race release to kick in, I snapped a commemorative picture of my Garmin:

It's the best time I've ever run. I shaved 4 minutes off my previous PR. I couldn't have been more excited. I called my mom & dad and left them a message that I had finished and finished well and was just so happy and riding a runner's high for sure as I arrived at our meeting location.

The first person I saw was Hope (CHICAGOHEALTHY) who was just as excited to meet me as I was her. She has boundless energy and we twittered back and forth excitedly about our race experiences. Hope runs like the wind in my opinion and also PRed with a sub 50 minute time - woo hoo!

Kathy (LOTUSFLOWER) was next on the scene with her family whom I haven't seen since the Hot Chocolate race in November. It was nice connecting with what feels like old friends at this point though we only first met last year.

They were followed by Glenn (GLENNYB) and Rachel (TETICH) and we all posed for multiple pics together - all of which I absolutely LOVE.

Look at us! We all look like we could be in a magazine shoot!

I also posed for what I am now deeming my "Who Just Ran A ...K? THIS GIRL DID!" pose. More to come - I promise!

One more essential pic - an updated shot of me and Kathy before she headed out to brunch with her family. We have a bunch of these now and I'm looking forward to MANY more with this girl. She is such a special person to me and I love sharing these race experiences with her. We inspire each other along the way - but I derive so much energy from her, she is just so wonderful!

After parting ways with the group (and a promise to pick up some tea for Rachel when I go to Kenya - her home country!) Hope & I took a minute to stretch out in the sun:

No longer afraid of the heat, we headed over to the post-race party at Buckingham Fountain and soaked in the delicious rays (and a delicious low-cal beer!) as we walked around the festivities and took in the people sunbathing and relaxing sore muscles:

On the way there we met up with one of the official race photographers who offered to take our pics as "the last 2 of the day" - of course we obliged!

Finally it was time to part ways and secure some food, so we walked to the train and hugged goodbye and promised to see each other soon (hopefully at another race). I enjoyed the air-conditioned trip home and the lovely long shower that followed. My babies were quite content to join me for an afternoon nap to top off a pretty perfect day:

Race results were in amazingly fast, and by 7pm that night I had already gotten my finisher's email: Congratulations on your finish at the 2011 Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K!

When I opened the email, however, I was a little disappointed. My official chip time was no where near my Garmin time and what I had thought was a sub-1hr race, turned into one minute over:

I tried to talk myself out of being disappointed, but I have to admit it was a bit of a blow to my high. The important thing is that I finished. But I thought I had finished REALLY well. Either way - I set a PR. But it's not what I was expecting to see.

However, in a conversation I had today with a friend of mine who used to be an avid racer, he let me in on a little racing secret. Chip times are based on the time you cross the finish line, not the time you cross the start line. I don't know this to be true for the Shamrock Shuffle, but it would make sense with my times. The clock is started at the "gun" for each corral, and depending on how long it takes you to get to the start line in your corral adds to your overall race time! So since I was near the back of my corral and it took me a few minutes to get to the start line, that time was added to my race finish time. When I started my Garmin the second I crossed the start line and stopped it the second I crossed the finish line, technically, my time WAS more accurate than theirs. That made me feel so much better!

Regardless, I ran a great race. All my pre-prep and planning paid off and I am happy with the results. I've had a good 4 days of rest now and am looking forward to getting back out there this weekend. Next goal - a 10K sometime this summer and the Hot Chocolate 15K in November. I'm also going to start training for a Half without signing up for one, but we'll see what the fall brings. I think I might actually be ready to sign up for the 2012 Chicago Marathon. Look at me go!

A huge thank you to my Sparkfriends and everyone who supported me and commented on my blogs leading up to this race. I took all of you with me in my heart, and each and every one of you helped me through it!

Here's to "Running Lucky" again next year!!!

*photos courtesy of MarathonFoto, Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K and Bank Of America Chicago Marathon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ERIKAROIS 5/2/2011 9:45AM

  I was there that day. My husband ran. I honestly remember seeing a woman in teal who was built like me PASSING a ton of runners. Hubby and I stopped to watch you and he told me that that could be me. I just happened on you post and saw your pic and was happy to think I cheered you on for a bit! I am going to walk my first 5k in monee, il this fall. It's the monee in motion walk run. Thank you for the inspiration.

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MEHECSKE 4/28/2011 12:33PM

    I really enjoyed reading about your experience. Thanks for writing it all down.

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SARAWALKS 4/27/2011 1:21PM

    I so enjoyed reading this and seeing the map of your route in the Loop area! Wow, you are inspiring and you're looking great! I'll think of you as I keep training to run more 5Ks, and maybe eventually I'll do an 8K too! emoticon emoticon

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RUNMELLY 4/20/2011 1:21AM

    What a great account of your race! I really enjoyed reading and now makes me want to run (lol). Congrats on all your hard work!!

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TETICH 4/19/2011 10:42PM

    It was really great to meet you and the others too! And what a wonderful blog, I remember the cool under the bridge, then trying to ran wherever there was shade, then realising that the course is not flat at all, and finally, blessedly, the finish line!

Lets keep running emoticon emoticon

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FOZSPARK 4/18/2011 10:09AM

    What a great, detailed write up. Awesome.

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PAMEDEN 4/17/2011 10:08AM

    WELL DONE!! That is amazing!

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MRS.PRINCIPAL 4/15/2011 7:26PM

    You are an inspiration and motivation! Congrats on your run. It was a really warm day that day (I'm in the burbs), glad you his a new PR!

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LAURIETAIT 4/15/2011 3:15PM

    Awesome run! Sounds like a fantastice day. Thanks for sharing.

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SHELLEY202 4/15/2011 1:36PM

    Great job!!!!

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BROOKDOESLIFE 4/15/2011 11:58AM

    Wow! Way to go! This is awesome. Congrats!

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KKINNEA 4/15/2011 10:58AM

    Awesome job! You guys make this race sound like fun - I'm going to have to look it up next year. You rocked it!!

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CHICAT63 4/15/2011 7:54AM

    Love your race report, just AWESOME time and so very happy for you:) Keep it up, you are a RUNNER:)

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CHICAGOHEALTHY 4/14/2011 11:11PM

    emoticon It was fun hanging out after the race with you! Your blog is a great re-cap of the Shuffle. We were SO LUCKY with the weather. I wouldn't have wanted to do that run today. Hope to see you at another run. emoticon

Keep up the awesome work! emoticon

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CRISPINI 4/14/2011 11:06PM

    AWESOME race report. Really enjoyed it!

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AMBERLEIGHM1 4/14/2011 10:17PM

    You have accomplished so much, congratulations on a great time.

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LOTUSFLOWER 4/14/2011 10:08PM

    p.s. I got the Gatorade all over my face too!

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REDDIRTRUNNER 4/14/2011 10:07PM

    Yeah! Great race recap! Congrats on a great run. emoticon

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LOTUSFLOWER 4/14/2011 10:07PM

    I love your race report!!!!! I am so proud of you and for running it STRONG and running up that darn hill too. You and I are so much alike. We both orchestrated our play lists to fit our needs and we both had the same song and had it play at the same time! You inspire me, motivate and push me. THANK YOU for being the person that you are. Oh, and your finisher pictures? STRONG and LEAN girl!!!!!! I love them. Rock it 'cuz you GOT IT. emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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MARINO124 4/14/2011 8:11PM

    emoticon What a wonderful accomplishment! You're inspiring... I can't wait to read more of your journey! emoticon

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KSGROTHE 4/14/2011 7:23PM

    emoticon It looks like you had a great day and sounds like you had a great experience! emoticon

I look forward to reading your next race report! (And all the blogs in between!)

- Karen

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