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    POOKASLUAGH   117,587
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Double Success: 10K and Half-Marathon

Monday, January 14, 2013

A full year ago, an idea was presented to the San Antonio Spark team, an idea to spend a year training and then to walk an unofficial half-marathon together. The idea was to bring together people of all ages, sizes, and abilities to accomplish something fantastic, something many people never do. MJ-SHE-BEAST, one of the leaders on the San Antonio Spark page, posted a blog last week with more details about how the idea came about:

I loved the idea right away. At the time we started training, I had lost 70 lbs and just crossed the line from obese to overweight:

I had never walked longer than about 5.5 miles, but I thought I would be up to the training for an eventual 13.1 miles. I was very enthusiastic about the plan, and came to almost every Saturday training, plus I walked my extra training miles throughout the week. In the beginning, there was a lot of enthusiasm from our local Spark team, and throughout the year, that enthusiasm would wax and wane in waves. Many of the people who started training dropped away, but we also picked up many newcomers as the year passed. Sometimes our walking group was huge, sometimes very small.

In June, we chose the location of where we would eventually walk our Half, and began to train there.

Not long after that, I had to stop training for three months due to my stress fracture. I jumped back into training after that, but by the end of September, I realized that the 7-9 mile walks were interfering with my Airrosti therapy and my leg's healing process, and I had to drop from the group. I still walked 5-6 days a week, anywhere from 1-5 miles, but I never went over the 7-mile line, which seemed to be the most I could do without irritating the parts of my leg that were healing. As our chosen date of January 12, 2013 approached, I honestly didn't know if I'd be able to do the full half-marathon. I wasn't willing to go through with it if there was any indication that I might get injured again, but I was definitely planning to go out with the group and cheer on the participants.

Saturday, January 12, 2013 was a very mild, muggy day in San Antonio that kept threatening rain (though thankfully it held off). I hadn't gotten much sleep that night, because I'd gotten this crazy idea the day before:

I didn't know if I could walk the full half-marathon, but what if I succeeded in some other way that day? What if I ran my first 10k?

I had never run longer than 3.5 miles before, and I hadn't run at all since December 19th. Despite that, I mapped out a route for myself: 7.2 miles - allowing for a half-mile walking warm-up and cool-down. Then I mapped out an additional 6-mile route that I could walk afterwards if my legs felt up to doing the entire half-marathon. The 10K idea made me both nervous and excited. I had set a goal for myself, a very high goal, and frankly, I don't like to fail at my goals.

When I arrived at the trailhead where we were to start, I was surprised just how many people had come out to walk, run, ride, or man the volunteer stations along the way with water and food. Here we are:

We had all different sorts of people there: people in their twenties and people in their seventies; people who have lost a lot of weight and people who have lost little; people with disabilities, injuries, or illnesses and people in perfect health; people who have never done anything athletic and people who have completed half-marathons and triathlons. We had family and friends and pets out to participate or support us. We all had SA Spark Half-Sparkathon bibs that MJ made for us. The 8:00 am start time came around and we were ready to go!

I walked my first half-mile with some of the faster walkers, then stopped to stretch for about a minute before starting off on my first ever attempt to run a distance longer than 3.5 miles. My goal was to go out slow and steady, at a pace and heart rate that I felt like I could sustain for a long time. I didn't want to push too hard, especially at the beginning. For the first 2.5 miles, fellow Sparker Terry ran with me before she turned back to walk with a few other Sparkers. She told me she hadn't run in months, but she did a fantastic job and went further than she originally expected. It was great to have her company during those miles. Here we are coming over the largest hill on the course:

After Terry rejoined the walkers, I put on an audiobook and just kept plodding away. I was surprised at how easy the run felt. My heart rate stayed around 177, I never felt out of breath, and I enjoyed myself immensely. My GPS wasn't working very well, so I actually ended up running a bit more than I was supposed to (6.35 miles), but my pace was even all the way through, and so I was able to calculate my 10K time - 82:01, or a 13:14/mi (4.54 mph) pace. I was expecting it to be slower than that, and am very pleased with the result!

Not long after I stopped running, one of our cyclists, Suzanne, brought me a banana and kept me company for awhile as I finished out my first route. I got some food from the volunteer table, and decided to go for the entire half-marathon as my legs weren't at all tired by that point. I took the second route a lot slower, and stopped several times to stretch out my legs. Right around 9-10 miles, I started feeling the strain, but by that point, I had no choice but to walk back to the start, so I knew I was going to finish. I walked a bit more than I was supposed to, and ended at 13.4 miles in 3:53:14 (no idea what the actual half-marathon time was - maybe around 3 hrs 47 mins?). Our photographer got this picture of me right after I finished:

Even though I was done, I waited with the volunteers at the table for the next few hours as different Sparkers crossed the finish line at different times and distances. In the days since, I've seen our team post that they walked anywhere between 12.5 and 13.8 miles. Most of us had never in our lives walked that far before. For all of us, it was a fantastic experience. It was great to see the last of our group cross the finish line triumphant - the originator of this entire plan, MJ, surrounded by friends and family:

I am so glad that I did this. So glad that I stuck with this idea and trained on my own when I could no longer do the larger distances every week. So glad I came out not knowing if I'd make it, just to be with my team. So glad I pushed myself. So glad to learn that I love longer runs much better than shorter ones, when I just pay attention to the way I feel and not to how fast I'm going. So glad to be part of a team that comes together to make amazing, wonderful things happen.

I started this one-year journey at 70 lbs lost, just barely overweight instead of obese. I end this journey at 97 lbs lost, and just a few pounds from being at a healthy weight. In this last comparison picture, it's harder to see the difference these last 27 lbs have made, because many of them are more visible from the side, or are focused on places like my collarbones and the bagginess around my chin. But even if the proof isn't as visible in picture, it's so very visible in achievement. A year ago, I had never run longer than a mile without stopping, or walked longer than 5.5 miles. I have now run longer than a 10K, and walked/run longer than a half-marathon. What an amazing difference a year can make!!

Member Comments About This Blog Post:
MOMMACASSEY 1/18/2013 12:48PM


You did an awesome job! Trying is always better than not trying, and it got you these successes. Congratulations to you and to the SA team... y'all are fabulous!


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BBORDEN86 1/16/2013 8:31AM

    So proud of you! I know I'm a little late reading this. : )))

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GOING-STRONG 1/15/2013 10:33PM


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ADEWYN 1/15/2013 5:10PM

    i teared up as i read this blog... I am so proud of you...i understand that feeling of accomplishment i think next year i will try a 10k.. this year i am doing a 5k color e rad in april and a foam fest ( which will be my untimed mudder this year) i will try and find a easy 10k to do next year :) hugs i am so proud of you and all the sparkers that were with you that day.. cheers to you!! emoticon

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ZENNITH 1/15/2013 3:13PM

    You did great, well done!! You can definitely see the difference in the pictures, you have a good hour glass shape showing.

On a different note, I have joined you with your chin up goal, hope you don't mind. I have started hanging from a chin up bar with the hope of progressing to a full chin up eventually.

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KOOKYKATHIE 1/15/2013 12:09AM

    You are such an inspiration to me. Thanks for the blog on your training and the run on Saturday. I'm visiting in Mansfield TX right now but when I get back to my home in Oregon I hope to meet up with some Sparkers there.

I want to start out walking and you give me the inspiration to do this. emoticon


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KARENLEIGH32 1/14/2013 7:15PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

I know you are so proud of yourself, as you should be!!

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DINAOREILLY 1/14/2013 2:12PM

    Impressive honey. So thrilled for are an inspiration to me or your determination. emoticon

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ANONSI 1/14/2013 2:01PM

    Thank you for sharing this blog! I really enjoyed it. Congratulations on such amazing achievements!

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MCELLO58 1/14/2013 1:57PM

    Awesome job! You should be so proud of yourself. You're an inspiration. I'm thinking of maybe attempting a 10k later in the year. Great job. emoticon

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CHANGINGSAM 1/14/2013 12:48PM

    You are an inspiration, Amanda! I'm so proud of the accomplishments you made thus far! Keep up the GREAT work! emoticon

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FORMYDARLINGS 1/14/2013 12:13PM


You did a GREAT job. I am so glad you went and had such a wonderful outcome and such a supurb time. I guess we never know what we can do till we try.

emoticon emoticon


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GOOFIERNU 1/14/2013 11:58AM

    emoticon emoticon
"pay attention to the way I feel and not to how fast I'm going"
I will keep this in mind when I'm running!!
emoticon emoticon

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AMANDAUNBIDDEN 1/14/2013 11:55AM

    emoticon And you can definitely see the difference in the before and after pic! And an amazing blog! Loved reading about your experience! emoticon emoticon emoticon

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MISTY_MOUNTAINS 1/14/2013 11:52AM

    Fabulous!! emoticon emoticon

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    This blog made me cry! I am so incredibly proud of you and all hte other sparkers! What an amazing day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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PARASELENIC 1/14/2013 11:22AM

    Congratulations on your acheivement-- the running of the 10 k (13 minute miles the whole way-- Wow!) and on completing the whole half marathon!

One thing I noticed-- the pic of you waving in front of the park sign-- you look like your previous skinny young pic on your page-- you look so healhty, so vibrant, so young, so happy!

I'm so glad to see your progress-- it's very inspiring and just so dang cool.

My mom used to say: "see, no buttons" to reference a time when she was so proud of me that her chest would have swelled to the point that the buttons would pop off her shirt...

Well, Pook-- See-- NO BUTTONS.

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KATHYM617 1/14/2013 11:19AM

    You are always an inspiration! I still haven't managed to work my way up to running a 10k, despite committing to doing so by the end of 2012. (I have, however, done some very long walks over the years, including the 20 mile Walk for Hunger a number of times (though we now do it with the kids and therefore don't do the full 20) and a 100 mile hunger march over 3 days.) I am hoping 2013 is the year for me to run a 10k!! Perhaps what I should be taking away from your blog is that I'd be surprised what I can accomplish if only I try.

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SOUTH_FORK 1/14/2013 10:09AM

    Way to go, gal! I've been trying to work up to a 10k... and then maybe a half marathon might be in the works down the road. Your successes are fuel to the fire- thanks for sharing with all of us!

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PMRUNNER 1/14/2013 9:50AM

    That is really awesome! I am so psyched for you! What a great group of Sparklers you are involved with down there too!

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TXLADY110 1/14/2013 9:49AM

    Congratulations on an amazing success. May you continue have joy and pride in all of your accomplishments.

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TANYA602 1/14/2013 9:28AM

    What amazing progress you've made - I find such inspiration in your training! And YES, we can see the difference! I can't wait to see what you have in store next! Take the day today, and enjoy some down time.

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C8TSON 1/14/2013 9:26AM

    That is GREAT!!! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon A year really can make a difference! You look great too, and I can definitely tell differences in your pics. You are an inspiration! Great job!!!

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CELIAMINER 1/14/2013 9:06AM

    Congrats on your progress!

Love the idea of training for a HM. Last Spring, some of us in the Northern Virginia Sparkers walked a 10K fundraiser in April, then ran a 5K race in May. This year, one of the team announced she will be training for a HM in September. Though I have walked many marathons and often walk 20-25K walks, I've never tried to walk 21K in 3.5 hours (time limit for the event), so I see a challenge here! I suspect I will need to run part of it, but that's still part of the challenge. My knees won't allow me much more than 5K unless I undergo some serious rebuilding, and I'm just not ready for surgery.

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MJ-SHE-BEAST 1/14/2013 9:05AM

    I smiled all the way through this blog! Thanks for linking my blog in. Amanda, you amazed not only yourself, but all of us on Saturday...we really believed you would just be doing a part of the route and here you blew everyone away! I'm happy for you and very, very proud of your accomplishments. You totally rocked on Saturday and well...always!

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SWAYDE 1/14/2013 8:59AM

    Amazing! I'm so glad you participated! Wish I lived in San Antonia, y'all have a great group out there!

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HOLLIEWALLY 1/14/2013 8:58AM

    Congratulations!!!!!!!!!! That is a huge feat! And You look amazing!

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KNELKINS 1/14/2013 8:29AM

    This is wonderful! It is such an awesome idea. Congratulations for not only achieving your goals but completely surpassing them!

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SNS1968 1/14/2013 8:18AM


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