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Race for Hope 5K, and whatever happened to C25K?

2 May

There are very few things in my life that I need answers to. I know why I gained so much weight, why I’ve had problems with school and social relationships, and what I need(ed) to do to right some wrongs I’ve done to myself and others. I’ve had one nagging question since I was a little kid, and I’ve never gotten an answer.

“Why do I have Epilepsy???”

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned it before on the blog, but I’ve suffered from had Primary Generalized Absence Seizures for almost 19 years, and it’s greatly affected my life. I have memory, coordination and balance issues, and I’ve had to give up a lot of activities I loved, like video games, some concerts and clubs, skiing and gymnastics. Like 67% of all epileptics, I’ve also had the co-syndrome of depression and, for me, it’s been the biggest challenge. 70% of all kids with PGA seizures outgrow them, and I did at 12. However, when I was 18, it reared its little head again, and I became one of the few adults with childhood epilepsy. I don’t like to be called a victim or a sufferer, because it could always be much worse. I’ve lived on my own, have no brain damage and having been seizure-free for 9 years, I can drive a car. I’m on medications that have few side effects, and my last brain scan three years ago showed a normal brain.
If I’m okay, then why am I talking about it now?
Because with all I know about PGA, the one thing I don’t know is why.
It’s idiopathic, meaning there aren’t known causes in every case, but can be hereditary. I’m the only one in the family as far back as four generations that I could trace with epilepsy, so it’s a really frustrating answer, and without further research and education by the scientific community, I’ll never know. One way to raise money for research is to participate in fundraisers, so when I heard that the Epilepsy Foundation of Cincinnati was coming to Huntington to start the Race for Hope 5K on May 1st, I knew I needed to sign up. I ended up deciding to walk instead of run, thinking about how much easier it would be.

There was nothing easy about it.

5k is about 3.1 miles, which sounds like nothing, right? It sounded so simple, and every time E would bring it up, I’d brush it off. Never mind that last January, I couldn’t walk a half mile without stopping 2 or 3 times. Never mind that I hadn’t been to the gym in the last week. Whatever, it’s just a 5k. Before the race, I gave myself 2 requirements: finish in 60 minutes, and don’t finish last. I didn’t want to be the one everyone was waiting on or the one that got left behind. I never once took a moment and patted myself on the back for signing up, showing up or doing my best, and I should have.

When the walk started, I power-walked for a little bit, but literally two minutes in, my shins were on fire. Right away, I freaked out, and knew I wouldn’t make it. The walk became more about making it to the next volunteer than leaving folks in the dust, and somewhere along the way it became more about the hope than about the race. I realized that I’ve wasted so much time beating myself up over all the things that I can’t do that I’ve never given a thought to all that I can and that so many people can’t, including walking. I walked for the me’s that I have been, am and want to be. I walked by a funeral and walked on for the someone in the hearse that couldn’t. I walked by Marshall University, and walked on for the people who thought I’d never make it there and those that did. I walked by my bank, our favorite restaurants and city hall. I didn’t stop walking, not even once, not even for a second. I stopped checking the time, my heart rate and the calories burned, because in the moment, they just didn’t matter. At some point, I snapped out of my internal dialogues, and realized that I was almost there. I’m not ashamed to say that I cried as I got closer and closer, and it was so amazingly cathartic. I could feel the pressure, pain and anger slip away, and what was left was just me. I crossed the finish line exhausted and calm, and met up with E, who was waiting for me.
So, how did I do?

With an official time of 52:27 (16:53 pace), I ranked:
81 out of 107 participants
18 out of 42 walkers
5 out of 6 overall in the 25-29 division
38 out of 53 overall females
2 out of 3 females aged 25-29

Yup, I placed!

Every time I try to brush it off as an accomplishment, all I have to do is look at this moment and that medal and I realize how awesome I truly am. I never stopped or looked back, and no matter how challenging it felt sometimes, I kept on keeping on, and for that, I rock! I don’t always have to be the first or the best; by showing up and taking charge, I can keep being the best Carly that I can be.

“Life is a positive-sum game. Everyone from the gold medalist to the last finisher can rejoice in a personal victory.” – Unknown

So why didn’t I run?
Pretty soon after starting C25K, I realized that at least for right now, it’s not the right program for me. I’ll admit that it was really hard for me to come to the decision to put it on the back burner yet again, but I truly believe that had I kept pushing for it, I would’ve resented it. For me, the whole point of doing C25K was to have a new adventure, a new activity, and a reason to keep reaching for a goal, and it was just not doing that for me. I’m kind of jealous of everyone I admire who are having a blast with the program, and hope that one day, I’ll be back to follow in their footsteps.

P.S. I’m donating $0.10 $1.00 to The Epilepsy Foundation for the first 500 comments made on this post before June 10th, which is also my 27th birthday. This is a cause I believe so very strongly in, so go on and get cracking! Tweet, re-post and help make sure that I’m a little poorer. Every comment counts.


St. Louis and Ethical Eating

16 Apr

This past weekend, I was in St. Louis to help celebrate my friend Amanda’s wedding, which was a blast, but one of the harder ones of the last year. I knew there wouldn’t be a lot of options for me as an ethical flexitarian, but decided in advance to make the best of it. I wanted control over my food choices and my budget, so I made sure to bring along some corn thins, a packet of Justin’s honey peanut butter, a couple of Luna protein bars and some oatmeal, figuring I’d at least have breakfasts and lunches covered. I ate one of the protein bars on the way there, and decided to have oatmeal for lunch. When I arrived at the hotel, I quickly discovered that there was no coffee maker or microwave, and the hot water was permanently set to around 80 degrees – hot enough for showers, but not for oatmeal. Strike one.

I ended up heading to a Walgreens with Amanda’s mom and aunt to pick up some snacks for her son, and bought some dried fruit, a spicy V8 and a cheese stick. Not the best options, but having landed at 9:30 am and it being almost 3 pm, I was starving!

Then the rehearsal dinner came around – let me preface this by saying that I in no way ask, demand or expect to always have my food choices catered to – and it was really hard. Pizza and Applebee’s appetizers were served, and I realized that I had three choices: eat in a manner that would go against my ethics, eat crap that would make me feel bad both mentally and physically, or just not eat. Option 3 just wasn’t going to happen. Option 1 meant that I could eat chicken breast and the beef out of some burgers, and make do, but the thought of it literally made me gag. Option 2 meant eating pizza and mozzarella sticks, with a few sticks of celery on the side.  Guess what I went with? Option 2. I decided that eating meat was just as ridiculous a decision for me as not eating at all, and couldn’t bring myself to do it. So I ate the celery (which quickly ran out), the pizza and the mozzarella sticks. I’m not proud of it, nor am I proud of how much of it I ate. It was, however, the best choice at the time – I’m glad I followed my gut. Plus, I knew that I’d be doing C25K the next morning, which would at least negate a slice of pizza 🙂

I got up bright and early the next morning to “run”, and guys, it was rough. Between the fried foods and the dehydration issues from the night before, I was lagging, and every interval was painful. 15 minutes and that was it. I called it quits, and headed back to the hotel. I noticed there was a Starbucks in the hotel lobby, so I grabbed an iced coffee and a cup of hot water and headed upstairs for some oatmeal, and it was glorious! The rest of the day went pretty well; went to the salon with the rest of the bridal party to get our hair done, had lunch with the bride, groom and their families (they had egg whites and fruit, thank G-D!), and helped Amanda get ready. The wedding was beautiful and went off without a hitch, and then it was party time!

The reception turned out to be even tougher than the rehearsal, and my dinner consisted of cheese, crackers and fruit. Even though I know I did the right thing, it was really hard watching everyone enjoy the delicious meal, and choosing not to partake in it – I’m starting to understand how tough it can be for E as a vegetarian. I made a choice on what I choose to eat and how I choose to spend my dollar, and it’s not always going to be easy, and this weekend was a great way to learn that lesson. By the end of the night, I’d devoured two pieces of wedding cake – tasted awesome, felt horrible. I’ve been hearing about this cake for months, and wanted to try both flavours. I usually split with E, but since he wasn’t there, I figured I could half of each slice. It’s times like this when I forget about ED, and I was quickly reminded. Emotion and stress overtook, and it was like I had no control over my fork or the hand that guided it, and it sucked. It sucked real hard. It was bad, but it could’ve been much worse, and I’m thankful that I was able to stop myself before I had a full-out binge.

The next day, everything was good again – headed to the airport, hopped on a couple of planes, ate some tofu and veg at CVG which was very necessary, reconnected with E, and all was well with the world.

Long story short: had a great time and was glad to be there, but I’m glad it’s over!

Picture Time:

Room Tour!
The entryway

The bathroom –
modern, clean and see the shower behind me? 
My blogging station/classroom,
thwarted by the $9.95 daily internet fee

4 pairs of shoes for 2 days – 
I obviously like to be prepared for anything!

Rehearsal dinner-ready
The bed

The beautiful view from my room

Busch Stadium, home of the Cardinals and the ceremony location

C25K, week 1, day 2

4 Apr

C25K, week 1, day two?


We stayed at the in-laws last night, and I made sure to bring my running shoes and Polar with me. I also made sure to tell as many people as possible that I was going “running” in the morning. It’s funny that I can’t do something half-way; it’s all or nothing. There’s no way I can back out if everyone’s in on my business, so a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. The in-laws live in a town of 4,000 people, and at 7:30 am on a Sunday, no one’s out and about. Pretty safe running conditions, if you ask me, so I took it outside. Day 2 looked a lot like Day 1; 5 intervals done spot-on, 3 ending a little sooner than the 60 seconds, with cramping and soreness in my right knee and ankle. I stretched both before and after my session (which I didn’t do on Thursday), and that helped a bit. Maybe I need new shoes? It could also just be the “growing pains” of forcing my muscles to do something they’ve never been asked to do before. I’ll work it out.

I loved being outside, but man, the pavement’s rough. I definitely started to feel it as soon as the first interval, but the smell of Spring was totally worth it. I don’t think I’ll be heading outside too often, but it makes for a nice change of pace.

Change and C25K, take two

4 Apr

In the last few months, I’ve gone through a bunch of changes.
I’ve talked about worry and feeling helpless and out of control, and even talked about a new way to eat.
There’s been a few issues that have reared their ugly heads lately, the biggest of which was feeling as if my weight loss isn’t earned. I mean, obviously it doesn’t just happen on its own, but as a very imperfect person, I struggle with the fact that I can work my butt off for months and not lose an ounce, and then do nothing at all and lose 15 lbs. in a month. But hey, life’s unpredictable, right? So is my body.

Since I broke up with worry, things haven’t exactly been shrugged off my shoulders, but I have yet to worry. I’ve questioned, examined and pondered, but worry? Naaaah.
There’s semantics for you!

There is something I need want to talk about.
One annoying, painful, nagging thought has flitted in and out of my head so many times over the last few months, and I’ve been scared to share it.
Guys, for the last 5 months, every so often, I’ve had the craziest urge…

…to run.

I’m no runner; heck, I’m barely a walker.
I grew up with a dad who ran marathons like nobody’s business, including Montreal, New York, Chicago and Boston. I always thought it was pretty cool, but never had any desire or whim to share in the tradition.
But now?
Now I want to lace up my sneaks and just take off, wherever and whenever that may be.

Seriously (my mom’s probably in shock right now).

I’m usually one to hide in safe places, and I wish I could do that now.
I can’t, because I’m not that person anymore.

A change is a-comin.
Can you feel it?

Step one?
C25K, also known as Couch to 5K.

C25K is a program designed to take you from being a non-runner to running five kilometers, or 3 miles, in a mere 9 weeks. I tried the program out using my handy-dandy iphone app in January, and failed. The first day of the program is 31 minutes, including a 5 minute warm-up and cool-down with walk/run intervals of 2 minutes:60 seconds. I made it 10 minutes, including the warm-up. I didn’t expect much from myself, and I didn’t get all that much in return. It was disappointing and a big mental block, not to mention emotionally brutal.

Guys, as much as I hate to admit it, I learned a valuable lesson from that day. My body failed me because I failed my body. I’ve spent so much time dismissing myself and focusing on my weaknesses without spending any time devoted to creating strengths. I can’t expect the results if I refuse to focus on making an effort, and that means mentally, too.

This past Thursday (April 1st), I challenged C25K, day 1 to a rematch. I wore my Polar
and workout gear to Basic Nutrition, tweeted frantically the entire time, and headed to the gym right after class. Got up to the track, ready to go, and tweeted:
There’s a basketball game under the track. Not only are there 15 guys watching my a** run, but the gym’s a zillion degrees. Super. #c25k

Thanks go out to Krissie, Mish, Susan and Kepa for supporting me (and calming me down) on Twitter – you rock my socks!

This should be interesting, and change feels kinda good right now.

P.S. Check out my sweaty mug over at Prior Fat Girl!