THESHELBSTER

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Hitting the "wall" and breaking through - The story of a runner

Thursday, November 21, 2013

For those of you who don't know, I started running in July. When I started I could barely run a mile, but I stuck with it and ran 3 times a week religiously, until I made it to 10 miles on October 12th which was my record. That gave me the confidence to sign up for a half marathon on Thanksgiving Day, which was a big move for me, since I have never ran an official race of any kind. Shortly after signing up for my half, I started getting scared that I would not be able to make it to 13.1 miles. Everyone told me that if I could run 10, I could run 13.1, but I was doubtful. So I decided to try and run my own "unofficial" half marathon before my official one.

So on October 20th I ran 13.1 miles, a huge, huge, huge milestone in my life. I ran it in 2 hrs 38 min with an average pace of 12:05. Having no training whatsoever, and in running shoes that were in a sad state, I ended up hurting my ankle on my run, and had to take 26 long days off of running before my ankle was strong enough for me to start back up.

Friday was my first time back running after those 26 days. I ran 3.1 miles, which was my goal, because I did not want to push myself too hard, in case my ankle was not completely healed. The run went fine and I vowed to double my mileage on my next run, which was on Monday. Well, let me tell you, on that run I thought I was going to die. Not because of ankle pain. Thankfully there was none. However I felt like I was running in mud. It was like my body had completely forgotten how to run. I wanted to quit at mile 4, I thought I would die at mile 5, and honestly it was a miracle that I made it to mile 6.2. When I got done, I was devastated to see that it took me 1 hr 24 minutes to complete my 10K, so my average pace per mile was 13:34. I have NEVER in my life, not even on my first long run, had a pace that bad. I tried not to focus on my time though. I tried to focus instead on the fact that I had doubled my mileage in 3 days after a 26 day break from running and that was not too shabby. I vowed to do 8 miles on Wed. which brings me to last night.

My mom usually keeps my son while I run, but she had to be somewhere at 6:30 and I can't get to the gym until almost 5 so I knew that there was no way I could run 8 miles. I figured I would just run another 10K, and postpone my 8 mile run to Friday. Well, I get my run on and sure enough, by the time I got to about 3.5 miles I could feel my body starting to give out. I was hitting the wall, and I was hitting it big time. I told myself that I would stop at 4 miles. I knew that I would have felt like a failure but I also knew I just did not have much left. When 4 miles came around I told myself I would push myself to 4.5 miles. I have this thing where I only allow myself to look at my Garmin to see how many miles I have run after every 2 songs on my Ipod. I always tell myself "just 2 more songs" and that help gets me through. Well after the second song since the last time I looked at my Garmin, I was at 4.57 miles. i told myself that I could make it to 5 but i knew that there was no way I could make it to 6.2 miles. Sure enough 5 miles came around and I was done. My body had nothing left to give. I had hit the wall. I had hit it hard. I felt like a failure. I felt like I was taking backward steps in my running. I had pretty much decided then and there that I was not going to run my half marathon on Thursday. I pretty much decided that I had lost my ability to run, and that it was time to face the music.

On my last lap, the one that would get me to 5 miles, this young girl motioned at me, and I took my headphones off to see what she was saying. She said "You are doing great!" and she gave me a thumbs up sign and looked at me with awe. She was young and fit and she was looking at ME, this 41 year old, overweight, panting like a thirsty dog, woman with amazement. There are not enough words to describe how pivotal this moment was for me. I am being honest, I really was on my last lap, and for me to quit at mile 5 (something I do not think i have ever done, quit before I reached my goal), would have shaken my confidence so bad I might not have ever run again.

I was so moved by this moment, this girl who was complimenting me, that I kept on running. Her words were like a wrecking ball, smashing "the wall" that I had hit, breaking through. When I finished the entire 6.2 miles, I remember thinking that even though I completed my run, there was no way I would be able to complete my half marathon in enough time to get my medal. They close the course after 3 hours, and with over a 13:34 min per mile pace, I would cross the finish line with only 5 minutes to spare. That does not give me very much wiggle room. So there I was, in a mixed state of emotion, feeling proud that I had completed my run, grateful that I had broken through the wall, but unconfident about my upcoming marathon. I still feel like I had lost something during my 3 weeks off of running that I was not going to be able to get back.

Then I looked at my Garmin watch. I had completed the 10K in 1 hr 13 min which is an average pace of 11:50. I had shaved almost 2 full minutes off of my average pace from the 10K I ran 2 days prior. I almost started crying. I guess I haven't lost my running mojo after all. I left the gym feeling excited about my upcoming half marathon, and I can't stop thinking of how awesome that medal is going to look around my neck.

Friday I will run 8 miles, and Sunday I will run 10, and then no more long runs for me until race day on Thursday. Wish me luck and keep me in your prayers. Completing this half marathon means everything to me. I am a recently separated newlywed. My husband broke my heart and he almost broke my spirit, and I have been trying so hard to prevail. Everyone tells me how much better off I am without him and I know they are right, but there is something about having tangible evidence of bettering yourself when you are no longer with the one you thought was "the one." It is hard to explain but this medal represents everything I know I am capable of, and all the things that he was holding me back from. It was like he held me down in so many ways. I was drowning when I was with him and I did not even realize it. Running has become my life raft. My sanctuary. My sanity. I would never have even made it past 8 miles if I was still with him. I probably would not still be running at all.

Running is how I have kept from falling into a depression at the demise of my brand new marriage (we separated only 1 month after we got married on July 13th of this year), but in the process, I have discovered just how strong I really am. At first it was like coming back to life. Then it became an awakening. Now it is a rebirth. I am Shelby 2.0. The new and improved version of myself. This is what being away from my abusive husband has done for me. This is how running has helped me. This is how running has saved me.

Next Thursday I am running for so much more than a medal and bragging rights of being an official half marathoner. I am running because it is time I look at myself the same way that the girl in the gym did. With pride. With awe. With respect. I should look at myself like that already, since I have lost 83 lbs in the last 3 years, quit smoking for 2 years, earned my Bachelor's degree in May, graduating with honors, even though I was a single mother the entire time I was killing myself in school. However I really feel that completing this half marathon will be the key element in finally realizing how strong I am, and how much potential I really have. This will be such a huge win for me. The more I run, the less I think about Greg. The more I run, the easier it is to let go of him and the more I start to love myself.

Running might come easy for a lot of you. I don't really know. I am too new of a runner with not enough running friends to really know how hard or easy it is for you to do. For me though, it is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. Before EVERY SINGLE RUN that I do, I am scared that I won't be able to do it. That is how hard it is for me. The fear that I will not be able to complete my goal is so palpable you can cut it with a knife. I don't think I have ever completed a run and had the though "that was easy" or even "that was not as hard as I thought it was going to be". it is ALWAYS hard for me. I am ALWAYS having to push myself beyond my limits to complete my run. I guess that is why I am so euphoric when my runs are complete. Because of how hard they are for me to do.

My name is Shelby. I am a runner. I am an unofficial half marathoner. This Thanksgiving I will become an official half marathoner. This is my story. Well part of it anyway. This is why running means so much to me.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • STINASTEW
    Hey girl! I fell off the edge of the SP world for a while, so am just now reading this blog. It sounds like you're doing such a great job! We ARE our own worse critics & just today I was posting on facebook how I truly appreciated everyone's confidence in me, even when I don't have it myself. I did a 5k today, one that I hadn't trained for & finished. Not my worst time, but not my best, however, I finished! I was in a debbie-downer mood going into it & my friends all were encouraging me to do my best & just finish. That's the first step! Do your best (without pushing to the point of hurting yourself, of course) & finishing. We have to keep reminding ourselves & remember that some days may not measure up to the previous one, but ask yourself, did I do my best? I think it's great that you set high expectations & compete with yourself. Anyways, I admire you & the tenacity that you show in everything you do! You're been someone I look up to throughout the past 2yrs or so that I've followed you on SP. You will make that half marathon happen & just bc it's not done in an official race, doesn't mean it's not official :) Be Proud! Stand Tall! & Go get em girl! :)
    2765 days ago
  • WILDFLOWERS15
    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2800 days ago
  • READY4CHANGE81
    What you have been through over the last few months gives me hope. I see what you have been through and you continue to rise above with dignity and grace. Shelby 2.0 will KICK butt on this half-marathon and have a medal to prove it. Even though you don't NEED the medal to prove how amazing you are...I get the significance! Can't wait to hear all about it!

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    2801 days ago
  • HAPPY_HEART_JEN
    You are awesome! I love your energy and enthusiasm and resilience. Be proud and you'll be great on Thursday!!!!!! emoticon emoticon
    2803 days ago
  • GRANDMABEAST63
    Woohoo Shelby 2.0, you are awesome. Always look forward and not back, give yourself a hug and on Monday you will rock this half-marathon !!! emoticon
    2805 days ago
  • UNICORN212
    We all know you can do it - you just need to convince yourself. You are awesome!
    2805 days ago
  • KAKAKALI4
    Go Shelby Go! You can do this - you will do this! I am so happy you have found something that brings you internal peace - you deserve so much more! You are blessed to have so many people who are reading your story and being encouraged by you! Remember - we all have fights internally - yours is a a story that is reaching out to many and helping them find their inner fight~ Keep up the great work ! I will be pulling for you on Thanksgiving!
    Teri
    2805 days ago
  • OBIESMOM2
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    run safe & have fun!

    I'm a VERY slow runner. If I ever get to the point of running a consistent 10 min mi, I would consider something more than a 10k.

    can't wait to read your post-race blog!!! And seeing pictures of you & your medal!
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    2805 days ago
  • WILEE323
    You go girl! Running got me through my divorce nearly 6 years ago. It's the best form of therapy around. That's when I ran my first half and I'll be running #8 next month! Btw, I always feel nervous about not being able to complete my long runs, but I always do!
    2805 days ago
  • MIRAGE727
    Great job! The only thing I suggest is that you wear only one ear bud so you can hear around you. It's important to be aware of what's going around you during a race. Also stay to the right. Your goal is too finish. Yes, you will do this. Stay focused and embrace your run. Have fun with it! All the best and be ready to share your great experience with others! You never forget your first!
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    2805 days ago
  • no profile photo CD12061316
    Go Shelby 2.0 go! You got this! Thursday will be a day of thanksgiving on so many levels : )

    Also, I am so glad that you were able to get out of an abusive marriage. Along with a bunch of folks from the Favorite Run Community on Facebook, I'm doing a virtual 5K/10K on December 1 in honor of Melissa Griffin, a runner from Tennessee who lost her life to domestic violence less than 24 hours after completing her first half marathon. (https://www.facebook.com/runoutvio
    lence, if anyone is interested in more info or would like to register) Thank you for sharing your story with us -- like that girl in the gym, you encourage others in ways you may never realize. Long and joyfully may you run!
    2805 days ago
  • BLUEROSE73
    Awesome story. And no, running doesn't come easy to everyone. I struggle with it almost every day. It's one of those things I do to shop myself every day how strong I can be if I just work at it and stay focused. Enjoy your race on Thanksgiving. I can't wait to hear how you did
    2805 days ago
  • no profile photo CD12061316
    Go Shelby 2.0 go! You got this! Thursday will be a day of thanksgiving on so many levels : )

    Also, I am so glad that you were able to get out of an abusive marriage. Along with a bunch of folks from the Favorite Run Community on Facebook, I'm doing a virtual 5K/10K on December 1 in honor of Melissa Griffin, a runner from Tennessee who lost her life to domestic violence less than 24 hours after completing her first half marathon. (https://www.facebook.com/runoutvio
    lence, if anyone is interested in more info or would like to register) Thank you for sharing your story with us -- like that girl in the gym, you encourage others in ways you may never realize. Long and joyfully may you run!
    2805 days ago
  • TWEETYKC00
    Wow, you are rockin! I know you don't have the pace you want right now, but you are still wonderful!
    2806 days ago
  • WISHICOULDFLY
    I will be thinking of you on Thursday sending positive vibes. I am so proud of you! emoticon - Connie
    2806 days ago
  • FITNHEALTHYKAL
    The original Shelby was awesome. Convicted. Strong. Amazing. Shelby 2.0 is stupendous!!!!!! You've got this lady! emoticon Wait; hold the phone...you HAVE done it and you are going to do it AGAIN on Thanksgiving! emoticon
    2806 days ago
  • MARYBETH4884
    Encouragement is often the best motivation for us to reach our goals! Amazing what a few words even from a stranger can do! emoticon emoticon
    2806 days ago
  • ANGELEYES67J
    You are doing great and should be proud. I know I am so proud of you. Keep up the good work and the attitude. emoticon
    2806 days ago
  • TIMOTHYNOHE
    I can only say one thing:

    Wow. GReat story.
    2806 days ago
  • DRADDIE
    Woooohoo!! You go!! (Btw, I find races always make ya go faster anyway..you''ll do fabulous!!!)
    2806 days ago
  • ALLTHNGSPOSSBLE
    You will do great on your half marathon! I have been running for about 3 years now and you are a lot faster that I am. The first half marathon is hard but you have already hit the wall and pushed through so you know what it's like. Just think about the medal and let your training carry you through. I hit the wall hard in my half marathon this weekend too so I know what you are talking about. Running is the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life too. It is still, and probably always will be, hard for me but I am doing it and so are you. Don't quit!
    2806 days ago
  • KAT321123
    Go you! =) Isn't it funny how sometimes someone else, even a stranger, sees us more clearly than we see ourselves? That girl knew you could do it and thought you were a rockstar and you needed her to say it to see it for yourself.

    You run further than I do (I'm at 5 miles currently), but I can relate to a lot of what you've said. I will say one thing I've had to work VERY hard to do, is to talk back to that voice that tells me there's no way I can make it. Some runs that voice doesn't comment and sometimes it does every few seconds. I've learned to just combat it with, "Yes, I can and will do it." When you run as far as you do, it's really all mental -- your body seems to have the training that it needs at this point.

    I'm with you in that running does not come easy. In fact, they're so hard that once I finish them (I run in the morning) I feel like I've succeeded in the hardest part of my day so I can handle anything that the day sends my way! I love it.

    You're going to rock this half-marathon. And if you forget that, even for a second, please remember that the young girl had faith in you and that I have faith in you. Eventually you'll have enough faith in yourself that you won't need the rest of us =)

    So glad that I stumbled upon your blog!


    2806 days ago
  • HOOKEMBABY422
    You should be proud! You are doing great.

    A mantra I use on ALL of my recent runs: I don't stop when I'm tired, I stop when it's done.

    You can do it!
    2806 days ago
  • MONETRUBY
    emoticon work, sweetie! That gal is right, you are doing a mighty fine job. You should be so very proud of yourself, and all that you have accomplished, against some pretty stiff odds. I'll be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers during your race. You'll do great!
    2806 days ago
  • ZMICHE
    The girl is right, you are doing great! emoticon You have overcome a lot of things in the past several months! Glad to see you are giving the half marathon a chance, you are strong- just think of how awesome finishing will feel! emoticon
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    2806 days ago
  • MALAMI518
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    What an inspiring story! I also have a half marathon as my eventual goal. I've run the distance twice now, but my pace isn't as fast as yours, and I'm not coming back from an injury. Running is hard for me, and I feel so slow. I also worry before every single run that I won't be able to do it. Thank you for giving me even more motivation!

    You have come such a long way through some very bad times. You ARE strong! I know that you can do it, and I'll be here virtually cheering you on! I can't wait to read about the fantastic first official half marathon that you finished!

    emoticon
    2806 days ago
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