Monday, November 14, 2011

Honoring Chris

The sun was just coming up over the horizon when I arrived at Waterside on Sunday morning. It was a beautiful pinkish-orange backdrop to the American flag that was waving thanks to a brisk wind coming off the water.

I had arrived decked out in 75 yellow ribbons attached to the front and back of my running clothes. The only spot not covered in ribbon was the spot over my heart, where I pinned a photo of Chris. "Running in honor and memory of Chris Campbell," the badge read. "Sept. 16, 1974 - Aug. 6, 2011."

To say I was nervous about the race is an understatement. I was undertrained and overweight. I had stayed up most of the night before with a heating pad under my lower back. I didn't know anyone at the race start and wondered if I'd see any familiar faces along the route. As all of these thoughts ran around in my head and the clock neared 30 minutes until start time, one prevailing thought finally squashed the others and took over: "It's not about you. It's about Chris."

Ever since that awful Saturday in early August when we found out our high school classmate - a carefree surfer-turned-Navy SEAL - was killed in a helicopter attack over Afghanistan, I had been on auto-pilot: scrambling to train for the Norfolk Freedom Half Marathon, making weekly visits to the physical therapist to fix every new problem that arose, and raising money for the Wounded Warrior Project, the charity Chris requested we focus on if he should be killed in the line of duty.

Now the scrambling was over. And a quiet took its place. A quiet that allowed me to focus on only one thing: Chris.

As the runners lined up at the start and the "presentation of the colors" was announced, something very odd happened. Instead of typical pre-race chatter and last-minute stretching, everyone was focused ahead. Not a word was spoken or a song played. It was so quiet, the only sounds were of chirping birds and whipping flags. This wasn't going to be a typical race. Most people weren't there to break records. This was about honoring the men and women who were serving our country, the veterans, the heroes who sacrificed their lives for us. This was about Chris and his comrades. This wasn't about us.

At 7 a.m., the runners - including me - took off.

It was a lot easier to run with ribbons than I expected. And the ribbons served their purpose, as a number of spectators - including passengers in a car that drove by me - asked what they represented. I was able to tell them about my classmate who was killed, his Wounded Warrior Project wish and the people listed on the ribbons who donated to his cause.

There were rough moments during the race: stretches where I feared I was last because I couldn't see anyone around me; the moment I tripped over my feet and fell onto the pavement (strategically right outside a hospital); miles 11 and 12 when all I wanted to do was take a nap I was so exhausted.

I had to walk most of miles 11 and 12. But when I hit the last mile, I had an odd little burst of energy. I was able to run more. And then the song "Arlington" came on my iPod. It was played at Chris' memorial service, and as I listened to the words, I touched my hand to my heart - Chris' photo - and thanked him.

I was about to turn the corner into the last stretch when two very good friends surprised me, cheering and taking photos during those last steps. I can't say I ran the rest of the way - a combination of "Arlington," seeing my friends and approaching this hard-fought goal brought on the emotions and I found myself unable to breathe. But I was able to refocus and carry on.

The finish line was a near ghost town compared with other half marathon finish lines. After all, I was finishing an hour and fifteen minutes after the average person would finish. And though it was quiet as I approached, someone restarted the music, and the opening notes to "The Final Countdown" played. I smiled wide and finished.


Two-month Wounded Warrior Project fundraising goal: $3,000
Amount raised: $3,466 (with $50 more pledged)
Number of fundraising letters sent out: 150
Number of donors: 75

Original half marathon time-limit: 16-minute-mile pace
Revised time-limit: 4-hour race (or 18-minute-mile)
My half marathon time: 3:30 (yes, a personal worst)
My half marathon pace: EXACTLY 16-minute-mile
My place: 7th from last (but not last!) POSTSCRIPT: Turns out I was 17th from last! (or, 1187th out of 1204)
Number of ribbons I started the race with: 75
Number of ribbons I finished the race with: 75!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Counting down (and up)

Less than one week till race day, and I'm about as unprepared for a half marathon as I've ever been and very nervous about how it will all shake out.

My plan to do 12 miles last week was a bust, as I awoke on Sunday with very bad back pain. I knew running would make it worse and could potentially do harm. So 11 will be the most I've done before the race - and it will have been three weeks before the race. I do have my plan (2-minute run/1-minute walk) and I've already canvassed the route to find bail-out points (coworkers' homes! two hospitals! a rent-a-car agency!). I joke - I certainly don't want to bail out at any point - but I'm also realistic that I'm not in the best shape or health.

Of course, no matter what happens next Sunday, I will be out there honoring Chris and wearing (as of today) 68 yellow ribbons bearing the names of people who have donated to my campaign for the Wounded Warrior Project and are helping to keep Chris' legacy alive.

As I sat here this afternoon forming each ribbon and watching the mound of yellow grow larger and larger, I was so thankful to each name I wrote down. I'm happy to report we're past goal and up to nearly $3,300 raised for WWP in Chris' name.

It's not too late to donate (and to get your name on a ribbon). Visit

Sunday, October 23, 2011

I ain't down yet

The goal today? 10 miles.

The fear? That today would be the day I'd realize my dream of doing this half marathon was over.

The result? Procrastination getting ready for my run, irritation when I started my warmup and was stopped twice by people asking for directions, frustation when, at the start of the first jog, my hip screamed for me to stop and, frustration again, when minutes later I really had to stop to wait for the light-rail train to go by.

All followed by elation when, three hours later, I returned to my apartment having completed 11 miles.

My hip did continue to bother me the first half of the run, but it was a beautiful, cool, blue-sky day and I thought back to the beginning weeks of my training when I would rather walk the distance than do nothing at all. So I took it mile by mile. About halfway through I got the idea to add one more mile to my total - just in case. The thought was, if this run really hurt me and I was out of training for the next week or two or three, at least I'd have gotten up to 11.

I ran/walked the first 9.5 miles, then pretty much walked the rest. When I got home, I immediately took two Aleve, stretched, took a shower, and then napped on a heating pad. All precautionary measures. When I woke up, unbelievably, nothing really hurt.

My back hurt some during the last few miles, but thankfully, it was more my upper-to-middle back and not my lower back. Which means, I think, it was more of a muscular issue rather than a disc issue.

Now the only thing I'm really nursing is a headache, and a bit of a sore throat, and if that wasn't the case, I'd shout from my rooftop how happy I am to have accomplished this today. Yes, I am not in great shape for this race, but I'm also not out of it just yet. I can't tell you how happy that makes me.

I thank you all for your prayers and support. I know that that's making all the difference in the world.

Fundraising update: I'm $109 away from my $3,000 goal for the Wounded Warrior Project! Want to help me get there? I'm still taking donations for the next three weeks, in person or on the website: And a side note: If you donated to me more than a month ago and haven't gotten a personal thank-you note from me, please let me know. Based on previous mistakes, I'm a little worried my mail carrier has been putting some of my mail in the wrong box. With the exception of donations I've received since Oct. 8, the thank-yous have gone out.

And, believe me: I am truly, truly thankful. Out of 150 letters I mailed out, I have received 60-plus donations, more than I ever imagined possible. You all have warmed my heart with your generosity.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Crying uncle (and, well, crying)

I never thought I'd get to the point where I threw up my hands and admitted defeat. But it may be time to do just that.

Last week's vacation was lovely. I was able to travel and hike mostly without pain. On Saturday, upon return, I ran the Susan G. Komen 5K. As I took my first step running, I realized my right hip was acting very strange. It took effort to pick up my leg to run. As the run progressed, the pain subsided, but as soon as I took a small walk break and then resumed running, it returned. Since then, I've found it hard to do just about everything, including walk.

On Monday, I bent over to dry my hair, and a sharp pain - like a small knife being jabbed in my lower back - hit me hard. My physical therapist on Tuesday discovered it's not muscular (like all my other problems). It's very likely a disc issue. And that's not fixable.

And I still have the IT band pain.

So to sum up: Pain in the left knee area, lower back and right hip. I'm one hot mess.

My physical therapist (yes, the one I love for supporting my running) threw me for a loop this week when he suggested that, after the half marathon, I stop long-distance running. He said my body may not be cut out for it. That I should stick with small distances.

Embarrassingly, I started to cry as he spoke. I didn't want to hear what he was saying. I had decided that I would take a running break after next month - to hopefully reset my body and help the various parts heal - and I thought that was what he, too, was going to suggest. Not to stop long distances for good.

It's what many people have told me over the years, but I've ignored them because long-distance running makes me happy. It's the only thing I find joy in, where I feel proud of myself. I never thought when I was 317 pounds that I would one day run half marathons. And that I would love it. But I do.

Beyond that heartbreak lies something worse: I'm beginning to realize that this half marathon (now 20-some days away) may be impossible. I haven't run long for more than two weeks. I haven't run at all - with the exception of the 5K, which despite my pain was a good race - for more than two weeks. Today, while crossing a busy road on my way to work, I did a small jog. It hurt so much, I practically had to peg-leg myself across the road.

I keep telling people that despite the various injuries, I am not ready to give up, that I'm still determined to run this for Chris, that I have fundraised with the promise that I was going to run the half. I'm less than $400 away from my goal of $3,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project. Yet I'm so far from where I need to be in my training.

I still have it in my head that I'm going to attempt 10 miles on Sunday, but at the moment, as I sit at my desk feeling that knife-pain in my back, I don't know how that's going to be possible. Or the 11 miles the following week. Or the 13.1 miles two weeks after that.

Every night I pray that I heal, that I can run without pain, that I can run this race. But every day I am faced with a new problem. I am willing to work hard. But it appears there is only so much I can do.

I'm still hoping for a miracle. That may be what it takes.

Friday, October 7, 2011

A wee update

I'm taking a week off for a little vacation, so I won't be back blogging till next Sunday. So I just wanted to update you on my status.

It's still lousy.

I endured many, many painful injections on Tuesday with the hope they would make my back and IT band feel better. But both still hurt, and as I squatted to look at some books on the bottom shelf earlier today, the IT band really hurt. So I don't know where that leaves me. I plan on trying to hike next week, but I realize I need to be careful, with both my leg and my back.

When I return, I'll try my darndest to pick the training back up. My physical therapist is very hopeful I can still do the half marathon. He knows how much it means to me and how I'd regret it if I didn't try. His thought: Start it and if you have to drop out, at least you can say you tried. Have I mentioned how much I love my physical therapist?

On the fundraising front, we're nearing $2,000 raised. I hope that in the last month I can push to get that last $1,000, but either way, I'm so grateful for those who have already given and those who now know what a great man Chris was.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

For better, or worse?

Well, I remained conflicted all morning about what to do regarding my run. Do I try? Do I wait? Do I just do a few miles? Do I try for 10? Etc.

A few circumstances went into my final decision: 1. I had expected to be working all day, but I was all caught up. 2. It was a beautiful, cool day. 3. I wasn't in terrible pain. 4. I'm supposed to vacation to the N.C. mountains next week, which means no long run next Sunday.

So I laced up the shoes, said a prayer and went outside.

It immediately began raining, but I didn't mind. "Don't mind the rain, just don't want the pain," I thought to myself.

As I started my run/walk, I made sure to pay attention to my posture during each run portion to make sure I wasn't hunching (b/c maybe that's causing the pain?). Then I got worried I was trying so hard to run upright that I was tensing up, which could also easily cause pain. So I concentrated on being loose, relaxed and straight. By three miles, I felt just fine. By five miles, I started to feel some back discomfort. I decided at that point to just do six miles, just to be safe. But then, as I neared six, I decided that, at the very least, I wanted my legs to cover at least what I did last week. So after my six-mile run/walk, I walked three more miles, very slowly. It was a beautiful day (the rain didn't last more than five minutes), so I didn't mind the extra time it took.

My IT band, at the moment, feels just fine, though there were some twinges during the run so I immediately iced and took some Aleve when I got back. My back is a bit sore, but I have a heating pad on it. It doesn't feel as bad as last week. I am glad I was able to do nine miles, even though technically it was only six on target time-wise. I feel better about taking next week off knowing I got those miles in.

The big question mark now is, will I ever be able to run more than six miles without back pain? I sense that it starts to hurt when my legs get tired. Perhaps it tries to overcompensate. Perhaps I'm hunching and don't even realize it. Or maybe it's just weak hips. I don't know. Hopefully my physical therapist will have some insight on Tuesday.

So I don't know if what I did today was good for me or bad for me. I'm just hoping I didn't do any further damage.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Good news, bad news, Part 2

I had been feeling so good for most of September, so this latest setback is somewhat bringing me down. Week Five of training was an Epic Fail, though I did complete 9 miles on Sunday. Still, those 9 miles resulted in this new pain that has derailed my momentum, so I don't really consider this week a success on any level (training-wise).

Where this week was a success was in the fundraising. I thought that first day of 10 envelopes in the mailbox was just a fluke, but each subsequent day has brought five, two, five more. And, in honor of Chris, I'm up to more than $1,500 raised - halfway to my goal. That is a huge source of pride. My friends and family (and eye doctor!) have been so generous and supportive.

Which is where the bit of guilt comes into play. They're helping me with the fundraising, and I want to fulfill my end of the bargain - getting out there and training and running that half marathon. So as I sit here on the couch (though working, not eating bonbons and watching TV), I feel a lot of guilt and sadness for not continuing that streak in my training. My head knows it's the right thing to do to not hurt myself even more, but my heart is heavy and sad.

I would like to try to run tomorrow, but I'm facing this inward battle of "Do I just run 3 miles to try it out? 2 miles? Or do I do what the schedule says and try 10? Will that make me hurt more? Will I feel worse if I don't try? Should I just get out there and see how it goes? Do I hold out longer till after physical therapy on Tuesday? Am I really feeling pain in my knee and back or is just my brain thinking I am feeling something that's not really there?"

This race is very, very important to me. Many people who care about my health keep trying to persuade me to switch to the 5K. But there's something about this half marathon that is special - and I need to feel like I've given it my all. The race is six weeks away, and I need those six training weeks, or at least five of them. But I also want to show up to that starting line in good health and spirit.

Taking it day by day. I may be down in spirit right now, but I haven't lost my determination.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Good news, bad news

The bad news (an ice pack) is sitting in front of me, mocking me, so I'll start with the bad news first.

In addition to back pain from running (yeah, it hurt a little during Sunday's 9 miles), now my IT band is throbbing. It hurts to walk, it hurts to even put pressure on my knee. In doing some research, it's possible the back problem is actually causing the IT band problem. When the lower back muscle of the hip is weak, the front muscle, attached to the IT band, has to pick up the slack. What's awful is that the two exercises they recommend I do to help the IT band, I already do! I use the foam roller before every run and I do hip exercises, too.

I've been icing constantly and elevating my knee and I'll go buy some Aleve today. But what this all means, I don't know, except that today is the first day since my training began that I can't follow my schedule. It stinks. I was on such a roll, doing it right, doing it slow, never increasing mileage more than 10 percent a week. Oh well. I know that all I can do is try my best. It still stinks.

OK, bad news aside, here's some good news.

I have this recurring dream that I open my mailbox and there are tons and tons of cards and letters for me inside. (In this day, that's a TRUE dream!) Yesterday, I had to tell myself I wasn't dreaming, that this was real. I opened my mailbox to find TEN envelopes inside containing donations for the Wounded Warrior Project. I was so overwhelmed, I almost started crying. To see the names on the return addresses was just an awesome moment. I wasn't dreaming. I'm up to 16 donations and $835 raised, nearly a third of the way to my goal of $3,000! I am so grateful to all who have donated.

And I do understand that many just can't give right now. It's such a hard time for people. But you can still help. I need your prayers/good vibes desperately to get back on the pavement.

I can't give up now.

To donate:

Saturday, September 24, 2011

On my way

I sent out my first batch of fundraising letters for the Wounded Warrior Project on Monday. On Thursday, I opened my mailbox to find one of my self-addressed envelopes. My first mailed donation! As I got into the elevator and opened the envelope, I started to cry when I saw it was from my landlord and how much he donated. I think I've been so worried I wouldn't get any donations that to get something so soon and so generous was just overwhelming. Today, I learned of two large donations that made my heart swell. It fills me with pride to think that, even if I don't meet my $3,000 goal, I'll at least have raised something for Chris' charity, and made more people aware of the hero Chris was.

Training this past week went well. Eight miles on Sunday, three on Wednesday and Friday. My back began hurting again mid-week, which worries me, as my physical therapist thinks the running could be the cause. But it's eased up a tad. I'm hopeful but cautious.

Tomorrow's long run is scheduled to be nine miles, and I must say, each week I get more and more nervous I won't be able to do it. Last Sunday, I was so worried, I waited until noon to run. Not a smart idea. I hope I have more sense tomorrow morning!

Here's hoping for the best.

To donate to Wounded Warriors:

Saturday, September 17, 2011

I'll Stand By You

Thank heaven above, this week was another good training week. Seven miles Sunday, three miles Wednesday and Friday. And I'm finding myself able to run more and walk less. I pray I can keep it up without injury. It's been wonderful being out there again. This past summer, when I was unable to do anything, I would literally dream about running. In my dreams, I was effortlessly gliding along, enjoying the moment. This week, I found myself doing just that and was so thankful.

On Friday - what would have been Chris' 37th birthday - my run took me to an unexpected place. I started off with a 5-minute warmup walk and then planned on alternating 3 minutes of running, 1 minute of walking the rest of the way. But the minute I took off in my first running segment, my iPod shuffled to the song "I'll Stand By You." And I immediately thought of a video I had recently watched about the Wounded Warrior Project.

If you have a few minutes, it's worth watching: click here

As I thought about those men and women returning from war with unthinkable injuries, I decided to skip the whole run/walk and just run. Just run and think of them and think of Chris and not stop. So that's what I did for two miles. I did have to walk some in the last mile, but I was proud I was able to push myself a little harder and not let my own self-doubts hold me back.

Birthdays are times when you thank God for bringing certain people into this world. What a gift Chris Campbell was to so many people - not only his family and friends but to all of us. And what a gift he continues to give, with this selfless request that we support the wounded warriors.

He's still standing by them.

To donate:

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Today's run

I had a few things going against me this morning:

1. The drunk college students are back, and their whooping and hollering from the street below woke me up and kept me up till way after the bars closed.

2. Around that time I was noticing a twinge in my knee that didn't feel quite right, so I got up to put an ice pack on it.

3. As I left my apartment building at 7:30, I was surrounded by that familiar smell: The Great Dismal Swamp was still burning and its smoke had wafted this way. It was thick.

But as I stood on the sidewalk stretching, I was surprised by this little squirrel who came up right beside me, did a little dance around me and then scooted off. In my mind, the little guy was saying, "Don't worry, it's going to be a great run!" (Yes, I'm aware the squirrel wasn't actually talking. And, actually, as soon as I thought about the above sentiment and hit "start" on my watch, I realized he could have been saying, "Go back home! The run is going to be horrible! Save yourself!")

But off I trotted.

The first three miles, well, let's just say I think I did have the endurance but I was choking on a mixture of humidity and smoke. There was a point around mile 3 where I thought I'd have to swing into the Walgreens to get out of the smoke and catch my breath. It was getting hard to breathe. But as soon as I passed the store and entered a new neighborhood, the air felt much better. The rest of the run wasn't nearly as bad. I was thrilled I was able to complete 7 miles without pain, without blisters and at a faster pace than last week's long run.

It was nice to run without the iPod, to think about things and people and memories.

And at 8:46 a.m., and again at 9:03, as the church bells tolled, I removed my hat, held it to my heart and continued to run.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

My guide

I've been extra tired this week, and it's been a struggle to lace up my running shoes and get myself out the door. Before each run (6 miles Monday, 3 miles Wednesday and Friday), I considered flopping back down on my couch and postponing the training.

Then I'd think of Chris.

Not only would I think, "You've got to stick to the training if you want to run the half marathon, and you want to run the half marathon for Chris," I'd also think, "You think this is hard? It's nothing compared to what he faced every day in Afghanistan."

And so I'd hit the pavement.

Despite my fatigue (I actually considered curling up on the side of the road for a nap during Monday's 6 miles), it actually was a good training week. Nothing hurt. And I was a tad bit faster than the week before. And I'll take that. I'm still slow as mo (lasses, that is), but that's to be expected. I need to build back my endurance and drop weight to see improvement. I'm working on both. Chris is my guide.

Tomorrow, I start the climb in mileage. I've been sticking to 6 miles as the farthest run for awhile now while I build back up. Tomorrow I'll shoot for 7. I still worry about injuring myself, hoping I'm not doing too much too soon. I still worry the blisters will come back. But tomorrow I don't want to think about any of that.

The plan is to run minus the iPod. And to run between the hours of 7:30 and 9:30 a.m. For years, I've tried not to think too much about Sept. 11. I avoid the movies about it, the TV specials, most of the newspaper articles. I don't want to relive that horrible day. But something happened to me today that makes me want to acknowledge it, and, more important, acknowledge the people who are fighting, and dying, to make sure Sept. 11 doesn't happen again.

Today, I toured the USS Cole, the Norfolk-based ship that was attacked by terrorists Oct. 12, 2000, killing 17 sailors. I stood where the attack occurred. I walked the hallway lined with 17 stars. And I heard about the crew members who risked their lives to make sure the ship didn't sink.

Every time I encountered a sailor in his crisp white uniform, I saw Chris. And I realized how little I have thought about these men and women who do what they do every day to protect us. I tried to thank each one, but it wasn't - as they probably assumed - a thank-you-for-letting-us-tour-your-ship. It was a Thank You.

We owe them so much.

It shouldn't have taken Chris' death to dig my head out from under the sand, open my eyes and make myself appreciate - truly appreciate - what he and countless others have done for us. It's so easy and more comfortable to avoid reality and not think about what's going on "over there." But I think that when Chris asked us to memorialize him by donating to the Wounded Warrior Project, he not only helped his wounded comrades, he helped us open our eyes and acknowledge - truly acknowledge - the men and women who are putting their lives on the line to protect us. I know, at least for me, it's what I think about as I train and fundraise in Chris' name.

And it's what I'll think about tomorrow.


To donate:

Friday, September 2, 2011

A fresh start

With a new month, some beautiful weather and a few good running days this week, I'm ready to move on and put this summer behind me. It's been rough, for so many reasons, but I don't want to dwell. In trying to look on the bright side, I'll just say that God freed up my time this fall, allowing me more time and energy to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project, train for the half marathon and enjoy my favorite season. He also steered me to a number of good doctors, who have helped reduce my pain.

I realize I have two very large challenges ahead of me: Raising money in a time when people are faced with mounting financial problems and aren't as willing to give, and training for this half marathon in the midst of my health issues. But I'm not deterred. I'll do what I can, with the resources I have, and remember with each step who I'm doing this for.

Two weeks ago, I went to the visitation for Chris in Virginia Beach. I was able to meet his family, see his beautiful daughter and wife and pay tribute not just to Navy SEAL Chris Campbell, but the guy I knew back in the 1990s. There was a poster-size photo of him in the funeral home entryway. In it, Chris squatted in a field of wildflowers in Jacksonville. He had long dreadlocks and a huge smile on his face. It was the Chris I knew. I couldn't take my eyes off of it. In the other photos - of him in his Navy uniform and of him in wartime gear - was a Chris I didn't get the chance to know, but whom I admire so very much.

Chris did so much for his country in his short life, but in his death, he didn't ask for much - just for us support the service men and women who made it home but now need our help.

I've started training for the race (a total of 12 miles completed this week) and plan on amping up my fundraising efforts this weekend. I'll start here.

Any donation to Chris' requested charity, the Wounded Warrior Project, is very much appreciated. In return, I'll wear your name on a yellow ribbon on race day. I can promise you that even if my health keeps me from the half marathon, I'll still be out there, running, walking or, if need be, crawling in the 5K.

To donate:

And thanks. If you'd like to give, but just can't, I'll take donations of good wishes/prayers/good vibes/etc. I'll need them in the weeks of training ahead.

Monday, August 15, 2011

When there's nothing else you can do ...

I couldn't run because of my sore knee.

I couldn't fast-walk because of my rolling foot/blister problem.

But to stay on track, I needed to cover 6 miles today. So what's a girl to do?

I sauntered. Strolled. Moseyed. Basically spent two full hours walking as slow as I could so I wouldn't hurt myself further.

It wasn't all sunshine and rainbows and daisies on this jaunt (though I was walking so slow, I could have watched a daisy or two bloom if it were spring). For one thing, I hate walking. And I really hate walking slow. I'd find myself speeding up and having to put the brakes on. Then there was that blasted right foot. The bottom of it started hurting around Mile 4 (i.e. blistery), and I feared I'd have to resort to crawling to make it home. But, thankfully, it didn't get that bad.

Now, as you know, I can't mosey in the half marathon. There's a 16-minute-mile maximum, and, besides, I don't want to mosey in this race. But for now, until I can figure out what's wrong and gain the strength back, moseying will have to do.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


Knee has been aching all night long.

I don't know what to do anymore.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Before the sun sets

Today was declared a day of mourning in Virginia for the servicemen who were killed in the Afghanistan helicopter attack. So I didn't want the sun to set without getting out on the pavement and continuing my training in Chris' honor.

I started out with a one-mile walk, praying the whole time that the new shoes + fancy blister-fighting bandage would allow me to complete three miles without hobbling in the end (a la Wednesday, a la Sunday, a la every blasted day for months). Without fighting and destroying this latest enemy that is trying to sideline me, the half marathon seems simply impossible.

(Side note: I wear the right non-cotton socks. I've consulted two physical therapists. I went to the best running shoe guy I know. I've never had a blister problem before.)

Toward the end of the first mile, I could feel the fancy blister-fighting bandage shifting, which meant my foot was still rolling and causing friction. But I continued, breaking out into a run/walk for the next two miles. It was a beautiful night, and - discomfort aside - I was glad to be out there in the remaining few hours of the day.

With three miles completed, there was some hobbling as I made my way toward my apartment building. I was frustrated. All I could think was, "Well, I guess it's time to call on Physical Therapist No. 3," and how much I dreaded more speculation, more "try this," more "maybe you should just cross-train."

The sun was setting as I approached home, and - shoving aside my negative thoughts - I suddenly realized what song had been playing on my iPod for the past few minutes: Billy Joel's "Everybody has a Dream." My eyes swelled with tears, thinking of my last blog post and Chris' dreams of being a SEAL, thinking of my declaration to fight for my own dreams, thinking of the day I put the song on my playlist. It was my anthem for Marine Corps Marathon training. I listened to it at the end of each training run, determined to one day reach my dream of running 26.2 miles. That dream ended up being deferred.

Blisters and tight calves and being overweight are the enemies trying to stop me from my dream. I must not let them. Bring on Physical Therapist No. 3.

For history on this new goal, see "Honoring him."

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Honoring him

"So many of us talk about what we are going to be and what we are going to do; he did it."

"Chris backed up his words with actions."

"He would back up anything he said with a commitment you can't match, or describe with words. Chris Campbell, Navy Seal."

A high school classmate of mine was one of the 30 Americans killed yesterday in Afghanistan when their helicopter was downed by Taliban fire. I learned about his death as I made a quick scan of Facebook before heading out to dinner. The posting began "Just got word..." The words "KIA," "Afghanistan" and "Chris Campbell" jumped off the page. I read the post again. And again. It couldn't be true. But by Saturday night, Facebook was filled with more postings from friends mourning the loss of this amazing guy whose smile and spirit were the first things that came to mind when you heard his name.

I didn't know Chris was a Navy SEAL. In fact, I didn't know Chris well at all. But I knew him enough to see that smile in my head, feel a rush of memories from our years in school together, and ache not only for his family but for his high school buddies, many of whom are very dear to me.

My first instinct after hearing the news was to pull out the only personal photograph I have of him. In it, Chris poses with five other guys from our high school class. (The six of them were voted by their classmates to pose in surf shop swimwear for our school newspaper.) If I remember correctly, Chris didn't stay at the photo shoot very long: It was a gorgeous day, toward the end of the school year, and there were waves to catch. Surfing was his life.

As I scanned the photo and rubbed my thumb over his young face, I thought about how my inability to believe he was one of the 30 killed stems from the fact that he'll always be that 18-year-old surfer in my head. And why would an 18-year-old surfer be in that Chinook helicopter over Afghanistan?

Hours later, still thinking of Chris and reading more about the brave mission those SEALs were on, I felt a huge swell of pride for the man he became. He was not that 18-year-old surfer anymore. He was a Navy SEAL. He belonged to one of the most elite forces in our military. He became someone many of us only dream of being. He was a hero.

This morning, I went digging through my box of memorabilia, high school and otherwise. I was in search of our 10-year reunion program. In the midst of digging, I came across my "Life's To-Do List." It was emotional, thinking of this list, thinking of what I want to accomplish in my life, and how Chris ....

For the past several months, I've let a lot of stuff weigh me down. Work. Health. Money. I've dwelled and worried and, in doing so, wasted a lot of time. I don't want to live like that. I don't want to simply check off days, but not check off opportunities that are out there. There's so much left on that Life's To-Do List. (In what has brought a rare smile to my face, I just saw that No. 7 is "Try to learn to surf.")

Since hearing the news, I've found myself restless and wishing there was something I could do. I wasn't a part of Chris' life, so pretending to be is the worst thing I can do. But I still feel the need to focus on something that matters, to honor Chris in some way. For me, I think that will be running the Norfolk Freedom Half Marathon. It takes place Veterans Day weekend, and I want to run it in honor of Chris. The event raises money for the Wounded Warrior Project, and I would like to find a way to incorporate raising even more money during my training. It may be as simple as personally donating a dollar for every mile I train. I don't know. But I feel the need to honor him, and I don't know what else to do.

Training began this morning, and I thought of Chris with each painful step (I admit I'm not in the best condition to be doing this, but I'm determined to fight off the health issues that come my way). When I felt like stopping because of the heat, I pictured our men and women in Afghanistan battling much hotter conditions, in a much scarier place. When my iPod randomly chose the hauntingly beautiful "Hallelujah," I thought of Chris in that Chinook. And I thought about the words that began this blog post, words I borrowed from friends who posted their awe of Chris on Facebook last night: "So many of us talk about what we are going to be and what we are going to do; he did it."

Chris wanted to be a Navy SEAL. That's no small dream. I'd like to think the best way to honor him is to fight for my own dreams.

If you'd like to run with me in honor of Chris, please let me know. Here's the link for the race:

Thursday, May 26, 2011

My life is a joke

Not to be a complete downer, but, really, my life is a joke.

For five months, I've gone to Power Cut classes religiously, squatted and lifted and lunged for hours, and yet I look in the mirror and see the same girl who arrived in January.

I weighed 218.8 on Saturday - a frustrating number b/c it didn't drop an ounce even after a perfect diet week - and by Monday, after a few slips Sunday, I weighed 220. Perfect Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and the scale hasn't moved.

While in Power Cut on Tuesday, I spent the first half hour wondering why I was still there and if it really mattered. Of course, it was an extra- hard class (I get the feeling she's trying to weed people out), but watching myself in the mirror was very frustrating. Shouldn't I look at least a little different by now? Shouldn't the pants I wore in January be at least a little freakin' looser?

Then I attempted a run after class - for the first time in nearly a month. I have been trying so hard to get rid of these shin splints, doing all of my exercises and laying off the running, instead walking. I did three small bursts (0.35 mile) of running during my three miles, and by the end felt just fine. I was pretty happy, though still a little scared about Saturday's 10K.

One day later, a muscle behind my knee hurts when I move my leg.

Do you see the theme? I'm a joke.

There's one thing I do wonder about: sitting. Yesterday, because of an extremely hard shift (and they're more common these days), I never left my desk from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. I'm not kidding. I never went to the bathroom (no problem b/c I hardly drank from my water bottle b/c I didn't have time). I never heated up my dinner (skipped it b/c I didn't have time). You've got to wonder what this does to a body. I've read the reports, and now I'm living the reports.

Anyway, it's pretty clear that I'm not a typical woman trying to lose weight. This blog isn't going to help anyone in that regard. So once again, I'm ending it. I hope to write when I have some running news - that's what this blog was created for anyway. But right now, I can't keep pretending I know what I'm doing. I'm not quitting Weight Watchers. I'm never going to quit trying. But when I report that I'm the same weight week after week, I feel like a failure over and over.

Take care ---

Monday, May 23, 2011

Slippy Sunday

Did good Saturday.

Slipped Sunday.

Back to the grind today.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Week 2 and I'm already frustrated?

Beginning weight: 235
Last week's weight: 218.8
This week's weight: 218.8

This week's loss: n/a
Total loss: 16.2 pounds
Left to lose: 51.8 pounds

This past week (and, really, for the past two weeks), I have followed Weight Watchers perfectly. I have never gone above my allotted points (not even using exercise points or the weekly points). I exercised three days this week. I had more fruits and vegetables than ever before. I drank a ton of water. I limited my salt.

And I lost nothing.

I'm on my way to D.C. now, where I'll be eating three meals out. That terrifies me. It especially terrifies me because I'm going into it frustrated.

I still use my mantra "one slip and you will fail." But I've got to tell you that last night - home sick - I almost went to get pizza. I told myself the mantra and I felt my brain do that half-listening thing that always gets me into trouble.

I'll report back on Monday to let you know how I did.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

New status updates

I know you probably get tired of my wishy-washy-ness. I seem to change my diet "rules" every few months. But I am a work in progress. And works in progress will forever change their ways in order to make, well, progress.

So, now that I'm an official member of Weight Watchers again, I am weighing in weekly. So I will update you weekly, on Sundays.

But a little backpedaling first: I never gave you a status update for April. I was to work out at least 14 times. I worked out only 11. I also gained 0.2 pounds from the prior month by the time May 1 hit.

Now for the weekly update:

Today's weight: 218.8
January 1 weight: 235
Total weight loss for the year: 16.2

I'm happy to say that, despite my injury, I've already logged more days of exercise in May 2011 (7, as of today) than I did in May 2010 (6).

(Side note: My first big goal weight for the year was to be 217. At that point I would buy my first incentive, which was perfume, which I've been out of for awhile. If you remember, right before Easter, I got below 217. So I ordered my perfume. By the time it arrived, I had already gained my Easter weight, putting me back up past 220. So the perfume has sat on my dresser, unopened. I'm happy to see that I can finally open it in 2 pounds.)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

So far so good

The new approach - using the mantra "one slip and you will fail" - has been working very well. It's been a good week. I've stuck to the program perfectly and am feeling good.

And that's a good thing because, exercise-wise, I've got a big question mark hanging over me. My shin is no better today than it was a week ago, two weeks ago. I've been doing my rehab exercises and taking it easy - no running - but after a lot of walking yesterday, it has been sore to the touch. Epic fail. There are only two weeks till my first summer race and I really want to be able to run even a tiny part of it.

I am not backing down on exercise, though. I have continued my PowerCut classes and 3-mile walks, and I tried Step this week, which was awesome and didn't hurt the shin (that I'm aware of). I will attempt 6 miles tomorrow (walking only) but stop if the shin hurts. I don't think walking is hurting it, though perhaps speed walking is a bad thing. I'll stroll if I have to, but I really don't want to lose my mileage.

Am I doing the wrong thing? I don't know. I know that the last time I had serious shin splints, I was out of running for an entire year. I don't want to repeat that. It affects my mood, my weight, my everything. So I will keep rehabbing and try to start using a foam roller again.

Now a little side note: I'm somewhat addicted to watching the TV show "Say Yes to the Dress." Not full-on addicted. I don't tape it or anything. But if I'm bored and flipping channels, I might end up watching four or five episodes in a row. I don't know why I like it. I hate wedding shows. I fear being the girl who never gets married. Perhaps it's the fashion I love. That's what I keep telling myself.

Anyway, I was pleased that they started to show plus-size brides looking for dresses. They don't treat them like abnormalities and the dresses are just as lovely as the smaller ones. (I do, however, HATE the name they chose for the show: "Big Bliss." Why did they have to go there?)

I saw an episode last night that brought me to tears. The woman trying on dresses kept apologizing for her weight. As the stylist helped her take off a dress or helped her put on a dress, the bride-to-be would say, "I'm sorry I'm so fat." I wanted to grab her by the shoulders, look her in the eyes and tell her how beautiful she was and to stop apologizing.

But I know why I was crying. It was because it's what I used to say when I was 300 pounds. At the doctor's office. While getting a massage. I'd apologize for them having to touch me. I'd apologize on planes. At restaurants when I couldn't fit in a booth. It's sad that I can't practice what I preach. It's sad that I can see the beauty in others that I can't see in myself.

And you know what they say: No one's going to love you until you can love yourself.

I think I need to turn the channel.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Step 1, Step 2, etc.

I went to a step class for the first time ever today. I was really worried b/c I am uncoordinated and my legs were still killing me from Tuesday's Power Cut "Let's do two sets each of these three kinds of squats" class. But it turned out the class wasn't bad at all. I kept up. I worked that step. I kicked and tapped and kneed. It felt great. Almost easy.

Fifteen hours later...

Going down the steps at work on my way home, I had to do the hop-down, where you don't bend your knees much as you descend. MY HAMS ARE KILLING ME!

But that's good. Until tomorrow's Power Cut class, which begins in, oh Lord, seven hours.

Monday, May 9, 2011

A new approach

Well, the past two weeks have been rough. Bad eating, bad depression, bad workouts due to shin splints/foot pain/you-name-it. One thing encouraged the other, and they all fed off one another.

Bad eating
For years now, I've tried to find the weight-loss approach that would work best for me. When I lost the 150 pounds, I did it using the cold-turkey approach. No bad foods. Ever. For two years, I never ate a cookie, a piece of cake, fast-food, real chips, etc. It worked for me. After the initial hardship of resisting temptations everywhere, I found myself not wanting them anymore. When I had my most successful weight-loss attempt since then (about three years ago), I used a different approach: I ate well five or six days of the week and then allowed myself a cheat day.

Since then, I've tried variations on the second approach. And what I'm finding is that it is just not working for me. Like the tired-old comparison of an alcoholic, if I slip just once, I fall hard. So I've decided to try cold-turkey again. I've written this mantra down: "One misstep and you will fail." I need some tough love. A tough approach.

Bad depression
The depression was a combination of many, many things. But I never felt worse than when I got ready to go work out. Every single item of workout clothing makes me look horrible. And with the warmer weather, I have fewer options, fewer ways to hide. It was so bad that, on Friday, as I was getting dressed for a spin class, I tried multiple outfits, then decided I couldn't be seen in any of them. So I didn't go.

On Saturday, the plan was to run 6 miles. But when I ran across the initial street to beat traffic, I discovered terrible pain in my left shin. No matter how slow I walked and how much I warmed up, whenever I tried to run, the pain would return. It brought me so very far down. I'd pass real runners and nearly cry. I just wanted to run. I just wanted to be one of them. And the old conflict of Fat Diana versus Running Diana occupied my entire walk. If I wanted to be the latter, I had to kick the former's butt.

Bad injuries
So I begin a new week realizing that my summer calendar full of races (5Ks to 10Ks - I already had to ditch this weekend's Marine Corps Half Marathon) is at risk if I don't work hard at rehab and taking it slow. And getting some weight off. I've brought out the old exercise bands and am working on building strength in the front of my calf. I'll continue my normal workout routine, but I'll walk instead of run and I'll back off if anything hurts.

I also joined Weight Watchers online. Unfortunately, the diet has changed so much since I was last on it, I find it's terribly time-consuming trying to figure out Points. Hopefully it will get easier.

P.S. I bought a dress this weekend I absolutely love. It fits, oddly enough, even though it has a pencil skirt. It shows too much of my arms, but I still love it. I plan on thinking about that dress through this first week back. I want it to look fabulous and a little less tummy would be helpful.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

I'm still here

...just not much in the blogging mood these days.

Had a food setback last week after Easter (shocker) but am back on track. Still working out. Still breaking down (now the foot hurts so much I can't run). Still trudging along. Today's PowerCut class was hard but I truly felt like I was making progress. Still look like a blob in the mirror, though, especially next to all those twiggies.

I was reminded the other day that - despite it consuming every minute of my life - I am much more than my weight. Sometimes it's hard to remember that. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in every pound, every inch, that I forget that I'm more than what I see in the mirror. It's not a way to live - always focused on this big negative part of me.

But I'd be kidding myself if I said I was going to stop caring.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Good news, bad news Part 2

Bad news:

I ate a lot yesterday. No candy, and, really, not many sweets (just one cupcake and a handful of pizzelles) but a lot of bread and other carbs.

Good news:

I went to bed feeling insanely sick to my stomach and depressed, and I woke up still feeling sick to my stomach and depressed. And I blame it on the sugar and other carbs and the lack of living simply that had been my life during Lent.

I am pretty hopeful that this feeling will take me back to the way I was living/eating before Easter Sunday. I was much happier.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Good news, bad news

I was looking forward to today's Bunny Hop 5K. I had never done an Easter race before, and I was so pumped. Unfortunately, I've been having leg problems since Monday and they haven't gotten better. Following last Saturday's 5K (during which I felt no pain at all and stretched mightily afterward), I started out for a 10-miler on Monday, only to find some severe pain in my left leg when I ran across the street at an intersection. I was determined, though, to complete the mileage, still hoping I could do this half marathon in May. So I walked 10 miles.

I've iced all week and massaged. I was feeling OK at work yesterday and I thought, "Well, maybe I could do the 5K?" Then I walked a block to the mall and 15 minutes later was feeling some discomfort.

So. No 5K. In fact, I only worked out two times this week, which does not make me happy. I love running. I miss running. But I've got to figure out what's wrong and give it time to heal.

So that's the bad news.

On to the good.

My Lenten promise of not buying nonperishable groceries has been a challenge. But add on a new challenge I came up with last week (making the $22 in my wallet last through the end of Lent, which was a week and a half away; no credit cards or checks, either), and it was crazy hard! But I've never felt better. I had to ration what I had left, and it wasn't much. It was so little, in fact, that my calorie intake for the past week ranged from 900-1100 a day. I had to learn to live with what I had.

I ate a lot of fish and Boca patties and soup.

What I have left in my refrigerator: apple sauce and Egg Beaters. What I have left in my freezer: two Morning star sausage links; one Boca veggie burger; a bag of edamame; and lots of popsicles. What I have left in my cabinet: a can of lima beans, two salmon pouches; a couple pouches of oatmeal; and about six granola bars. Enough to get me through today.

I learned to truly appreciate what I have, which was the purpose. And to give, instead, to those in need. I get to eat a nice normal Easter meal on Sunday, but so many people will not be able to do that. I need to always remember what I have and be grateful for it.

While I have been sidelined from much exercise this week (only the 10-mile walk and one Power Cut class), eating well for the past 10 days straight has been good for my weight (imagine that!). While I only record my monthly weight, I felt I needed to record today's. One, because I'm proud of it. But two, because I do fear it will increase by May 1.

April 1 weight: 222.2
April 23 weight: 216.4

It's been hovering around 217 for most of the week, so I feel like the weight-loss is a solid one. But I've got to work on maintaining that this week and not letting the end of Lent get the best of me.

One thing I have decided: I gave up sweets for Lent (all candy, cookies, cake, pie, real ice cream), and because I'm at the point now where I don't really miss it, I've decided that, at the minimum, I'm going to keep my fast of candy. I don't want it, I don't need it, and I can live (for now) without it. Other sweets will be harder, but I will try to keep them at a minimum.

So, here I am. Injured and feeling bad about it; but devoid of sugar and feeling good about that.

Happy Easter everyone. Wishing you peace and love and renewal.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Lions and cheaters and glares, oh my!

Standing at the start of this morning's 5K race and finding it an easy task to count all the runners participating, I was hit with the dreaded realization: I was going to be last. There were less than 50 people there and all looked pretty fit.

The Norfolk police officers who were riding their bikes around the course were going to be following me. The one-mile runners who couldn't start their own race until the 5K was finished were going to be waiting for me.

Not that there's anything wrong with that. My mom loves to tell the story of the race she did where the guy in charge of picking up cones on the course followed her. She came in last but still won a medal and was thrilled. And a few years ago, I ran the first 9 miles of a trail half marathon where the guy in charge of taking down the orange ribbons that led the way ended up passing me (I dropped out). My theory has always been, even if you come in last, you have beat all the millions of people who are still sleeping and never even started the race.

Still, no one who runs four days a week and trains her little heart out wants to be last.

When I arrived at the race on a very cloudy morning, with skies threatening violent storms ahead, I was immediately put at ease by the wonderful Lions Club members who organized the race. They were so sweet and I could tell they put a lot of effort into the race and the cookout that would follow. I prayed the rain would hold off for them.

So, standing at the start line and thinking about the idea of coming in last, my heart was still full with the fact that the $20 I paid would go to a good cause. My bigger worry at the moment was that the Lions Club didn't get enough racers in order to come out ahead. I hoped they made enough money to make the race worth it for them.

The race began on a high school track. We were to run a lap, then go out into a neighborhood, where we'd make two laps, then return to the track for a lap and a half. As I started around the track, my fear was soon realized: I was the last runner by a long shot. I then started to worry that I would be so far behind I'd get lost.

Once out in the neighborhood, I passed a woman. Then another. Then, a woman in a green tank top who was slightly ahead of me decided to wait for her friend (the second woman - in a purple tank top - I'd passed). So that was three! Then I passed a fourth.

So I was feeling pretty good. I'd passed four people, I wasn't last, and I was making pretty good time. And I hadn't stopped to walk. My goal was to finish without walking.


Well, then, around Mile 2, Ms. Green Tank Top and Ms. Purple Tank Top came crossing over ahead of me. They were taking a shortcut. And no one was stopping them. As they turned onto my path, I realized they were now a good 10 yards ahead of me. All of a sudden and without doing anything wrong, I had dropped back to third-from-last.

"Cheaters!" I wanted to scream to the Lions Club members, pointing at Green and Purple. But, come on. This was a race for a charity and it wasn't like I was going to win. I'd have to be the bigger person.

That didn't stop me, however, from speeding up a tad. And shooting a few glares at their backs.

And then passing them AGAIN.

Yes, I did, and I was thrilled. I finished the race without stopping, I passed four people (two of them twice), and I did it with my best pace since October.

Afterward, I sat on the sidelines to watch the 1-mile race. I wanted to see those crazy fast runners and cheer them on. I watched them speed by and I clapped. Then, they were followed by a huge crowd of people carrying canes and walking with partners. Many of them were blind. Some had other disabilities. I cheered louder and stronger.

I had planned on staying just to watch the speed demons finish (the winner did in 4:35). But I enjoyed watching and cheering on the others more. They were the true heroes. They had taken no shortcuts. Yet they were winners, all.

POSTSCRIPT: So, turns out there were only 41 runners (and I think two were technically walkers). I came in 35th! And I came in second in my age group! (Though, er, there were only two of us in my age group.) No matter!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


It so figures.

After a great week of exercise and running last week, this week I'm saddled with knee pain. I haven't done any exercise since Friday's spin class when the pain started.

Despite Advil and ice packs and no exercise, the knee still hurts.

Did I mention that I'm signed up for two 5Ks, a 10K and a half marathon all within the next month?

I was cocky and now I'm being punished.

Friday, April 8, 2011

A little truth-telling

Since the beginning of the year, I've "weighed in" for you by telling you how much I've lost and a few of my goals. But I've avoided telling you how much I weighed because I was so ashamed. Of course, if you were dying to know, you could do a little math and figure it out. But typing those numbers was terrifying to me.

It's time to rip the Band-Aid off.

And after I tell you, maybe you'll see why I'm so anxious to get these first 20 pounds off and why I'm so frustrated it's not happening as quick as I'd like.

In mid-October, I got down to 207 pounds. By Jan. 1, I weighed 235 pounds.

Yeah. I gained nearly 30 pounds in two months.

More painful was the idea that I had entered that "100 pounds lost" territory. You see, as long as I weighed less than 217 pounds, I could say that I've kept off 100 pounds since 2005 (instead of focusing on the 50 I regained). At 235, I was entering that Danger Zone: If I kept it up, I could be back to 300 pounds in a few months.

So I have worked and worked and worked to get to my first real goal: under 217. I expected to be there by March 1. It's now April 8, and I weigh 222 pounds.

I have all these mini-goals with incentives attached (217, 210, 199, 185, 175, 167) but I haven't even met the first one yet. Frustrating.

The scary thing is how quickly I could gain 30 pounds and, even with an insane amount of work, how long it's taken me to lose a mere 13 pounds.

On a bright note
I'm not seeing results on the scale or in the mirror or in my clothes. BUT I did see major progress on the street yesterday. After my hourlong Power Cut class, I started on my three-miler. I was pretty sore, so I decided to walk the first mile and then see where things went. I had a great run on Tuesday, so I wasn't going to push myself. If I could run, great; if I had to walk, that was just fine.

After that first mile, I started in on a jog. My arms were sore, so it was hard to even pump them. But after a few minutes, I realized something amazing: The run was feeling effortless. I decided to just keep going, a half mile at a time, and see how far I could run without stopping. I also decided I wouldn't turn around at the 1.5-mile point; it was such a beautiful day and I was feeling so good, I was just going to run until I felt like turning around.

I ended up running three miles straight and those three miles felt wonderful, like I was just gliding along (albeit slowly). I stopped at three miles b/c I have a long run scheduled for Sunday and didn't want to overdo it. Then I walked 1.5 miles home. A total of 5.5 miles after an hourlong class.

For three months, I've been working out steadily four days a week, strength training, running, walking and spinning. And I'm finally starting to see that work pay off in my running.

And that's something.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

March recap

Like a broken record from February: The exercise was great; the weight-loss, not so much.

The goals:
Lose 9 pounds
Work out more than 12 days (or more than 9 days if you don't include at-work exercise breaks)

How did I do?
Lost 3.2 pounds (to make a total of 12.8 pounds since Jan. 1)
Worked out 15 days + 1 day of just walk breaks at work= 16 days
* Nine of those workouts were two hours or longer in length

April goals
Lose 5.2 pounds
Work out more than 14 days (or more than 8 days if you don't include at-work exercise breaks)

I was so upset and frustrated on April 1 when I weighed in. I worked SO hard in March. And I ate SO well. But when I looked more realistically at the past month, I saw that I went over my calorie allotment five of those days. At least one of those five days I went way over the allotment.

A huge part of me still wants to be upset that I spent so much time at the gym and pounding the pavement - and five cheat days isn't huge - and didn't even lose a pound a week. But I have to decide what I really want: Perfection and more rapid weight-loss or the chance to eat lasagna and calamari every now and then.

I know I should seek perfection. But I've got to tell you, I'm so tired. Tired of making goals and failing. Tired of trying so hard and failing. Tired of saying "I can do this!" and knowing the reality of my life.

So all I can tell you this month is this: As long as my legs remain healthy, I will keep running and spinning and PowerCutting. Why? Because I love it. And until Easter, I can guarantee I won't be eating any candy or cake or cookies or pie or anything considered a non-diet sweet. And, for the most part, I will eat 1,200-1,500 calories a day during the workweek. Whether I can meet my five-pound weight-loss goal this month....that I just can't say.

But I'll try.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Reason #596 why the scale should be tossed

Because after almost having an anxiety attack this weekend as I obsessed about what the scale might read, I finally stepped on it.

Then, as obsessions go, I stepped on it again today.

From yesterday morning to this morning - and in between running 7 miles and eating a diet full of veggies and fruit and under 1,200 calories - I gained a pound.

Scales are evil.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The scale obsession

It's sad how women are obsessed with the scale. We step on it daily, and our mood is based on the number that appears. Nevermind the extra salt we ate the night before or the extra water we're holding on to. If the number is bigger than the day before, we take it as a sign of failure. Or an excuse to kick the scale and dive into a box of chocolates. "The scale said I'm fat, so I might as well enjoy it."

The Daily Weigh-In has its benefits: It can help keep us on track. But, for me, the obsession with the scale translates into something else: stress. And stress is no good for people trying to lose weight. Ever hear of the stress hormone cortisol? It latches on to your stomach and will make the weight-loss effort twice as hard.

So I decided to try something: I decided to only weigh myself once a month. Yeah, you heard that right. Last time I weighed in was the beginning of March and I don't plan to step on the scale again until next Friday, April 1.

Of course, being me, now I'm afraid it will cause me even more stress. Because now I have a number I want to see, and what if it's unrealistic? I don't know if it's unrealistic because I don't know what the past few weeks have translated into weight-wise. I've been very good in my eating, not even using the half marathon as an excuse to eat poorly. And I gave up all sweets for Lent. And with the exception of my weeklong taper before the race, I'm working out hard. But I've done all that before and haven't seen results. And my clothes feel no different.

I came very close to stepping on the scale yesterday morning. Just to give myself perspective for next week. But my immediate fear was that I'd see a bad number and blow my last weekend before the weigh-in. That's what the past two months have been like: Do good most of January, drop big pounds, eat bad the last weekend, gain most of it back. Eat good most of February, drop big pounds, eat bad the last weekend, gain most of it back. I don't want to do that in March.

So I'm going to wait.

And hope I don't end up kicking the scale into oblivion.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Teensy tiny sign of progress

I'm not sure how wise it was to do a two-hour workout two days after the half marathon, but my thinking was that I needed to stretch these tired, tight muscles. I'm glad I went; I am just in desperate need of a long nap now.

The good news is that, for the first time, I noticed a tiny sign of progress in PowerCut class today. I still can't do those scissor ab exercises for the life of me, but during a few of the exercises, I found myself being able to hold on a little longer. Not much. But a little.

Felt pretty good.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

This one goes out to the one(s) I love

On Sunday morning, I ran the Shamrock Half Marathon with 42 good friends and family members.

"What?" you might be thinking. "I didn't know you were running with others. I thought it was a solo event for you."

It could have been. But this race was different. Though I lined up at the race start alone - a fierce cold wind whipping through the corral and threatening to blow off everyone's ball caps, shamrock headbands and tall green hats; feeling sick to my stomach as I worried about my less-than-great training, my clothing choices, my history of injury and my rumbling, sickly tummy - I would soon be accompanied by childhood friends, pals from college, co-workers, relatives, even my deceased grandma and grandpa.

It just took a press of my iPod's "play" button.

Mile 0-1
The first song was "Ready to Run," recommended by my friend and co-worker Lauren K. She's the kind of friend who will read my blog post about being lonely at church and by the next Sunday will be sitting beside me at Mass, offering a hug during the sign of peace. Now - despite a self-proclaimed hatred of running - she was with me in those first steps of the race.

"So Magical"

"The Entertainer"

The idea, which I came up with the night before the race, was to have friends recommend songs I could run to, and I'd think of them as their tune played. I put a bunch of other favorite running songs in between the recommendations. But just a mile into the race, I decided to think of other people, too, based on whatever song came up. It was the best idea I've ever had.

Mile 1-2
"Breathless," recommended by childhood friend Meghan D. She feared it would be a tacky choice - as, you know, I kinda NEED breath during this run - but it was a great rhythm to run to. During this 3:26-minute song, I thought of our days singing together in middle school, wearing those tacky red taffeta dresses in Triple Trio.

"Keep On, Keep On," dedicated to my future marathon. It's one of those trippy songs from "The Brady Bunch," and I have trained many miles with it as I worked toward a yet-to-be-completed marathon. I thought of those hard days. I thought of that future date when I could run to it and the phrase "You can hear the music coming 26 miles away, woo! yeah! woo!" would really mean something.

"Survivor." I thought of my mom, all she's been through and all she's done for me. And because of the phrase "Cause my momma taught me better than that."

"Sexy B--tch," recommended by childhood friend Heather H. A fun song I had never heard before that kept me moving.

Mile 2-3
"The Christians and the Pagans." I thought of dear friend Brianne W. When I first moved to Virginia Beach in 2005, I felt separated from most of my co-workers because I lived farther away (most of them lived in Norfolk). But Brianne would drive out to my place often. We'd chat and chat. She introduced me to this song and I remember her playing it on Christmas Day when she was hospitalized. She's so strong, so kind, and while I don't see her much since she moved away, she ran with me during this song as I thought about all she has done for me.

"Before He Cheats." A nice country tune for a nice country boy, Terry P. He's not the cheating type, but I thought of him during this tune because I didn't have any Randy Travis on my playlist. I thought of my decade of friendship with Terry, our mountain trips, our church visits, his priceless friendship.

"Lose Yourself," recommended by high school friend Susan C. and a favorite running song of mine. I thought of those high school days at White Oak and our circle of friends.

"Beat It." I can still picture myself outside during Stephanie P.'s wedding, hearing Michael Jackson tunes come on and taking off inside to dance. So this song reminded me of her. And, seriously, I almost cried. I miss Stephanie. She moved two years ago, but prior to that, we'd go for short runs in our neighborhood. So it wasn't hard for me to picture her running with me now. "Come on, Diana," she said in my ear.

Mile 3-4
"Born to Run." In a few minutes, Greg R. would be getting ready to run his umpteenth marathon. Of course I thought of him during this song, telling me as we rode to the Shamrock how I'd do just fine, not to worry, to have fun. If anyone was born to run, it's him. Hours later, I would find out that Greg's marathon time of 3:06 not only qualified him for the Boston Marathon, but was three minutes faster than MY half.

"Ain't Nothin' Gonna Break My Stride," recommended by good friend Michael L. As Michael has begun taking up running lately and really loves a good game of tennis, I could easily picture him trotting next to me. I thought of how we met at The Star-News many moons ago, how he bought me a serenity candle when I was particularly stressed one day, how I went to his wedding, how he often calls me up to quote "The Princess Bride."

"The Impossible Dream." Oh, this was a tough 3:53 minutes for me. Not physically but emotionally as I thought of my late grandparents. During all 13.1 miles, I grabbed tight to a green knitted bracelet, a remnant of my grandma's handiwork that I squirreled away during a visit when she was still alive. During all 13.1 miles, I thought of her and prayed to her for strength during the miles. But during this song in particular, I thought of her and my grandpa traveling from Italy with their large family to make a better life for them. Grandma and Grandpa didn't run with me (I just couldn't picture it) but I could see them sitting side-by-side on their orange floral couch and saying in their thick Italian accents, "Hello Diana." I cried.

Mile 4-5
"Shattered (Turn the Car Around)." This song will forever remind me of spin class at the YMCA, as my instructor used to play it a lot back in the day. So it was during this song that I thought of my current spin buddies Colleen M. and John R. During this mile, the race had us running up a gradual hill on Shore Drive. So I put Colleen and John to work, picturing John pulling me up the hill with a rope and Colleen pushing me from behind. They've been a huge support system in my life and wonderful friends, so picturing them doing this was easy. I'm so lucky to have them in my life.

"Church Rulez." Oh Roselee P., my dear, dear friend. I thought of her during this song because it's one we've shared before as fellow Catholics. She's been with me through everything, and I thought of all the moments we've shared over the past 15 years. Roselee knows how much I wanted to do a marathon but also knows how much the training hurt my body. So during this song, I thought of her reminding me to listen to my body, don't push it, be careful. I promised her I would.

"Bad Romance," recommended by friend and former co-worker Becky L., who has been so supportive of me over the past few months via Facebook. Who knew this Gaga song would be such a great running song?

"Avenue Q theme/What Do You Do..." Well, of course I thought of my sister, and by extension, my brother-in-law. Every time I hear an "Avenue Q" song while I'm running, I think of her singing solely to me and she gets me through the rough patches. My sister and brother-in-law are the most supportive, loving people and are my biggest cheerleaders. So I pictured them holding signs and cheering (sans puppets).

Mile 5-6
"Man of La Mancha," dedicated to friend and former co-worker Amy H. I also pictured her crooning Irish ditties to me, with her dog Dugan.

"Extraordinary." Great song, inspiring and during my race dedicated to friend and former co-worker Sherry J. Sherry has done amazing things this past year, transforming her body and her spirit and inspiring everyone around her. I thought of her struggles, past and present, and told her as we ran together how extraordinary she is every day. She ran with me for those 3:25 minutes and I saw her surge ahead and knew she'd be just fine in her continued journey.

"Walking on Sunshine," recommended by Katrina M. Oh, this was a fun one. During the song, Kat linked her arm in one of mine and her husband, Jamie, took the other and we ran arm-in-arm like school kids as the song happily played along. Kat and Jamie have always been insanely supportive in my weight-loss journey and I'll never forget their kindness and support.

"It's Your Life." This song is an anthem to those who want to take control over their lives. It reminded me of my good friend Jana C. and all she has done for me since the day my weight-loss journey began. I thought about the day she came over to help me choose what to wear to my high school reunion, when I had lost the first 30 or so pounds. How she told me she was pregnant and the day I held her son when he was born. I thought about saying goodbye to her when I moved and the many trips she took to see me since then. How, when I was training for my first half marathon, she sent me inspiring letters in the mail. And called the front desk of the hotel I was staying at in Alaska to wish me good luck before that first race. And while we don't see each other much these days, I realized as she ran with me how very lucky I am to have her as a friend.

Mile 6-7
"Eye of the Tiger," dedicated to a most awesome runner and friend, Lori K. We talked about running a half marathon together later this year, but that might not be possible now. Luckily, we had this time together, and I enjoyed every step, thinking of this amazing person, what a true hero she is to me and what a true hero she'll be to her baby.

"This One's For the Girls." I immediately thought of great friend and co-worker Laurie V., who had left me a message the night before to wish me good luck in the race, even though she wasn't sure I was signed up. She's always supported me and my running, even coming out to my first Shamrock ages ago to cheer me on in cold weather. She's the kind of friend who naturally planned - without being asked - to come to the Marine Corps Marathon to cheer me on, even though she was quite pregnant. She's an awesome mother, an awesome friend and one of those runners who can whip me in a race without even training. But this time, she ran side-by-side with me.

"I Feel Fantastic," dedicated to good friend and co-worker Brian C., who introduced me to this song on a recent trip. He's one of the best people I know.

"How Far We've Come." I thought of friend and former co-worker Sherry R. who walked with me daily this summer on a visit to Norfolk. When we were having dinner one night, this song was playing in the background. I kicked it up a little during this mile, just for her.

Around this point, I had to start skipping over songs from my playlist because I was actually running faster than I had expected and wanted to stay on track with the recommended songs.

Mile 7-8
"Livin' on a Prayer," dedicated to college friend Jodi D., who is the kind of friend who lights up a room with her inside and outside beauty. I thought of the days we hung out in Manly Dorm, her incredible kindness, corny jokes, beautiful heart.

"Afternoon Delight," recommended by college friend Duane W. I laughed and laughed as this song played and remembered laughing much with Duane during my last year at UNC. I remembered feeling very alone living on my own after I graduated and receiving letters in the mail from him, which always brightened my day. He is a great runner, and it was great to finally run with him.

"You Know My Name," recommended by college friend Mark B. As the song is from a Bond movie, Mark said he always imagined being chased or chasing someone as it played during a run. I was feeling a little tuckered at this point so I wasn't about to chase anyone. But I did run, just for Mark, who was behind me, supporting me. He's always been the most wonderful friend: From our days working at Kerr Drugs, to midnight Mass on Christmas Eve and breakfasts at the Waffle House, to meeting his beautiful future wife to holding his baby daughter, I thought of this awesome guy. I also thought of his awesome family and the hilarious stories his wife posts about their children on Facebook.

"All I Need." I thought of Lori again and the time we sat in my living room singing this Jack Wagner classic and bonding over "General Hospital" memories.

Mile 8-9
"Super Hero," dedicated to my super hero, wonder woman Rosemary T.

"Not Afraid," recommended by high school friend Amber J. I had never heard this song before, though I'd read about it. I loved it and can't wait to run to it again. Throughout the lyrics, I thought of Amber's amazing, inspiring journey, and I thought of my own and how I need to press on, no matter the stumbling blocks.

"Schadenfreude," dedicated to the hilarious Pilot night desk. I truly can't imagine working with a better group of people.

"Viaje Infinito," dedicated to fabulous runner and friend Megan R. During a particularly good run last year in D.C., this song played and I remember rocking those "four minutes." Well, Megan lives in D.C., so, hence, I thought of her, and she was my running partner during this part of the race. It was like the old days, when we ran together back in North Carolina. She's ultra speedy now, so it was great to run with her for "four minutes."

Mile 9-10
"Glow in the Dark," recommended by high school friend Brian G. I pictured his big smile, his beautiful wife, his kids, whom I've never met but can imagine to be little versions of him. I thought of our days at White Oak. I remembered posing with him at a park for our yearbook's "Best All Around" photo. It was quite an honor to be named that with a true best-all-around: a handsome, hilarious, smart, athletic guy. One of his e-mail addresses contains the word "blacktoe," so I also pictured him telling me during the run "Hey, I know a thing about black toes! Move faster!"

"Hey Julie," dedicated, of course, to good friend Julie VK. I always think of Julie during this song. She's the most amazing athlete I know. "I'd never make it through without you around, no I'd never make it through without you around."

"Against the Wind," in honor of a great supporter, Betsy. I love, love running to this song. It's when I most relax during a run and just enjoy being out there. I thought of Betsy, whom I have never met but has supported me ever since my weight-loss journey began in 2003. She still reads my blog and is always, always there to encourage me. I don't know how she does it - she just never gives up on me.

Mile 10-11
"Born this Way," recommended by running buddy and great friend Laura M. She's my constant: a fabulous friend, a steady running partner, a support system. She's the kind of friend who, when I was worried that my appendix was causing my side pain, said she'd keep her phone on all night in case I needed to go to the ER. She ran with me, again, during this song and didn't even mind when I had to stop for a walk break.

"Beat It," a repeat for Stephanie again.

"Dirty Little Secret," dedicated to runner and friend J.J. E. I don't know of any "dirty" little secrets of J.J.'s, but he had been holding a pretty big one back for awhile, so I suppose that's what made me think of him! I thought of what a great dad he's going to be, because he's already a wonderful partner and friend.

Mile 11-12
"You're Only Human (Second Wind)," recommended by high school friend Becki L. I can only say, Thanks Twin! Becki knows what a big Billy Joel fan I am, which is why she recommended this song. But I had never even thought of it as a running tune. It turned out to be just what I needed around mile 11 when I certainly needed a second wind! As Becki ran with me, I thought of our fun high school days and her unending support.

"No More Drama," recommended by friend and former co-worker Deirdre M. Wow, another great song for running I had never heard before. I particularly liked the "no more pain" part. I thought about my very first job out of college, when I felt like everyone around hated me. Except Deirdre. She took me under her wing and was a friend when I needed one most. She got me through some rough times.

"F--K You." This one was dedicated to The Race and how I expected to feel about it around mile 12.

Mile 12-13.1
"It's the End of the World As We Know It." I really didn't think of anyone, just that I didn't think I could take one more step and that it just might be the end of the world as I knew it.

"The Ecstasy of Gold," recommended by friend and former co-worker Nafari V. I thought of her incredible kindness and her running accomplishments. And Pittsburgh.

"What Are You Waiting For," recommended by friend and co-worker Barbie D. I love Barbie, a fabulous friend and talented designer, but I have to admit that at this point, with the finish line taunting me, I couldn't think of anything other than Just Keep Going. It was at this point, when I almost stopped, that a man on the sidelines read my name on my race bib and said (incredibly convincing) "Diana, I am SO proud of you." What was I waiting for? I kept running.

"Dirty Diana." Funny. The last song was supposed to be "What Are You Waiting For," and I threw "Dirty Diana" on afterward just to have some extras. I didn't realize how significant it would be to have this song be the last one playing as I approached the finish line. Scratch that. As WE approached the finish line.

Because, you see - and this wasn't planned - as the last song came on and I saw the King Neptune statue signifying the end of the race, everyone gathered around me and we all ran down the Boardwalk. Lauren and Meghan and Mom and Heather and Brianne and Terry and Susan and Stephanie and Greg and Michael and Grandma and Grandpa and Colleen and John and Roselee and Becky and Stephanie and Craig and Amy and Sherry and Katrina and Jamie and Jana and Lori and Laurie and Brian and Sherry and Jodi and Duane and Mark and Rose and Amber and Megan and Brian and Julie and Betsy and Laura and J.J. and Becki and Deirdre and Nafari and Barbie. And it was at this point that I got choked up to the point where my chest heaved and my face squinted and I cried. I was so thankful at that moment. I was surrounded by so much love and I realized that I HAVE been surrounded by so much love during this whole journey. It was amazing to finish that race feeling so blessed, so loved.

Postscript: My time of 3:09 was not my worst half marathon performance (that was 3:20)! I beat the time I was shooting for (3:15), didn't hurt in any way, and while my stomach continued to hurt post-race, I will rank this race high in terms of feeling good. All because of my new running buddies.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Pictures worth a thousand doughnuts

I received a horrible, horrible surprise in my inbox the other day: photos from last week's race.

They were horrid. I'm talking "oh-my-God-that-can't-be-me" horrid. I take photos of myself every month, hoping to see my weight-loss, so I AM forcing myself to look at what I've become. But these photos were 10 times worse. I used to say I was shaped like a snowman, but now apparently I'm just shaped like a snowball. A snowball with a potato-shaped head plopped on top.

Incentive to work harder? I hope. Incentive to at least SMILE when I'm running? Better believe it.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Too much vs. too little

It felt wonderful running yesterday. It was just a 5K, and, yes, according to the race stats, I was 264th out of 285 runners. But I ran faster than I had all year, didn't hurt and enjoyed the experience.

And as it was the "Race for Orangutans," I did get to see two sweet orangs after the run.

I am going into this week unsure what I should do exercise-wise, as the half marathon is on Sunday. Rest, I feel, is the way to go. But that means I really need to watch my calorie intake.

At least I know what I'll be eating.

You see, I made a decision last night as I sat at Saturday night Mass. I had just written a check to donate to Operation Rice Bowl. But as I signed my name, I realized something. The previous check, written just hours prior, was three times the amount I was donating. And it was to the grocery store.

My freezer is now filled to the rim with frozen meals, veggies and other foods. Plenty of food to last me more than 40 days.

A few years ago, I did a little experiment for the newspaper where I decided to live on the food I already had and not buy any more (besides fruit, veggies, bread, milk) until my freezer and cabinet were empty. It was hard, but very fulfilling.

It's time to do that again. And to give the money I'd normally spend on groceries during Lent to Operation Rice Bowl, which helps the poor and hungry both here and abroad.

I've taken on some personal Lenten promises already, but last night's realization and decision gave me more inner peace than "giving up sweets." And while I know you're not supposed to share Lenten sacrifices with others, I thought it could be good to share this one, to maybe help others realize how much they, too, have while others have so little.

There are many reasons I hate that I have become obese again. I truly hate how I look. I hate that I can't run well anymore. I hate that my self-confidence has plummeted. I hate the way old friends look at me like I've disappointed them for failing. But you know what I also hate? That, on the way to becoming this way, I wasted so much food - food that others so desperately need.

Maybe during these 40 days, I'll think about that a little more.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The alcoholic in me

No, you didn't just discover a dark secret of mine. My friends will confirm: The closest I get to drunk is my one margarita a month (maybe two if I'm feeling feisty).

But I suffer an addiction just the same. And anyone who has read even one entry of this blog knows that addiction is to food.

So why the alcoholic comparison?

We all know alcoholics can get sober. But you only have to say the words "Charlie Sheen" to know they also suffer setbacks.

I was thinking about this as I heard Dr. Drew Pinsky (a la "Celebrity Rehab") talk about addiction and how it's so much harder for an addict when he relapses. The first time he sought help for drug or alcohol addiction, he learned all the tricks, all the rules, he followed the guidebook, fought his demons and came out sober. But the second time, he goes in knowing it all already. He thinks "I did it before and I'll do it again." Dr. Drew calls them "repeat rehabbers" and they're hard to wrangle.

I've often thought about my big weight-loss of 2003-2005 and have tried to re-create everything I did back then. But time after time, I fail. Why did I succeed back then but I can't now? I know all the tricks, all the rules. I know what's proper to eat, how best to use exercise, how important drinking water is, etc. And that, Dr. Drew might say, is the problem. I know too much. Or rather, I think I know it all.

As a "repeat rehabber," I need to be more careful. I need to treat this effort like I did back in 2003. Fresh. Open. Willing to take advice and seek help. And careful not to let my guard down.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Getting to the root of it

When I was a little girl, I always felt a sense of peace whenever I went to church. My family life wasn't pleasant, but those moments spent at St. Benedict helped me get through some tough times.

When I grew older, I started attending church by myself. Not regularly. But I'd come and go, arriving in the pew by myself, leaving by myself. In between, as I sat in God's house, I'd look at those around me, the older couples, the younger couples, the families. And though I was sad I was alone, I always held out a little hope that one day I wouldn't be sitting and praying alone, that I'd have someone by my side to share my faith with.

I've moved around a lot - from Pittsburgh to Jacksonville to Chapel Hill to Wilmington to Oak Island to Norfolk. And in every city, for the most part, I've sat and prayed and sang alone. When the priest would direct us to share the sign of peace, I had to stand still, head bowed for a second or so, while families and couples around me said "Peace be with you" to their own first. My dream was to have someone to say that to, a little hand to shake, a family.

It had been awhile since I'd been to church. I go a few times a year, mostly during the season of Lent. But now that I don't work Saturday nights, I decided to go last night. I've been feeling restless, distracted, and in a very selfish way, I hoped the Mass would give me a bit of peace in my heart. Some direction.

I wasn't prepared for what would happen.

As I sat in my pew, alone and up against the far right-hand wall, I looked around at the old couples, the young couples, the families. And my heart began to ache. For the very first time, I sat there knowing it's very likely I never will have that experience I had always wanted. No family around me, no little hand to shake, no husband to whisper "Peace be with you" to. I'm 36. I can no longer pretend there's plenty of time left for it to happen.

I don't know if that moment on Saturday night was the catalyst for what came, or if it was just meant to be because of who I am. But I would end up overeating. And skipping today's 12-mile run - which was to be the last long training run before my half marathon.

The emptiness was so loud, I could barely breathe, if that makes sense.

There are times I think I am hopeless and that I'm all alone in this struggle. Then, as I flipped channels on TV this weekend, I stumbled upon one of the Eddie Murphy "Nutty Professor" scenes. It was just one scene, but it was when he was working out, running up steps and taking an aerobics class. He was happy and enthused and ready to get that weight off (i.e. me, earlier this week). I turned the channel immediately after, because I remembered the scene that was to come: him being rejected and going home and eating everything in sight (i.e. me, this weekend).

I know I'm not alone. I know others (even fictional characters) struggle, too. With depression and weight and the way they feed off each other. So often, I hope that by writing about my own struggles, I'll figure something out. I'll dig deep enough that the wounds I'm trying so hard to fill with food begin to heal on their own.

I'm trying to get to that root of the problem. Perhaps a little too publicly. I don't know how wise that is. But if there's anyone out there who, after reading this, knows they're not alone, then it's worth it.

Peace be with you all.