Why: Sharon’s Story
When did it happen? That is what I asked myself one day. When did I stop taking care of myself?
In July 2012, we went on a family vacation to Croatia. I knew I had gained weight, but I would tell myself, “Hey, I look okay. I have always been this size.” Funny how I held onto that thought until I realized that I was not okay. I was not healthy and was making excuses. The real story is, I had been saying, “I look like a big fat cow,” and for the first time my husband did not say, “No you do not.” Instead he said, “If you think that then do something about it.” Of course my reaction was, “You think I am a big fat cow!”
I told myself that once our vacation was over I was going to get serious taking care of myself. My plan was to walk every day regardless of what was going on or the weather. It took me almost two hours to walk two miles!
Once I started walking every day, the Rocky Mountain Hot Moms, (RMHMs) included me in a weight loss challenge so I had the wonderful support of other women. Then on Valentine’s Day 2013, my husband made an appointment at the Vilseck Wellness Center for both of us. He told me he loved me and he wanted to help us both get healthier so we could be around for each other and our 12-year-old daughter.
The day of the appointment I was feeling pretty good. I had already lost 16 pounds and I could run/walk six miles in about 80 minutes. But during the appointment I found that my Body Mass Index was still higher than it should be and ideally I still needed to lose 17 more pounds for my body structure. The Wellness Center was a great resource for weight loss and overall health questions. I learned a lot about strength training and eating healthier. When I left there I knew what I needed to do. With the guidance of the Wellness Center and the support of my husband and my friends I lost 35 pounds and eight inches from my waist. But that was just the beginning. I wanted to keep the weight off and stay healthy. As an incentive, I promised myself new clothes if I kept the weight off for a year.
In March 2013, the RMHMs were running a 5K in Grafenwöhr, Germany. It was my first race and I was so nervous because I didn’t know if I could run the entire distance. But, I was excited because I could wear my running leggings without sweatpants because of the weight I had lost. Not only did I finish, but it took less than 29 minutes!
In April 2013, I completed the weight loss challenge and had lost the largest percentage of weight. During the challenge, I lost 25 pounds with the help of RMHMs.
As I continued running, I began to enjoy it. My friend Amy was the one who really inspired me to run. Sometimes she ran with me even if it was a slow pace for her. We moved during the summer of 2013, but I continued running three to six miles, three days a week.
During the move, I gained a bit of weight, but nothing major. I just needed to get back into a routine. Once settled, I ran three days a week for 30, 45, and 60 minutes. Each time I could run further during my 60-minute runs, I increased the time by 15 minutes. I looked forward to long run Mondays. It was time I dedicated to myself and a wonderful way to start the week. I added two days a week of strength training, and even took a TRX class. I was happy, my family was happy, and I felt great.
In December 2013, my friend Erica, asked me to run a half marathon with her. I told her she was crazy. But, one evening when we were texting, I got online and registered. I trained during many snow days and even purchased Yaktrax so I could continue running outdoors. I loved it! I’m happy to say I completed my first half marathon in March 2014 with a time of 1:55:29. I was very excited to make it under two hours. Since then I have completed four half marathons, winning first in my age group in one. My personal record is 1:53:05 and my next goal is 1:52:55. I take baby steps. Over the summer I ran a few more 5Ks and 10-miler, winning my age group in one 5K.
My friend Mona kept calling and texting asking to run the Marine Corps Marathon with her in October 2014. I told her that it was closed already and that was a sign for me not to run. She kept telling me that I could get a transfer but I told her I did not think I was ready for a full yet. But, I ran 15 miles one day just to see if I could run more than 13.1 miles. It felt great and I continued to add miles to my runs. Then there was a sign that it was meant to be. Mona’s friend was moving and could not run the marathon. She transferred her bib to me. I kept telling Mona that she peer pressured me and I hoped that we would still be friends after the marathon. I trained for 18 weeks using Hal Higdon’s training program, which is what I used for the half. I trained during vacation, running six days a week with hill, interval, and tempo work. I did upper body strength training once a week. My training paid off. I competed my first marathon in 4:02:26. As soon as I crossed the finish line I was smiling and thinking about the next race. My goal of course is 3:59:58, just under four hours. I’m hoping to run the Virginia Beach Shamrock full marathon at the end of March 2015. Yes, Mona and I are still very good friends and I thank her for inspiring me to run the full with her.
I did not do this alone. I had family and friends who supported and believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. I had lost faith in what I could do, but my friends inspired me and reminded me of my potential. My family was excited for me because I was excited for myself and they supported me. I am more resilient and stronger than I ever thought possible because my friends and family saw something that I had not seen in a long time and they reminded me how to be honest with myself. The bottom line is I needed support and inspiration, but I had the courage all along to become mentally and physically stronger.