Guest Post: Couch to Half Marathon

Happy Friday everyone!

After my last day of work for the year, I had many things to focus on- like packing and also getting together with a friend to watch the Mizzou vs. Illinois game (a big rivalry of ours). This leaves little time for much else, so my friend Lesley (who even also has a Chicagoland Running blog!) stepped in to take over!

Lesley and I randomly met just how Mon and I did- in our old apartment complex’s fitness center. I met her in the beginning stages of training for a 5k. And now she’s doing every other race that she comes across. It’s quite amazing and so I asked her to talk a little about it… Enjoy!

I wasn’t always this way. I use to be 45 pounds heavier. I use to eat processed foods in excess and large $1 Cokes from McDonalds for breakfast alongside a sausage McMuffin. I use to think “healthy eating” was holding off on the cheese sauce for my french fries, and I’d pat myself on the back about making such a tough decision. I use to think exercise was carrying an arm full of groceries up the stairs.  I use to treat myself with fast food; thinking, I deserve this.

Fast forward to present day.

Documentation of the first 5k!

I began running in August of 2010 and completed my first 5K that following October. Since then I’ve continued to improve, resulting in PR’s in every 5K since. I now have several 5Ks, two 8Ks, a 10K, and two half-marathons under my belt. I’m waiting for the nerves to tackle the 26.2

When Amy asked if I’d like to write a guest blog for her, I immediately accepted. When trying to decide what to write about, I couldn’t think of any topic more proper than how much running has transformed my life.  It wasn’t easy to get to this state, or frankly to even get started. I was unhappy with my appearance for about three years. After college, I gained a lot of weight. I wasn’t nearly as active as I was in college, and it started catching up with me. I always had battles with food, and dieting has NEVER been an effective option. The one time I did diet, it consisted of eating a cup of pinto beans for lunch. I can burn that off with a single burp, and I need more than that to be satisfied, and to be happy. I enjoy meals, I love food.

Enter, Exercise.

It’s amazing how you can buy all these workout clothes, yoga mats, and gym memberships…however the weight still doesn’t fall off any faster. You have to actually endure the pain and the sweat and devote the time. What a concept. One that took me years to realize, I tried EVERY type of exercise I thought imaginable. I tried Zumba, Strength & Core training, Ab classes, Yoga, working out with a buddy every week…nothing would stick. I asked for workout clothes for Christmas for years, thinking “hey! if I have the clothes, I’ll work out”. What actually ended up happening was due to the elastic waistband, they were quite a comfy addition to my everyday wardrobe with my growing Buddha belly.

Then August 2010 and my boyfriend Zach happened. I moved out to the Chicago suburbs due to work and reunited with an old college friend, who is now my live in boyfriend and running partner. He’s also an accomplished marathoner. Prior to his first marathon we were discussing his training over a dinner date and I said to him, “I SO wish that I could run”, Zach answered back promptly “Well, why don’t you?” A simple question, but it was one that stung because I knew the answer. I was too afraid, and too lazy to put forth the effort. I was self conscious of how I’d look while running. I felt I resembled the grace of a drunken deer.

The Couch To 5K Plan was my savior. I remember the first day of it where it asks you to run 60 seconds / walk for 90. Those 60 seconds were the hardest 60 seconds of my life. A mere minute of cardio exercise and I felt like my heart was going to beat out of my chest – and I felt pathetic, and fat. Great start.  However that was the turning point, because I kept up with the plan instead of quitting and chugging the nearest liter of pop.  Now I’m an avid runner and writing a guest blog for Amy who I met through running and working out in the gym.

I could go on and on about how in debt I feel to the sport of running. I love sharing my experiences, and I’ve found that many others have had the same insecurities when they too started running. I’ve become very passionate about helping anyone who wants to turn to fitness as a way to be happier and healthier, especially running. It’s the one thing that’s worked for me, and the races help fuel my competitive spirit.

Running has allowed me to enjoy the things I love. I still eat sweets, carbs, and the occasional bottle glass of wine. I’ve actually taken up cooking as a way to learn ways to prepare and eat my favorite meals in a healthier fashion. And I’ll be damned, it’s doable and it’s fun! Who knew turkey burgers and homemade fries were so freaking delicious!?

I now know that I deserve more than a $3 meal from McDonalds as a treat. I deserve to feel the high of a personal best in a 5K that I trained for months to accomplish, I deserve to fuel my body with wholesome food, and I deserve to be fit and happy. Running has done that for me.

After my first half marathon!

14 Responses

  1. Great post Lesley! You look fabulous!! Keep up the good work :)

  2. Running is wonderful. I’m kind of in love with it. :)
    You look fabulous, and should be SO proud of yourself.

  3. Lesley, you are awesome! “…grace of a drunken deer…” is my favorite line, and ofcourse the bottle (glass) of wine comment. Keep up the good work – in writing and running!!

  4. Awesome story! You look great!

  5. Great post, Lesley! I like your point that you deserve more than a $3 McDonalds meal. That’s so true! I have a friend with terrible eating habits, and would eat tons of fast food. She moved in with her boyfriend, who loved to cook, and started losing weight just because she was eating real food. It wasn’t even “healthy” real food – he used real ingredients like butter, etc – but it wasn’t processed crap.

    • Thank you Maggie!

      It took me so long to recognize there’s nothing “treat worthy” about fast food, but I’m so glad I’m at that point! And yes I’m the same way with ingredients, I prefer REAL over anything. Which means butter as opposed to margarine, and sugar vs splenda. I’ve worked really hard to get my body in shape, and I think it took that for me to realize, why would I put garbage in my body? And cooking has helped me so much! It’s amazing how easy it is to make delicious meals that will treat your body well – the way it deserves to be treated :)

  6. I LOVE this. You are so inspirational. This is also why I love running so much – there is so much it does for your body and soul. Great post!

    • Aw thank you! Running is such an honest sport, you get out of it what you put into it. It’s amazing what it does to people (myself included), and I’ve realized runners share this bond of appreciation with it. The community of runners is really like a family, it’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced! :-)

  7. Wow and Way Cool You two! Nice touch to a beautiful and endearing profile of Friendship. Thanks Lesley, and Thank You Amy, it’s a pleasure meeting You ;~))

  8. What a great story! Thank you for sharing it with us! I drink whole bottles of wine. It’s okay. ;)

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