Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Are you ready to race?

Have you been fitness walking, speed walking or running for a while now?  Been hearing a few of your friends talk about doing races?  Are you considering signing up for a race?

I know.  That's a lot of questions.

If you've been considering participating in a race, I strongly urge you it!  The feeling I get when I cross the finish line is such a "high" for me.  What a sense of accomplishment.  I did it!  I finished!  I gotta tell you, racing can be habit forming.

You can make it as competitive as you want.  Or you can do it to compete only with yourself.  Whichever you choose, it can be such a confidence builder.  Oh...and don't think that you have to be in top physical shape to participate in a race.  You'll see that people of all ages, fitness levels and body types do these races.

I've said it before...I'll probably never win a medal for 1st, 2nd or even 3rd place.  That's okay with me, since I love competing with me.  Working at shaving a minute or so off my previous minutes per mile.  Heck, maybe even a few seconds.

All this being said, my most recent race was last Saturday.  I have to say, this one was different than any of the others I've done.  It was The Biggest Loser Run/Walk Race 2015.  These races are held in many cities across the USA.  The one I walked was in Rockford, IL.  HERE is a link to the BL website.
The other races I've done were pretty low-key compared to this one.  Packet pick-up (your race day bib, t-shirt and various other goodies) was the evening before.  But in addition to our packets, there were merchandise booths and various speakers.  I'm always excited about an upcoming race, but this bumped up that excitement even more.

I got to the race venue quite early the next morning, since I know that this part of downtown Rockford has limited parking.  Quite a few parking lots and garages but they would fill up quickly for an event like this.  By the way, there were 921 runners/walkers in this race.  Wow.

Several of the Biggest Loser show contestants and a trainer spoke before the race and then as the start time neared, they moved to the stage near the starting line.  Lots of encouragement and lots of humor, made for a very motivating start to the race!

Later, as we neared the finish line, I could see that Sonya Jones was there cheering on each and every one of us as we finished.  That was so cool!  Especially considering that I have never even watched The Biggest Loser TV show.  I had to do a bit of research on line to see who these people were. :)

It was just such a positive, uplifting experience.  As I said, other races I've done are not as "hyped" as this race series.  BUT each and every one of them has been a great experience for me.  I'm ready for another one.  Oh yeah.

The Biggest Loser Race website uploaded the photos from Saturday's race today.  I keyed in my race bib number to look for my photos.  Well, there are 7 or 8 of them. most of them I had a very stern (or maybe even a grimaced) expression on my face.  Ugh!  In two photos my eyes were closed.  Geesh!
I finally found two that aren't too bad.  These are both at the finish line...and I finally smiled!

I finished in about the same time as the race I walked a couple of weeks ago.  I was pleased with that, because it was an improvement from my race times last year.  This race included a couple pretty steep hills (or maybe they just seemed steep!), so those slowed me down for a while.

So, have I talked you into signing up for a 5k?  Maybe?   Talk a friend into signing up with you and it's even more fun.  You can find races in your area by doing a google search for races by state.  I'm just sayin'.  :)


Sunday, June 7, 2015

Racing....who, me?

Hey, all of those years during junior high & high school...I dreaded PE (physical education) classes.  Not just because I was NOT athletic, but because I was overweight, too.  Yeah, those two things made any kind of sports difficult.  Along with that I was SO self conscious about the way I looked when I tried to participate in any sports.  All of those issues, along with low self esteem and being extremely introverted made PE not a fun place to be.

I am not looking for sympathy, at all.  That was simply who I was at that time in my life.  That person is so different from who I am now.  So different!  During those years after high school I began to break out of that "shell", thank goodness.  Gradually I became much more social and outgoing, made more friends and eventually met the wonderful man who is now my husband.  He has told me many times that when we first met, he could hardly get me to talk...but now I won't shut up!  I take that as a compliment!!!

All of this is leading up to (or back to) my weight.  About 6 months before I met my husband I finally decided it was time to lose weight.  I succeeded, but didn't do it the right way.  It was "dieting".  Just a way to get to my goal weight.  I didn't exercise.  I didn't think of it as changing my lifestyle, at all.
So.  Guess what happened?  That's right, I gradually regained the weight.

I repeated that process a few more times over the years.  Again, I didn't make changes for my "lifetime"  It was just dieting.  I've come to dislike that word.  Diet.

In 2013 I finally made the decision to make permanent changes to the way I eat and my activity level.  Major changes!   If you've just now started reading my blog, you can follow THIS LINK to read more about how and why I started.

Well, by now you're probably wondering if I'll ever get to the title of this post.  Racing.
It all goes back to the first few sentences of this post.  PE class.  Sports.  Physical activity.

If anyone had told me, all of those years ago, that I would now be participating in races...well I would have told them they were crazy.  Me?  Race?  Voluntarily, even!

Oh my, how my life has so many ways.  I am SO active now and I have been active since August of 2013.  You know what?  I now LOVE being active!    If you're one of my Facebook friends you also know that I like competing with myself, too.  Doing more steps and increasing the distance I walk, whenever I can.  Especially when I can walk outdoors.  Fresh air and sunshine.

But the point that I really want to make, is that I don't do these 5k races in the hopes of winning.  I know that I won't ever win a medal.  That's just fine with me.  I do it for a few reasons.
1. Being a part of that crowd of participants, all working toward that finish line.
2. The activity of speed walking is fun.
3. Trying my best to improve my time (minutes per mile).
4. The fun of doing a race with a friend or relative, even though we get separated during the race.
5. Seeing if I can pass a few other walkers along the way (I will admit that I like that!).
6  And, best of all....CROSSING THE FINISH LINE!

I did a 5k race today and I'm already looking forward to the next one.  Just 2 weeks away!

I hope that I am able to continue to walk 5k races (maybe a 10k occasionally) for many years to come.  Being active makes me feel so good.  Not just physically, but mentally and emotionally too.

Who knew, all those years ago, that I could and would make so many changes to my life?
What kind of changes have you made, that have surprised you?  Or, what kind of changes are you contemplating?   Anything is possible, you know.