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My Journey to The Lady’s Speedstick Half Marathon: St. Petersburg, FL
If someone would have told me in January of 2012 that I, Mindy Artze, would be running a half marathon, I wouldn’t have believed it for a second. Seriously, I would have expected the world to end before that would EVER happen. In January, I was not, nor had I ever been, a runner!
My definition of a runner at that time was “CRAZY, fit girl who runs in the heat of the day when I would rather be sitting in the air conditioning!” At that time in my life, I was coming off a pretty big weight gain after quite a few years of little to no exercise. There was some bitterness.
My fitness journey began in January of this year. I decided to join a gym and start putting myself first so that I could be a happier person. I recognized that I didn’t like being 197 lbs. Yep, I just wrote it, but I am still not comfortable saying it out loud. I was one of the biggest women in the small gym that I joined. It was tough for me to see myself at that size, so that became motivation.
I did boot camps and was really enjoying my new regime. One of the trainers in the gym was talking about doing a half marathon the next weekend, and I looked at her and said, “Oh I am totally going to do one of those before the year ends!” Ha. I was actually joking! At that point, I could barely run around the block. The longest amount of time that I had run was 30 minutes, and a lot of that involved walking.
I did my first 5K in April, and I began running races regularly. I love races, but I don’t usually love them until they are over. That’s my truth! I want to love running, but I don’t love the actual doing part, YET. I do however love the aftermath. I love crossing that finish line and looking at my time and seeing my improvements. I have also started doing mud races too.
In June, that same trainer from the gym called me and said that registration was open for the Women’s half marathon and gave me a discount code to register. My first thought was, “Yeah, right!” But before I could even voice the thought, I realized that I wanted to do this. My whole life up until then had been full of good intentions, setting goals and not following through with them. NO MORE! I could do this.
I posted to Facebook that I was going to sign up and asked if anyone else wanted to. The owner of my gym was the first to respond and wrote that she was putting together a team and that we would start training together. I had a lot of friends tell me they wanted to, and I also had a lot of friends offer their support and tell me how proud they were of me. My confidence was there, I was doing this!
Every week, we have our running goals on how many miles for short runs and speed drills, and then we do a long run together on Sunday. The owner of the gym developed these (but if you don’t have a trainer, there are a lot of training plans available on the web).
As of this week, we are up to 7.5 miles. I am able to run the entire time. It amazes me that I am getting better every week. Sometimes I get frustrated. It’s tough to see my improvements I’m the slowest one in my group. I have stopped beating myself up about that for the most part because I need to celebrate that I am faster than I was yesterday.
What I realize now is that I am training for something that MOST people will never do in their lifetime. I am going to be in an elite crowd of people who can say that they have done this. It makes me look to the future to see what else is on the horizon. I have even created a fitness bucket list on Pinterest. I am making new plans and cannot wait to see what the next chapter holds.
I have created a Facebook page and still cannot believe that almost 1500 people follow it. Men and women tell me that I am motivating them to work out, run races or even get muddy in the mud races. It’s astounding to me that I have created something in my life that gives me almost as much pride as my 8 year old son.
At this halfway point, I feel so strong. I look forward to the moment I cross the finish line and know is a feeling that I will never forget. There are days when I don’t think I can run, but it’s a matter of putting my shoes on and going, and I get it done. When I think of how far I have come in the last 8 months, I have to be proud. I am not where I want to be yet, but I am a heck of a lot better than I used to be. And now, my definition of a runner is, simply, “me!”