Tag Archives: half marathon

Running for My Marriage

Photo by Christine Hochkeppel

Photo by Christine Hochkeppel

Getting through 13.1 miles is a challenge in and of itself. Getting through 13.1 miles in a February race on Cape Cod complete with soaking and torrential rains, wind gusts topping 25 MPH, and temps below 40 degrees? A whole different ballgame.

Some people use music to pass the time and keep them invigorated. That doesn’t work so well for me as I’ve found my times suffer and I get even more bored. Others use newfangled GPS technology to upload the course map and track every second of their run so they know exactly how far they’ve run and in what time. I used to do this, but found if I was getting behind I’d get discouraged and then say “screw it.” So that was out too.

Considering the horrendous weather conditions, I took a different path. I had no iPod. I had no cell phone playing music or virtual trainer telling me how far I’ve run every few minutes. I knew with all the rain making things miserable, I had to think of something truly meaningful to keep my legs pumping. So I did.

I put it in my head that if I didn’t finish this race, my marriage wouldn’t last.

MJ and I have been stressed to the max lately. This pregnancy has been far from smooth and it seems we’re constantly sweating test result after test result. That kind of unrelenting stress takes a toll on even the best marriages, and ours has been no exception. And after it culminated in a blow-up on Friday night, suddenly the race became more important than ever. With more pressure than ever.

You might be thinking this is silly. I don’t blame you. I guess in a way it is. After all, even if I won the damn race (I didn’t…I really didn’t) that wouldn’t suddenly fix everything. But somewhere between Mile 4 and 5 we began the stretch of the race along the ocean. The winds began whipping into a frenzy, the temperature fell, and the rain began beating down relentlessly. The coastal roads were partially flooded which means huge puddles were unavoidable, and slightly wet feet became absolutely doused with water. From that point on it was like running in a puddle, with my shoes making that suction-ey, squishy sound as water leaks out with every step.

But worse than that was my socks. When you get to the point you can wring water out of them, socks tend to bunch up as you move. The long and short of it is I felt like I was running on knots of rope, which caused half-dollar sized blisters on both feet. Every step was painful. Every. Single. One.

And I still had more than half the race left.

All I could think about was quitting. I didn’t want to be out there anymore. I was being tossed around like a rag doll by the wind, I was miserable, cold and tired. Hell, a shit ton of people didn’t even come out to run and a bunch more quit mid-race, so no one would blame me for giving up in tough conditions. It’s no big deal. It’s just a race. It’s…

A perfect metaphor for my marriage.

MJ has had to go through so much the last few years. And she’s still going through it. Don’t get me wrong, we both are. But in the end, she has to physically endure the miscarriages, the losses, and the multiple D&C procedures. Compared to that hell on Earth, if I couldn’t finish a race with some wind, rain and cold then what does that say about me? What does it say about my devotion?

After all, I signed up for the race. I knew it was being held in New England in February and that I’d have to weather certain challenges. If I wasn’t up for those difficulties, I shouldn’t have vowed to do it. But I did sign up for it because I do want it. Because I know that just past all the hardships is a payoff that’s wonderful beyond measure. And the suffering and pain is an endurance test — and a tough one at that — but the juice is worth the squeeze. If you can hack it.

I didn’t get there quickly. In fact, I placed 2,187th out of 2,368 runners. And it was a full 20 minutes slower than my first half marathon last June. But none of that mattered when I saw MJ and Will at the finish line. Because I did finish. I finished when I was hurt, when Nature and everything else was working against me, and when I didn’t think I had anything left. I finished because I said I would, and sometimes perseverance and promises are more important than anything else.

But most of all, I finished for her. Because she’s my life and despite all the fucked up bullshit, we’ll always go to the mat for each other. All the way to the finish line.

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The FatSlap Conclusion & A Half Marathon

I don’t usually toot my own horn, so this feels a little odd and foreign to me. Like Lebron James winning a championship. But we have some loose ends to tie up around these parts and while I don’t say it often — I’m proud of myself dammit.

I know I’m guilty of letting the FatSlap updates slide around here, but it’s not because I abandoned it. In fact, I won the last two rounds! I don’t have the final pictures of Alex and Dave because those lazy bastards haven’t gotten them to me yet, so I’ll give you my final stats. Or better yet, they say a picture’s worth a thousand words. So here you go:

Before: 281 lbs After: 224 lbs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total Weight Loss: 57 lbs!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When the dust settled, I lost a total of 57 lbs. From 281 lbs on Jan. 1 to 224 lbs now. Don’t get me wrong — I’m not there yet because I still have 25 lbs to go — but I’m pretty proud of myself. I made a commitment to tracking everything I ate, eating less, eating smart, and exercising. I ran in the freezing cold, snow and through the predawn blackness. I ran on the treadmill, basically lived on the elliptical machine, and even lifted a few weights. I pushed through injuries, did a lot of research, surrounded myself with people in a similar position and fed off the enthusiasm and support from everyone — especially MJ and Will.

But most of all I ran.

Perhaps the best thing about this experience was falling in love with running again. I did cross-country in high school and loved it, even getting down to a 5:55 mile at one point. Not nearly the fastest time, but I was always built for comfort and not speed. What I lacked in quickness I made up for in endurance. Which is why I nearly quit in January when I couldn’t even run a half-mile without keeling over and nearly passing out.

But I stubbornly kept at it. Each time I ran a little farther and a little faster. One mile, two miles and finally up to a 5k distance. It was slow and ugly, but that’s kinda my thing. And by March a funny thing happened — I stopped dreading morning runs. Instead, I began looking forward to them. Needing them even. You could almost say I craved them. And as my distances began creeping up even higher, a very strange and mystifying thought occurred to me.

“Could I possibly run a half marathon?”

Running 13.1 miles all at once seemed crazy. It might as well have been the moon. It was MJ who told me I could do it. Insisted I could do it. And then demanded I do it. If not for her unwavering confidence in me, I’m not sure I would’ve signed up for the Old Sandwich Road Race in Plymouth. But I did. Less than 5 months removed from weighing a whopping 281 lbs and not being able to drag my fat ass up the stairs, I ran the race and hoped for a best-case scenario time of 2 hours and 20 minutes.

I ran it in 2:14:13 instead.

I finished in 176th place. Usually I’d scoff at receiving a medal for finishing 176 out of 220 and want to punch anyone who was bragging about it. But not this time. This time I’m just immensely proud of myself for setting a goal and following through.

It is not easy to run a half marathon — especially for a fat guy with shin splints and bad knees. But I did it.

I did it for MJ because she picked up so much extra slack during the last five months while I went to the gym and for long runs. Even though she would NEVER admit that I was so fat she became less physically attracted to me, I know that’s the truth of the matter. She could barely get her arms around me before, and now — well, let’s just say this weight loss has been good in more ways than one!

I did this for my son. I didn’t want Will to have a fat dad who can’t do anything physical. It’s not fair to him that I got out of breath playing simple games and couldn’t chase him around the yard for more than a few minutes at a time without having a heart attack. As an added bonus, Will is paying attention to what he eats and asking if certain foods are healthy. He also recently asked me if he could run with me when he gets older. I nearly broke down in tears I was so happy to hear that from him.

But most of all, I did this for me.

I joked a lot about being the funny fat guy, but I always hated it. I hated being fat. I hated being unhealthy and grotesque. They say fat is beautiful and we should all just be ourselves — screw that. I didn’t want to be fat anymore because it’s not a healthy situation, so I did something about it.

And now I just feel…better. In every respect. I feel full of energy because I’m exercising and eating right. But more importantly, I feel confident for the first time in years. I know I’m still a big guy and I have more work to do, but I don’t mind looking in the mirror these days. And I can fit into all my own clothes — clothes that don’t involve XXL on the tag anymore. Shirts that button around my neck. Pants that actually close around my waist. It’s nice to wear garments that don’t double as Xerox copy machine covers.

I’m not giving out advice because who the fuck am I? All I’ll say is it’s never too late to get started and have success. You just have to really, truly want it and be willing to sacrifice to get it. But let me tell you, when you work for months and get to literally cross the finish line and complete a goal you thought was impossible — it’s all worth it.

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