Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2012 - let's reflect on the beginning of the journey

Summary:
2012 brought about a massive change in my life.  Not as big as having children or marrying the love of my life in years gone by; but massive non-the-least.

January was a time for me to be proud of the weight loss I'd achieved in the previous couple of months starting out at 106kg's and being around mid 80kg's at the time.  Finally being confident enough to take my shirt off at the beach.  The following couple of months however I found I had to be extremely disciplined with my eating or I'd gain really quickly so while the novalty of fitting medium sized clothing still hadn't worn off; it wasn't much fun having to almost 'count calories' to stay in them.

So what do I do about it?  Start running!  In April 2012 I went for my first proper run session.  Not just take the kids to the park, or chase the dog; but a specific, timed and measured run.  Let's just say it didn't go too well, or feel all that great either.  I'm sure most people have been there before!  Chest killing, legs like jelly, sweating donuts. 

This was a massive wake up call for me.  Just because I fit into a 'healthy weight range' for my height, it doesn't mean I'm healthy!

At this point I decided this was pathetic and was no longer acceptable!  I memorised the location and time, and decided that within 1 month I would make it to that exact point in 75% of the time, and to do this I'd run it 4 times a week.  Well the next scheduled run came around and my legs were still so sore I could hardly run, but I went anyway.  This run was even slower due to the legs problem but I knew this would go away soon.  Long story short, I not only made my target but doubled my distance and smashed time expectation there too.

From here I decided GOALS are going to be my key.  So I did some 'googling' and found an event to enter.  Something to aim for.  The 'Hills to Henley' 15km in July.  And that I would complete it with no walking!  Did I get there?  Yes, I did; with no walking, completing it under my target time in 1:21:55.  No flying pace by any means but an achievement to me at the time.

A short chat with an old friend (Thanks Baz) at the finish line here steered me towards trail running and I've never looked back.

Formal events for 2012:
- July: 15km Hills to Henley
- August: 21.1km Adelaide Half Marathon
- September: 10km Para River Classic
- September: 12km City to Bay
- September: 56km Yurrebilla Ultra Marathon
- October: 105km Heysen Ultra Marathon (H105)
- October: 15km Blackhill Challenge

Quite a jump occurred a couple of times through September / October and if it wasn't for the 'runners high' I got after each event, common sense probably wouldn't have let me enter the Yurrebilla 56km and the Heysen 105km events.  Much to my surprise and never ending joy, I completed these 2 events quite competently.  No podium chance but still around the top 3rd of the pack on both occasions which to me was a massive surprise.

My monthly KM's started in July at 62km, finishing in December at 202km's.  Probably a sharper incline than recommended but I did so without injury so I kept going.

What did I learn?:
What didn't I learn? Ultimately I learned that I will never stop learning here.  I learned how naive I was and probably still am towards distance running.  I learned that the body and mind can endure so much more than expected with the right preparation, commitment and especially THE WILL to achieve.

I learned a lot about good technique through a stack of reading, watching, and most importantly trial and error.  I learned that physical fitness is only as effective as mental fitness in Ultra distance running.  I learned that I know very little about proper hydration and fuelling for Ultra distance running and that I need to learn more here ASAP.

But overall, I learned that TRUE running is not a sport, nor an exercise or fitness tool, but a lifestyle.  A lifestyle that I've realised I've missed out on for years.  A lifestyle that has in such a short time not only changed my life, but already spread to friends and family for the better too.

I love what decisions I made in 2012 and where they've lead me to.

I can't wait to reflect back on 2013 in 12 months....................................