The Incredible Shrinking Krista

Monday, July 20, 2015

Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon, Chicago

This past weekend, I took on a re-match with the Rock 'n Roll Chicago Half marathon.  You may remember that last year I Got pulled off the course at mile 8 for being very dehydrated.  This year, was a whole different situation, and I'm so proud to share it with you.

On Saturday, we (my running mom friends and I) headed out early for the 5k.  It is a pretty simple course, all on sidewalks, through parks, and along Lake Michigan.  It is beautiful, partly shaded, but somehow, the windy city hadn't even a breeze to offer us while running along the lake, and I thought for sure I might spontaneously combust.  I was imagining myself like a popcorn kernal just exploding at some random time.  Instead, I finished my 5k in just over my previous PR time.  My average pace for the race was 14:11, for a time of 44:03.

Probably the highlight of my day was when I finished and we headed to the finish line festival, in the hopes of meeting Meb.  Meb is the same age as I am, and won the 2014 Boston Marathon in just over 2 hours.  That means he ran 26.2 miles in about 2 hours and 9 minutes.  Considering that at 2 hours, I'm just over halfway done with a half, he's a flipping speed demon.  As you can see on my blog heading, I did indeed meet Meb, and he was SOOO nice!  He asked me my name, shook my hand, and genuinely smiled and congratulated me on my 5k.

After the race, we went to Giordano's for some amazing Chicago Deep Dish Pizza.  It was delicious!!!  After I felt like I had run the 5k in a sauna, I knew that my plan of running in capris on Sunday was a horrible idea, so we headed off to TJ Maxx and I found what was labeled as a Tennis skirt, and a bit shorter than I would normally wear, but it would be cooler than the capris, so I took the risk.  We ate dinner at the hotel, and then off to an early bedtime to prepare for the half marathon yesterday.  Sitting at dinner, I almost started crying just because the forecast was brutal.  I had a panic attack at dinner just thinking about it.

When a group of moms get together, run away for a weekend, to go running, we can still clean up pretty well.

We were up at 5 yesterday morning to prepare for the race.  Because I get a nervous tummy on race days, I decided to take the pre-emptive strike and take some immodium on Saturday night before bed.  Probably one of the best decisions EVER to prevent dehydration.  Up, ready and out the door by around 6:00 for the 6:30 start.  I was starting in corral 34 out of 36, so the fact that as I walked up, the 3rd corral was starting didn't worry me at all.  My friend Rachael and I hung out in the corral, took a few pictures and tried to chat and relax.  The longer we stood, the hotter I got, the sweat started to run, and I got more and more scared that I wasn't going to make it.

I use an interval timer, and run for 30 seconds, then walk for 30 seconds.  I started out really comfortable.  I didn't even bring my GPS because in reality, the tunnels and underpasses screw it up so badly, its not reliable.  I just turned on my music, and my Gym Boss timer app, and headed out.  My friend Rachael and I agreed that we were going to start out together, but I didn't want to hold anyone back.  I passed Rachael fairly early on, knowing that wouldn't last all that long.  I had to stop at mile 4 to slather everything from my hoo-ha to my knees with vaseline to avoid chafing.  The last thing I needed was chafing.  Rachael caught up to me while I was bathing myself in vaseline to see how I was doing.  I grabbed us both some ice to chew on and we headed back out.

Last year at mile 4 was when I started to fall completely apart and my stomach started to revolt.  Every step beyond that that I didn't feel like I was dying was an improvement over my experience last year.  See, when you've been on a weight loss journey and trying to find yourself for as long as I have, you HAVE to acknowledge not just the successes, but also the improvements.  Life changes take time, and effort, and persistence, and it certainly is NOT a success only journey.  Facing my previous failures is one way for me to push myself beyond what I myself, and sometimes even everyone else, doubts I can do.

When you are on a race course, you look for entertainment, and encouragement, wherever you can find it...This was a good start, yesterday:

At mile 6, I trotted myself through a fire hydrant turned misting station, and LOVED every second that the cool water lasted on my body, even if I did have to hold my tutu up because it got too heavy with the water.  I was rapidly approaching mile 8, which I knew was where it all ended last year.  At mile 7, I hit a major wall.  I didn't feel like I was going to make it, AT ALL!  I was hot, I was tired, and I knew my pace was falling off.  (I had maintained a 15 minute mile through the first 10k, but that wasn't happening anymore).  I walked all of mile 7 I think.  At mile 8, I realized that last year when they were talking about taking me to the hospital, I was on the hospital grounds.  I told them I didn't have time, not realizing I was right there all along.  At mile 8 medical tent, I grabbed some salted Gatorade to try to prevent the dehydration from setting in.  I grabbed a few hand fulls of ice as well.  I shoved 1 handful in my cleavage, 1 down my back, and then put some in that nasty salted Gatorade.  Salted Gatorade isn't nearly as vile when it is cold.  I walked about half of mile 8 while I drank my Gatorade, then picked up my intervals again.  I was able to maintain the intervals fairly well until mile 10.

It got really, really hot at mile 10 and just couldn't keep running.  I kept putting my feet out and going as much as I could.  From mile 10-the finish line save for the tunnel through the parking garage, we were in the sun.  With the heat, that made it super brutal.  I walked the majority of what was left of the race.  At mile 11, There was someone handing out cold wet sponges, and a misting station immediately after that.

I just kept walking.  Somewhere around mile 10-1/2, my running play list kicked to "Just Keep Swimming" from Finding Nemo.  I did just that.  People were dropping like flies around me.  There was someone picked up in the tunnel under the parking deck, and another one within the site of the finish line.

At the mile 12 medical station, I jogged over, and the medic got nervous.  I told them, I just needed ice.  When they pointed me to a kiddie pool full of ice and water, I grabbed a wash cloth, threw it on top of my head.  I also grabbed a few handfuls of ice, again.  I put some in my bra, rubbed some one my lips and chewed on some a bit at a time.

With just over a mile to go, it started to get very hot, and very real.  We passed Soldier Field:

Which I had to take a picture of for my sister.  Then we went up and over an overpass.  The last person I saw down was laying on the finish line side of the overpass.  I felt so awful for her.  She clearly just couldn't go any further.  I kept pushing along, and was in sight of the finish line.  Every step hurt a bit more.  By this point, my interval time had quit working and shut down, and I couldn't hear my music because the water I kept dumping on my head had gotten into my earbuds.  I took them out, and did what I started my training doing, run to the next light pole, walk to the next light pole, using light poles, instead of a timing app.  I got into the finisher's chute, and I heard the announcer say, "And here's Krista Blackburn".....I wanted to jump up and down and scream, "That's me!  I MADE IT!!!", but I didn't have the energy, so I just kept trotting, then walking...

I finished my second half marathon finish line in 3:40:38.  This was about 13 minutes slower than the Savannah Publix Women's half in March.  That race was PERFECT race weather, about 62 degrees and flat.  Chicago was about 30 degrees warmer, and most-certainly was NOT flat.  For some reason that I don't quite understand, the streets we ran on that were parallel to Michigan Avenue there was a breeze, and they were a bit shaded.  Running up the streets perpendicular to Michigan Avenue, I felt like I was being baked in a Deep Dish Chicago Pizza Oven.  

My finisher's photo is pretty priceless, honestly.  You can see my tears, and I'm trying desperately to smile, but just couldn't quite do it.  After crossing, I just stopped to cry.  The medics kept telling me how awesome I was for having finished.  I had decided prior to finishing I was definitely going to stop and ask them to take my blood pressure to check me for dehydration.  When I reached the finish line and was able to cry; real, wet tears, I knew I wasn't dehydrated, so I skipped it.  I got my medal, and a wash cloth soaked in ice water.  Next was a thing of chocolate milk which I can only describe as tasting something akin to was SOOOO good.  I did stop at the 2nd med tent to get some ice for my sore knee and headed out to find my friends.  

We headed over to the finish line festival to pick up our remix medals (for having completed the 5k, and the half marathon I got an extra medal).  

I took a seat to listen to the after race concert by Andy Grammer, and got to hear this live!

I sat down to listen to Andy Grammer and the reality of what I had done and how I was feeling set in for sure.  I looked pretty horrible, but then reality set in.  This year was FAR worse than last year heat and humidity wise.  I was never in danger of being swept.  I only saw the sag wagon once, and that was when the course had a turn around, and they were about a mile behind me or so.  I am super proud of what I did.  It was brutal.  There were people dropping like flies, and I made it.  I didn't meed medical attention, other than for my knee, and stopping at the doctor today.....

Sitting in the park, listening to Andy Grammer and sporting 2 of my 3 medals

After we got back and showered, 5 of our group members headed out to get tattoos.  So as we piled into a cab (There would be no more walking as a means of transportation after the half marathon was over) I had my left foot in the cab and my right foot in the gutter.  Our not-so-observant cab driver started driving off.  The other ladies yelled at him, and as I felt the tire of the cab rub the back of my heel, I jumped out of the cab and back up onto the curb.  I jumped out of my shoes, dropped my purse, and almost busted my face on the scaffolding there.  Fortunately, the worst part was that I further injured my already painful foot, but didn't end up under the wheels of his cab.  The girls climbed out and we got ourselves another taxi.  We all piled in again, and headed back out to get our running tattoos.  

We had Cheesecake Factory for dinner and headed back to the hotel again.  It was an early night, and I got up to head out early this morning to head home.  

Upon my return home, I decided to get my foot checked out since I can't walk very well at all.  There was nothing on the x-rays, but the doctor is concerned about the fact that I have previously had a fracture that wasn't visible on an x-ray, and only diagnosed with an MRI.  He is concerned that maybe my Navicular fracture from 3-1/2 years ago never healed, or that I may have re-broken it or another bone.  I'm wearing a brace for the next 2 weeks, and then a follow-up, which may lead to an MRI, then who knows what.  

When I was on the race course yesterday, I swore that it was my last ever half.  I should have clarified that it was my last half in July, and until I knew what was wrong with my foot/ankle.  See, the thing is, I had my weight loss surgery to get healthy, not to break my body until I couldn't walk in the name of health and fitness.  I truly don't know how I feel about another half right now.  I'm so very proud of what I have accomplished.  I don't hurt at all today, with the exception of my right foot/ankle.  My legs aren't sore and I feel awesome.  I finished my half yesterday, and was able to continue doing the things I wanted to do, I didn't have to go lay in bed because I was so broken.  The biggest deciding factor for me is definitely the physical well-being of my foot and ankle.  Right now, it doesn't look or feel all that good:  

So, let's see what the appointment in 2 weeks holds, and how well the ankle heals.  I'd appreciate any thoughts and prayers you could send my way.  Rachael, Jennifer, Julie, Michelle and Stacey--you ladies made this weekend one of my favorite get-aways EVER!  You are all so much fun, and it was amazing.  I can't do Chicago again next year, but I just KNOW we'll meet up again soon at another race.  Rachael--I'll be cheering you on at MCM in October.  You all inspire me!  


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

WLS, My Reality...and questions about Cosmetic Surgery

I've had this post rolling around in my head for the last month, maybe.  I don't know.  It's a kind of weird, rambly, multi-topic post that may not make much sense.  That is all because I can't even wrap my brain around all the things I am feeling.....

So a few weeks ago, after a run, my 11 year old son pointed out how much smaller my belly was than it used to be.  Then a few days later, as I was wearing my bikini and getting ready to get into the pool, he pointed out that I had a "wiggly tummy".  I was mortified that he felt like that was an OK thing to say to anyone, but then again, I have tried to raise my kids to be open and honest.  After having a very calm conversation about the fact that it isn't OK to say whatever it is that pops into your head, and that while things may be a fact, they can still be hurtful and should be kept to ones self, I felt very conflicted.  Here's why.

I had weight loss surgery so that I could be active and be able to keep up with my 3 amazing kids.  I didn't have it to be skinny, or to look like a model (like that would EVER happen anyway), but to be the healthiest wife and mother I could be.  Now that I've lost 95#, the long list of possible plastic surgeries it would take for my body to look "normal" I started to feel very fake.  I didn't want to lose weight to have the perfect body, but to be healthy, so WHY do I feel the need to undergo additional surgeries to "fix" my body cosmetically?

As I stood in the shower and washed my stomach later that afternoon, I realized that my body tells a story.  It tells of a 40 year struggle with the body that God endowed me with.  It tells of my struggle with obesity, and it shows what having 4 pregnancies can do to a woman's body when she is already obese at the time of conception.  But my body also tells a beautiful story of redemption and hard work.  I'll ignore the obvious argument that I've heard about a million times since telling people of my decision to have Weight Loss Surgery that I "took the easy way out" and the million recommendations I've heard of what I should have done instead.

I took control of the only thing in this life that I truly feel has ever beat me.  I have survived a rape at age 18, I survived a verbally and emotionally abusive marriage, I survived the death of my son, Henry James at 18 weeks gestation, WHY couldn't I get beyond the weight issue?  Why was that the 1 thing I couldn't "beat"?

So now, here I sit, wearing my size 14 Ralph Lauren capris (down from a size 22), my 36DD bra (down from a size 44DDD), having completed a sprint triathlon, a half marathon, getting ready to run my 2nd half marathon this weekend, feeling like I still need to have surgery to "fix" me and make myself acceptable.  So, I'm going to do something I NEVER thought I would do.  I'm going to share some pictures that also help to document my journey in a very real, and scary way.  I bought a "goal bathing suit" the weekend before my WLS nearly 2 years ago with the plan of taking pictures in it along the way to see the progress.  Somewhere along the way, that bikini has been lost, but since I bought a new one last month, I have something to show the comparison, which is quite frankly, shocking to me.  The pictures of now show my flaws too.  My thighs are saggy, my belly button barely visible, the girls aren't where they're supposed to be, but that's why Victoria makes so much $$ for her secret.

I'm not saying I'll never have cosmetic surgery, quite frankly, clothes are often uncomfortable thanks to the belly skin hanging down, and the saggy thigh skin.  I may well have surgery at some point, but it would be more for comfort than for cosmetic purposes.  This body has carried 4 babies, 3 to term...It has allowed me to complete a triathlon, a few 5k's and a half marathon.  It has let me fail to complete 6 half marathons, but I've never given up.  This is the body God gave me, and I'm going to do whatever I can to keep it healthy and thriving.  My body shows battle wounds and scars, it tells a story of hard fought battles; some battles have been won, some are ongoing, and some were lost...but it's MY story, MY body, and at least for today, I'm going to love myself and my body.  For today, I'm going to accept the stretch marks, and saggy skin for what it is, proof of progress toward a goal of health and fitness; besides, is there a "loose skin" factor taken into account for health and fitness?  Me thinks not, so for now, I'll keep mine.

The pictures in the yellow bathing suit were taken on October 4, 2013, just 4 days after my WLS, thus the reason for the large bruises, as those were my incision sites.  The other 2 were in May.  I took the standing one in the Target dressing room, trying to decide whether I should be the girl wearing a bikini who obviously had no reason to be at the beach.  The last was taken by my husband.  I was laying out at the beach, obviously I had decided that I didn't mind being "THAT GIRL" that got the rolled eyes for wearing a suit obviously too small for my body, and he thought I looked hot.  Clearly, Gravity isn't kind, but when I lay down, everything kinda falls into a decent place.  This is when I'm most torn about having cosmetic surgery.  I can see the body I "could have" if I let someone take away the extra skin on my thighs and tummy and stretched the skin more taut.....Ah, the struggles of facing reality.