The real struggle...

I'm struggling with the taper portion of my training. I'm frustrated that I cannot run more. I'm struggling to keep a smile on my face while reducing my mileage. Last night I was even having a hard time falling asleep, I kept thinking about the struggle that running 26.2 miles is going to be. Then I started thinking about the last two years and I realized that really is a relatively small struggle in the big picture. After Thinking about that for a few minutes I fell right asleep and had a very restful night. I woke up wanting to share the real struggle with you all, so this post is not about a run or about training for the Napa Valley Marathon; it's about how I got here in the first place.

Growing up I was the guy that everyone hated when it came to weight, especially the girls. In high school the girls worried that every french fry they ate would immediate show up on their thighs, while I could eat two Super Sized McDonald's Value Meals in one sitting, be hungry again an hour later and NEVER gain an ounce from it. Looking back I hate myself for that a little too. I learned VERY bad eating habits because I thought that just being thin meant I was healthy and eating that way was fine. After a few years in my twenties the weight started to build on. It happened so gradually that I rarely really noticed at all until it was just too late. I graduated high school in 1996 at 145 lbs, by sping of 2008 I was basically the same height but 220 lbs. In May of 2008 I started a degree completion program at Baker University, I had finally realized it was time to start trying to improve myself. I still wasn't thinking seriously about weight loss, I was thinking about finishing my degree. About eight months into the year and a half program I needed to start my elective credits I needed to make up. I decided to do something I've always talked about but never had the guts to do, I signed up for a Karate class at Johnson County Community College. It was a first step towards my fitness journey and I didn't even realize it at the time. I thought I'd take one semester of it to get the credit and get the idea of learning Karate out of my system and that would be it. The style of Karate that is taught there is called Bushidokan and focuses a lot on flexibility and fitness. TONS of stretching, push ups, sit ups, squats, curcuit training, etc. It was hard because I was so out of shape, but I loved it and I wanted to stick with it. For the summer I decided that I'd get another credit by taking an online running class. I HATED running, no interest at all. I thought that maybe it would help me get into better shape for Karate. I was doing the Couch To 5k plan (CoolRunning.com C2-5K) and as a requirement for the class we were required to sign up for a 5k race. I signed up for the KC Bike & Foot Chase for late July '09. I didn't do all of the training I supposed to because I truely hated running, then the race came and I was far from ready. I don't count it as my first 5k because not only was I not prepared, about three quarters of a mile into it I hurt my knee and walked the rest of it. I was done with running, just not worth it to me. Another really frustrating thing was the fact that I hadn't lost any weight. Granted, I was exercising more, but I was eating just as bad so I was basically staying the same weight. A few months later, in September of '09 I finished my classes at Baker and I decided it was time to really get my fitness under control. At the beginning of November I joined 24 Hour Fitness, I was still in Karate class, I was playing flag football every Saturday and I tried to take up running again. I thought maybe without school in the way I would like it better. Nope, still hated running. This time I kept at it though. In April of 2010 I ran the 5k associated with the Olathe Marathon. This is the one that I consider my first 5k because I actually took it seriously and didn't walk almost the entire thing like the last one. I completed it in 32:31 which I considered completely amazing for my first! I ran a total of four 5k's in 2010 improving my PR each time. My last one, and current PR, was 25:01. In September I decided it was time to step out on a limb and REALLY push myself to something I thought impossible. I'd lost over 45 lbs, I was flexibile, strong, had passed several promotinon tests in Karate and I wanted to keep pushing myself. I signed up for the Gobbler Grind Half Marathon for November 21st. I thought at the time that a half marathon was not possible for me, but I wanted to try anyway. I trained using the Smart Coach on RunnersWorld.com. Training went very well and come race day I felt strong and ready. I completed it in 2:05:29 and felt great. I was so excited about completing it that I wanted to run to celebrate!! If a half marathon was possible, why not a full marathon? I decided to take the advice of several people to go some place special out of town to run my first. I decided on the Country Music Marathon in Nashville on April 30th. That would give me some time to relax after the half then do a full 16 weeks of training to get ready. In December my wife and I came across an article in Runner's World of the 10 best marathons for first timers (New Year New You: A 1st to Remember). On the list was the Napa Valley Marathon March 6th. It was a little sooner that I had hoped for, but we have talked about going back to Napa ever since our honeymoon in June of '04 and that is simply a gorgeous place so it sounded perfect. I talked to my mother-in-law and my parents and we all decided to go. My dad will be an observer, but my wife, mother-in-law and mom will be running the 5k while I run the marathon. Training, as you know through this blog, has had it's ups and downs, but overall it's been good. I'm now on the taper portion of the training, so it's almost time to get to it! It's been a huge struggle to get as far as I've come, having come through all of that how hard could it really be to make it through a couple taper weeks and a 26.2 mile run? I know I'll get it done and do well and I'm ready to face these last couple weeks of training.

Revisiting this journey has helped my mental state for sure. I'm ready to become a marathoner. For those of you that took the time to ready this entire post, my appologies for taking so long!

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