Weak in the Knee

Early last week, during an intense cardio workout on the treadmill, my left knee twisted and popped. I kept going. I had been diagnosed with Patellofemoral pain syndrome more than a year ago and the treatment was exercise so I rationalized continuing. After getting home, my knee still tender, I thought to myself, “I should take it easy so this doesn’t get worse.”


But the next day I thought to myself, “this knee injury was no big deal a year ago and the prescribed treatment was exercise – I’m going to keep going. I’m going to stay disciplined. I’m going to push through the pain. Don’t wimp out now, Jody!” After all, I have been losing an average of two pounds per week. I’ve moving the needle. I’m dedicated, I’m on a roll. I can’t risk losing that momentum. I pushed through the pain and kept going.

Over the course of the week, I’ve had to shave five minutes here, ten minutes there off of my cardio due to knee pain. I’ve had to lower the leg press machine with one leg, not wanting to bend my left knee to an extreme degree. I’ve sort of nursed the knee, but I pushed through my workouts. Now, more than a week later, the knee is swollen and throbbing. I didn’t sleep last night, unable to get or stay in a comfortable position. Even now, sitting at a desk, I feel the pulsating pain in that knee. I think I screwed up. I am in a situation where I can’t do much of anything in the gym. Even low-impact cardio forces painful bends in the knee.

I find myself saddened. Last night, as I sat on the couch with a bag of frozen peas on my elevated knee, the tears started welling up in my eyes. Who knew I could come to a point of being emotionally devastated by having to stop working out? I used to actively seek out lame excuses to skip the gym (i.e., I forgot my hair tie, I can’t find a decent parking spot.) I have to stay mentally strong now and look for answers and alternatives. I am stocking up on athletic tape. I have ordered a compression knee brace online and paid for expedited shipping. I’m using someone’s ice pack from the office freezer (sorry, coworker). I made the heartbreaking decision to dial back my workouts until this knee recovers, putting all my goals and milestones on hold. I know it’s what I have to do. I know it’s what I should have done in the first place. Swimming. Arm bike. Supersets of upper body and core exercises to get my heart rate up. I have to find alternatives to using my knee that allows me to rest and recover without sacrificing my progress or dedication. I have to adjust my expectations during this time.

These are the challenges we face when we step foot onto this path. That is one of the reasons I wanted to write a blog as I lost weight and transformed, not just after I’d already taken the journey and reflected back. I believe these are important lessons and trials that most people face. This injury may have left me weak in the knee, but it will also make me strong in the spirit – in the heart, the mind. I limp along on my journey, exercising and strengthening my spirit as my body rests. I try to stay positive, I try to find the lesson I must learn from this injury. 

New Day, New Gym, New Beginning

I may have romanticized my gym time in the past. I had these lovely little memories of walking on the treadmill, sweat cutting white rivulets through my makeup, a nightclub DJ’s best songs pounding in my ears, a view of Harrah’s Casino and Canal Street looming over my right shoulder as I plodded away for 30-45 minutes per night. Those memories seemed sweet and sweetly distant. That was six years ago.

Over the weekend, I went to check out City Sports Club – a mega gym just 6 minutes from my office. When I learned of the gym from a coworker, I was astounded. How did a gym less than two miles from work escape my attention? My only explanation is that I wasn’t looking for a gym because I already had a membership (and unbreakable contract) with Anytime Fitness. Regardless, I started toying with the idea. I started reading online reviews, started talking the idea over with David. Would joining a second gym really be so crazy if I actually got some use out of it? Those who have been following my blog know my challenges. Anytime Fitness was great when I was working from home, but it was a frustrating and deterrent 45-minute drive in post-work commute traffic. Working out in the mornings wasn’t an option with my schedule so I made the best of the situation by making a home gym with a TRX and used rowing machine.

Working out at home wasn’t bad. It was extremely convenient in a lot of ways and it gave me a chance to work out with David and make it a bonding experience. But home workouts aren’t perfect. It’s very easy to get distracted (I mean, come on… the couch is right there!) Also, the cardio aspect of my workouts remained anemic as the budget rowing machine I found was noisy, clunky and discouragingly uncomfortable. Above all; however, I just missed the gym. I missed having that time when the workday disappeared and my mind was blank of everything but my workout. I missed the intensity afforded by the gym. I missed having a place that was just for working out, the focus that a designated exercise facility provided. After maybe a week of mulling it over, David and I drove over to City Sports Club on Saturday morning to investigate.

To say we were impressed is putting it mildly. I have belonged to nothing but small gyms – clean and convenient but not especially well-appointed. City Sports Club is massive and includes racquetball and basketball courts, group fitness and spin classes, a heated indoor swimming pool, separate men’s and women’s saunas and whirlpool spas, a large free weights area and row after row of treadmills, elliptical trainers, stair climbers, exercise bikes and weight lifting machines. And all this could be mine for just $24.99/month. Needless to say, I signed up on the spot and had been excited to resume gym workouts since Saturday.


Last night was my first workout. About 15 minutes into my 30-minute cardio session with sweat cutting white rivulets through my makeup, a nightclub DJ’s best songs pounding in my ears and a view of seemingly endless treadmills vanishing into the horizon over my right shoulder, I realized I may have romanticized my gym time in the past. This is hard! I was tired, achy, sweaty, breathing through my mouth to the point of panting (although, much to my surprise and delight, I didn’t have a single pop of my knee). As hard as it felt to push myself through those 30 minutes, resisting the urge to reduce the time or speed or incline, it was a delicious feeling to finish my workout. This morning, gym bag waiting in the car for day two, the memory of last night is sweet.

I feel this is a new beginning for me. This time, I am not trying to inspire anyone. I am not trying to prove anything. I am not focusing on how much weight I have lost. I am starting fresh, starting the way I started six years ago – hopeful but unproven, excited but slightly skeptical, standing on square one. Gone is the arrogance I was feeling at having lost (at one point) more than 100 pounds, the hubris of thinking I’m a success story when my story is as much about failure as it is about success, the braggadocio of believing I have all the answers and know what I’m doing. I have been humbled by the challenges of this journey, put in my place. I am a beginner again like so many other people. And that’s fine, that’s good because what is each new day but a chance for a new beginning? There’s no shame in starting over, no matter how many times you have to start over. Just do it – seize the opportunity to begin anew and see where it takes you.

Take That and Rewind It Back

It started as a half-buried memory. I couldn’t remember the song title or artist, couldn’t remember a single lyric. I only remembered liking the song, remembered a sort of Bollywood tinge to it, remembered hearing it when the Go-Go Dancers writhed on the sky-high platform around the glowing light tower in the center of the nightclub and, mostly, I remembered pushing myself until the sweat dripped from the tip of my nose and speckled the treadmill belt speeding beneath me while the song reverberated from my headphones all the way to my feet five nights a week. Those were the days I was most dedicated, those were the days I never made excuses, those were the days the weight fell off me like shackles. It started driving me nuts… what was that song? A quick text to an old friend and I was soon listening to at my desk. It was “Tambourine” by Eve and its tick-tock-tick rhythm was a time machine. Eve led to Rhianna then to Usher and Flo Rida and I was transported back to those late nights at the gym and to the time when my focus was singular and unshakable.


In the interest of full disclosure, I will admit that this was never the type of music I had liked in the past. But my time in New Orleans was peppered with new things – I tried on trends, new versions of “me” like they were cheap Mardi Gras masks in a Decatur Street gift shop. Soon, my 80’s synth-pop and hair band playlists went into cold storage and Thompson Twins was replaced by Trey Songz; Nikki Six was replaced by Nicki Minaj. It was fun – the songs were up tempo and inspired some truly ass-kicking workouts. I’d go to the club Saturday night with friends and download new songs on Sunday for my Monday workout.

Regardless of how I got into this music, it is inextricably linked to what I consider the halcyon days of my transformation. Listening to it this week stirred something in me, something more than a memory. Something like a desire. I wasn’t just remember things I did – I was recalling with vivid detail how I felt, a mood not just a story. I have been missing those days as I so often do, thinking about them and wondering if reloading those old songs into my phone might be the spark I need to relight that fire. My depression seems to be receding and a quiet little urge to feel that belt moving beneath me again, to feel the thin foam of weight machine handles in my palms has risen. The dedication I had in those days have eluded me for years. My life was very different then – nobody was waiting for me at home, the trip to the gym required only a 7-floor elevator ride, I was seeing the kind of drastic results that make the lifestyle something akin to perpetual motion with each workout and each pound lost pushing me full-force into the next. While I don’t miss the job that put me in the same building as the gym and I certainly don’t miss having nobody waiting for me at home, I do miss that level of unflappable commitment. I guess after all the back-and-forth, all the on again/off again, all the quits and restarts and quits there is still a little fight left in me. However small, an ember of that fire still glows in me, waiting for me to feed it and reignite the blaze.

Shhh… Don’t Frighten it Off!

I haven’t wanted to post anything this week for fear of jinxing myself. My mojo is fragile, I don’t want to make any sudden moves, any loud noises and scare it off.

I had a good week last week – I met all the goals I’d set for myself. I started my new workout sessions with 10 minutes of rowing warm-up on Wednesday & Friday (sadly, I had to skip Monday’s workout with a strained back). I kept moving between sets to keep the intensity and my heart rate up. I hit the gym for exhausting cardio sessions on Tuesday and Thursday. I stuck to my meal plan and opted for pre-planned healthy meals over the weekend. My efforts paid off with a win on the scale. But I don’t want to jinx it, don’t want to say I have my mojo back, that I’ve defeated my funk. I was dripping sweat last night as we worked out – the signs are good and I am optimistic.


203.8 (3.4 pounds lost this week, 11.2 pounds lost total)

Sweat Equity

“I’m not breaking a sweat,” he said Sunday as we sat on the couch, talking about what adjustments we wanted to make to our workout plans moving forward. We had finished the TRX 8-Week Program and, while there were things we loved about it, there were things we felt could be improved upon. David was absolutely right in that intensity was an issue that would need to be looked at as neither of us were experiencing much muscle failure and getting that “you just got hit by a truck” feeling when finishing up a workout. After an hour in the workout room, you kind of need to feel a bit like you’ve had your ass kicked – otherwise, you question whether you’re doing it right.

So, with things like duration, intensity and muscle failure in mind and his words ringing in my ears… “I’m not breaking a sweat”… I sat down yesterday to come up with a new, improved 8-week program for us. We need to put in the effort, no matter how hard, in order to get results and I am starting the week motivated and excited for a fresh, new program. In coming up with a new workout plan, a few things were key.

1. I need more cardio and more intense cardio. My workouts in the past, the ones most effective in achieving weight loss, involved three days of conditioning with some cardio and two days of just full-tilt, intensive cardio sessions. I decided I needed to find a way to go back to that.

2. We can’t schedule workouts for weekends. We just won’t workout with any regularity on weekends. Our weekends are our time to enjoy time off from work, relax, run errands, etc. and workouts consistently got shelved. They say the best workout is the one you do and you have to be realistic about what you will and will not do. Rather than miss workouts, it is far better simply to schedule rest days for those days.

3. Workouts need to be varied, both to stave off boredom and to keep muscles confused. They have to be challenging but not impossible so I have to take into consideration each of our physical limitations.

With these things in mind, I put on my “personal trainer” hat and went to work. I scoured the internet, looking at workout plans on reputable websites and got ideas. I nailed down what muscle groups will be target each day, then got out my deck of TRX exercise cards and started matching muscle groups to workout days. For each day/muscle group I came up with a Workout A and Workout B, which can be alternated each week for variety and muscle confusion. I organized each workout day to keep the intensity up, keep us moving. After a few hours of research and organization, I was pretty proud of what I’d come up with, I gave it a name I’d hoped would prove true: “Workouts to Kick Our Asses.” But would it stand up to the “Sweat Test?”


Eight Week Workout Program to Kick Our Asses

David had to test Monday’s Workout A with me in a motivational/supervisory capacity as I’m nursing a strained back. It was a fun experience for me to continue playing “trainer” for the night but it was also helpful as it gave me a chance to observe the workout in action from an objective standpoint. David powered his way through Pistol Squats, Crossover Lunges and Hamstring Curls. It wasn’t long before I saw it… the first drop of sweat beaded on his forehead. As he lied down on the exercise matt for Marching Bridge, smearing sweat across the floor, his hairline damp and his legs slick with sweat, he had the look of a kicked dog in his eye and I knew I’d done good. Workout A was a success and, given that I’d planned each workout with the same considerations in mind, I am confident that these workouts will, indeed, kick our asses – kick them into shape!

Recalculating Route

We don’t get lost too often these days. Most of us are endowed with some sort of handy GPS gizmo, either on our smart phones or in our cars, which help us to seamlessly navigate even the most remote parts of our worlds. Take a wrong turn or miss an off-ramp? No problem. A helpful voice, well-meaning but often with dubious pronunciation skills, will chime in and reassure you: “Recalculating Route.” Before you know it, you are back on track. If we ever thought there was only one way to get between Point A and Point B, our GPS navigation has dispelled this myth. In fact, there can be dozens of ways to get where we want and, quite often, you can chose between the fastest, the shortest or the way with the least tolls. It had never occurred to me to apply this knowledge gleaned from everyday technology to other facets of my life until I read “The Struggle Is Real: Finally Break the Dieting Cycle, Transform Your Mind & Body, and Evolve Into The Person You Have Always Wanted To Be” by Karol Brandt and Robby D’Angelo, in which the authors use this exact metaphor for navigating the missed turns and roadblocks that arise in our lives.

Life loves to monkey with our plans – this much I know to be true. We set a goal, we create a roadmap for how to achieve it then life steps in like three year old with a jumbo box of Crayolas and makes an indecipherable mess of our carefully laid-out map. So often in my life, when obstacles arose, I would throw my hands up and say to myself, “well, this is impossible.” I became so focused on the route that I lost sight of what really mattered: the destination. When going to the gym became difficult or inconvenient, when the way I shopped and cooked changed, whenever any aspect of my pathway to achieving my fitness goals was altered by circumstance, I suddenly believed my goals were unreachable. These setbacks always seemed like legitimate “reasons” for why I couldn’t work toward my goals. But when you think of those words… recalculating route… you realize your “reasons” are just more excuses. They are ALL excuses. We have all seen the stories of runners with prothetic legs completing marathons, athletes confined to wheelchairs dominating at court sports, etc. and if they teach us nothing else, they teach us that all your reasons are excuses. You simply need to recalculate your route. The route is inconsequential; finding your way and getting to the destination is everything!

I have been struggling lately to meet my weekly weight loss goals. When I stepped back and objectively looked at what was going on, what were the possible culprits in hindering my progress, I realized that one of the major things missing was consistent, vigorous cardio workouts. Because getting to the gym for workouts in Bay Area traffic was eating up all my time and becoming a hassle, I solved the problem by creating a home gym (recalculating route), installing the TRX and stocking up on equipment like a kettle bell, medicine ball, core ball and dumbbells. Initially, I planned on running for my cardiovascular workouts but my fitness level is not where it was when I was running daily making it brutal on my joints (for now). I have been walking on my lunch break and sneaking into the gym on the occasional Saturday morning for treadmill time but, obviously, that hasn’t been enough. So earlier this week, I thought to myself, “there is another way to get from Point A to Point B… recalculate the route.” Then, yesterday, it hit me like a bolt of lightening. Most cardio equipment (treadmills, elliptical trainers, stair trainers, etc.) are huge, heavy and expensive pieces of equipment and; therefor, out of the question for our small home gym space… but a rower? A rower can be compact and lightweight. A rower can torch calories while working your arms, legs and core in an easy, fluid, non-impact motion. I took to Craigslist and a few hours later, we were picking up my new hardly used basic rower for the home gym. I knew from experience and from the testimonials of others in “The Struggle is Real” that there absolutely would be a way for me to get where I needed to go.

My gently used rower: the newest addition to my home gym.

So what are your reasons (excuses) for not moving towards your dreams and goals? What are the obstacles that seem to be standing in your way and, more importantly, how can you maneuver around them? Think about where you are, think about where you want to be, visualize the two points in your mind as a map with highways and city streets and ask yourself “how do I get there?” Recalculate route.

Preparation Nation

Preparation. I am in the preparation stage. That is what I have been telling myself in an attempt to pacify the anxiousness and frustration I’ve been feeling at delaying the start of my next push towards transformation. A couple spur-of-the-moment trips (and one previously planned one) have waylaid my best-laid plans. I have known for a while that these travel arrangement would create a problem for my goals and had, from the beginning, planned on starting over when I the travel was behind me. I decided not to try to start now, instead I would use this time to prepare and, ultimately, help to set myself up for success when the time came.

Preparation Step One: Fitness. The gym has been an issue since I went back to work. Don’t get me wrong, I like my gym here – it is clean, well-equipped, staffed with great people and only a 15-minute drive from the house. Unfortunately, it is 15 minutes in the opposite direction of work. Now getting to the gym is a struggle. First I tried going early in the morning but found getting up at 4:30am was impractical. Then I tried going straight from work in the evenings; enter Silicon Valley traffic. What should be a 30ish minute drive from the office to the gym (already a bit too far) can take upwards of an hour in evening commute traffic. That’s when I started toying with the idea of a home gym. After doing some online research and reconnecting with my personal trainer from New Orleans, I decided that the TRX home suspension training was the way to go. David and I set to work, playing “find the ceiling stud” and converting a scarcely used addition at the back of the house to a workout space.


Preparation Step Two: Nutrition. Learning to cook for two shouldn’t have been a challenge, but I managed to make it one. I fell into the trap I have so often cautioned people asking me for advice about; I was trying to turn every meal into a culinary pyrotechnic event. I need to stress that David has never expected me to churn out a four-star meal every night. He’d be perfectly happy with Amy’s soup and a handful of crackers. The problem has been my love for cooking to make people happy and, for the past year, that’s what I have been doing. We have been indulging in lasagna, pizza, mac n’ cheese, Kung Pao tofu and chow mein, pancakes and waffles, lemon bars and scones. I won’t lie, it has been fun – fun to make and fun to eat. At this point; however, I think we’re both sort of over it. I find myself bristling at the idea of a heavy meal, craving lighter and more natural options.

Meal planning and prep has been the single most essential aspect of my past success, ensuring I meet my nutritional goals for calories, macro and micronutrients. On a recent trip to the Vitamin Shoppe, we discovered some new-to-me options including protein-fortified almond milk, nut butters and even all-natural cookies. Using some of these newly discovered ingredients, I have spent the past week plugging recipe and meal options into MyFitnessPal, gearing up for meal planning. Now I am excited to introduce David to this style of eating and he is excited to try it.


Preparation Step Three: Mental Attitude. This one is harder to prepare for. Initially, after posting my last blog, I was motivated and ready to begin. Unfortunately, the holding pattern I have found myself in as we travel – currently we are on a five-day at-home layover between trips to Seattle and Germany – has seen my enthusiasm wane. That is why I decided to blog today, to keep my goals in the forefront of my mind. My grand plans to start the intense TRX 8-Week Training Program and my nutrient-dense 1350-calorie meal plan seem distant and unreachable. When can I start? I have been chomping at the bit! Knowing that I can’t begin the way I want to – uninterrupted and undeterred – until all our travel plans are behind us on May 9 makes it difficult to get and stay inspired. For now, this is my struggle; this is the challenge. The fact is, this is life and life throws all sorts of obstacles, foreseen and unforeseen, in our way. How we navigate these challenges can determine our success. The challenge before me now is finding the mental fortitude within myself to keep my determination, to remain as excited and eager as I was a week and a half ago, to remember what I want and why I want it. I guess there really is no preparing for that.

The Devil in His Eye

When a personal trainer looks at you with the devil in his eye, you know you’re in for it – in the best possible way. I met with my new personal trainer, Abe, for the first time Tuesday. When I initially joined a gym years ago – a different gym from where I now work out – I had three complimentary training sessions with Cliff, the owner, to get me started. Cliff launched my fitness journey with a workout routine to meet my needs at that time, including a combination of cardiovascular exercise on cardio machines as well as a full-body weight lifting/conditioning routine using the weight lifting machines. Kudos to Cliff as that workout has taken me far; however, as I am apt to do, I have gotten very comfortable with this routine. My weight loss has tapered off and I have started questioning my workout’s effectiveness. Add to that my boredom with this stagnant plan and I felt it was time to make a change. Enter Abe.

I first spoke to Abe a few weeks ago, inquiring about my gym’s personal training packages. As we talked about my goals I discovered he has lost 113 pounds. I knew in that moment my search was over – this was my guy! He has made this journey and finished it, he knows what it takes to get through the difficult last leg and he knows how to maintain and improve physical fitness beyond weight loss. I took his card home with me that night, excited at my luck in finding the perfect trainer. Of course, I may eat these words later if I find myself hunched over a puke bucket in the back corner of Snap Fitness. Nonetheless, I met again with Abe this week for my pre-training fitness assessment.

The assessment itself ranged from pedestrian to agonizing. I answered dozens of questions about my medical and fitness history, was weighed, had my body parts measured, my blood pressure taken and my body fat percentage assessed. Next up was the Vo2 max stress test – an aerobic capacity test on a stationary bike to determine my rate of oxygen consumption. After pedaling, leisurely in the beginning and furiously right up to the end, my score put me above average for my age and gender and impressed Abe. Evidently no client of his has ever scored higher or pedaled longer than me. The next test was flexibility – did pretty well there. Then, strength, where I bench pressed 85 pounds or just over 46% of my body weight; followed by sit-ups. Oh, the sit-ups! After doing only 13 in 30 seconds, half of which shouldn’t have counted based on my form, I was acutely aware how much my old workout has neglected my core. Now we have established my baseline and can concisely track my progress from here on out.

I have high hopes for my personal training. I will have three half-hour sessions with Abe, during which he will teach me a range of exercises for me to incorporate in exciting and diverse new workouts. I know I need increased intensity, I need muscle confusion and I need complex movements to get the most effective workout from each exercise. I am anxious to work more off the machines, finally incorporating free weights, kettle bells, balance balls and the jump box – all of which are as exciting as they are daunting. More than being physically pushed to my limits, I need to feel challenged and reinvigorated. I need to walk into and, especially, out of that gym each night feeling like a badass. I need not to be handled with kid gloves, but, rather, to learn to find my current limitations and discover how to relentlessly plow through them. The first few years of my gym journey have been rewarding – I have lost over 100 pounds and greatly improved my health. But this next stage dawning is about transforming into the athlete I want to become: lean and muscular, a powerhouse of strength and endurance. I want to pin my own “she squats, bro” glutes photo onto my Pinterest fitness inspiration board.

As Abe was filling out my paperwork and he stopped to let me know I will need a physician’s note allowing me to do training he did so with a mischievous look in his eye. He said, smirking as if this were the moment half his clientele shivered in fear, “this isn’t going to be like what you are doing now – this is going to be intense.” In response, I “saw” his smirk and “raised” him a canary-eating toothy cat grin and replied, “Bring It.”

Run for Your Life

Running is often used as a metaphor for life. It is a metaphor for struggling to overcome obstacles, for digging deep and achieving goals, for perseverance through pain, going the distance. In so many ways, running is far more profound than just putting one foot in front of the other. For every runner, there is a runner’s story and this is mine.

Running was always something I simply could not do. At my heaviest, I could barely walk the length of the shopping mall without swollen ankles and sore feet. Over time, running became the symbol of all the things I “couldn’t” and would never do because of my weight – it represented all my limitations, perceived and actual. The only time running ever entered into my vocabulary was when I would make some insulting fat joke at my own expense: “I only run when chasing the ice cream man.” I would solve world hunger, climb Mt. Everest, find Jimmy Hoffa’s body before I would be able to run. Large, lumbering with a waddling gate, I would have been embarrassed for anyone to see me even try. Yet, as I started to lose weight, I started to feel a tiny flicker — an inkling.

Sitting on my front lawn each year, cocktail and sugary pastry in hand and mired in my unhealthy lifestyle, I watched everyone from elite Kenyan runners to costumed walkers towing ice coolers in red wagons participate in New Orleans’ Crescent City Classic 10k and, in 2009, I thought “someday, I’d like to do that.” So I tried running a few times at a local park, each attempt ending in less than 500 yards and always with me hunched forward, hands on knees, chest heaving, breathing through my mouth, stomach threatening to dislodge my breakfast smoothie into the bushes, discouraged and, again, convinced I couldn’t run. But something in me wouldn’t give up. On an early morning in July 2010, after losing about 55 pounds, I decided to try again. Nervous and jittery, I walked to the park. At the head of the trail, I took a deep breath, put my head down and started running – nice easy pace, watching my own shadow and counting my steps per inhale/per exhale until I zoned out. After a while, I finally looked up from the path and spotted my starting point directly across the lake. I had run halfway around – much father than ever before. Even more amazing, I felt great. I had plenty of gas in the tank to keep going so, I put my head back down and did just that. That Saturday I ran all the way around Big Lake at City Park – three-quarters of a mile. It wasn’t a long run, it certainly wasn’t a fast run; however, when I finished that loop I broke down in tears. Everything had changed. Everything. What was once impossible was suddenly possible and so was everything else. In that moment the switch flipped and running became the symbol of the fact that I could do anything I set my mind to.

I have been running regularly since that day, amassing a collection of t-shirts, medals and personal records. In April 2011 I did what I said I’d do and ran/walked in the Crescent City Classic. In fact, I have participated in that race every year since, setting a huge personal record this past April by running the entire thing. Sure, running is hard and most people think I’m a little crazy – especially when I skip driving and show up to events decked out in running shoes and a few layers of sweat. I freely call myself a runner, despite the fact that some enthusiasts (snobs) would call someone moving at my pace a jogger. I spend more money on running shoes than any other pair of shoes in my closet. I pin inspirational running quotes to my Pinterest board. I keep an extensive calendar of local charity runs on my computer. I get positively giddy at the Crescent City Classic Health & Fitness Expo, shopping for no-slip headbands and Thorlos running socks with my people. I have great runs that make me want to run again tomorrow and the day after. I have difficult runs that leave me wanting to set my running shoes on fire. I have finished races in tears of joy as well as tears of disappointment. All that, I believe, is to be expected – these are the challenges of running and these are the ways running truly is a metaphor for life. Regardless of those ups and downs, I owe the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other for blowing the doors open to possibilities. Running, and all the things I believed were out of reach for me, became reachable in just three-quarters of a mile, just 15 minutes. Which begs the question… which 15 minutes will change your life?

About to cross the finish line of the 2014 Crescent City Classic!
About to cross the finish line of the 2014 Crescent City Classic!