Monday, February 11, 2013

F&FiF: Let's All Run with Kelly

To celebrate us all getting Fit and Fab in February, I'm really excited to get to bring you a series of guest posts from some spectacular folks! This week, our post is from one of my real-life besties and all-around awesome chick, Kelly.
Kelly (in red) and Alissa (angelic as always in white), 2005
 Hi, I’m Kelly, also known as Kelly the Culinarian. Alissa and I go way back to a time where we wore pajamas for 24-hour stretches at least once a week, ate fried chicken fingers with ranch and “fruit” smoothies regularly and thought taco salad day at the faculty cafeteria was the greatest thing ever. Back then, if I went to the gym for a Pilates class, it was promptly followed up with Taco Bell, because I earned it, damn it. And if you ever saw me running, you should run, too, because that mobile meth lab in our apartment parking lot was surely about to blow. 

Two good lookin' ladies, 2008
The summer before our senior year, in which Alissa and I spent 80 percent of our time within 100 feet of one another thanks to both working and living together, I got myself pretty tiny. I’m actually not entirely positive how that happened. I think it was a combination of interning all summer by myself, not being old enough to drink yet and working out for amusement.  I more or less maintained this in grad school because when I lived in Washington, D.C., I walked everywhere.  I was pretty trim for Alissa’s wedding, despite not having a gym membership.
I was never active as a kid and didn’t play sports, so it never occurred to me to workout for fun. I had a membership to a ladies-only gym during my first post-school job, but it wasn’t rigorous enough for me to even sweat, so it didn’t do much for me. I was larger than I had been in school, but I kept it under control until after I got married. The pounds started to add on after that thanks to a lack of activity and crappy eating habits.
I went to Australia for work, which was my turning point. No one there was fluffy like I was. A dress I packed to wear for a night out that I wore in college didn’t fit, either. When I got home, I signed up for and lost four pounds the first week. I lost weight by eating better and using the elliptical in our basement that was gathering dust. A month or two later, I signed up for a 5K without having ever run. Like ever. It’s what people were doing on SparkPeople, so it seemed the next logical step. Plus, I had hit a plateau and was looking for a solution.
When I started training, a term I use loosely, I realized I was in over my head. The first time I ran, I didn’t go far. I looked for places that I could call my husband from to come and pick me up. It took me longer to talk myself into going for a run than it did to complete the run.
When race day came around, I was nervous. The furthest I had gone was a little more than two miles. I asked my husband on the way to the race if anyone had ever died doing a 5K. He assured me they hadn’t.
It took me 34 minutes of huffing and puffing to finish that race. I thought, “Meh. I don’t really get the charm of this whole thing.”
Eventually, something started to change in me. I felt like I wanted to go out for a run. It felt nice to enjoy a brisk morning jog before breakfast. It was invigorating to end the day with a whirl around the block. It was downright empowering to see my times decrease and my mileage increase. I started to try longer distances. My husband and I signed up for a five mile race, then a 10K. I decided to take it further and set my sights on a half marathon. Even as I trained all summer long to cover 13.1 miles, I remember telling my coworkers I could never do a marathon. Who wants to do that much damage to themselves?
Running like a champ

It was only after I finished a half marathon that I started identifying myself as a runner. I may not be fast and I rarely win anything, but running has become part of me. It has taught me to challenge myself in new ways. Running also opened up a door to a whole set of friends and supporters I didn’t know I had. It’s quite difficult to make friends as an adult, especially without children, and running helps bridge that divide.
To date, I’ve completed two marathons, a sprint triathlon and several other distances. I’m working toward completing an Ironman triathlon in 2014. But I’m quick to point out that there’s nothing special about what I do. There’s no secret or magic formula. It just takes a training plan, time and the motivation to get out the door to accomplish any distance. That’s why running is the perfect metaphor for life: You get out of it what you put into it.

Kelly has been blogging about her food, recipes, bargains and adventures since 2007 at Kelly the Culinarian. She’s a social media and PR guru living in the suburbs of Chicago with her husband and bossy Yorkie.

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