Yesterday I briefly mentioned how uncomfortable it is to weigh as much as I do right now, and I mentioned how much easier certain things would be if I were smaller. I’m really looking forward to proving myself right about that over the next 12 months. My journey to a healthy weight will be much longer than that, but my goal is to participate in the same race I did over the weekend again next year.
Saturday morning I woke up at 5:30 am, and I did a little cleaning, showered and prepared for the 5k that my boyfriend, his brother and I were doing later that morning.
When Michael arrived at my place we walked to the Superdome, and I kept a pretty good pace getting there. We had walked about a mile in total before the race began, and we started in wave 19. (There were people who had finished he 5k before we even started.)
When we crossed the starting line we walked down the same street we had just walked to get to the race, then we continued into the French Quarter. I live two blocks from the Quarter, and I love to walk through it early in the morning. It was beautiful, but it was already sweltering too.
As I made it to the halfway mark I was sweating my guts out, but my heart rate was fine. I felt good, but I soon realized that I would be the last person to finish the race.
Michael refused to run ahead of me even though he could have completed the race a few times in the amount of time it took me to finish, and at that point I was glad he was there. I knew I was going to be last, but I also knew I had to finish.
I didn’t talk, and I didn’t stop to take in the scenery. I just walked. At that moment I had to face the reality that the weight I’m carrying was weighing me down. Most of the time I don’t notice. I mean, I’m always aware of my weight, but I don’t think about it often. I walk slower and make stops more frequently, and for years I’ve oscillated between trying to lose it and just dealing with it.
It was important for me to get the medal at the end of this race. It looked cool, but the closer I got to the Superdome the more I wanted to be on the 50-yard line. I wanted the medal at the end too because it would become a daily reminder that I can do hard things, and I figured as long as the police escort was behind me I’d make it to the finish line (and get the medal.)
The second half of the race was quiet, but as I approached the Superdome I got discouraged. My body felt fine, but I had blisters. I wanted to cry as I saw droves of people walking out wearing their medals, but I never once considered not finishing.
In the last mile I told myself that we could just take an Uber home even though it wasn’t far at all. I told Michael too, and he said we could do whatever I wanted to do. He also encouraged me, of course, which made my want to cry tears of joy too.
Seriously, God gave me exactly the kind of man I dreamed of being with, and He placed him in my life at precisely the right time. These are the things that got me through the last mile of my short, yet blister-inducing race.
As we walked around the Superdome the last few hundred yards felt nearly impossible, but people cheered me along as they walked out. I stopped a few times for a few seconds, and Michael lovingly reminded me that I could do it and that I wasn’t quitting.
When I finally entered the Superdome the air conditioner made me feel like I had just reached
heaven. At that point I said, “Go run the last 40 yards. I need to do this by myself,” and after some convincing he ran. The jerk wasn’t even sweating. Ha
I tried to make myself rally, but I didn’t run at all. I simply walked the last 40 yards, just as I had walked the rest of the race, and when I crossed the finish line Michael was waiting there to place my medal around my neck.
That was an amazing moment for me. I felt tired, my feet hurt from the blisters, but I felt proud too. As I saw myself on the Jumbotron I heard that announcers talking about me as I finished, and there were people cheering for me as I crossed. It was a good moment, but all I could think about was how thankful I was that Jesus gave me strength to finish and that Michael never left my side except when he ran ahead to get water for me. He even held it, so I could just drink it as I needed it.
After I downed the Gatorade that Michael got for me I realized that he and his brother weren’t wearing medals. Apparently, there were people going up and getting multiple medals when they finished, so his brother got one for me because he knew how much it would mean to me to receive it. Michael is awesome, and his entire family is just as wonderful. They could have gotten in line and had medals mailed to them later, but it didn’t matter to them. They just wanted me to have mine, and I got it thanks to his big bro.
If I had known how challenging this race would be for me I would have made excuses to not do it, so I’m glad I didn’t know. Michael and I walk around the same path often, but we stop to look at pretty things and often walk through the Riverwalk Outlet Mall so I can cool off.
I wore my new sneakers too, which were largely responsible for the blisters. (Rookie mistake, I guess,) but I felt tired after the 4.75 miles of walking I did, including the race. I can definitely walk that far without feeling achy or needing to stop, which makes me feel good about my body. It was also much harder than it needed to be because of the extra weight I’m carrying.
It feels so good to know that I completed the race and that I’m loved by a man who understands exactly where I am. (He used to weigh 140 pounds more than he does now.) It also felt good to know that his brother grabbed the medal because he knew how much it would mean to me.
I wouldn’t have done this race if Michael hadn’t asked me to and signed us up for it before I had a chance to say no. I’m so glad he signed me up for it, and I’m already looking forward to doing the same race next year.
I’ve wanted to do it every year since I lived here, and now I can say I did it! The medal and my blisters are both reminders that I can accomplish things even when they’re not easy, and I need that reminder right now more than ever.