How exciting! My official blog post for the Cleveland ½ Marathon. WOW, just typing those words sends shivers down my spine. You see never in a million years would I have envisioned myself a runner, better yet someone that has a goal of completing a ½ marathon….that’s 13.1 MILES, am I insane? You might wonder why I am making such a big deal out of this; well you see 2 years ago I weighed over 300lbs (I would tell you the exact amount, but I don’t’ think I am quite comfortable sharing that amount with a group of strangers, I am close to that point but not there yet).
Yep here it is, my before picture. This person really doesn’t look like a runner, better yet someone that is training for and soon will be completing a ½ marathon.
Well, it’s been almost two years since I started this journey and I’d like to yell from the roof tops, I JAMIE JOHNSTON WILL BE RUNNING THE CLEVELAND ½ MARATHON!! Yep, I am so very excited and seriously feel ready to take it on. Now many have asked me how I have trained for this and what has got me to the point where I feel on can take on this venture. Here’s my best explanation as to how I got here.
Two years ago I was sitting down with my husband for dinner, I discussed with him how unhappy I was with myself and the weight I was at. I told him that Weight Watchers was starting a program at my work and that I would like to join. My husband was very supportive and said he loved me no matter what I decided and that he had my back if I decided to join. So I did, I joined Weight Watchers April 26th of 2011. Part of Weight Watchers program encourages you to get at least 30 minutes of exercise daily. I remember thinking, DANG a whole 30 minutes?!?! What could I possibly do for 30 minutes that I will somewhat enjoy and that I won’t feel like dying???
I started walking, very slowly walking. Our subdivision became my training arena. Every night after work I would put my shoes on and walk laps around our neighborhood. I remember the first week I started; I remember feeling like the whole neighborhood was watching. I felt like I could see them staring out their windows or gossiping as I passed them in their driveways. I tried to ignore their stares (or ignore my mind that thought they were staring) and press on. Slowly one lap became two, then three and so on. I then calculated how far one lap around the subdivision was, it was exactly 0.70 so about 3/4ths of a mile.
After a couple months of walking I decided I needed some type of goal, a number of miles I would like to reach. After some thinking and planning I decided to sign up for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. You see my Mother is a breast cancer survivor, so I thought I would surprise her by walking in her honor and also decided to fundraise in her honor for the foundation (also as a surprise to my mom). It was nice to have a goal, now I figured I needed to walk the subdivision about 5 times as it’d be a bit over the 3 mile mark.
I trained and I conquered walking my first 5k! I was also able to surprise my mother with my fundraising (through the help and support of friends and family I raised over $1,500) but I was able to tell her I was walking a 5k for her. Heck this women kicked cancer’s a$$ why couldn’t I walk a little over 3 miles! I remember the rush of emotions I felt as I crossed the finish line. I Jamie Johnston walked over 3 miles without stopping.
Before walking my first 5k, excited and very nervous!
Here is a picture from that magical day with my number one supporter (my husband Dana).
While I walked my first 5k I remember thinking, wow how awesome would it be to be able to run this thing. I played with the idea in my head as I walked, but remember thinking well just walking this 5k is a challenge for me how in the world would I run it? I then set a goal to run the Susan G. Komen race next year, which gave me a year to train and prepare.
After walking the 5k I continued my nightly walks, trying to get a bit faster each lap around my suburban training arena. Then came winter, there was no WAY I could continue walking outside come on it’s too dang cold (even though I am from WI, I just couldn’t do it). That year for Christmas my family got my husband and I a membership to our local recreation center. Starting mid-January my training arena now became the basement of our Recreation Center.
Nightly I walked on the treadmill, each night trying my best to reach a little over the 3 mile mark. I would also try to increase my pace. Then it happened ¼ mile by ¼ mile I started running. I remember how excited I was the first time I ran a whole mile on the treadmill without walking (or dying). Slowly I added a little more run to my run to walk ratio. Come April I was nearly running the whole 3 miles on the treadmill, occasionally stopping for a drink of water or giving in to my mind that couldn’t believe I was doing this and toyed with me saying I wasn’t capable.
Toward the end of April my husband and I visited my family in Wisconsin for Easter. I remember feeling excited to visit them, but nervous as I had made so much progress running on the treadmill at the recreation center. You see my parents live in the middle of nowhere; the nearest recreation center is probably about 30 minutes from their house. It was during this trip that I decided to face the great outdoors and run outside! Every day I would get out there and run the first time stopping every so often as I think I was more nervous than anything. My Nikeplus app was helpful keeping track of my distance. Towards the end of this mini vacation I was running the whole 3 miles at a slow pace, but heck I was running outside!!
Upon our return home I decided to continue running outside. I ventured out of our subdivision and created my own 3 mile course, which includes a nice size hill I like to refer to has hillzilla. You see hillzilla really kicked my butt at first, at times I had to give in and walk up the hill. However, I can now happily say hillzilla hasn’t won the war!
This past summer I took on my first 5k as a runner. The Akron Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure was my first ever official 5k that I ran!! I remember crossing the finish line with tears in my eyes, I still get teary thinking of this. I Jamie Johnston RAN the 5k I walked a little under a year ago. I didn’t do too bad pace wise either, I think I averaged a little over 10 minutes a mile.
My first RUNNING bib
Nervous before the run!
Finishing my first 5k as a runner.
After running the 5k, with my supportive Husband!
Took this picture for my Mom, sending love to her after the race.
After running my first 5k I developed a love for races. There was just something about a group of people running together. A friend of mine asked me to run in another 5k with her in September, the Dash for Dad’s (this would be her first 5k as a runner). I was on the fence due to some work obligations the night before the race, so I continued to run my 5k course in hopes of joining her in September. The night before the Dash for Dad’s I decided I would join my friend. I couldn’t let her run in her first race without me! I ran in this 5k and actually did AMAZINGLY well. I actually medaled in my age group!!!! I managed to run an average pace of about 8:28 a mile, now I know I medaled due to the small group of people that competed but HECK I have a medal from a race!!
My friend Stephanie and I before the Dash for Dad’s (Stephanie’s first 5k).
2nd in my age division medal!!
After completing the dash for Dad’s I decided to slowly start to increase my mileage. Little by little I reached 5 miles, then 6, I remember almost being in tears when I reached 7. Wow, this was actually fun, something I enjoyed! I then decided I needed to set a new goal for myself. 5k’s were fun, but I really love a challenge! It was then that I decided I would like to run a ½ marathon, yes 13.1 miles I want to take it on!! I decided I would register for the Cleveland ½ marathon on my 30th birthday in February.
I remember telling my husband my plan; his thoughts were well you have finished every other goal you have set for yourself. If you think you can run a ½ marathon you’ll do it (this was around October). Since then I have started my training, running outside as much as possible. I even purchased winter running gear as I discovered running outside is 10 TIMES better than the treadmill at the Rec Center. However, during some of my training sessions at the rec I have met some amazing running friends, KC and Jess. Turns out these two ladies are also training for the Cleveland ½. They invited me to join them on Fridays, every Friday is a new adventure some Fridays we run intervals and other Friday’s we are sprinting. It really has changed my mundane treadmill runs into something I actually enjoy. I have also found that interval training has helped me increase my pace! I enjoy my Friday tredmill runs and am thankful for the help these ladies have provided me; I really look forward to seeing them at the recreation center and appreciate more than I can communicate in this post their help and continued support.
Also through talking with my running friends I decided to register for the ½ marathon earlier than my birthday. Many have told me the ½ is known to sell out and I also thought it would be nice to take advantage of the early bird discount. So on 1/1/13 I started off the New Year by registering for my first ever ½ marathon!!
My training has been going well. During the week I run approximately 6 miles a day either outdoors or on the treadmill. I complete my training in the morning as I like to get it done right away. I have invested in a headlight and reflective gear to make sure I am visible to drivers. I have also used running cleats as I continued my training during our Christmas break to Wisconsin (burrrr those were some cold runs). On the weekends I try to complete one long run, my longest run was this past weekend completing 10.6 miles with a 9:28min pace ( I am trying hard to get a little over 9min miles on race day).
So yes, I Jamie Johnston a person that once weighed over 300lbs will be running the Cleveland ½ Marathon on May 19th!! If I can take on this journey and get to this point ANYONE can. If you are in the middle of your training and think this isn’t possible THINK AGAIN. If you are considering signing up for any race either 5k or more DO IT, you won’t regret it. Have goals and challenge yourself, you will be amazed at what your body can do!!
Lastly throughout my running journey I have continued to watch what I eat and have maintained my membership in Weight Watchers. Attending meetings every Tuesday through our at work program. I am proud to report that through Weight Watchers and running I have lost 162.8 pounds! I still have the love and support from all my friends and family and my husband has continued to have my back. My husband has helped me through every step of this journey, believing in me even at times when I didn’t believe in myself.
I took forward to seeing you all Sunday May 19th as we run the city of Cleveland and I Jamie Johnston will complete my first ½ marathon!!!