If you’re running with me be prepared to walk.
I really do need this tank top. Not as a warning label to those who choose to run with me, but more or less just as sign, that is shows I’m not a perfect runner. I walk at times. I walk to give my asthma a break. I walk to give me body a little break from pushing it. I walk to look at the sites I am passing; there is a lot of beauty to be seen on a run, especially in a new town. (Trust me in Birmingham I was in awwe)
But in reality, many runners do walk. I’ll be the first to admit it and guess what…. ITS OK TO WALK during a run, a training run, or while running to a finish line. It’s ok to not be a perfect runner.
So for anyone who has ever offered to run with me, and those who have ran with me, they know this shirt is true, running with me, you must be prepared to walk. I’m not a perfect runner. But that is ok. I try. I enjoy the journey because there is no finish line; we all cross the same one. I don’t race anyone to get to it either. So as I’ve always said, there is no Finish Line so love the journey.
You also need to remember if you are just a beginner runner or someone who enjoys running as part of fitness or you’re training for an event, when you see pictures posted on forms of social media with people posting their time, remember that is them, not you. Never compare your journey to someone else. Never get jealous that someone calls it a quick and easy run that is your time for a 5k. Remember it’s your journey.
I learned quickly never to compare myself to someone postings their training run times, or even those times during a running event. That is them, 80% of them are posting to keep themselves accountable, and the rest are just doing it to boost their confidence, or being the “cool kids” and saying look at me, which is completely wrong, but its life. So don’t compare your journey with theirs. Always remain focused on you.
Celebrate your victories.
Celebrate your achievements but mostly celebrate you.
Sometimes when a person starts a journey to change their life, whether that be to find inner peace, happiness, a dream job or weight loss, they don’t often realize how far they’ve come until something happens, they do something minor and the change is there, more or less the victory.
I’ve always kept the pair of jeans, I was in love with, when I was at my heaviest. I remember we had to drive over to the US to get them as they didn’t have “cool jeans” here in Canada in my size. I lived in these jeans, loved them and just loved how they made me feel, like I fit in, I was just like everyone else with the “cool jeans”.
As I started my weight loss journey many moons ago, I always kept these pants as the “reminder how far you’ve come”. I’d try them on every once and awhile and see the change. I tucked them away and haven’t brought them back out, until this weekend when I discovered them again.
This is me trying them on yesterday.
I can’t tell you I see a smaller version of myself when I look in the mirror, I can’t tell you I go right to the size M/L on a rack in a store over the 2X (or higher). I still have trouble looking in the mirror and seeing this version of me. Nothing on the inside has changed. I am still me. But the battle is still real of #MeVsMe.
When I started running at over 300lbs, I never thought it could and would end up changing my life. I never thought (please ask one of my former gym teachers, Mr. Larry), I’d learn to love it. Love the life and feeling running and even working out at a gym brings me. Running does not discriminate, what you put in it gives back. I train and follow a plan, I may not post my pictures daily of it, but I do it. I give and it gives back, it tests me daily and in every run I sign up for.
The advice I could give anyone is never doubt yourself. Never quit on you and only ever do it for you. This change is mine and it has been done for me. Not for me to be more accepted by a society that still has labels, because really, I still have the label attached to me as being plus size. Do this for your own happiness, to have these small victories that just make you sit and cry. Remember no scale ever defines your worth, no time in a run defines your ability as a runner.
Just over 3 years ago, I participated in a bully awareness photo shoot and video, which was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I had to acknowledge and let the world know just how bad it was. I ask before you continue reading this you read my Bullying Story here: http://swelin.com/jodie/mystory.pdf
So how did I take the weight of bullying off my shoulders? How did I rise above the bullies including those memories of my youth as well as those moments now as an adult? I broke the chains.
When I look back on how I became strong, it was a bunch a little things that just made up a big thing. I learned to look at bullies and see past the “charade”, the words spoken and realized bullies are just playing a part, a mask, insecurities taken out on others, the list goes on.
But the biggest and best thing I did; I took up running. It became and always has been a Me vs Me. It was by doing this I learned that people can stare, look and snicker at a very plus size runner out trying. It was with this I learned, they can judge all they want from the side lines because that is where they exactly are: the side lines. I learned by looking and viewing these people just as bystanders, I had no fear in running in the daylight, running runs and coming in near and basically last. I was running for me.
I had to grow confidence in myself, which is a grueling task all on its own, especially when you are not the best of the best, but you’re the best version of yourself. Loving yourself is the best thing you can do.
Learning to be confident in myself after years as a child, young teenager and an adult I was constantly put down, made fun of and just tormented was not an easy task to do. Even in recent years I’ve worked in toxic work environments, it was here I learned even adults can be bullies. It took me years to realize those words said and typed are just that words. They do not change or define my worth.
Some people have the focus in stopping bullying, which is a great, but my focus is learning to rise above it, build the shield to know that they are just words, they don’t change anything about you. I can’t stop an adult from being a bully, I can tell them the words they say are hurtful, but at times, it doesn’t change them. In the end the words said to me by a bully are just useless false words.
I learned to break the chains. I learned to break any hold a bully had/has on me. I have learned to control my life, my thoughts and mostly I’ve learned a bully can’t keep my mind hostage, because I broke the chains. I had weights chained to me that I was allowing control over me. It was as if my bullies were my puppet masters; not anymore. I broke the chains. I turned my life around to it always will be Me vs. Me.
I went back to Pam, who was the original photographer of the bully pictures and video campaign and asked her to help me show those words from years ago mean nothing. They are just words. Pam captured me with the biggest smile and truly happy. I’m in that happy place. I have zero chains. I cried when I saw these pictures. I have better words I use when I describe myself; it is happy thoughts, no negatives.
I have positive thoughts about myself, yes I’ve lost weight, but I can look in the mirror and I no longer see a “whale”, I never was a whale, those were just words. I was and always have been beautiful.
I am a runner, I may never make it to the podium, but I cross the same finish line as those running greats.
I have resilience; I’ve survived being bullied, attacked and worse.
I have goals which are dreams, but made with a plan.
I have pride in myself, pride in everything I do.
I have confidence that anything I do, I can do it. No one can stop me.
I have love; my heart is full of love.
I am and have success in my life, which is something I earned, and worked for.
I have habits that keep me healthy, I’ve learned to love the gym, and love running which are excellent habits.
I am strong and I have the strength to endure and survive any storm I walk through.
Lastly, I am happy. This is something no one can rob me of, take from me or dilute. I am happy with who I am. Who I’ve fought to become and the person I was yesterday. I am happy. Life is waiting for me each day. I have so many more words that I can use to describe myself, but I don’t need to flood this. Each of you could use a different word to describe me. It would be accurate.
Now back to running, it is a community made up of people who never judge, you are going to meet people who are in the “elite” level, who will volunteer to run beside you, push you and make you realize that finish line is achievable. Over a year ago, I signed up for my first half marathon, when I started running almost four years ago I barely could get across a finish line of a 5k, but I did it. Last October I finished my first half, with such a huge amount of supporters both in person and virtual.
A year ago, I took a huge leap of faith; I applied to be an ambassador for a hydration company called Nuun. I had zero hopes in becoming an ambassador because there is a stigma attached to companies of an “image” that needs to be fit, fast runners, runners who look like runners (but really anyone who starts is a runner, regardless of anything). I had no confidence that I would be selected. To my huge surprise I was selected to be a member of Team Nuun, an athlete, which is actually on the web page.
This company made me fall in love further with them, not just the aspect that nuun hydration is the best electrolytes out there (I’m bias), but the people who work under the nuun family umbrella, are just amazing people. They took the time to learn about me, support me, and are my virtual cheerleaders (some of which have showed up to running events). They are my family. Nuun gave me confidence to believe further in myself, so that I really had no choice but to continue to believe in me. I turned 2016 in to Me vs. Me. Nuun believes and stands behind their athletes, those of us who represent the back of the pack as well as those who are elites. When I had a company standing behind me, supporting me I knew failure never would happen. I will always be forever grateful for nuun.
Running changed me for the better. It changed me to allow myself to free the weights holding me down. It allowed me to take control of my life. To be proud of myself for doing something not many that are (was) my size would do, I was over 300lbs and running 5ks.
With that last little bit of confidence push which I needed to set my dreams bigger in running. Again this year nuun continues to believe in me, just as I believe in them and the product. I’ve set my eyes on running my first full marathon. 3 years ago, I would have laughed if someone suggested this. A year ago, I never thought my body could endure a half marathon, but my mind, it’s a pretty strong part of me; I knew I was going to do it.
With my confidence, I have been able to believe in myself, I have taken leaps and applied to be run ambassadors, which this year I am representing Run Like A Diva series which is coming to Toronto, as well as I am a member of Team Awesome with the Ottawa Marathon. Without this extra confidence, I would have never applied.
So I can tell people I was bullied growing up and as an adult, but the one word you never will hear me say is “victim”. I am not a victim. I am me. I no longer have chains holding me to words, to actions of others. I have come to 2017 being proud of myself. I have empathy for those who have been bullied; we need to teach people rise above it. Focus on positive and see the good within. Change your patterns.
These pictures capture how you can rise above. Be a better person and allow nothing to hold you back and down from dreams. I wanted to do this photo-shoot to show others words you hear in dark times don’t make it to the light. I wanted to show everyone, chains can be broken.
I’ve spent the first half of this month trying to plan my 2017 run season. It was completely harder than I ever anticipated. My goal is to run at least 2 runs I’ve never done. Just to scare myself.
So I sat, pondered and asked people questions on courses and looked at all variables.
So I’ve registered. I’ve committed and I’ve got myself scared.
My running season starts in just a few weeks with a road trip to Alabama to run my 2nd half. This has me scared senseless but that’s the good thing. Face the fear.
I’ve committed myself to running 5 half marathons this year. Last year I feared just one. Now I’m doing 5.
My biggest commitment and goal is to run my first full marathon in November of this year. If the goal doesn’t scare me a bit I won’t chase it the same. So I’m going to train and learn long training runs are ok.
I’m going to push my body to being uncomfortable. I’m going to question my sanity in committing to a full. I know I will earn the medal. I know the finish is going to be mine.
I will be running some 5ks and a 10k, including Sporting Life 10k and the Canada Day 5k in Burlington.
I’ll admit I was happy to close the book of 2016. I ended Chapter 12 (December) with having emergency surgery on my birthday of all days. I had many personal challenges from unemployment to health in 2016, but you know what?! I survived all 366 days of 2016.
In 2016, I hit all the goals I set for myself at the start of the year:
– Get my health on track (still a work in progress)
– run a 10k-run a half (21.1km) and
-obtain a new PB in my 5k (which I did)
I reached my goal of losing over 100lbs just before Christmas, I truly know that hard work does pay off and if you love yourself enough it’s always will work out.
I truly did reflect the last day of the year and realized dreams became wants and wants became a goal, so I chased the goal down. So I can say I’m proud of myself for achieving my goals in 2016.
So here we are in a new book, 12 blank chapters and over 365 empty pages.
First off, I don’t do resolutions. I do goals.
I’ve set a few for myself already and because I’m a work in progress they get changed and new ones will be added throughout the book of 2017.
So far my goals for 2017 are as follows:
-Continue on track with my weight loss
-Find answers for my idiopathic anaphylaxis (this point I’m just remaining positive)
-Run my first ever full marathon (yes that’s over 42kms!) and this run is going to be a runcation event
-Run 2 new runs
-Learn to love the weights at the gym.
As I said, I change my goals constantly and I do many things spur of the moment.
I will be running 4 half marathons in this year. A big change from just one last year, but I’m over the fear. I know I can do it. My first half in 2017 will take me on a road trip to Alabama in February.
2016, I’ve learned a lot about myself and this year I’m going to continue to keep loving myself, improving this version of me and being my own person. My path in life is mine to make.
So bring on 2017. I’m ready for you.
Top pics of 2016
When I went to Disney in February, I was mortified at how large I actually was. I didn’t like any picture that was taken of me.
I was and always will be beautiful but it hit me when getting on rides, just how large I was. Every fear a plus size person has riding rides at an amusement park hit me. I barely enjoyed my time at Disney.
This past weekend I went back for redemption. I rode every ride (including those that made me sick) and I did nothing but laugh. I had zero fears and never once was afraid with the “fat person mentality”. I stopped at every opportunity and had my picture taken with any and all characters.
I love myself enough that I’ll always be seeking a healthier version of me. I’ll never be that weight again nor will I ever fail myself. My health will always play a factory in my weight loss, I learned early on, never ignore health warnings and trust in your doctors.
There are no excuses for not picking you. Wanting to change you. Nothing out weighs the positives in having a healthy body. Never be afraid of living nor of learning a new exercise, or you could just become a runner like I did.
I’m beyond stoked (& honoured) to announce that I’ve been selected to be part of #TeamAwesome with a group of amazing people to represent the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend (Ottawa Marathon http://www.runottawa.com / @OttawaMarathon) weekend next May 27-28th.
I’m looking forward to representing the back of the pack in the half marathon. Meeting amazing people and offering encouragement to those along the way.
A year ago I never would of thought I’d completed my first half marathon and fast forward Ottawa is going to be #3. Have dreams and turn them into goals.
So for any of you on the fence: sign up. For those of you who are going to, please reach out and let’s connect! Remember it’s going to be epic, we will be celebrating Canada’s 150 Birthday!
Well I did announce a small glimpse that I’ve been selected as an ambassador for this amazing run series which is coming to Toronto on June 11, 2017 a couple of weeks ago..
Well here it is:
Run Like a Diva… just what it sounds like. You’re getting the chance to run with 1000’s of other women (and the odd male). Not to compete for the best time, who had the better training plan and who crushed a PB, no this is about women empowering other women. Women running or woggling. Women supporting each other, whether you are a front leader of the pack or the tail end. We all will cross the same finish line, receive the same fancy medal for an accomplishment and be a Diva.
This run is going to be filled with fun, laughter, some glammour running, with boas, tiaras, tutus, bubbly and they tell me there will be some pretty handsome looking men along the way and at the finish. It’s motivation ladies!
So don’t get discourage at the words half marathon. There is a 5k route. You will receive the same Diva treatment. But ladies think, you are sitting there reading this, you’ve never been brave enough to try a half, this is the event. It’s women. You will be supported.
Now if you’ve never done a 5k, here is your chance to get your gal-pals out on a June day.
Time is on your side for training to do either distance. It’s not that scary. Plus Toronto Island gives such a gorgeous back ground full of views of the city you can’t help but have fun.
Which ever distance you brave know this as a woman myself, I cheer for everyone. I am a plus size runner who just completed her first half. I did it. I didn’t let excuses get in my way. The half on this course is going to be way easier. No hills, street car tracks & no dark under passes with pot holes! If you have a fear, reach out to me. I’ll help show you it’s ok to have the fear. But use it as fuel. Fuel to drive your legs. Even if you’re going to do your first 5k. You will finish. Crossing that finish line will be a victory in which no one can take from you. You earned it. It was not given.
Mostly for any of you who sign up and commit I want you to have fun. I want you to feel stronger both mentally and physically for doing this. I want this to be a celebration of us women. Celebrating the accomplishments of every single one of us. We all will earn the crown on June, because we all know we are Divas.
Friday while working the expo for Nuun I went and got my bib. Trust me I stalled, found reasons not to go. Once I finally got my packet it honestly wasn’t until I actually looked at my bib that I got emotional. It hit me this is real. I was going to be running a half marathon.
Since I have some pretty good food intolerance and such I had to work closely with Blair on a feeding schedules (sounds like I’m a baby) so on Saturday I consumed a lot of bananas on top of drinking the ensure thru the week and up to Saturday. So I had a schedule, which included eating before bed and setting an alarm for the middle of the night. Trust me it felt completely odd but I had to trust in the plan and Blair.
I can’t tell you I slept much Saturday night not sure if it was a combination of being in a hotel room (which was warm) or nerves setting in and doubt.
Sunday morning again I ate accordingly to the plan. I got myself ready, didn’t rush and took my time. I wasn’t chancing anything so I stuck to it. Although I was wanting a coffee badly. Koren and I did a lot of prep work the night before, made hydration packs full of nuun and plus. I made my food in advance so I was ready Sunday.
My nerves had arrived. Part of my game plan was to sharpie my arms with the pace Blair and I discussed to the times I needed to fuel.
Once we were dressed (Yes I matched from hat to nails to socks..#TeamNuun), we made our way to the starting area which was on University Avenue. Earlier during the expo I ran into part of my running family who gave me advice, support and encouragement. So when I saw the rest of the family before I went to my corral they helped me. It’s always amazing how supportive everyone is, how much encouragement is given. Hugs and smiles are always welcomed!
I’m going to be honest. I forced Koren out of my corral. I couldn’t do this with her near me or knowing we could be so close. So while at the expo I made her change her corral.
Standing in my corral, I gave myself the pep talk. Follow the plan. No matter how crazy people think it is. It started to rain which I was ok with. The weather was above seasonal and I could feel the humidity creeping in. This made me realize the goal was just to finish and not by way of a medical tent.
It was go time. The first 6k, I took my time as I was suppose to do. I took in the sights, the extremely load cheering section on Bloor street, embraced the rain and stayed on course.
I was beyond thankful for the woman standing and cheering with a box of Kleenex, she was my saving grace!
Once I hit the stretch where I was passing people who were already passed the turn around, I picked up my pace. There is something about 1000’s of people passing you, cheering you on randomly and giving high fives. I ran across a few of my run family members who gave me pushes, cheers and hugs! Sometimes that’s all you need to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
I was able to catch up to JP (He ran the marathon 4 times check out his story at http://www.runjprun.com), we took a selfie at the 9km mark. What makes this man so humble was he was hurting he was on Marathon 4, but he was asking me if I was on pace, making sure I was ok. That is an awesome guy. Once I hit the 10k mark Koren called to check up on me. I was motoring along.
Just before the halfway mark, the crowd had thinned out. It was just me and a couple people in front but we were just all moving along. I called my Dad. I needed reassurance I had it in me. It was at this point I hit the wall. My body was getting warm and the humidity was horrible. The wall was a hard hit. Talked to my dad and four year nephew who just told me to get it done.
Once I rounded the turn around and started on the big long home stretch, my knee started acting up. I hurt my knee when I did my last long run out with the snakes. I thought the healing was happening, but at this point I just felt the present pain. The oddest thing was walking was horrible but if I maintained a light jog it didn’t hurt as bad. But I felt the pain.
So by 13km I knew it was my heart at this point. I gave myself the mental talk, prayed and thought of everyone who could do this but didn’t and those afraid to try.
Since I did the waterfront 10k, the route was familiar, I knew when I had a hill, where I sort of was and was able to keep pushing. I used downhills to my advantage. I was following my gel plan so much it was perfect my intakes. I didn’t have issues with lack of energy which rocked.
When I hit the 18k, I was excited to finally see a cheering crowd! Trust me the last cheering crowd or people on the sidelines was back on Bloor Street. Thank you Heather and the Tribe for being out there for us back of the pack runners. Truly means a lot that you believe in all of us and you stick it out for everyone. Wish more cheer sections had your tribe outlook!
So this is where my game plan changed again, I had the ramp to go up and down. I had fuelled myself, looked at my watch and was determined to do the last 3k as best and fast as I could. I was prepared to crawl with my gimpy knee.
When I rounded to come up the evil Bay Street last KM climb, I knew I had it in me. Besides the dreaded slow climb of a hill the underpass under the train tracks has to be the most dangerous section of this whole run. Zero lights and dark as can be. Dodging pot holes with my phone flash light wasn’t cool!
So this is where Blair told me to run my tank empty. Suck back the fumes. Save the energy for. Once I saw the 200 metre to go sign, I knew I had enough fuel left to sprint the rest of the way. I can’t really even describe this feeling. The crowd was cheering, there was loads of people and it just was crazy.
I can tell you this when I saw Koren and Matt standing there just before the finish cheering I got emotional. I was 40 feet from the finish. I did it. I actually did it.
I crossed the finish needing my puffer and almost barely able to put weight on my left leg. The medical team was truly awesome. I was crying but I can’t even tell you all what I said. But I do remember telling the lady that I did it.
So my stats and my own personal goal. I told Blair my goal was 3:30 or less. It seemed realistic, obtainable but I also was fully aware weather and body could change the goal. So I just wanted to enjoy the experience.
I completed my first half in 3:28:31. Below my goal time. The best part of this is I had negative splits (look at the pace). Look at these stats. So beyond proud of myself. This is so huge for someone like me. I did something many aim to do. So again it’s all part of the plan. Get yourself a sharpie. It doesn’t come off in rain…
Some mentions now:
During the course of my run I was messaged a few times by Mike who was tracking me via the up to date app. He kept giving the encouragement. What surprised me the most was coming to the end of the finishers shoot to the family area and he was standing there. Complete surprise. It blew me away. Pretty sure thank you isn’t enough to cover the surprise and the encouragement because I’m pretty sure at some point he got a text with the “why did I sign up for this” including the attitude. Blair who also was tracking me sent me a message which I heard in my ear. Totally made me laugh as he knew how close I was in beating the time we set. So yes everyone needs a text that goes “hurry the f up ffs”. Blair, I couldn’t of done this without you, you believed in me and calculated a plan, assisting in food prep and mostly just checking in and listening to me have “diva moments”. This half was just as much yours as it was mine. Just be ready to get the plan ready for the next one. And remember you can’t get rid of me as much as you try. I appreciate you way too much!
Matt who was not running but cheering gave me all the extra hug and support before the run. When I was coming up that final stretch and I heard his famously loud whistle it was the drive I needed. He’s supported me and encouraged me from start to finish. I can’t say thank you enough. You’ve been at all the milestone runs, 10k, 15k and my first half. Maybe the full one you can woggle it beside me!
My #JPsTeam all of you with your hugs, high fives along the route and I won’t name names but the loud, dancing cheerleader up Bay Street, let’s just say your drive, yelling my name helped!
Alex who made me this sign between her own run and mine. Who called me the night before and basically tucked me into bed, told me to just have fun. You were a rock during the 10k and I’m thankful SM connected us.
Well lastly, Koren well I can’t say enough. But the few phone calls, the hugs and the support for any crazy idea I get to do random training runs. Vent and get all crazy. You know how to handle me. You’re my bestie and my running partner in crime. One day I might allow you to run a half with me but until then, you’re not allowed in my corral. Sorry but not sorry!
To the rest of my running family, you all know who you are, to the encouragement at the expo, to the hugs before hand and to the messages afterwards. You know it touched me that I have the support. I didn’t do this alone. So thank you. You all are unique and beyond special to me.
My nuun family! I love you all, even you crazy Chicago Boys. You made me smile over crying on Friday and reconfirmed people believe in me.
I earned the medal on Sunday, it was not given.
So my next half… I’m going to be running that with a US run family, I hope no one tells me stairs are involved etc after. So look out Alabama, this girl is on a mission come February I’m coming for a new PB!
To anyone reading this who thinks they can’t do a half… it’s an excuse. I’m plus size, I ran this half 85lbs lighter but it wouldn’t of stopped me. You just need to believe in you. Believe in your body. One foot in front of the other. We all get to the same finish line. So don’t let fear stop you in trying. If I let fear win I’d still be on the couch.
**Side note any post run pics that look so messed up of me… it’s cause I’m trying not to cry**