Christianna is… Exhausted

In 490 B.C., legend has it that a messenger, this dude named Pheidippides, was tasked with the important duty of giving the word of ancient Greek’s victory over the Persians. Filled with excitement and adrenaline perhaps, this messenger ran from Marathon to Athens, delivered the message, collapsed and died… This was the inspiration at the first modern Olympics of 1896. They decided to have an epic long distance run, took the distance from this legend and called it the Marathon! (Cue the angels singing “ahhhhh” in an angelic voice.) I’ve actually gotten a couple different mileage from different sources, it wasn’t quite 26.2 miles in the beginning, but after a few years of inspired marathon races beginning to sweep the world, the 26.2 miles eventually became the official standard.

So, to summarize! We took an inspired distance where the dude died. He f’ing collapsed in exhaustion and took no more breaths of life. Then someone felt inspired to make this a thing. This thing caught on in popularity so much since then that today in 2017, on March 19th, 25,000 crazy people (including myself) will take part in the Los Angeles Marathon, inspired by Mr. Pheidippides’ death.

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Why would anyone want to put themselves through all of that pain, exhaustion, and torture? I’ve thought this many times during my long training runs as I’ve fought Negative Christianna from convincing me to stop and give up.

“Stop talking, let’s put it into context!” pipes in Positive Christianna. (Seriously I do have days where I just want to punch this Christianna in the face and go Netflix and pizza binge with my Negative friend.) But, I’ll listen to any glimmer of hope my Positive side can offer, even if it’s just delirium from the exhaustion at 17 miles of a 22-mile day setting in.  

So! Context, here we go!

How old was Pheidippides? Did he run often? Did he run long distances often? How was his health? What was his diet? Did he have water with him? Maybe, but did he have electrolytes with him? Did he have food fuel with him? What was the weather like? What time of day was it? Was it a scorching hot sun the whole way? Maybe there was so much excitement in the last couple days that he hadn’t slept in the last 24-48 hours?

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I’ve realized a couple things throughout the last 16 long weeks of training and having ran almost 400 miles in the past 4 months.

You can’t just decide to run a marathon and overnight transform into a marathoner just because you decided to do so.

I can attest to the fact that all of this takes a lot of work, time, energy and even money. Maybe even more so for those of us working on our first marathon. Maybe even more so so for those of us who are overweight and new to the athletic game. I could be wrong, but I think that makes us more exciting than those who have bodies built for running and incredible speed. It comes more natural to these people. Don’t get me wrong, these people are a complete inspiration for me. I strive to be you, so dude, don’t get offended. But we overweight runners carry more. We carry the actual weight of our bodies and we carry the emotional weight of our struggles and failures. Despite all this, we chose to keep our legs running.

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The struggle has been real. At the beginning of training I reassured myself that it would be okay if I ended up walking more times than running, it’s my first one and at least that’s a start. That was back when I was struggling to finish an 8-mile run and the holidays eating had ate away at my spirit. After putting so much focused intensity over time, even on making sure I did all the small 3 mile runs on weekdays, has given me amazing momentum.

After long battles over mind and body, I’m feeling so much stronger. I finished an amazing 22 miles with an amazing group of runners, and even though I may be far slower and stronger than these people, I felt equal. So many years of self-doubt and telling myself I was lesser than, except for this brief moment after 25 long years that I actually felt on par for a second.   

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No one said it would be easy, but damn it’s been hard.

The exhaustion I’ve felt these last couple weeks has been real. I’ve been so severely tired. Falling asleep on my girlfriend while we Facetime at 9 pm (she’s the one 4 hours ahead and with the excuse to fall asleep yet I’m the one actually doing it), deep dark circles under my eyes, and barely making it up at 8 am to roll into work 30 minutes late past 9.

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I’d feel bad for my poor grumpy behavior but then I remind myself, “Yo Christianna, you ran 22 miles last weekend, like give yourself a break yo.”

Sometimes the aches and pains bring about thoughts and feelings that I’m weak and not meant for all this.

A year ago 3 miles was my longest distance. A year later and it’s now 22 miles. I’m slow and I have a long way to go this next year, but I still finished 22 miles. LET THAT SINK IN NEGATIVE NANCY CHRISTIANNA.

My life has been consumed by running, it’s taken away all my free time after work and it’s taking me towards new adventures and opportunities.

 

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I’ll close with this:

Starting to run is not easy. It takes a lot of time and dedication to stay consistent. When you put in the work, though, it’s full of moments that fill you with so much joy.

That time I ran my first mile. =) That time I ran my fastest 5k. : ) That time I finished a half marathon 30 minutes faster than I expected to. : ) The moment I finished 22 miles with a great group of runners waiting at the end. =) That time I’ll cross the finish line in Santa Monica with my hands up, my energy drained but my spirit full and not dropping dead like Pheidippides did. : )

The takeaway from this post?

Fight that negative side of you and go soar in the positive. Make that version of you, your bf for life.

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❤ In Loving Memery of Pheidippides ❤

Christianna Is… A Runner

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Only three days into the 2016 New Year, I had found myself late one evening in the heart of Los Angeles. Running down Hill Street towards Temple, with Christianna endurance, I had just pulled out of nowhere, when I hit an emotional pocket of feelings and revelations.

In this moment, I was running a truly terribly slow 5k. I could have been at home recouping from the holidays drinking a hot cocoa, maybe even a hot cocoa with a little something extra. It was cold, it was late, I was alone, I was slow and nowhere near athletic. Yet, in this god awful moment of struggles, I knew I was exactly where I was meant to be. Despite my difficulties with this small 3.1-mile run, I realized that this thing I thought insignificant was actually the best thing for me. This thing was all mine. I did not have to share this with anyone, and through ownership of this small thing, I finally found something I didn’t realize I was looking for; something I wanted for my life after graduation.

The beginning of this year I decided to start on a quest to finally figure out who I wanted to be, and I stumbled, or ran, finally into something I could say I was; Christianna, runner.

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Up until this point, I was feeling numb to the world; the holiday season had come, and to me, it felt like the worst and loneliest Christmas break I had to somehow manage to get through. It took so much energy to brave the smiles and the dinners when all I wanted was to be holed up in my room alone and away from all the stupid cheer.  

Going to the gym every night during my winter vacation was just a way to show the world “it’s all good, I’m getting out of bed and doing things like a functioning human person.” When in reality, I was angry and depressed. Looking back, I think physical activity at this time helped me to ignore my pains and kept numbing my feelings. Christianna managed to turn a healthy activity into something not so healthy.

At the end of the New Year, however, even despite feeling hopeless, I knew I wanted to change and find ways to better myself. Naturally, being so close to graduation, the feelings of realizing I had no fucking clue what I wanted to do after college were becoming very real. This is a feeling that gets stronger and stronger as you inch closer to graduation. Combine that with other feelings in my life and you could call it a pot of hot mess.

I desperately needed to find something I wanted for myself in life. Maybe, just maybe, through that pursuit, I’d find direction for my life. My plan? I created a bucket list for 2016 of all the things I wanted to do and accomplish.

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For the record, I admit I didn’t think I’d accomplish all these items. 2016 has come and gone and I did not get a tattoo or go skydiving; I didn’t do tough mudder and sadly I didn’t get killer biceps. It was something on my wall to serve has a big fat reminder to get out of my room and live every once in awhile. Oh god, did this thing lead to many adventures that in fact, hardly did I ever have time this year to barricade in my cave.

I needed self-improvement and craved adventures and January 3, 2016, was just the beginning of it all.  

I’ve had this idea in my head for years of becoming a runner. My father was a marathoner and triathlete. I remember pulling out his LA Marathon medal as a kid and oohing and ahhing over it. There was one night he tried to help me run, after being called fat by my mother; he proceeded to lecture me all the way down Magnolia about breathing techniques and how she’s just afraid I’ll die by the time I’m 30(5 more years to go till we see if she’s right :O).   There was a time I tried to pick it up after high school when I went running with my sister and her friend and totally got smoked. Then again for a bit with my ex because we were talking about possible hopes of a marathon, again totally smoked every time we went running together.

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I put having a faster 5k time on my bucket list because I wanted to prove to myself I was faster and stronger than I believed.

I’ve learned lots of things while working on that goal. Such as, on this day, in particular, I learned that a dinner out at the Alcove of delicious tacos and an IPA is not a great idea before a run. I also learned that I wasn’t going to get as cold as I thought I would so 3 layers of clothing was completely unnecessary. As well as my shoes were useless as shit and countless other lessons. Fun stuff.

I hadn’t actually been running consistently yet, I also still really hated the act of it all. In defense, I didn’t expect to go out on this first one and run the whole thing through so early on in this endeavor. Instead, I saw this as an opportunity to give it an actual real shot and set a real PR (personal record) to strive towards beating this year. I think I actually ran it in 3-minute intervals that quickly turned into 30-second intervals towards the end. Yes, I was slow, and yes I kept walking but I had actually put real, true, lovely pure effort into this one thing.

Running towards the finish line on January 3rd, 2016 listening to “I Love It” by Icona Pop was a life changing moment for me. This is when I said, “who the f* cares” to all the shit of the past. I learned that I loved this feeling of overcoming your self-doubts despite my body’s difficulties. I hypothetically threw all that shit in a bag and pushed it down the stairs. I was going to take back my life, make bold choices, do things I could be proud of, because “I’m a 90’s bitch” and I was going to own this year.

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365 days later, 5 5k’s and 2 half marathons later, I have fallen in love. Running has taken over my life. It moved in, said “I get you these days” and has even thrown some hard balls in my way. This first run of the year lit a spark in me that quickly grew like a southern California wildfire. I’ve become obsessed. I’ve become invested. This has become my life.

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I still hang on to this moment tightly and return to it when my runs get hard and I want to stop. I’m still slow. I’m still working on being able to keep up with other runners. I also still have moments of doubt that I could ever get good at this. When my steps start to weaken, I remind myself of the time I barely finished a 5k. I encourage making memories of your own to start off 2017: set goals, go to work on goals, pull these mini accomplishment memories out when life gets tough and you start slowing down. For all goals in life, health, and work. Having these moments of the tiniest bits of accomplishment motivate us to not give up and to pick up a stronger pace because hells yes you’re going to surpass that first success!

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