Guest Post: I Still Remember it Like it was Yesterday!

by Lanie Prince

I still remember it like it was yesterday. My friend, Patty, came up to me on a Thursday night in January. She asked me if I would like to train for the St. Jude Half Marathon in Nashville with her and my two other friends, Brittney and Connie. I eagerly said, “Yes!” She told me that I would only have 3 months to train and wanted to know if that would be enough time. Honestly, I never doubted myself when it came to that. I knew I could do it. I signed up for the race the second weekend in January with Connie. It was an amazing feeling.

A few weeks had gone by and my friend Brittney asked me if I had been training. I really hadn’t, but I said yes, so she wouldn’t be disappointed in me. I kept seeing the other girls running and I knew I had to start soon. On January 21, 2018, I made a decision. That decision changed my life. I walked/ran my first 3 miles. I ran down Veteran’s Parkway. It wasn’t as bad as I thought. So, I kept running 3 miles almost every weekday. After I started running 3 miles, my running group wanted to start our long runs. We started going to Shelby Forest every weekend and kept increasing our miles until we got up to 11 miles.

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I remember my first long run. I ran 5 miles. I had never ran that many miles in my life and my hip started hurting. I remember asking a lot of people what I should do. Some kept saying to keep going to make it stronger and some said to stay off of it, or swim, or do the elliptical for 2 weeks. I did my own thing. I didn’t run for a whole week and just did the elliptical along with sitting in the hot tub and steam room. That helped tremendously. I didn’t hurt much after that.

Along the way, I completed a couple 5k’s. I am not a very fast runner though. I can do a 10 minute mile on a great day but usually I run a mile within 13 to 14 minutes. My time never got much faster than that. I was just able to run without my body aching as bad.

Time was going by fast. April was almost here. People kept asking me, “Was I Ready?” My answer was always, “I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.” In a blink of an eye the weekend of my half marathon was here. We all met at Connie’s house and rode in her car. When we arrived in Nashville it was so crowded! We finally arrived at the place to pick up our packets. It was crazy busy. I had one of the best feelings. I felt that I had actually accomplished something. I felt so confident and on top of the world. That was a Friday. That night we walked all downtown and ate at a Mexican restaurant. I needed all the carbs I could get. After that, we made it to our hotel room around 9 o’clock. I was a little anxious, so it was hard for me to fall asleep. My friend Brittney and I ended up walking to the convenient store around 10 o’clock that night because we couldn’t sleep. Finally, around 11:30 I dozed off. I had to be up by 5:45 a.m. to be at my terminal by 7 a.m.. 5:45 came faster than I expected.

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My alarm went off and I casually woke up and started getting ready. I remember letting my running partners know that I was so nervous. I was scared that I wouldn’t complete the race or that I would get bored along the way and have little motivation to keep going. It turned out to be the exact opposite. It was the most amazing experience! There were people everywhere cheering us on. It felt amazing. I didn’t want to stop! As far as I knew, I was on top of the world. I felt as if I could go forever. I mainly walked fast because I didn’t want to run out of energy. As I walked the scenery kept changing. It was so pretty. I remember hitting mile 9 and was anticipating seeing the finish line. It seemed like the miles got longer as I got closer to finishing. As the race came to an end, I came around the corner and went over a bridge and saw the finish line. I told myself that I needed to start running and smiling because I knew they were going to take my picture. When I passed that finish line, I smiled and thought to myself, “I DID IT!” I was so proud of myself! I knew I made my parents proud and I proved the people wrong who thought I couldn’t do it. It was one of the best feelings I have ever had in my whole entire life. That night my running partners and I went out downtown and celebrated. We ate, shopped, and went to a concert. We really enjoyed ourselves. The next day we got up and left. I was a little sad because I didn’t want it to be over. My running partners and I discussed it and decided to run another one in Hot Springs, Arkansas in November.

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Still to this day I run. Running has changed my life and changed me as a person. I can tell that I am happier now. I love life more. I actually like looking in the mirror. Mostly, I am confident! That is something I have never been. I feel free.  Running has made me into a “go-getter!” For example, this summer I worked almost 40 hours a week, kept up with my running, and achieved a 4.0 in my summer classes. I honestly believe that if I would have never started running I wouldn’t have had the energy, confidence or determination to do all of that. No matter what kind of situation I am in, I make sure that I make time to run. I am a different person spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. I have lost almost 50 pounds and plan on keep going. As long as the Lord keeps me healthy, I will never stop running.

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If you ever get to a point in your life where you feel like you’re not good enough or wish you could change something about yourself, I challenge you to start running. Find someone that would be interested in doing it with you or do it by yourself. It is one of the most stress relieving things you can do. I have no doubt in my mind that you will love it. Start today!

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Nevertheless, I would like to give a big thanks to Brittney, Connie, and Patty for motivating me the whole time and sticking by my side. Also, all of this would not have been possible without the Millington YMCA. I am so thankful for all the opportunities it has offered me. With all of that being said, if you guys ever have any questions, please contact me through Facebook messenger at Lanie Prince or through my email at Lanieprince16@aol.com. If you need help getting motivated or have any question pertaining to running, weight loss, etc. Please contact me. I will be glad to help out any way I can!

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Guest Post: Heather’s journey from lupus to 5k

I recently ran a 5k on February 17th in Nashville, Tennessee.  My niece Kayla challenged me to share my journey on her blog so here I go.

It all really started back several years when my niece decided to change her lifestyle.  It was like she took off running one day and never stopped.  Of course, as an aunt, I supported her wholeheartedly but from afar, kind of removed from what she was really doing.  I knew she was training for races and marathons.  She was making lifestyle changes with her eating habits, getting up early to run, and dedicating herself to reaching her goals.

None of it really sunk in until I attended her first full marathon she was running for St. Jude.  I showed up in the big city where thousands (I mean thousands) of runners showed up to do what they trained so long to do.  The energy was palpable to say the least.  Everyone looked elite to me.  I was wowed!  Runners of all sizes, shapes, colors, ages, and nationalities.  I wanted to be one of them right then and there.  I left there asking myself, “What are you doing with your life Heather?”  It answered back pretty quickly, “Nothing!”

After Kayla crossed the finish line and my heart swelled with so much pride, I decided I wanted to do what she did!  Not a full marathon of course but I wanted to start running.  I returned home and was so scared to tell anyone what I wanted to do.  Deep down inside I wasn’t so sure I could do it.  I didn’t want to tell anyone just in case I failed from the get go.  See, I had turned 50, survived stage one cancer and been diagnosed with Lupus all within the past 2 1/2 years. I let my diagnosis rule my life for two years.  I hurt all over my body.  Most days it hurts to even get up from where I’m sitting or laying.  My joints scream quietly from inside where no one can hear them.  On the outside, I look like a normal functioning individual but on the inside my body  attacks itself and wreaks all kinds of havoc.

I first told my daughter Madison about my crazy idea and ran it by her.  She was supportive from the beginning, believed I could do it and told me I was the only one who could make it happen when I was truly ready for it to happen.  I then called my niece a couple of days later and shared my goal with her.  I remember being super nervous.  She was fully in from the beginning.  The advice started pouring in from her.  She was a wellspring of information and support throughout the whole process.

My first step was to consult my doctor and get the go ahead to beat up my body more.  He was truly excited for me.  I remember him telling me at least a dozen times to take it slow.  So I took to the internet to find a training plan that worked for me specifically.  The plan I found started me out slow, it worked it’s way up gradually, it encouraged rest and recovery times, and most importantly it advised not training on consecutive days.  My body needed more down time in between.

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Next, I amassed a support team.  Everyone was so open to my goals.  My family was instantly behind me.  Friends at work were pulling for me.  But what really got me through were the people willing to train right alongside me.  They will never really know how much that kept me on my path to my endgame.  I mean they took time out of their schedules and weekends to sweat right next to me. In all kinds of inclement weather too.  All the while telling me “You got this!”  I started running around my neighborhood, then at my local civic center, and any greenway that was close to me.

I also quit drinking. This was huge.  I struggled with alcohol abuse for years.  It was my best and worst friend.  I knew I couldn’t train for a race and drink.  My body was already starting at a disadvantage.  Drinking would allow me so many more excuses not to reach my goal.  So I said bye to that relationship.

My last training day ended with a beautiful sunset, so beautiful, I took it as a sign everything was going to be just fine. I took it in with the ones who helped me train the most (Madison and Em) and knew my goal was waiting for me right around the corner.

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On the eve of race day I was so nervous.  I didn’t want to let anyone down but most of all I didn’t want to let myself down.  My support team was right there with me of course.  Then came race day.  My stomach was all nerves but I was actually calmer than I thought I would be.  I had my daughter and niece right by my side the entire time.  I was where I wanted to be.  I zoned out a bit while running.  My niece brought me back down when she told me I just ran an entire mile straight through.  I was so proud of myself.  I stayed focus on the route in front of me never forgetting the love that surrounded me.  My daughter ran out in front to make sure I didn’t trip over anything.  I was bummed at the one mountain (paved hill) I had to stop and walk in the middle of Nashville but I didn’t let it get to me.

Then my niece and daughter, with the biggest smiles ever, pointed at the finish line.  I couldn’t wait to get there.  All the times I had to push through the pain, all the calls and doubts my family had to get me through, all the afternoon training I had dedicated myself to was about to pay off.  I heard my family cheering me on from the sidelines and I think I pretty much floated across the finish line in a happy daze!!!  It was exciting!  I did it!!  I not only reached a goal, I had a plan and executed that plan with my own hard work.  What more can you ask for?

Does running a 5k change your whole life?  Probably not. It’s all the negative internal dialogue you stop listening to that changes your life.  It’s the realization you are the only thing in your way.  It’s setting a plan in motion that keeps you moving forward.  I have fallen in love with life and learned my family is the most important relationship I have.

My goals for the future are running a 5k comfortably without stopping.  I still plan to train every other day.  I’m going to start strength training also to get my body stronger for a 10k race.  I want to thank everyone who has reached out to me with kind words and encouragement.  Could I have done this without you?  No, I couldn’t have.  I love you all.

-Heather Kelly