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Bariatric Fitness Contest Winners Half Marathon Experience

Guest Blog
By Dawn Brell 

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As I am recovering from my big weekend I wanted to write this blog now so that I can put down all of the things I am thinking before I forget anything.  First I want to say a million big thanks you to all of our wonderful, amazing and generous sponsors. The fine folks at Pace Setter Athletic, Celebrate Vitamins, Kay’s Naturals, and Ameriwell Bariatrics did one of the most amazing and selfless things imaginable.  They gave me a wonderful gift and honestly a once in a lifetime opportunity to go and attempt to do the one of the biggest and hardest things I could have ever imagined.  This ranks right up there with being brave, strong, and fighting the odds to have my surgery.

I have had to fight hard on the way to this half marathon.  When I first won this contest I had several people tell me I was crazy and that no way could I do this.  I was determined to prove them wrong.  I will be honest I did expect that this was going to be hard but I never expected it to be as hard as it was.  I’m not one to shy away from hard things because my entire life has been hard so sometime I’m blind to how really hard it will be a bit of a blessing (cause I will try almost anything) and a curse (when reality kicks me in the face). It was a bit of shock. Add to that shock that after my first 4 mile run my back went out and I was side lined from running for 6 weeks.  I could walk during that time but no running. I was sad to lose that time and I think it may have played a role in the issues with training and time issues that I had.  But I fought on and did the best I could.  I was always a little under the pace that was needed to pull this off.

race morningWe did think that Pandora was going to be able to “drag” the time we needed out of me. But as we stood at the start of the race at 4am I was cold.  I think that I also let a few things get in my head and rattle me. I was so cold I was in pain. Even as I was jumping around like a frog with ants in my pants I couldn’t get warm. I dropped and broke my brand new phone. Then as we were talking to some other racers we were talking about the pressure that I was probably feeling (which I had tried to block out) because so many people, sponsors and loved ones were watching and expecting performance.  It was then that I started to panic because I knew that was true and I was overwhelmed with letting all of these people down.  We finally got to where we were about to start and I was nervous.  We got the official start and no matter what I tried I could not find a rhythm.  I still was not in full on panic mode just yet. I thought that it would come but I still struggled at a little over 3 miles we got a warning that we were going to be swept.  I told Pandora to leave me. She has been running for 3 years and I knew that she could finish this easily I did not want to take that away from her. As she started to go a few tears fell, she tried to stay with me but I wanted her to make her dream come true and I urged her to go and she did. I felt so upset and disappointed in myself. I had done so much better at home and here I was about to be swept in the very beginning and that was a sickening feeling. So I just decided that I was going to go until the sweeper got me.  I picked up and just ran.

At the 4.5 mile mark I was about to get swept again.  I suddenly had that moment where I knew I was not ready to be done and that no matter what I had to do and no matter if I dropped dead I would get half way come hell or high water. Suddenly that rhythm was there.  I was able to run and go and make progress.  I got to the 6 mile mark and was feeling good at what I had accomplished. I got some motivation at this mark as I watched people who were “over it” just sit down and wait for the bus.  I was unwilling to do that and sad to see others do that. I was also shocked by people doing that. What a huge commitment to an event and then decide “I just don’t feel like it”.  So again I was going to go until the sweeper legitimately got me.  So again I stuck to the rhythm.  I also got a lot of energy from the people cheering along the route.  They had some great and funny signs that made me laugh and gave you a little wind.  I got through miles 7 and 8 alright. OK that’s a little white lie. I had a friend texting me and I was telling him that I was hating it and that I was NEVER gonna do it again. I had also told Pandora at one point in the beginning that this was hell and no fun. That little convo is in her blog. At mile 8.5 I almost got pulled by the medical team. I had hurt my foot a few days earlier. I was so happy to be in the warm weather I wanted to wear flip-flops. I love flip-flops however they are not a good choice if you are going to be walking 9-12 miles a day.  We went nearly non stop in Anaheim even with the bad foot.  The medical team could tell I was in pain and having issues but I was able to convince them that I was ok and that I was going to keep going. We knew the sweepers were coming. We thought they were behind us and we were doing alright but what we thought were the sweepers were actually the clean up crew.  At mile 10 the sweeper popped out from a side street and got us.

finishI was sad at first and nearly shed a tear or two but there was an amazing woman on our bus who told me and the others we had nothing to be disappointed about.  We got out and did it.  We should also not be upset and beat ourselves up as we have been surrounded by plenty of people who do that to us against our will so we should not inflict that ourselves. We did a great job. I got farther than a lot of people. I did not quit as a lot of people did.  I kept going no matter how it hurt and I was honest and did not take any of the cheats that I did see others take.  If I had taken one of those cheats I would have finished. But then the whole thing would not have meant as much and where is the pride of finishing if you took shortcuts. I did it and I made it a long way.  I am a little disappointed that I did not finish but the pride and sense of accomplishment I have for what I did and how far I got (without cheating) outweighs that 10 fold.  I will forever cherish that medal.  I will always remember the trials of race day and knowing that I over came nearly being swept twice in 4 or so miles to make it 10 miles is a huge accomplishment and one that can never be taken away.  I again owe that to Miss Pandora and all of our amazing sponsors.  This truly was one of the best times of my life.

hulkMy advice to the next person who wants to do this is try, try, try.  This is possible and it can be done. You have to not be afraid to try to go for it. But realize that it is also a lot of very hard work. You have to be willing to push yourself out of your comfort zone.  I did maybe take it a bit easy after I hurt my back as I was scared to get hurt and miss out totally.  You have to believe that you can do it.  I think you have to research what needs to be done. I never ate or took water on my training runs. I know now that was a bad idea  and that I needed to do that. So I have learned a lot. I also learned that even though I hated it ( at first) and had some doubts about it, my making it 10 miles has made me want to try this again.  So a huge thank you to Pandora for that.  I do hope that I did our sponsors and Miss Pandora proud as I am incredibly proud of myself and what I accomplished during my trip.

This trip also provided a lot of firsts and some healing for me as well. I do not travel alone do to some drama in the past. I almost fainted at the airport on the morning of my flight but I did it. I went all through the airports alone surrounded by strangers and survived that.  I was able to walk in Anaheim some alone and be ok.  Most importantly I was able to do something I was not sure that I could do. I ran in a huge event. Hell I was able to run period.  I do not handle crowds or strangers well and yet I ran with 15,000 people.  So again I owe a huge thank you to Pandora and our amazing sponsors.  Thank you also to Heather, Tammy, Sandy, Kelly, Logan and the godfather  for cheering us on. It was great to meet all of you.

Yes you did read correctly. I am going to do this again. I am going to run another half the end of April. I am also going to start to train for a mini triathlon. I wanted to do it this year but it was only about 6 weeks away when I found out about it and I haven’t ridden a bike in 25 years so I think that was just to close for me to try it this go round. I am also going to go back to the Tinker Bell Half Marathon next year. I will finish. It is my mission to do that.

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Pandora Williams author of Desperately Seeking Slender is a  Cooper Approved Wellness Coach Trained in Weight Management Strategies and Motivational Speaker studying to become a Certified Personal Trainer.

Slender Seekers Gold Team Sponsors:

Kay's Logo

Kay’s Naturals
Like Kay’s Naturals on Facebook ]

Celebratecmyk
Celebrate Vitamins
Like Celebrate Vitamins on Facebook ]

PSA logo red from vector file
Pace Setter Athletic
Like Pace Setter Athletic on Facebook ]

Slender Seekers Silver Team Sponsors:

Bariatrics_Banner_Ad

Team Slender and The #20Week2Tink Training Program was made possible by:

The “How Do YOU Celebrate Success” contest sponsors:

KayssmallCelebrateSmallPSAsmall

Please support our sponsors!

Tinker Bell Half Marathon Celebrating a win against Obesity

33e684b278ce11e3bea312e473e15c6c_8It’s 5am on Saturday and I wish I could say that I had a relaxing day ahead of me or that I wasn’t the type of person that gets stressed out about packing. Both would be falsities.  I’m the type of person that normally stresses out packing for a week-long or two-week vacation, let alone a convention, and this time, I am packing for the Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend and my move to North Carolina to take a new job as a Weight Loss Program Leader and Membership Sales Manager.

Tomorrow a new chapter of my life begins as I leave OR with Heather and one of my Jack Russell Terriers, Manny, and start making my way to these next two big milestones.

Boxes have been packed, some have been shipped, some will be going with me in the car, but the suitcase of what I will have available to me over the next few weeks is still looming over my head this morning, as is taking down and packing up my desktop computer.

“Second star to the right and straight on ‘till morning.”

Heather is the type of person that can pack a suitcase in 15-20 minutes and never worry that she’s forgotten anything important. Me, I’m worse than Santa Claus, making a list, checking it three, four, five times. Do I have everything? What if I forgot something important? Because you know what, in my world apparently overnight mail hasn’t been invented yet.

Tomorrow morning we will leave Portland and drive as far as we can in the day, likely somewhere near Redding, CA where we will stop for the night and get some rest and then get up Monday morning and head into Santa Maria, CA where we will stop for a visit and dinner with my dear friend Tammy and my Godfather.

Tuesday morning we’ll be heading south to Ventura, where we’re going to stop and see my WLS Parents, Sandi and Chuck Henderson, you probably know Sandi from her website BandedLiving.com, we’ll be stopping to visit with them and having dinner with them to celebrate my new job in North Carolina.

Bright and Early Wednesday morning, ( After a workout even perhaps ) We’ll be heading even more south and arriving in Los Angeles, where Heather and I will spend a day doing something fun and exciting, I’m putting a short run on the southern CA beaches on my to-do list.

a508225c7a7e11e3b7650e1e7e7c6e3f_8Thursday morning it’s time to meet up with my How Do You Celebrate Success contest winner Dawn Brell and begin our Magical Weekend and Disneyland in Anaheim CA for the Tinker Bell half Marathon weekend. Be sure you follow me on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram if you want to be part of the fun and see all the photos and check-in’s we’ll be posting from the weekend.

We’ve’ve got so much fun stuff ahead of us that weekend. We’ll be spending time at the Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend Expo, a day in the Disneyland Theme park, and of course, the Tinker Bell Half Marathon itself; 13.1 miles of faith trust and pixie dust in one of the happiest places on earth.

The only regret I have at this point is that I didn’t sign up for the Never Land Family Fun Run 5K and the Tinker Bell 10K and do all three on Friday-Saturday-Sunday. If I come back for the Tinker Bell next year which I sure hope I do, that will be my plan for sure.

Sunday morning, Heather, Tammy, my Godfather, Sandi and Chuck will all be driving into LA to be there at the finish line when Dawn and I cross clapping and cheering. I’m so lucky to have such amazingly supportive friends and chosen family in my life.

After the weekend, I’ll be giving some very emotional goodbye hugs as my Godfather and I start the next leg of my trip, getting me to North Carolina in time to start my new job at the beginning of February. But first I’ll be stopping in Dallas for a short visit with some of my near and dear Dallas peeps and for a quick follow-up visit with my Plastic Surgeon.

420Pounds

There is just so much to do, I must go, and I have to get back to packing. But I wanted to make sure that I wrote about how excited I am. Disneyland CA, here comes the new and improved COACH Pandora. You may have seen me most my life, battling obesity, struggling to move around your perimeter, trying to be the most invisible large person known to man out of fear someone might notice me and make fun of me or make a rude comment to me. You’ve even seen me in the middle of my weight loss journey when I came back for a visit with some family, but you’you’ve never seen me like this! You’ve never seen me at a happy healthy weight, running a half marathon and bringing one of my weight loss coaching clients with me along the way.

Watch out Disneyland here I come – “Second star to the right and straight on ‘till morning.” Because this previously 420 lb. morbidly obese girl who had to roll around in a scooter to make it an entire day in your park is about to show you what she’s made of now because “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”

Remember this before photo? This was me; weighing 420 lb. Standing next to Eeyore at Disneyland. This is me last week on my 14 mile training run:

And lastly, if you’re thinking “Wow she’s about to run a Half Marathon, I sure wish I could do that.” Let me just remind you that you CAN, and hopefully I’ll be giving another lucky blog reader the opportunity to do that with me again soon. As I finish packing and head out for this Half Marathon, which will be my 5th Half Marathon since June – (That’s right, 5 Half Marathons in less than a year) the thought most prevalent in my mind is: THIS is how *I* Celebrate Success; I fought Obesity and I won.

It’s time for me to go Slender Seekers, but for now, let me leave you with some very wise words from Mr. Walt Disney himself to inspire you.

Before I leave you this morning Slender Seekers I want to ask you to please go visit the pages of the sponsors that made this all possible, without them, none of this would have come to fruition and Dawn and I wouldn’t have this amazing opportunity.

“If you can dream it, you can do it.”

“The way to get started is to quit talking and being doing.”

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Pandora Williams author of Desperately Seeking Slender is a  Cooper Approved Wellness Coach Trained in Weight Management Strategies and Motivational Speaker studying to become a Certified Personal Trainer.

Slender Seekers Gold Team Sponsors:

Kay's Logo

Kay’s Naturals
Like Kay’s Naturals on Facebook ]

Celebratecmyk
Celebrate Vitamins
Like Celebrate Vitamins on Facebook ]

PSA logo red from vector file
Pace Setter Athletic
Like Pace Setter Athletic on Facebook ]

Slender Seekers Silver Team Sponsors:

Bariatrics_Banner_Ad

Team Slender and The #20Week2Tink Training Program was made possible by:

The “How Do YOU Celebrate Success” contest sponsors:

KayssmallCelebrateSmallPSAsmall

Please support our sponsors!

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Author: Pandora Williams

Author of Desperately Seeking Slender

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