Running for my Life

I told someone the other day that I don’t really like to run, I do it because it is a way to measure my fitness. When I started trying to come back from morbid obesity in 2008, I could walk, but not too fast and not super far without a lot of pain. I started doing sprints in November 2009 – run as fast as I could for 30 seconds, then walk back. Run 30 seconds, walk back. I could do maybe 5, sometimes 10 if I really pushed myself. I have no idea how far I went – it was inside, so I’m guessing 20 yards. But you’ve got to start somewhere and that was where I started.

On Thursday I celebrated two milestones: one year of successfully managing my weight loss after gastric bypass and being able to run a 5k. I ran the first mile without stopping with a time around 12 minutes. The course was more hilly than where I’d trained, so I’m actually pretty happy about that. I finished the 5k in 37 minutes and 38 seconds which means I averaged 12 minute 32 second miles. Not too shabby considering I walked at least 1 mile of that.

I’m an athlete. I have completed a triathlon. I have run my second 5k. I kickbox, swim, bike, run, lift weights, walk, hike, snorkel and now I am adding scuba to that list. (Great class last night – spent lots of time in gear on the bottom of the 12 foot pool. Never made it that far in my previous attempts!) Next – belly dancing!

Here are a few pictures from my surgiversary “party”:

Will the Real Karen Renee Couch Brier Please Stand Up?

A friend from the WLS board commented on my post about this not being the new me, but the REAL me. That made me think. Who is the real me? The real me is someone I live with almost every day now, but I only got glimpses of her in the past. She’s smart and strong. She’s fierce and brave and adventurous. She’s witty and entertaining and not always tactful or politically correct. She’s messy and creative but loves making order out of chaos. She’s easily hurt but a good actress that can hide it. She loves to sing but is tone deaf. She wants to be a writer when she grows up, but keeps showing up at her day job so she can support her husband and son in their homeschool adventure (who in turn support her in her goals to get healthy).

So when have I glimpsed the real Karen?

  • When I was a little girl called KayKay who lived at the dead end of a dirt road but read every book she could find (thank you Nanny and Aunt Tena for the books)
  • Like when I joined 4H in the 4th grade so I could do presentations and get over being shy. (I think that worked, don’t you?)
  • When I decided in the 6th grade to be a writer and started writing.  (Mrs. Agnew – where are you?? See? I’m writing!)
  • When I learned in the 7th grade that it was easier to win a fight with my brain and my smart mouth than my fists
  • When I got my counselor to get me waivers so I could apply to every Ivy League school  (and got into Yale…)
  • When I played Albert’s Mother in Bye Bye Birdie and wore combat boots with a sable coat and sang from a trash can in my senior play. (Hi David and Lana!)
  • When I worked to support myself through college with sometimes 2 or 3 jobs at a time.
  • When I got a job at the Yale Film Studies department so I could see every movie ever made
  • When I took on some bullies in the TV room one night over Remington Steele vs the football game and won (and most important, met my best friend)
  • When I talked the head of British Studies into letting me into the program so I could study abroad.
  • When I went to London with only $400 and managed to live on it for 4 months until my scholarship check finally arrived after the Yale strike  (thank you Ellen, I will never forget you!)
  • When I bought a beaded black gown in a thrift store and threw a huge party just to wear it (I miss you, Sam)
  • When I stood up to a bully head cook in a restaurant where I was waiting tables to pay for my first car and took off my uniform and threw it at him and then told him off  (so loud everyone in the restaurant heard!)
  • When I impulsively decided to move back to Georgia rather than hanging around waiting for a guy to notice me (Danny, did you ever know?) and was packed and moved two weeks later (Thank you Meredith! I miss you Lisa and Cathy)
  • All the times I sold everything I had to travel (and then slept on sofas when I got back (Thanks, Andy!)
  • When I worked at Coke and got to travel around the world (Miss you Ross, Teresa, Rose, Karen, Julie, Sandra, Rick – best team ever)
  • When I went to Spark and discovered I was a “whole brain” and understood why I could always see both sides of an argument (to the point where it annoys even me)
  • When I was on the board of directors of ARCA and helped run the Uncork a Cure fundraiser (Hello, Andrew! Chris and Matt!)
  • When I volunteered for a 3 month assignment in Africa and had to leave for the airport the same day.
  • When I found out I had a four day wait in Nairobi and was on a plane for the Masa Mara an hour later.
  • When I met Fred and was friends before anything else. (And we’re still friends almost 16 years later)
  • When I quit my job at Coke after a completely unfair and politically motivated review
  • When I had a new job 45 minutes later, closer to home, business casual and a 30% increase in pay (thank you, Fred – the best revenge is living well!)
  • When I used my huge profit from my Coke stock to take a year off
  • When I hiked the Appalachian Trail
  • When I kept going when my partner quit after the 1st week (Hi Ron and Sheri!)
  • When I planned our beautiful wedding at Nantahalla Outdoor Center alongside the AT (and 12 years later, people STILL talk about it!)
  • When I said no the first time Fred proposed (I really needed to make sure HE was sure)
  • When I went to Montreal to help with the twins after my miscarriage
  • When I had my hysterectomy and started to get control of my health for the first time in decades
  • When I went to Sante Fe on a spa trip with Meredith (we need to go again SOON)
  • When I traveled to London, Dubai and Singapore for IHG and did great work and had a blast
  • When I joined Weight Watchers
  • When I found a weight loss therapist
  • When I had weight loss surgery
  • When I signed up for kickboxing
  • When I joined the first Biggest Losers Challenge
  • When I started my blog and started writing EVERY DAY (what took me so long?)
  • When I went to my 25th reunion wearing clothes from the Goodwill (and looked GREAT!)
  • When I was the first one on the dance floor with my son at Reunions
  • When I signed up for scuba lessons
  • When I signed up for belly dancing

Well, now they are getting to be pretty much every day or at least every week, so I guess I need to stop listing them. Thanks, Teresa for the inspiration. Thanks to anyone who is reading. Thanks to Dr. Finley for my surgery. Thanks to Fred and Jacob for always being there for me. Thanks to my friends and family who have been so supportive.

It’s been an amazing year, but it’s only one year out of 47 amazing years. I can’t wait for the next 53!