The Church of Running

photo(17)by Candice Vasquez

“I believe Rogue is like the Church of Running and I’m a running evangelist. My
purpose is to convert each of you into running lovers. Which I can guarantee you will be
at the end of this class. I promise you.” -Jeff Knight.

If you know Jeff or have ever trained with Jeff than you know that “ I promise you” and “trust me” are his famous last words. If you are a Rogue Newbie get used to hearing these words A LOT, trust me, your life is about to change forever (see what just happened there?).

I guess I should tell you a little about who I am and what led me to write this
post. After the last five weeks I have affectionately gained the title FKIC or Fat Kid In
Charge. Before you go all Conservative Liberal and blow a gasket, I was the one who coined this term and LOVE it. When I’m not referring to myself as FKIC I go by Candice and fate actually brought me to Rogue–yep, good’ole fashion fate. Per usual I was working late one day and a co-worker just happened to walk out of her office wearing her Rogue Running shirt. We got to chatting about what it was, how she loved it, how things
functioned and what her future goals were. This is when the wheels started turning.
Let’s Marty McFly for a moment to 2011. I had just lost 30 pounds I was now
under 200 pounds for the first time in what felt like forever. I was working out, eating
right and finding a passion for running. I ran the Turkey Trot in November 2011 and was
“training” (I use that term loosely) for Cap 10 K. Well, I was about to be hit with the biggest shock of my life. I couldn’t quite figure out why I had lost all of my energy, my weight had plateaued at 187 and no matter what I tried I couldn’t run two feet without feeling like I was going to bust a lung. I should also probably mention that I’m an asthmatic who likes to pretend that she isn’t one.

You might want to sit down for the next piece of news… You probably won’t believe what I am about to tell you anyway but it’s all true; I couldn’t make this shit up if I tried. Turns out the reason that I couldn’t get my shit together was because I was five months pregnant! I had no idea. But that’s a whole different blog entry – let’s fast forward. It’s February of 2013 and I still can’t get it together. I’ve paleo’ed, I’ve given up wheat, dairy, beer, AND my beloved Dr. Pepper. I have even managed to go “run” a few times. But my accountability wasn’t there. I knew in the back of my mind that I want to run again-I wanted to spend time talking to myself and just being. That is really what running is for me. So I hopped online and checked out Rogue.

I instantly thought “ OH, I got this, this looks great! There’s a girl my size on the front page – if she’s not red faced and dying maybe I won’t die either!” which quickly turned into “wait, how do I even know that she is a Rogue and not some random photo from the internet?” Somehow I managed to find myself on the half marathon page–umm yeah right, I was looking for the Fat Kid section, the one where running 1/2 a block is a huge feat. I eventually found it and roped my best friend, Lauren, into joining the Intro to Running class too.

It’s the first day and I’m 45 minutes early because there’s a 100% possibility that traffic will suck and the risk of being late isn’t worth the anxiety. Lauren and I make our way into the building and that’s it, game over. I should also mention that I’m the Chatty Cathy friend and Lauren is the reserved friend. Insert awkward standing around, the super runners are gathering and talking about their recent run from Antarctica to the Great Wall, how it sucked more this time than the last 7 times they ran it. Everyone is friendly but you don’t know what the hell you are about to get yourself into.

We meet Jeff and he thinks the blonde girl is Candice and the brunette girl is Lauren, even though he introduced us to 7 different ladies in our group. We will also spend the next three weeks with the wrong names. NO JOKE 3 weeks! As we were waiting for class to get started we began chatting with some fellow running mates. I fill them in on what I know and even go so far to quote my co-workers saying “they don’t push you”, “you run at your own pace”, “no one will make you run more than you can”. Yeah, i should really learn to keep my big mouth shut…

We’ve been welcomed, we’ve grabbed out maps and our course is the “The Wiggle.” We are about to run down a back alley, along the rail road tracks and meet up on a part of “Lamar” I never knew about. And here is were I got myself in trouble. Jeffery said “ I don’t want anyone running alone, you must have a partner.” It might have had something to do with the fact our group was female only. So when Agnes, a fellow FKIC was trailing behind I had to slow down and wait for her. We weren’t supposed to run alone damn-it! Agnes hadn’t run in 13 years and was struggling so I pulled out my cheerleader hat and nicely pushed her on.

“Come on, you can do it”, “you got this”, “just a little further”, “you’re almost there don’t
stop”–Yep I totally Tony Robbins’ed it up. Oy Vay. Well we all survived and it was a good
quick run. I however was already letting that little voice in my head start to tear me
down. I was disappointed in myself and I couldn’t let it go. I planned on redeeming
myself on our Saturday Long run but that was a BIG ’ole bust! Lauren and I were late so
we walked 2 or so miles in the freezing rain.
! Now it’s on to week two and I’m going to make this run my bitch. That was an
epic fail!!! I have never been in so much calf pain in my life. I thought muscle was going
to rip off the bone. I literally tip toed my way up some random street to meet up with Jeff
and the water cooler. He could see that I was in pain, he was even kind enough to ask
me if I wanted a ride back. UMMMM… no. I was going to waddle my ass back come hell or high water. I’m pretty sure this was the moment that Jeff knew I had inner strength hiding underneath all of myself doubt. Luckily, we were learning about Trigger Point exercises that evening which meant I could really get some good productive pain going.  When Saturday rolled around I managed to over sleep and bailed on our long run.
After a disastrous Week Two, I knew the third was going to suck. Surprisingly it
wasn’t that bad and I survived with a little bit of pride in my run. I Trigger Point-ed
before the run and again after the run. This little routine is something that I have learned I can NOT skip. My body needs it if I want to have a good run I need to be completely stretched out.
Week Four would normally be the end of the class but since ours ended right in time for Cap 10K, Jeff added an extra week for those running the race. I of course was one of those suckers. Week four DID NOT go so well. It was “HIlls Week”.. not much had changed in my body liking hills so I was in pain, and I had made the decision to leave my job of three years and was stressed out to the max. I really needed the run to clear my head; that’s pretty much what happened. Lauren had to miss the class so I was on my own but that was okay; I needed the alone time. Per usual I was bringing up the caboose of the group and Jeff knew something was wrong as it was taking longer than normal for me to meet up with them. He ran down to find me huffing and complaining about how my calf hurt again and I was on the verge of tears. I managed to hold them all in until our very last hill circuit. That’s when I lost it. I held it together long enough for the rest of the group to start back to Rogue. Every emotion that I had held in from the start came flooding up and out. There was no stopping it, there was no hiding that I was disappointed in myself.

I can’t say enough about how great a coach Jeff is – he was there when I needed someone to believe in me. The truth is he always had faith in me, I just didn’t have faith in myself. He took the time to talk me down from the ledge and guided me back to place of strength. After I got it together I started back to Rogue to finish up the evening. On my way back something happened that I never told anyone. I was crossing a street in front of a strip of store fronts when this bouncy blonde came running in the opposite direction. Instead of giving me the usual runners head nod, she smiled at me with immense encouragement. It was almost as if she was saying “hey I’m proud of you for at least being out here and doing something”. I needed that moment more than anything in the world!
So, now I think you’ll better understand why I came up with Fat Kid in Charge. From that breakdown moment on Nelson Hill I knew that I wanted to do more, be more, accomplish more. I want to be there for someone else as they have their breakdown and help lift them up just like Jeff had done for me. Let’s be honest when you are overweight no one really understands the head games you play with yourself and how hard you are on yourself. You don’t need any help from society to tear you down. I ran my grand idea by Jeff and we’ve set a plan in place. We still had one more week after all!!

I made it to week five and I was still alive. Our work out would be a “typical” pre-race workout of straights and curves. Not to horrid. I still couldn’t figure out why I could run one side of the straight and not the other. HA, well that’s because Jeff and picked a street with a slight incline. After the last five weeks I had quickly learned ALL streets in Austin have an incline. Get used to it!! After Jeff and I quickly talked about what wasn’t working, he said “ you’re doing great on the straights, you’re staying tall, you’ve got good strides, you can do this, I’m watching you do it, you got this girl”. Oh boy did I ever, I ran that straight from point A to point B without stopping. I’m pretty sure that I yelled “YES” out when I reached the curve section. I couldn’t have cared less who heard me. I had just did something I didn’t think I could do and I did it well. Three more laps, a quick water break and it was time to head back. Jeff suggested we walk down the hill to 6th Street then run back from there. That is exactly what I did!! For the first time in five weeks I ran all the way back to Rogue. I wouldn’t let Lauren stop; we were almost there and I was determined to make it. It’s these small moments that help make the next run easier. No one, not even your self doubt, can take these away from you. Of course Jeff was proud and excited for us, he always knew we could do it after all.
Our month with Jeff and Rogue was over it was now time for us to run Cap 10K.
It was cold, rainy and EARLY in the morning. Jeff had promised to be at miles 1.7 and
mile 3 something. We knew if we were going to walk it was NOT going to be at either
one of those spots. After a “quick” bathroom stop we were at the back of the race when
we hit mile 1.7, there was no Jeff. Lauren and I figured that he figured we bailed on the
race and left. Well we hit mile 3 something and still no Jeff. We laughed and joked about him leaving us behind as we kept trekking to the finish. As we hit mile 5 we re-set our goals and talked about what it would take to finish. My knee was on the verge of collapse but that wasn’t going to stop me. I had just spent the past five weeks training for this moment, I wasn’t going to let it go. An hour and forty five minutes from the start of this race Lauren and I crossed the finish line. It was pouring down rain at this point and it was the most cleansing moment I had ever had. Once out of the rain we plotted our next move: FOOD. We earned a good meal, a hot shower and a nap.
The soreness had begun to set in, yet somehow that hadn’t fazed us as we were already
planning out next race. We were officially Rogues on the hunt for the next race! I hope that this has given you a grasp of what you are in store for, or maybe it has helped you feel like you aren’t alone in the crazy running world. If you aren’t sure what to do next or if you are searching for a way to feel apart of the crowd don’t worry, I have some helpful hints for you.

*First, VOLUNTEER!! Immerse yourself in the culture. Rogue has some great programs and running events that they are always looking for volunteers for. I personally have worked aid station duty for two trail races and it brings me tons of confidence when the day is over. You will be amazed at how many runners tell you thank you for being there and working the race.

*Second, don’t be afraid to talk to people, especially your coach. I promise we don’t bite and we have all been where you are. And know that if you ever need someone to talk to or (old man pace) run with I am always available.

*Thirdly, stay hydrated. Yeah.. I’m still working on this one, but I can tell you that giving your body what it means makes things so much easier.

*Lastly, HAVE FUN!! That’s the whole point of this after all. Have fun, relax and just let you body do what it wants to do. Trust me it all works out.

Oh, and Welcome to the Church of Running. Once you go Rogue you don’t go back!!!
Happy Running,
FKIC

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4 thoughts on “The Church of Running

  1. I’ve considered joining a run class at Rogue but have always felt too intimidated because I’m not fast, am overweight, don’t know anyone, don’t want to slow everyone else down, etc. Your post has given me a LOT of food for thought. Maybe this will be the catalyst for finally doing it instead of just wishing I’d do it!

    • Do it jewlee! If you are even a tiny bit interested, you should come and check things out. You may feel intimidated, but Rogue is a very accepting and open place. I have been running with Rogue for about 4 years now, and love it. My only regret is that I did not start sooner! Hope to see you around ….

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