We did it!

Where do I begin? Our five-year wedding anniversary trip is over and we are now back home in good ol’ Alexandria, Minnesota. We ran our second half-marathon, we drank lots of wine, we ate good food and oh, so much more.

I have so many great memories of our trip to California…the time spent with my amazingly awesome husband, the scenery, the wineries, the weather, the food, the walks, the talks, the people, the wines and of course, THE race.

But there is one memory that will forever stay etched in my mind and is one I will never forget because it brought me to sobbing tears. Something happened that I never expected and made me believe in something I never thought I would, nor could. It’s kind of weird, to be honest. (And┬átechnically, there are two events that brought me to tears, but let me tell you about the first one first!)

The photo below, captured by a MarathonFoto photographer, says it all. Well, if you know the story behind it, that is!

It may not be the best photo, but it still brings tears to my eyes. And you can’t necessarily see it in this photo, but I was sobbing at this point.

Let me back up a little. I love running to music and a couple of weeks before the race, I asked my son, Brandon, to make me a playlist of songs. I said I wasn’t picky and that I just wanted fun, upbeat, up tempo music to run to. The only requirement…it couldn’t include rap…well, not all rap. I was open to pretty much anything else. I never got a playlist from him. And, I will admit, I was a little irked at first. UNTIL, he explained to me that it was kind of a lot of pressure and that he didn’t want it to be his fault if I ran slow because of the music he picked. Totally didn’t think of that, but after he explained it, it made TOTAL sense. I was no longer irked.

So, fast-forward to the day before the race as Al and I were sitting in our hotel room in downtown San Jose. I finally decided that I would just make a quick playlist and pick random songs that I knew I liked and were upbeat, up tempo and good for running. Well, for the most part. I put a total of 56 songs in my “San Jose half-marathon playlist,” including songs by Bruce Springsteen, Adele, Train, Sting, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Nickelback, Ozzy Osbourne, Chickenfoot, Linkin Park, Maroon Five, Eagles, Lady Gaga, Eddie Vedder, Bush, Rihanna, Styx, David Cook, Muse, Pink, Neon Trees, U2, Triumph, LMFAO, Bob Seger, Candlebox and Miley Cyrus. Yes, Miley. I know Miss Cyrus is kind of getting a bad rap right now, but there is one song of hers I absolutely love, “The Climb.”

Now keep in mind, I had 56 different songs and when I hit “play,” I hit shuffle. There was no particular order to my music. I just listened to whatever came next. Now, fast forward to about mile 10, when I started getting pretty tired and kind of, somewhat, delirious. I had all sorts of thoughts running through my mind. Runners do this. Just ask my husband, or better yet, read his opinion column that was in the Friday edition of the Echo Press!

For some reason, I was really thinking about my sister, Donna, who passed away from breast cancer nearly three years ago. I thought about how proud of me she would have been for running, as well as how crazy she probably thought I was for taking up the sport! Donna always supported me, no matter what I was into and no matter what I was doing. I know my other five siblings also support me and are proud of me, but Donna and I just had this thing, this bond. Sometimes, I feel bad for that. I really do. Anyway, as I was running, I was thinking about how cool it would have been to have her there cheering me on, but then I thought, you know what, she is with me. She’s always with me because she is forever in my heart.

I know my sister, Karen, has “felt” Donna’s presence from time to time and things have happened that make her know Donna is “there.” I’ve always been a little jealous of that, but at the same time, fearful. I have to be honest with you here, I am not the biggest believer of spirits or “that” kind of stuff. You know, GHOSTS!

But I tell you what, I am now a believer.

Around mile 11 or 12, I said to myself (not out loud!), “Okay, Donna, if you are here, make sure ‘The Climb’ plays before I am done. That way, I know you are here with me.”

I kept listening. I kept running. I kept getting closer to the finish line. Right before the voice in my earbuds announced, “mile 13,” Miley’s voice came through loud and clear and “The Climb,” started playing. I lost it. I couldn’t hold back. The tears just flowed freely. I sobbed – almost uncontrollably. It was the moment I wanted, needed. It was exactly what I knew would get me to the finish line. And it couldn’t have been more picture perfect or more “Lifetime” movie-like. It felt like I was running in slow motion. I felt alone, but yet I knew I wasn’t. Donna was there – well, along with the hundreds of spectators lining the streets. It was the most surreal moment I have ever had in my life. Almost unexplainable.

The second the song was done, I shut my music off. I didn’t need to hear anymore. I didn’t want to hear anymore. And within seconds, or what felt like seconds, I crossed the finish line. My pace, which was at a 14:06, dropped to an 11:54 during the song. It was my only negative split during the whole race, which means my pace dropped and I ran faster than the previously recorded time.

Within seconds of crossing the finish line, I spotted the only familiar face in the crowd, my husband’s. I couldn’t have been happier to see him at that very moment. He grabbed me, hugged me tightly and once again, I sobbed like a baby.

This is another shot that the photographer got of “THAT” moment. Whoever it was has no idea how much this means to me. Thank you, Marathonfoto.

Stay tuned this week for more about our trip, including TONS of pics. If you want to see pics now, check out my Facebook page.

Loss

I am going to write about a different kind of loss today. It’s not the kind of loss you see at the scale, but the kind of loss you feel in your heart.

Yesterday, January 31, I lost my big sis, Donna, to breast cancer. She was 58 years old. She is the oldest sibling in my family and I am the baby. There are seven of us total and although we are “happy” she is no longer suffering, we are saddened and hurt that she is no longer with us. She is gone. At least her body is gone. But her soul, her spirit still lives on. She will forever hold a dear, dear place in my heart.

My big sis, whom I have idolized since I was little, fought the battle for nine years. She was diagnosed right before her 50th birthday and let me tell you, I will never forget that phone call. It was like a knife was pushed right inside my heart and turned and twisted until I couldn’t feel it anymore. Donna, my big sis, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Not that I wish it upon anyone, because I DON’T, but why her? Well, it’s because Donna could take it. Donna was tough, strong, resilient and a fighter. She fought long and hard against this disease that eventually ended up taking over her body. But it didn’t take her soul. She never felt sorry for herself. She always saw the good in everything. She grabbed the bulls by the horn and gave cancer a fight like it has probably never seen.

Unfortunately, however, it – the God awful disease called cancer – won the battle. It took my sister. It took one of my best friends. It took my mentor. My idol. My hero.

When someone loses a loved one, there is this pit that hangs out in your stomach. Sometimes, it needs to be fed and sometimes, you want to feed it the stuff you THINK is going to make it go away. It doesn’t. It’s there. And I think it will be for awhile. But I know that I need to keep going. I need to forge ahead. I need to make the right decisions when it comes to my healthy living journey. Donna would want me to.

When I received the phone call that my big sis, my Donna, had passed, it was like that knife was there again, twisting and turning. Although we were “prepared” for her death, prepared to get that phone call, it still hurt. It still cut like a knife into my heart.

I know the healing process will begin soon, but I also know that it will take a long time. A long, long time. As I move forward without her, without my “big sis,” I will take all the wonderful memories, the cherished times we spent together and hold them close to my heart. I will think of her often and I will smile. Smile at the time – albeit too short – that we had together. I love ya, big sis. Rest in peace.

My sisters, Karen and Donna (middle), and me. No, the nose rings are not real....we put them in and took a picture to send to our mom!

You might enjoy these pics…

Okay, I was going through some pictures tonight and found some before pics and some after pics that I thought might like to see.

All I can say is WOW! Hope you enjoy them as much I did:

This was Christmas of 2007. Seriously, my face was so CHUBBY! I kind of miss the red highlights I used to put in my hair, though. Kind of cool, huh? 

This was April of 2008 on a weekend trip to Chicago with my sisters. Uff da. 

This was October 8, 2008. I have probably posted this one before, but this is the one that always gets me. I basically started Weight Watchers one month after this. As much as I loved this day (it’s the day I got married to the bestest man in the whole world), I don’t particularly care for the photos.

And, here are some new ones from this past weekend:

May of 2010 – my husband and I were supposed to go the Twins game, but it unfortunately got rained out. Hopefully we’ll take in a game sometime this summer.

My son, Brandon, myself and my husband, Al, went to Chanhassen Dinner Theatre on Saturday night, May 8, to see Footloose. This was taken before the play.

This was taken on Sunday, May 9 at the Race for the Cure walk at the Mall of America. This is my sister, Karen, my sister, Donna (who is battling her second round of breast cancer right now) and my mom, Leona.

Let me know what you think either by posting a comment here or sending me an email to confessionsofaformerfatgirl@gmail.com.

Mammo

I had a mammogram this morning and I have to share a funny story. First, this is my third mammogram I have ever had. I started when I was 35  because, unfortunately, my sister has breast cancer.

Actually, she could use a few prayers right now as she is battling it again. She was first diagnosed when she was 50 years old. Then, seven years later, she was diagnosed with breast cancer again. She is currently being treated for it. She’s fighting hard this time, but I know she is going to win the fight again! So, next time you’re saying your prayers, feel free to add one for my sister, Donna. Thanks.

So, this morning, at my mammo appointment, I told the technician about my weight loss and told her she would have less boob to squish this time. I explained that I had went from a size 38D to a size 36B! Well, because of this, she had to use the smaller-sized plates and for some reason, that cracked me up. After she plopped it up there, she said, "Oh, I think I’m going to have to use the smaller plate." I just smiled.

Then, I asked if she had my pictures from last year and she did. All I can say is WOW! There was definitely a difference. 

So, that is my funny story for the day.

Now, let me tell you what my family has planned for this weekend. It should be fun, but I am little nervous because there is going to be a lot of eating out. AARGHH!!!!

Tonight, we are headed to a MN Twins game at the new Target Field – well, depending if Mother Nature doesn’t decide to downpour on us, raining out the game. 

Tomorrow, we are meeting some family for lunch at the Mall of America and then my hubby, son and I are will be going to Chanhassen Dinner Theatre to see Footloose. Really excited about this!

Sunday should be the best day of all! Several members of my family – at least two sisters, a brother-in-law, mom and dad, sister-in-law, niece, nephew’s girlfriend, hubby and son – will be walking the 5K in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure at the Mall of America! Seriously excited about this! 

I will post pictures from this weekend sometime next week.

Take care and remember, if you feel like sending me an email, you can now do so at confessionsofaformerfatgirl@gmail.com. Also, you can find Confessions of a Fat Girl on Facebook. Check it out, become a fan! I would love to have you!