Updated: Nov 4
October 30th, 2022 a month after I turned 49, I received my first medal.
And not just any medal.
It was a medal for running a half marathon.
But first... let me back up and start at the beginning.
I never was an athlete.
Growing up, I played in the band and played piano.
I loathed gym class, and pretty much any physical activity.
I played softball for one year, and am pretty sure I struck out every single time I was up to bat.
My history with (any) physical activity began in my college years to burn calories so that I could lose weight. I never did it because I liked it. The goal was always to step on the scale and see a lower number. The lower the number, the more I exerted myself.
The higher the number, I exerted myself even more. The height of my physical activity (mostly running), came after my 30th birthday.
Weighing in at almost 180 pounds, I was on a quest to lose weight.
As my weight began to come off, I wanted more of it off. I joined Lucille Roberts and ran on the treadmill for at least 30 minutes, 3x/week.
I also found an almost brand-new treadmill on Craigslist for $50, and scooped that up!
I wanted the freedom to “run” at home. Again, the “running” in my mind was just burning calories —> lose weight —> lower number on the scale.
When I became pregnant with my youngest daughter, just before I turned 40, I stopped running.
After she was born, and I was given the green light by my doctor, I began some light jogging, this time with a jogging stroller.
The reason was still the same.
To lose weight.
Except, this time it was the excess baby weight I so desperately wanted to lose.
I don’t know why, maybe it was something I heard, or maybe it was just my brain setting the limits.
I ONLY ever ran for 30 minutes and/or 3 miles. That was always the limit for me.
Fast Forward To May 2021
I felt a pull in my heart.
I felt a struggle in my body for more. Something inside me was telling me I COULD do more. I was made for more.
With sweaty palms, and a racing heart I made an appointment at a local gym. Not just any gym. This was a Crossfit gym. Specializing in the hard. Talk about a fish out of water! I was scared, I was nervous. So many days during class I had the inner conversation with myself (and all the voices in my head), about how I didn’t belong in this gym. I didn’t belong with these people. I wasn’t an athlete like them.
Many days in class, we ran as part of the warm-up, or part of the workout itself.
While I didn’t mind the running, I seemed to always feel like I was at the back of the class. Again, my mind would tell me I wasn’t an athlete. I had no business trying to do any better.
Just keep the pace you know, because that’s what you can do.
The day came, when within the workout, running 1 mile was included (as well as other movements). I remember coming around the corner, running back into the gym, and looking at my time on the clock. I jumped up and down and cheered at myself with pure JOY.
I did it! I had officially run faster than I had ever run before. 1 mile in 9:30.
For some, this is slow.
For me, this was AMAZING.
This was the turning point. I began to see what my body was capable of. This had nothing to do with the number on the scale, or the number of calories burned.
In fact, I hadn’t even tracked this run on my phone, or with the app I normally used.
Calories and steps didn’t matter to me! My body just kicked ass, and I was celebrating that!
AND THAT'S WHEN IT ALL STARTED TO CHANGE!
The gym I belonged to was participating in an annual event (although I had never been part of it before), called the Crossfit Open. The Open was over a 3-week period, with 3 different workouts for each week. I had no idea what this was. When I say no idea, I mean absolutely NO idea. There was an email that went out asking if you (members of the gym )wanted to participate. If yes, fill out a form.
I filled out the form.
I waited for an explanation on the next steps. I was in. Each week the workout was given to us on Thursday to look over and prepare. Saturday we showed up at our designated time. We were judged and completed our workout. Again, my brain kept telling me I wasn’t fit enough. I wasn’t an athlete. What the f@*# was I thinking?
I showed up.
I was scared.
I was nervous.
I had NEVER done anything like this in my life.
I completed each workout every week.
I wasn’t last, but I wasn’t first. Once again, I proved to myself that I could do (hard) things I never imagined myself doing. I didn’t know it yet, But my brain and body were slowly accepting the fact that I was an athlete.
Yep, it was about that time again for the gym to ask if we wanted to participate in another challenging workout. This time, it was going to involve training outside of our regular classes in order to prepare ourselves for the workout.
1 mile run
1 mile run
Once again, I said yes.
Once again, I signed up having absolutely NO idea what to expect or how I would feel. I committed to the additional workouts each week. I committed to training for and finishing the MURPH at the end of May.
It was hard.
I did it!
Another step closer to my brain and body believing in what I was able to do.
Now... it's July 2022
The week before we leave for our summer vacation, an email lands in my inbox.
This time, it’s the coach asking if anyone wants to train to run a half marathon at the end of October. My first thought? Hell NO! Is she crazy????
The 2nd day on our vacation, just before breakfast I decided to go for a run.
Started out as a light jog, and before I knew it, I was back at the house having run 3 miles. I’m pretty sure it must have been my vacation high. But I texted the coach and asked her if it was too late for me to sign up for the half marathon training. You guessed it. Of course it wasn’t. And of course she was thrilled to have me join the training.
Only, here’s the thing.
Once again, I had NO idea what I was getting myself into.
In fact, I truly thought the half marathon was only 10 miles. Certainly not 13.1! Imagine my surprise when I returned to the gym after vacation and found out the half marathon was actually 13.1 miles. Could I have backed out? Absolutely! Was I nervous and scared? Absolutely!
I told myself I was committed. And I was committed. For the next 10 weeks, I trained every week.
Remember how I said the farthest I had ever run was only 3 miles? Well, in our very first week of training, a 4-mile run was on the schedule. I just about threw up when I saw that number! How the heck was I supposed to run that? Wasn’t there a period of time when I could work up to 4 miles?
I specifically remember that first 4 miles...
It was painful. I got a cramp in my side. I had to stop and walk for a few minutes. I was upset at myself for not doing better. Then I stopped and reminded myself… This was the first time I had run 4 miles. The first time!
I won’t say each long run became easier after that initial 4 miles, Although, in some ways they did. As each run got longer, my running time became longer. I gently reminded myself this was the best I had ever done. Before this, I had NEVER run as far as I am right now.
I took another big leap in the middle of my training (after my 6-mile run). And invested in an actual pair of running shoes. Like, I went to a running store. I was fitted with shoes that worked with my body and my feet. I sure did feel like a big girl now! Now, there was absolutely NO turning back!
I had committed to the training AND had invested a good amount of money in the proper shoes to carry me across that finish line.
The next few weeks of training went by fast. I was learning how to pace myself. I was being mindful and practicing what I knew I could handle on race day. Each run, I would remind myself this is more than I had ever done before. I had paired up with someone else from the gym for our long runs. That helped the monotony of running, and I learned to pace myself. I was also learning to listen to my body and respect her when I was running too fast.
I was taking fewer walking breaks, and becoming more consistent.
The week before race day, I was super focused on my nutrition, hydrating myself, and not drinking alcohol. I wanted to prepare my body as much as I could for one of the hardest physical feats I had ever done.
Then race day came, and I was up with the sun. I remember sitting in my car with shaking hands, trying to pin my racing bib on to my shirt. I was so nervous. I had butterflies.
I looked out the front window, and again the voices in my head started speaking loud.
Look at all those people. They LOOK like runners.
They have all done this before.
What do you think you are doing?
I put my AirPods in, found my place at the starting line with some other people from the gym, and readied myself to go.
Once I started, I knew this was it.
I had to keep going.
People passed me.
I never passed anyone in the 13.1 miles.
There was a time I felt like I was dead last because so many people had passed me.
I just kept focusing on the pace I practiced running at. Every half mile, the voice in my AirPods would put me closer to the finish line. The farthest I had run on marathon day was 11 miles. I didn’t know what to expect after 11 miles.
Mile 11 going into 12 was THE hardest for me. My mind kept telling me I didn’t have to finish. Go ahead, walk. You don’t have to run. I finished mile 11.
I remember mile 12 going into 13. I couldn’t look straight up. The distance seemed too far to me. I had to look down at my feet. I had to focus on one step at a time. Putting one foot in front of the other. Matching my steps with the beat of the music. I was afraid if I didn’t, my legs would stop working...
I knew I was close to the finish line when I heard people cheering my name.
When I looked up, I saw my immediate family and my gym family standing there, waving me in, cheering for me to cross that finish line.
Running up the hill, my name was announced over the loudspeaker.
“Kristy Baranovskis” has never sounded so good!
My race time was 2:22:27..
I went into the training with a goal of finishing by 2:30:00.
I beat my own goal by 8 minutes!
I beat my own goal!
I never had a goal to run a half marathon.
Yet, this girl who loathed gym growing up, and only started to run to lose weight, somehow learned she has an amazing body.
She learned her body CAN do amazing things, she just has to try.
She has to be nervous.
She has to be scared.
She has to do the things.
Crossing that finish line changed my life.
I can never go back to the girl I used to be.
I can never go back there.
I KNOW now, what she is capable of.
And she is capable of way more than she gives herself credit for.
I will forever remember the day, at 49 years old when I crossed the finish line and received my very first medal.