Tuesday, March 1, 2016

My 21st 21K

I launched this blog in 2011, about 5 years ago when I was training for my "comeback half" - my third half marathon, which I completed in October of that year. It was called my comeback half because it was my first one in 7 years (since 2004), after my weight gain and loss journey.
Me rocking the fashion as a 22 year old first time half marathoner in 2003.

You know my story, so I don't need to rehash, but essentially, completing that race 5 years ago started a bit of an obsession with the sport, one I didn't have as the awkward 20-something girl (pictured above) who only ever ran by herself, owned no running gear, and didn't even know one other runner personally.

I'm the kind of girl that when she does something, she does it to the obsessive or extreme level. Only now am I learning the art of moderation. Needless to say, once this obsession caught fire, I ran so many half marathons, I lost count. I was eager to collect medals, better my times, socialize with friends, try different events, do the races everyone else was doing, etc., that I kept doing them. They were a no-brainer for an "easy week" when I was in marathon training mode because it injected fun and medals into my life. Ha! I just read what I said..."Easy Week". I repeat, "HA!"

Anyway, it's come to my realization that my upcoming half in April, the BMO Sunshine Coast April Fools Run, is my 21st half marathon. My 21st 21K.  Or so I think. I remember when my 13th was (Oct 13th, 2013 - only because I thought this was a funny number coincidence especially since a half is 13.1 miles), and if I squint my brain, I can count 7 more that I have completed since then. My 20th came and went last summer without any pomp and circumstance. But given the distance of a half marathon is 21.1km, I have decided that the 21st is the actual milestone.

Nearing the finish line at my 13th half marathon, mentioned above. 
So why bother to make mention of this now if it's not a conventional milestone? I dunno. I needed something to talk about? I think it's that realizing this makes me feel proud. It's a "look how far you have come, Zahida" moment.

Since I started my journey here 5 years ago, sharing my story of triumph over my own health on this blog, I have felt the need to prove myself. Don't get me wrong, the community, friendships, conversation, accountability, encouragement, and all other results of this blog are amazing things I would not trade for the world. But publicly telling your story also puts this pressure on you to be an expert, an inspiration, and a success at all times. I took that to mean I had to keep getting better. You know, prove I could go from "mathlete to athlete" or from "couch to podium" to inspire those around me. Anything less than this would make me a fitness fraud, right? Of course not.

I lost sight that being human, being healthy, being comfortable in my own skin, being proud of my accomplishments, however small they may be - all of that is also fine, inspiring, and plenty to fuel my musings on a health-related blog. When I stop and think about what I have and continue to accomplish, it still is something noteworthy. My friend Monica put it to me so kindly, that what makes my fitness journey inspiring and that I am human. Speed as a runner is not the inspiring part, but the courage I have to continue to try, to keep pushing myself to learn, and my constant pursuit to better myself as a human being. Thank you, Monica!

So the old me would say, "oh my gosh, this is a milestone, I have to beat my PB I set in 2013. Time to train like a mad woman 'til I get there". That would make such a great story, wouldn't it? But let's be real, I'd likely hurt myself and my ego in the process.

The new me is much more sensible. She's enjoying her long runs and how she has enough left in the tank to socialize, do housework, or go for long walks shortly after, and how pain isn't part of the equation any more.

If my 21st 21K is my slowest yet, who cares? I will still be able to say I did it, and 20 others, and those marathons and other events too. Just doing it is awesome. And there will be much more awesome if I properly take care of myself, like I am doing now.

So, there you have it. Don't ask me what my finish time goal is for the April Fools Run. Just know that I will have a good time doing it and I am looking forward to it!

Come join the party; race day is 32 days away - Register before March 15th and save at www.foolsrun.com
This Fool is In Training!


  1. Aww shucks! I am happy our conversation inspired some digging deeper, some introspection and most importantly, a reminder of just how awesome you are. I also feel the need to challenge the statement: "So why bother to make mention of this now if it's not a conventional milestone?" -- I think every race, every half is a milestone of sorts. Who cares about conventional. 21st 21k sounds much more special than 20th anyways! One of these years (when I am on the right coast) I look forward to joining you on that hilly, gnarly April Fools Run. Until I continue to enjoy reading your updates and adventures in life and running and fitness and wellbeing. You are the best. Don't ever forget it :)

  2. Monica, you are really kind. Yes, I suppose it's true - every half marathon is a milestone. It's easy to lose sight of that, isn't it? I'd love to run the Fools sometime with you. Or just in general, run with you sometime. You are actually the best. xo