From Walking 5K to Running a Half Marathon, How I Became a Runner and Lost 60 Pounds

In March 2017, I weighed 272.5 lbs. I was unhealthy, prediabetic, and had a plethora of other issues that affected my quality of life: High cholesterol, joint issues, random pain, sleep issues, severe snoring, hypothyroidism, and high blood pressure.

I hadn’t always been this big. 8+ years of infertility had taken its toll on me. I was depressed. I felt like a failure to my husband and family. I just felt like I wasn’t a woman. Like I wasn’t worth anything. The pills, the poking, the prodding, the injections, the treatments, it had all had its effect on me.

I’d given up. I’d always been a bigger girl, even as a child, I just figured this is my life.

March 19th, 2017, my husband left for two weeks. He was on a business trip to Vancouver and I didn’t really think it would affect me much. He worked straight nights, I worked straight days, and we didn’t really see each other during the week. But it was different this time. The loneliness was deeper, darker, more all-consuming than before.

I cried the night he left. I cried so hard. I was all alone with only my cats to keep me company for two straight weeks. My family was around, but I didn’t want to burden them with my issues.

March 20th, I took a half day from work. I told them I was sick but really, I was just depressed and couldn’t deal with being out of my house. So on my way home, I did what I would do on a particularly stressful day: I stopped at Dairy Queen, bought a 6 pack of Peanut Buster Parfait bars, then I stopped at the grocery store to buy some chips and pop, and went home to eat and wallow in my sadness.

That night, I texted a friend that I was having a hard time. Lyndsay immediately suggested instead of staying home, that we go out for a walk. I agreed, but my heart wasn’t really in it. We bundled up, she came over, and we went for our first walk.

We walked 5k that night in an hour. We talked about our eating habits, that both of us needed to change, and we pledged to each other that this was it. This was the end of being unhealthy. We pledged to motivate each other, to keep each other on the right track, and to be each other’s cheerleader. I’m so grateful for this woman!

We walked every night. We had our set time and route. 5k every night. That hour-long walk turned into a 50-minute walk, then 45 minutes. Then 40. We were getting quicker! We were getting leaner! AND we didn’t hurt when we got home every night!

June 2017, I was down 30 lbs, and still walking every night. Summer was hard for Lynds, she has children and a very busy baseball schedule, so I would walk alone most nights. I had no problem with that. I strapped on my headphones and just went at it. I extended my route to 7 km. I also saw an ad on Facebook for our first annual Caledonia Grand Half Marathon and 5k, happening October 7th, 2017. Knowing myself, knowing I worked better with set deadlines and goals, I signed up for that 21.1 km half marathon. And immediately felt sick to my stomach. I’m 240 lbs, walking but not running. What did I just do??? I’d done many 5ks before, but never something like this!

But I was determined. I told everyone in my family, I told my friends, I told Facebook. I was determined to finish that race. I needed accountability.

Some people doubted my ability to do this. They did this right to my face! “You know Melissa, that’s 21 km, you only have 3 hours to do it, are you sure you’ll be alright?”

While that didn’t help my confidence, it did make my drive even stronger. Screw them, I was gonna do it! The only person with unwavering faith in me was my husband. He saw how hard I was working, he knew I would do it. He was so supportive, I sincerely think it was his love and support that got me through.

That summer, I trained on my own harder than I’d ever trained in my life. All alone. I downloaded an app that helped me go from walking to intermittent running, to interval running, and eventually to jogging nearly a half km before having to walk for a bit. My legs were STRONG! I loved my changing body! I ramped up my running, I ran 180km total that summer according to my training app. 180 km! That’s insane! 7k every other night, 14k most Saturdays. I experienced my first bout of shin splints and thought I’d broken both my legs, I ran through two pairs of shoes, I ran in the rain, I did all kinds of things I never thought I’d do. Namely running period. I’ve hated running all my life. But here I was!

October 6th, 2017, I weighed in at 212.5 lbs. 60 lbs! I had lost the equivalent of a small child! I am still a big girl, but damn I was proud of how far I’d come.

October 7th, race day. I woke up at 6 am, nervous as hell, feeling sick to my stomach. I got dressed, had a nice breakfast, and got in the car with my husband. We signed in and went to the starting line. I looked around at all the thin, fit people around me and immediately my confidence in my own ability dwindled. Clearly to be a runner you need a lean, fit body, and that sure as hell wasn’t me. I could feel people looking at me, thinking maybe I was in the wrong line up, she must be intending to do the 5k, not the half marathon.

I could see my husband on the sideline with a huge grin on his face. He gave me a big thumbs up, and my insecurities vanished. I can fucking DO THIS!

The starting pistol blasted, and we were off. I stayed to the back of the group. I didn’t want to get in anyone’s way. My god, these people were fast! We had a gorgeous day for the run. It was the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend. Perfect temperature, a small threat of rain, but not bad at all.

I stopped at every water table. I chatted with the volunteers and thanked them. I was in no big hurry, I wanted to make sure they knew how much it meant to us that they were giving their time on a holiday weekend to keep us hydrated and happy.

I took photos along the way, I pet the random cats that would inexplicably come up to me (this happens often, I’m a cat whisperer, I swear). I made it fun for myself. It was a gorgeous route, the route actually went down my childhood street, right by my parent's house. They were out there, cheering me on! That was the first time I cried that day. Seeing my parents SO proud of me, my mom went to work late just to make sure she could see me. I hugged them, I hugged my parents’ neighbors that were out there, I hugged so many people! Big, sweaty, gross hugs.

It took me over 3 hours to finish. I walked the last half of it, I didn’t even attempt to run after the 12 km marker. I still had a ways to go and didn’t want to exhaust myself.

When the end was in sight, I sobbed. I cried so hard. I cried tears of happiness and pride. I did it! They said I wouldn’t. They said I couldn’t. They said it was okay if I dropped out halfway. But I DID IT! THE END WAS RIGHT THERE!

Melissa Timson

These photos were taken at the finish line. An hour and a half after the first person had crossed, an overweight, sweaty, proud, exhausted woman crossed that line, arms up in victory, tears streaming down her face. I crossed that line and hugged the woman in front of me. I had no idea at the time, but it was the race director. She kept telling me over and over again, "You did it! You did it!" She hugged me and put a medal on my neck.

I turned to my husband, my cheerleader, my most amazing supporter. He had gathered a small crowd of my family to surprise me at the finish line. I fell into his arms and we cried together. “You did it, babe. You really did it.” Those words and his tears meant the world to me.

Melissa Timson

I still run. As much as I can. I go to the gym, I keep it up. I still eat well. I am no longer prediabetic, my cholesterol is right where it should be, and my Doctor is proud of how far I’ve come. My thyroid function is still not great, and I still have high blood pressure, but both of those are genetic, unfortunately, both sides of my family to thank for that!

I’ve signed up for my next half marathon in May 2018. Not bad for a fat girl that fucking hates running!

Melissa Timson is a hero