By Katie Foster
At the risk of sounding cliche, I’ve struggled with my weight my entire life. It all started in the fourth grade, when a boy in my class started calling me “Shamu”. I tried to lose weight dozens of times over the years, but never stuck with a diet long enough to make much progress.
The first time I heard of the Indy Mini was when my sister, Jeanie, asked if I would like to walk it with her in 2008. I had no idea how far a half-marathon really was, and I was over 200 pounds at the time, but I still agreed to do it. I thought it would be a great way to motivate me to lose weight. There was a large group of us (family and friends) that registered for the race.
I had intentions of training—I honestly did—but I never really got around to it. I think I did only ONE training walk before that first weekend in May rolled around. The race was MUCH harder than I anticipated, and I really struggled to finish. When I went home to Michigan after the race, I ended up having to wear a walking cast for a couple of weeks, because of severe tendinitis.
Still, I agreed to do the race again in 2009. I wanted a redemption! I followed a training schedule that time; but as my mileage climbed, so did my weight. When I went to the race, my weight was at a peak of 253 pounds. The race itself went much more smoothly than the previous year, and the training helped me to feel great during and after the race.
However, one thing that really bothered me was that I was, by far, the largest person in our group in Indy. Also, the entire time I was walking the race, I noticed that I was one of the most overweight people in the race. It was embarrassing, and very eye-opening. I decided that I would do the race again in 2010, but I wanted to be 100 pounds lighter.
It took me a few months to really start working on the weight loss, but in August of 2009, I finally committed to getting the weight off. I changed my diet by simply eating less food (I still ate all of my favorite foods, just much less calories), and lost 60 pounds before I even needed to start my training schedule for the Indy Mini. Then, I started to walk four times a week to train for the race, and I continued to drop the weight.
Whenever I had a hard time, or was struggling to stay on track, I would imagine myself at the Indy Mini, and NOT being the largest person there. I wanted to be a “normal” size, and to look like I belonged in the race. I wanted my race photos to show a fit, healthy person, and not the obese, unhappy person I was the year before.
When I arrived at the race, I wasn’t quite 100 pounds lighter, but I did manage to lose 88 pounds since the previous year! The first two years that I walked the race, I finished just under the time limit of 4 hours; in 2010, I managed to walk the race in 3:23, taking over 30 minutes off of my time. During that race, I became inspired to set a crazy goal for the following year—I was going to RUN the Indy Mini in 2011.
I started adding a little running to my walks (at first, I couldn’t even run the length of my street); and, eventually, I was running 3-4 days a week. I ran a 5K race, and a 10K race; and I registered (once again) for the Indy Mini—only my estimated finish time was closer to two hours instead of four hours.
In 2011, I arrived at the race having lost well over 100 pounds since race day in 2009. I felt amazing throughout the whole race, and I enjoyed every moment. I crossed the finish line in 2:10:40, a 9:59/mile pace!