Thursday, March 31, 2011

Two Oh Five

See, I'm weird. I can be 209.4 one week and 205 the next. It's not like I starved myself. No, on the contrary, I actually; I was depressed over the weekend. One day, I ate an entire cup of cinnamon roll gelato. Mmmm ... gelato. Anyway, today the scale read 205. This caused big smiles to break out all over my face. It's a little validation for what I'm doing, and what I'm able to do while I recover from the injury. I'm still able to do a great deal, so I'm getting my workouts in, and it's working. Maybe not as quickly as it did while I was running, but it still works. And I do like it when I get on the scale and it shows me a number I haven't seen in years. That's a good feeling.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Bless me, Father

For I have not been running and yet I can't seem to stop eating. If only a few Hail Marys or Our Fathers would absolve me from weight gain. It was a week ago today that the Achilles and I stopped getting along. It's much better now, but still not nearly ready for me to start running on it. I've also had to make some tough decisions, including not participating in my next race. The Shamrock Shuffle is April 10. There is no way I will have sufficient time to heal and train to finish the race injury-free. I can't begin to explain the emotion that was tied to that realization. I wept for a few hours. (Seriously, I didn't see that coming.) I feel like I'm letting a lot of people - including myself - down. I set this goal of a race every month, and I'm not going to complete it. I have officially failed. I am not good at setbacks, and this one feels huge. In the moment, during a conversation with Donna when she urged me not to run the race, it felt like the end of the world. That mess has gotten better, but still, it's painful. It feels wrong, somehow. I realize that when you make the transition from "person who exercises" to "athlete," you are more susceptible to injury. I guess I just hadn't thought of myself as someone who has made the transition yet. So, anyway, here I am, nursing an injury and slowing my progress down. In the meanwhile, I've been depressed. And what does Maggie do when she's depressed? Maggie eats. It's time to get real. Again. No more letting this get the better of me. No more Achilles-based paralysis. No more indulging my tastebuds because I can't run. I will do what I can. Tonight, I'll take a walk on the treadmill while my friend Pam runs beside me. Tomorrow, I will take it easy and do my Salsa/Funk best, plus weight training. Wednesday, I will get my hot yoga groove on, and on Thursday you'll find me on the elliptical. Come Saturday, it'll be time for more strength training and some elliptical goodness or maybe a spin class. This is a doable schedule, even for someone with an injury. I can bounce back from this. But in the meanwhile, any happy thoughts you'd care to toss my way would be most appreciated.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Take a load off, Annie

The weight? Yeah. 209.4.

Still. Again.

After 206.4 a few weeks ago, I seem to have located and held on to three new pounds. This is not a surprise. I've been struggling to stay within my calorie range; I have felt like I am starving more than ever, and I haven't been working out as hard or as much since the St. Paddy's Day run when I got the nasty leg cramp, and now I'm dealing with some Achilles issues. (A literal and figurative Achilles heel.)

It's pissing me off. And yet, this morning, as I looked it the mirror, I saw a healthy, pretty girl look back. Thirty pounds ago, I didn't look like this. I still have a ways to go, but now ... now is still good.

So I looked at that pretty girl and I said, out loud, "It's about how far you've come, not how far you've yet to go." This is my new mantra, and I believe it's true.

I don't know what it is about getting to this point that scares me. It's not a true plateau, but when I get here - when I get close - it gets really hard to push through. I become paralyzed, or stupid. The thing that is so different, though, is that now, I have this new lifestyle that I don't think I could abandon if I tried. I have my gym, which I love. I have a dedication to moving my body that I wouldn't quit even if I were at my goal weight. I have this self-respect thing that simply won't allow me to throw in the towel.

And so, we press on. Because it's about how far I've come, not how far I've yet to go.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Okay. Well. This sucks.

I have been looking forward to spring pretty much since the time change last October, when I took my last run outside. Being outside is so much more fun to me than running indoors on a treadmill. Inside, I need my iPod to keep me going. Outside, the world is my oyster and I want for no other motivation. I can turn left or right, I can cruise my neighborhood and see what there is to see. I can visit the forest preserve and be wowed by nature. Fitness-wise, there is no greater joy than getting my heart pumping in the great outdoors.

So it's not a big leap to understand that getting injured is pissing me off. I ran the St. Paddy's Day race and got a muscle cramp that lasted a week. Then yesterday, I took a run with friends and I have a horrible pain in my Achilles. Some heavy research (also known as "reading the March issue of Runner's World") tells me it's Achilles Tendinitis.

This is not something one can run through. I have to rest, get this baby on ice, and take care of it. In other words ... I can't run.

I've cried off and on since it happened. My focus, as always, is on the next race - April 10, the Shamrock Shuffle in Chicago. It's an 8K - my longest road race to date - and I'd really like to do it well. That, however, is probably not going to happen, because I will likely be resting and rehabbing the ankle until the week of the race. This has thrown my training plan for a complete loop and left me an absolute mess.

I was not prepared for the setback. I am not remotely happy. There is much to do to get me on the road to recovery, but none of that currently includes training for a race that's less than three weeks away.

Will I be able to run? I don't know. Will I be able to finish? I don't know. Is this dream of becoming a runner obtainable?

I don't know.

I need to focus on the big picture and move on. I need to accept that, for awhile, anyway, running isn't going to happen, and then I need to find other activities I can do to keep up my cardiovascular strength.

I need to remember that this is not a crisis; it's an opportunity to find the fucking bright side.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Well, that sucks


UP three-point-four.

In my defense, I'm sure some of it is water. It's ... um ... time for me to retain water. Okay, so there's that.

I'm also sure some of it is butt. I am ravenous for about a week and a half prior to Nature's Special Time, and it's hard to avoid the danger foods. Cookies; ice cream; anything that isn't nailed down.

So I'm up 3.4 pounds. Big effing deal.

Because here's what I'm learning: the road is bumpy. It's not always consistently a losing battle. I can't be perfectly within my calories every day, and if I obsess about it, I'll just lie on my log. Seriously; I know myself that well. Some days, I just have "it". Others, I don't. But I'm seeing so much improvement in so many ways, I really have to let myself off the hook for the number on the scale.

Take, for example, yoga. I've made it a weekly habit, and I'm loving it. It balances me. So much so, in fact, that this weekend I'm planning to take a two-hour class of 108 Sun Salutations. It's on Sunday, the first day of spring, and there's just something right about starting the season in that manner. I think I can do it. (It may kill me, but if I'm gonna commit, I'm gonna commit!)

And really, it's not about the week-to-week progress. It's about trending down over time. This is not permanent. The new way of life, however, is.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Personal record

If there's one thing runners strive for - and I should know; I'm a runner - it's setting a new Personal Record. This is proof that we've run our strongest race; we've run it in less time than we have before.

Yesterday, I set a new Personal Record in a 5K - 45:23. In the Long Grove St. Paddy's Day 5K, I came in at number 307 in a field of 347. I was 25 out of 32 in my age group. (My friend Rebekah was right in the middle of the field, coming in at 16 out of 32 in our age group; how cool is THAT?) My pace clocked in at about 14:38/mile.

This, for me, is awesome. It's an incredible achievement for Runner Maggie, because it's the first time I've completed a race at something less than a 15-minute mile. This has been my goal since I started running, and I was never really sure I'd achieve it.

Yesterday, I did. Feels pretty incredible.

The race was not without incident. Right at the Mile 2 marker, I got a horrific cramp in my right calf. Could be a magnesium deficiency, could be dehydration, or it could be as simple as fatigue. All I know for sure is, it still hurts. But it meant that I needed to take that last mile slowly; it meant walking. But in the end, it worked out okay. Rebekah met me just before the finish line, and she ran with me through the end. (One of my favorite moments; I love my supportive, amazing friends!)

Lessons learned from this race:
  • Rest really is just as important as work. I went relatively easy on myself for training last week, and it paid off. Something to remember.
  • This also means that I really only have three solid weeks to train for the next race - the Shamrock Shuffle on April 10. It's an 8K, or 4.97 miles. Once my calf stops hurting, I'll be back training, hopefully by the end of this week.
  • It is much more fun when you stop taking yourself so damn seriously. Sometimes I embarass myself with how slow I am. I want to do well. I want to make myself proud. I don't want my friends to be waiting for hours at the finish line while I muddle through trying to make it. But in this race, I simply reminded myself that I am not competing with anyone. This is my race. There's only me, doing my best ... whatever that happens to be today. And the whole point is to have fun, right? I had fun. I soaked up the atmosphere. I dodged dog poop. (Really, they could have cleaned the trail.) It was a blast. Well, except for the dog poop.
Is it possible to still have runners' high, 24 hours later? I think so, because I'm still hangin' out with the euphoria. Spending a morning with a good friend, hitting the trail for a solid run, eating an amazing breakfast (artichoke, asparagus and feta omelette, anyone?), taking a hot bath in a huge tub (thank you, Rebekah) and spending the rest of the day lounging at home. That's a pretty damn perfect day, as far as I'm concerned.

Rebekah and Me, post race.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Exactly 206

That's my weight.

A total of 74 pounds down from my original starting weight. A loss of 34 pounds since I began blogging again last August. Seven pounds away from being less than 200, and 31 pounds away from my goal.

I don't know if I've ever been this close to my goal before. Seriously. It's a little intimidating.

This has been an incredibly tough week. My strength training class on Tuesday tore me apart emotionally, because I couldn't get through even one set of one exercise with good form. I felt fat and pathetic and out of shape and, have I mentioned pathetic? It sucked. Part of why it felt so demoralizing is that I'm currently at my hormonal height of the month. Everything has been an emotional roller coaster, at least in the first few days of this week. (It also sets me up to be completely ravenous; that seems to have subsided. For now.) Tuesday night was so rough, I actually skipped Salsa/Funk. I know! This never happens. I was just not in the right headspace to handle it; as it was, I cried the entire way home. (Does this mean I'm crazy? Crazier than you thought? Who knows. What I know for sure is, my dad is a saint. I called him as I drove home, and he helped me laugh at myself. He's a righteous dude.)

Wednesday night brought me back to the gym, this time for hot yoga. I went into class knowing it could very possibly bring out an emotional response. I also took a different spot in clase, because Corina the ballerina saved me a spot up by her ... way up in front. It was a good place to practice; very focused. So there I was, in the middle of a sequence of child's pose to downward dog, and Pink's song "Perfect" came on.

Cue the waterworks.

Seriously, you haven't lived until you weep in downward dog and the tears flow right down your forehead and into your hair. I think that was the first time I've ever cried upside down. It was ... unique. And cleansing and wonderful. Eventually, it made me laugh, and brought me back into focus on the poses, and class just felt amazing. It was exactly where I needed to be.

Then last night, as I was working on the treadmill with the incomparable Pam at my side, Donna came over to say hello. We had a lovely chat, and she reminded me of something she has told me before:

"This isn't a linear path. It zigs and zags. We stumble. When one day we can plow through the workout and the next day we can barely make it, that's to be expected."

I need to remember that. Some days are going to feel like backward motion. Some days are going to suck. But the fact that I'm working is reason enough to keep working.

With that in mind, I ran/walked my slowest workout ever. It took me 50:14 to finish 3.1 miles, which sets me up for what I'm hoping will be a great race on Sunday - the St. Paddy's 5K in Long Grove, with my BFF Rebekah. My only goal is to beat yesterday's time. I'm relatively confident I can do that! (Let's hope the weather cooperates.)

Next week's weigh-in falls at that point in the month when I'm at my heaviest, so if I stay the same (or put on a pound or two) I'm not gonna panic. It is what it is, ladies and gents ... and what it is is not linear.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Those five little words

"Look how skinny you are!"

It's not just the words ... it's the moment, and the person who said them. It's acknowledgment of achievement from my sister Kathie.

Visiting my dad yesterday, my sister actually said those words to me. Mind you, I don't "skinny". I don't want to be "skinny". But I am smaller than I was when I graduated college. I have lost enough weight that I'm not the fat girl anymore.

Feels good.

It also feels good that people - okay, Kathie - are/is taking me seriously as a runner. (Probably moreso than I am, but that's my hangup, right?) She's giving me advice, telling me what I need to take my runs to the next level, and encouraging me to try harder. It's pretty amazing.

So here I am, after a weekend of positive reinforcement. Not just from Kathie, mind you. My friends Julie and Barb at the gym (serious runners in their own right) told me that when they saw me in Yoga on Wednesday, I looked like I was melting away. Rebekah told me last night when I saw her that I was sooo skinny. (Skinny being a relative term)

It's interesting, disconcerting and exciting. But here's one thing I promise you: I'm just going to start saying "thank you", because I'm seeing the changes myself. I'm beginning to really appreciate every step of the journey. There are fewer lumps. There is less mish-mish in the way when I try to stretch. The new me is emerging, and I think because I'm working so hard, it's possible to revel in the steps along the way.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

So I got on the scale early. You wanna make somethin' of it?

I got on the scale today - one day before weigh-in. I couldn't resist.

See, over the past week and a half, I've been somewhat diligent. I've changed things up a little, allowed myself a few (hundred) more calories on workout days, and really added a lot of protein to my food. I was feeling pretty good about things, and wanted to know if it was working.

It's working.


That's, like, almost 207. Three pounds down from last week.

I'm pretty sure the loss has been 97 percent poop. MAN, do I poop a lot.

Anyway, lately I've been ramping up my quest for health. Log the food; get in the workouts; sleep; treat myself well. And I'm so glad it's working.

Here's what's different:
  • Push-ups. I started doing four every day, and now I've graduated to five. These are real push-ups, not girly from-the-knees push-ups. They are hella-hard. Booyah.
  • Protein. Every day begins with a protein shake - 25 grams of protein. Tastes great, and has the texture of a milkshake mixed with chalk dust. BUT it is insanely satisfying, so I ignore the texture. Bam.
  • Paying attention. I log every morsel that goes into my mouth. Yes, even the crapton of sushi I ate last Friday. Don't get me wrong - I eat a lot. On workout days, I allow myself up to 2000 calories. Holler.
  • Pushing myself. I run. I'm a runner. I'm getting better at it, too. This week I switched up my intervals from run three/walk two to run four/walk to. Massive impact on my time. Total calorie torch. Werd.

And that's it, really. (I acknowledge that it's actually a lot.) Lots of effort. Lots of attention. But my goal is to be under 200 by the time I run the Shamrock Shuffle on April 10; I can do it.

Just watch me run.