Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Meanwhile, back in Stressville ...

I've been feeling a little off lately. Turns out, there's a reason.

September 5 will be my 45th birthday. And now - right now, as you sit there reading this, while I'm hanging out with my still-44-year-old self, I'm having a hot flash. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it would appear that yours truly is once again an overachiever. I've reached perimenopause early. (Kinda like the way it took my husband only five years to get to his seven-year itch, but different.)

Anyway, we seem to have begun the trip to Old Lady Land. At FOURTY-FREAKIN-FOUR! Are you shitting me, body? Really? WTF, mate?

So that explains why I can't remember the last time I was visited by Nature's Special Time. And the night sweats. And the emotions that are running even weirder than usual. While it's nice to have a reason, it sure as hell sucks to be doing this about 10 years earlier than I'd planned. Fuck you, hormones.

Honestly, I feel like my body is betraying me at every turn. Early menopause? Check. Fucked-up Achilles? Check. Bad attitude brought on by the other two? Check and mate. So I saw the orthopedic doc yesterday, and he agreed that my Achilles isn't healing as we'd like it to. It's very big and swollen and gross and still pretty painful lots of the time. GAH. Can't it just get better now?

Okay, how 'bout now?


Anyway, I'm trying to power through. Trying to understand that some of the ravenous hunger is likely due to my prematurely aging body, and maybe not a true need for actual mass quantities of real food. Trying to realize that athletes sometimes get injured and the damn Achilles maybe isn't a sign from the universe that I'm not supposed to work on this athletic thing.

So here's the skinny: Dr. P says there might be little tears in the tendon. That's what we're looking for in the MRI. If that's the case, we'll need to do some therapy and see how we heal. Then we'll do some gait analysis and measurement so we can figure out why mechanically my legs cause me trouble, and how we can avoid it as much as possible in the future.

Meanwhile, my weight has stayed the same. I'm hopeful that this weekend we won't put on a whole lot of weight ... then after I get back, and my MRI results are in, we'll batten down the hatches.


Friday, June 24, 2011


I am actually eating a donut hole while writing this. How sick is that?

These days, my body (and my appetite) seem to be betraying me. I am constantly hungry. I swear, I can feel food being metabolized. As soon as I eat it, I feel like I want more. So I rationed out four donut holes and walked away. I could go back and eat the rest of the box. I don't think I'm exaggerating.

Is this what plateau feels like? Or am I just crazy?

I'm grateful, though, because my weight is holding. Sure, it's holding at 207.4 enormous pounds, but it's holding. I swear to sweet Jesus, if I can just get down under 200 ... hell, I don't know how I'll celebrate. But I'll celebrate! (Not with cupcakes; seriously. I was thinkin' maybe a new bathing suit.)

So anyway, it's been really rough lately! I feel stuck. And hungry. I'm sure part of it is because I hurt all the frickin' time. Between the cramp in my calf (we're almost at the two-week mark with that little bastard) and the Achilles (which is still very painful, sometimes) I just don't know what to do. I take on what I can, but I hold back when I think I need to. Maybe I don't need to, but when you're as injury-prone as I am, ya get a little gunshy.

I'm seeing the orthopedic doc next week, and we're gonna ask some important questions. Like, "What the hell is (physically) wrong with me?" and "How can I stop getting hurt?" and my personal favorite, "Why the hell is my Achilles still a pain?" So we'll see where this goes.

In the meantime ... please keep your Maggie and your donuts separate.

Monday, June 20, 2011

I didn't know I could do that

Okay, first things first: I weighed in last week, and stayed the same - 207.4. Not thrilled, but much happier than I would be if we'd gone up, so I'll take it.

No, on to today's post.


Saturday was the Warrior Dash. I did not die.

Warrior Dash is a 3.28 mile run/hike/stumble with 10 obstacles. Except this one had 12, plus two very steep, muddy hills and a creek that didn't count as obstacles but ... were. No, the obstacles were walls to climb over, fire to jump over, and a big mud pit, among other things. There were a few I was sure I couldn't traverse, but did, in spite of myself. There were a few I didn't trust myself on, so I didn't complete. (If I'm shaking on my first step, that's probably not a good sign!) All told, I completed nine of the 12. And I have the bruises and aching muscles to show for it!

If you want to know the whole story, you can find it here. Suffice it to say I can't wait to do it again, which sort of surprises me. This wasn't easy. It was by far the toughest thing I've ever done so far. Lots of climbing. Lots of upper-body strength. Lots of balance. Lots of trusting myself. And I did it!

I didn't know I could scale a wall. I didn't know I could climb cargo nets. I didn't know I could leap over fire.

I can. And I will again.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Obsession v. Habit

When I re-ignited this quest for physical health, I'll admit, I was obsessed. Tracking every calorie, watching every moment of cardio, and monitoring my progress toward the appropriate differential. Yes, I elected to do math, trying to ensure I had taken in 3,500 fewer calories each week than I'd worked off, and therefore ensuring myself of a one-pound weight loss.

Crazy. But it worked.

See, obsession - when you acknowledge it - leads to education. All this attention eventually became a habit.

My obsession with running is now just a fact. I'm the girl who wakes up at 5 a few days a week to get the run in. I'm the girl who simply will not miss a weight-training session, because I've seen results. I don't have to obsess about these things any more, because they've become part of my life.

The food thing is harder, perhaps because my appetite is off the charts! But even still, when I look back at my old eating habits, the way I naturally eat now is so much better. When I pig out, it's on organic gelato or hummus, instead of a half-gallon of Edy's ice cream or onion dip. (Not together. Ew!)

Little changes over time get you where you want to go. Tracking intake and progress builds good habits. And from here, I don't know who that girl was who preferred the sofa and slippers to the gym and running shoes.

Maggie 2.0 is so much more in line with who I want to be!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Running with the marathon woman. And a deer.

Yesterday, June 7, was hot in Chicagoland. A balmy 93 degrees when I left the office at 6 p.m., but that didn't stop me from meeting up with my girlfriends at Busse Woods for a little run.

My friend Linda and I have been training together since November. We've had to take time off for injuries and work schedules, but we always come back to running. This run was different, however, because our tour guide was our friend Eileen, an accomplished marathoner. She describes herself as a new runner, having only been at it for six years. Really? I guess I'm really new, then! Anyhoo, we met up with Eileen at the forest preserve, where we were joined by Esther, the mobile water unit. She rode her bike alongside us, with a cooler full of water. How cool is that?

Running through Busse was gorgeous. There was a breeze to distract us from the difficulty of the run, and the true beauty of being in nature didn't hurt, either. Eileen powered on ahead (she has a much faster pace than we) and Linda and I began to enjoy the journey.

After about two miles, Eileen turned around and caught up with us, so we headed back toward the cars after a wee water break. Linda and I were on a walk interval when we came upon the sweetest little fawn, munching on a dinner of prairie grass. We stopped and said hi, and she flipped her little fawn tail at us ... then went right back to her meal. Sweet! I will definitely come back here for more runs; it was too beautiful not to. (It should be noted that this was my first time back to Busse since the fateful day of March 21, when the Achilles told me to fuck off. It was nice to be back and not in pain!)

Back at the car, we took a Gatorade break and a photograph. No way we could let this sort of activity go by without a record of the event! So here we are, four sweaty girls, on a 90+ degree day in Chicago. We wouldn't have it any other way.

Left to right: Linda, me, Eileen and Esther - the Salsalicious Racers!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


So last Saturday I participated in a 5K (see post directly below for all the deets). It was my fourth race this year, and I was a little nervous.

See, I want to progress as a runner. Heck, I want to actually be a runner. And it’s taking a long time. Achilles tendonitis isn’t helping things, either, but I’m trying to just go with it and accept the fact that I am slow.

I didn’t get into this thinking I would ever win; I just want to be consistent, and run a solid 15-minute mile. (After I master that, we’ll up the ante.)

I’m reminded that it isn’t about speed, but about enjoying the journey, sharing in something with other like-minded people, and trying my best (which also means being willing to fail.)

But anyway, last Saturday, I did not fail. I did not set a new PR or anything, but I did my best (even with the sweltering heat) and improved upon my pace in a few past races.

Here’s where we’re at so far:

Sweetness 5K – June 4, 2011
49:56 – exactly the same time as I had in the Hot Chocolate race on November 6. I finished 26 out of 36 in my division, and 328 of 424 overall, with an average pace of 16:05/mile. Managed to shave 39 seconds off my time from Run Wild last month.

Run Wild – May 14, 2011
50:35, average 16:17 mile.

Long Grove St. Paddy's Day 5K – March 13, 2011
45:23, average 14:38 mile

Super Bowl Shuffle 5K – February 6, 2011
47:37, average 15:21 mile

Arlington Heights Santa 5K – December 4, 2010
51:41, average 16:40 mile

So, all told, out of all the 5Ks I’ve run thus far, my most recent one placed me right in the middle. Not my worst, not my best, but still completely acceptable. And it gives me something to shoot for … not a bad deal, at that.

Another weekend, another race

I remind you, gentle reader, that the term "race" here merely means that a group of people are running against the clock. I, on the other hand, am merely running at the same place, with these people, hoping to finish. Although I do enjoy an official time, mine is usually long after my friends have crossed the finish line and cracked open a cold beverage.

At any rate, this weekend the Schaumburg Six (plus one, my sister Kathie) headed to Yorkville, IL (to get there, drive toward the corn, turn left at the cow) for the Sweetness 5K, to benefit the Walter and Connie Payton Foundation. It was hot. For serious. But I was wise. In the cooler, I had packed water, Gatorade ... and water-soaked hand towels that had spent the night in the freezer. So I had that to look forward to.

The race kicked off at 8:15 a.m. at a balmy 80 degrees. We might have been out in the country, but the humidity felt like a good old-fashioned Chicago summer day. I was sweating while I stretched out.

This, ladies and gentlemen was going to be a tough one.

We met up, did our dynamic stretches, and chatted a bit. We introduced ourselves to Jarrett Payton, son of Walter, and got ready to run.

Us, minus Simone, and Jarrett Payton

Did I mention it was hot?

Soon enough, Connie Payton told us it was RACE TIME! Off we went, through the scenic rolling hills of a quaint neighbor hood. Yeah, those hills felt scenic and rolling on the way out, but on the way back? The sun was in our faces and it was uphill all the way, swear to sweet little baby Jesus. But we did it; finished the race with smiles on our faces. Not gonna lie to ya; it felt like an accomplishment.

I've been struggling lately to get back into "athlete" mode. I mean, when do I just let myself accept the title? Do I allow my slow pace to hold me back from feeling like I belong among the athletes? Do I let that shit go, and just run my own race?

My sister Kathie, who also ran this race (and beat Jarret across the finish line), asked me to consider where I've been. "This time last year," she said, "would you even have thought you'd be trying, much less finishing?" No. I wouldn't have. I didn't understand this thing you call running. I didn't see myself with a number on my torso and a smile on my face. I wasn't ... oh, hell ... I wasn't a runner.

Now, I am.

And it has made a huge difference in my life, my self-esteem, the way I feel about myself and my world. It has healed my relationship with myself, allowed me to let go of a lot of baggage, and left me a better person. So when there are moments when I doubt my progress, I'm going to do a little comparison. For example, the following:

This is me on July 30, 2010, completing the Muddy Buddy. (Yes, I realize it looks like someone tried to drown the Michelin Man in the mud. Shut up.) I'm not gonna deny that my face here is one of great joy. That's what it felt like to accomplish the impossible, and my lack of physical health should not diminish the accomplishment. But me, today? So much healthier, in so many ways.

This is me, left, with my sister Kathie, at the Sweetness 5K on June 4, 2011.

In closing, let this serve as a lesson: never doubt the human body's willingness to forgive you for past treatment. Never let anyone tell you, you can't do something. Never stop believing in yourself. Always know that you are so much more than your work, your relationships, and your bank account. Good health is your birthright … but you do have to work for it.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Holding steady

Weighed in today, and we're holding steady at 209.2

Am I thrilled? Nah. But I'm not beating myself up, either. I'm a hungry girl. Did I maybe overdo it a little bit over the long weekend? Perhaps. Could I have made better choices? Sure. But I didn't gain a thing. That is something to be proud of.

This week I've done well at keeping active, too. I did my usual killer Tuesday night workout (an hour of strength training and an hour of cardio dance, both led by the incredible Donna Thomas). Then on Wednesday (which was June 1 - National Running Day) I not only got a two-mile trail walk in at lunch, but I did a two-mile treadmill run before hot yoga.

Speaking of ... sweet bearded Jesus, is it tough to do hot yoga after a run! The sweat was literally dripping off my everything. Into my eyes. Beading up at the ends of my hair. It was not pretty! But I got it done. We have a new Wednesday night instructor, and she's more than a little bit tough. I think perhaps she was trying to kill me. But today, I feel stronger for having survived her class, and I will be back.

The truth is, you really can only do what you can do. It's a cliche, because it's true. So I set my intention to do the best I can, and be engaged in the workout while I'm doing it. Living "in the moment" while working out increases the enjoyment of the work at hand, and it also keeps your focus where it needs to be: on you, right now, where you are - whole, complete and perfect.

Which circles back nicely to the weigh in. I give myself permission to have rough weeks. Heck, rough periods of several months, if need be. Because where I am on this journey is exactly where I'm meant to be. I'm recovering from an injury, and making lots of discoveries. I may not be where I want to be yet, but I'm not sure I ever want to be done with this particular journey.

The ride itself is pretty awesome.