Monday, December 17, 2012

Finding myself (and a weigh-in)

Here I am, in the last work week of the year for me. Hard to believe that one week from today is Christmas Eve (aka, my favorite day of the year). Harder still to believe that with all the celebrations that have been happening, I have managed to lose weight.

Today's weigh-in: 206 on the nose. That's down about a pound and a half from last week.

I've been somewhat diligent counting the calories, though Friday and Saturday of last week were difficult. Lots of snacks + plus two parties + plus cinnamon whisky = tough logging intake! So there is no day-by-day recap of what I ate vs. what I burned. However, I will say that I have kept up my running streak (as of yesterday's run, I've run every day since Thanksgiving; that's 25 days in a row! Granted, unless I've had a race or a specific run on the training plan, it's been just one mile, but still ... I have run every day for almost a full month! That's pretty incredible. I'm proud of myself for making the time to do it.

There's a lot to be proud of this year, and a lot of things that have set me up for tackling even greater goals in 2013. This year, I became a half-marathoner; next year, I'd like to PR in the same race. This year, I became a triathlete; next year, I would like to improve on my race time.

This year, I lost weight, then gained weight, then began to lose it again. Next year, I would like to reach my goal weight. And stay there.

Goal weight is a tricky thing for me. It's like trying to hit a moving target. When I first started on the weightloss journey, I thought it would be enough just to get down below 200 pounds. It's been years of working at it, bit by bit, and I will definitely celebrate when I get there. But now that I'm hanging out within six pounds of no longer being considered obese (yes, my BMI says I still am) I think I may have to revise the goal. At 180, I will still be technically "overweight", but I think I can get there.

I also think I'd like to wear a two-piece bathing suit this summer. We'll see.

The fact of the matter is, I have done something incredible: I have become someone I've never been before. I have unleashed my inner athlete and uncovered the real me.

And she's pretty cool. I'm excited to see where she takes me next year.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

This shirt

It's weird to me how a small amount of weight can have a tremendous impact on the way I look and feel. Back in October, when I got back from Hawaii, I saw the dreaded 219-point-something on the scale. HORRORS! That's almost 220! So I got serious and I started tracking every morsel, and working harder (and more) at losing.

This week I weighed in at 208-ish (207-point-something) and I'm wearing this shirt that actually fits.

How does that happen? How is it that a mere 12 pounds off of my frame (I'm tall; I'm lucky) makes such a huge difference?

I need to remember this feeling. I need to acknowledge that it isn't easy, but it is so worthwhile.

Monday, December 10, 2012

A year of races draws to an end; Rudolph Ramble

December 8 brought an end to the Races of 2012, and I don't think there will ever be another year quite like this one. Twelve months; 23 events. It's safe to say I exceeded my goal of one race per month, I think. It feels like quite an accomplishment.

Sunday dawned dark and cold. By "dawn" I actually mean "an hour or more before dawn". The race kicked off in Lincoln Park at 9 a.m., so we had to head out by about 6:30 in order to get there, find a place to park and make it to the starting line. It's parking that's an issue, so we ended up getting there about an hour ahead of when we needed to, but we parked for free! We got a great spot, too, so it was (almost) worth the early wakeup call.

Before we headed to the race start, it was time to suit up! For me, that meant green wig and kilt, but for all of us, it was time for race ribbons on our shoes, jingle bells on our shoes and antlers!
Linda and Kristen, the red-eyed reindeer.
And then, it was time to forge ahead to run the Rudolph Ramble 8K! We headed toward the starting line, where we'd meet up with Diane and Justin (or "Meat" as we call him, after a massive plate of chicken-fried steak he ate more than a few years back) and their three kids, Aidan, Eva and Koen. It was misting and windy, and we shivered while we waited for the race to start. Oh, and we took time for a few photos.
Me and Justin (or Meat, as we call him; chicken-fried steak, anyone?)
Our shoes, complete with jingle bells and festive ribbons.
The race felt pretty good - all five miles of it! This was the longest run I'd taken in a long time, and I knew it wouldn't be easy. I was sick last week, and when you aren't particularly good at running anyway, being sick makes a difference. But I had fun, and I finished smiling.
Me and Linda, makin' our way to the finish line. I'm not sure why she's making that face.
The official results say I finished in 1:08:55, running a 13:51 minute mile. I've only run one other 8K, the Shamrock Shuffle, and I finished that in 1:06, or a 13:20 minute mile. I'm a little disappointed in this, but only just a little. We can't always get a PR, can we?

But the true victory here is the magnitude of the yearlong achievement. I started the year with a goal of 12 in 12 - a dozen races during 2012. I surpassed that. By almost double. Yep, 23 events (one wasn't a timed race) in one year. I have to acknowledge that there's something extraordinary about that.

The coming year will not likely include this many races; I simply don't have the finances to bankroll another year like this! But looking back, this has been an incredible experience. When I first started running, or doing anything remotely physical, I couldn't imagine putting myself out there, in public, and reaching for a goal. Today, I reflect on a year that included a 20-mile midnight bike ride, two triathlons (in addition to learning how to swim!), a half marathon, two obstacle races and an array of Ks (5, 8 and 10).

Being able to move is a gift, and it is not one I take lightly. On days when my feet hurt, my muscles ache or I am just plain too tired to log another mile, I run for them. Here's to another year as a runner.

December loser

I weighed in this morning and smiled: 207.6

It's December, and I'm managing to inch the scale slowly toward my goal. It's challenging! I have to think about what I choose to eat, but it's worth it because the small changes in my weight over the last few weeks have left me feeling really good in my own skin. What a great feeling.

Here's how the week played out:

  • Monday, December 3: Ate 1570 calories; burned 178; exceeded my calorie goal by 172.
  • Tuesday, December 4: Ate 1,872; burned 496; exceeded my goal by 56.
  • Wednesday, December 5: Ate 1,554; burned 581; left 347.
  • Thursday, December 6: Ate 1,593; burned 407; left 134.
  • Friday, December 7: Ate 1,388; burned 151; left 83.
  • Saturday, December 8: Ate 2,290; burned 666; exceeded my goal by 304.
  • Sunday, December 9: Ate 2,006; burned 852; left 166.

All told, I left 198 calories on the table at the end of the week, after eating 12,273 calories and working off 3,061 of the little suckers. I like that my calorie expenditure is all over the map; it shows me that I'm keeping my body guessing as to what's coming up. I also like that I've kept up the streak for more than two weeks; running every day helps!

Is it hard to count calories during the holiday season? Hell yes. But it is as worthwhile as it is difficult. Most years, I just accept a few extra pounds. This year, it's different somehow. Maybe it's the fact that I look at every day as a new opportunity, regardless of how much I overdid it the day before. Maybe it's the way that I don't see bad weather as an excuse not to run. Or maybe it's the half marathon looming in February. For whatever reason, I'm diving in. Let's see what the new year brings.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Last week's totals; winning.

So when posting my progress and weigh-in for this week, I realized I didn't post my day-by-day accounting of intake/output. In the interest of full disclosure, I figured I'd fess up. ;) Here's where I stand. Or rather, stood, last week.

  • Monday, November 26. I ate 1,914 calories and worked off 787 (15 minutes running, 5 minutes on the stair climber praying for sweet death, and 30 minutes on the elliptical), leaving 163 unaccounted for. 
  • Tuesday, November 27. I ate 1,793 and burned 568 (45 minutes running), leaving 95.
  • Wednesday, November 28. I ate 1,568 and burned 354 (15 minutes running, 15 minutes stationary bike), leaving 106.
  • Thursday, November 29. I ate 2,064 and burned 758 (60 minutes running), leaving 14.
  • Friday, November 30. I ate 2,308 and burned 189 (15 minutes running), with a surplus of 799. Moo.
  • Saturday, December 1. I ate 2,386 and burned 568 (45 minutes running), with a surplus of 498. Oink.
  • Sunday, December 2. I ate 2,117 and burned 719 (60 minutes biking, 12 minutes running), with a surplus of 78. Moo oink.

All told, I was over by 1,375 calories for the week. Which sounds pretty high, until you figure that I burned almost 4,000 calories in the same week. Not going to feel too terribly guilty.

The truth of the matter is, losing weight is not an exact science or a perfect mathematical equation. Some weeks you will feel like you were right on and the scale will still weigh you high. Other weeks, you'll experience a loss for no apparent reason. So this week I gained a little. The truth is, I feel fantastic (even though I have a cold). I have kept up my running streak, and my cute corduroy skirt still fits.

I'm gonna call this a win.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Weigh-in and Santa Run recap

Well, I got on the scale this morning and it was not as nice to me. 210.4. Asshole.

But I knew last week's measurement might have been an anomaly; it's not possible to lose four pounds of actual fat over Thanksgiving! So this is probably just a correction. (Doesn't make it suck any less, but whatever.)

Anyway, that's what the scale said, and I'm officially okay with it. (I mean, it's not like I have a whole lot of choice, right?) I'm doing the best I can, and that's good enough!

Perhaps part of why I didn't have a significant loss (or any loss) this week is because I had a 5K this weekend, and a 5K always means breakfast. (It should be noted, however, that I did not lose my mind; I ordered decadent food, tweaked to make it less so, and I only ate half of it.) Sunday brought my third annual Rotary Santa Run in Arlington Heights.

I love this race. Sure, it's a hoot to run in a Santa suit, but it's particularly special to me because it's a run through my old home town. Plus, I run it with the best running friends a girl could ask for.

I have to consider this year's Santa Run a success. I finished it more than two minutes faster than last year, and I really felt great through the process. Oddly enough, I had exactly the same finish time as the Pie Run a few weeks ago! All told, my stats were: 1,323 out of 1,546 total, 41:20 finish time with a 13:20 minute mile. (By way of comparison, in 2011 I was 998 out of 1,083 and I finished in 43:33 with a 14:03 minute mile.)

It was fun. I felt good. That's all that matters. (But it doesn't hurt that we were cute; photographic evidence, below.)
Kristen and Me.
Linda, Meg, Shelly and Kristen Claus.
Linda, Kristen, me, Shelly and Meg. And a random stranger's thumb.
Linda, Shelly, me, Kristen and Meg, seated in the Fat Man's chair. 
So Many Santas!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Streaking

I'm on a streak.

Runners' World issued a streak challenge: to run a mile or more every day, Thanksgiving through New Year's. I was doing great, and then today happened.

Yeah. I have plans after work. And then I have plans after my plans. So that means when I get home - at around 10, I'm guessing - I have to suit up and go for a run. A short one, sure, but still ... I'm gonna run.

I should have gotten up early and knocked it out first thing, but I totally spaced it. It's not a big deal ... I just think it's funny that I'm willing to go for a run at 10 p.m., especially knowing that the very next morning I'll be running a 5K.

But a streak's a streak. I'm not gonna screw it up this early in the game! Today is day nine. This is gonna be a helluva month!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving - recap, weigh in, pie run

I wish all weekends were four days long.

Thanksgiving at Camp Clovertree was pretty awesome. It was four days full of food, friends and (thankfully) activity. I am convinced it was the activity that allows me to report today's weigh-in:

209.

Seriously; I got off the scale twice and did it again, just to be sure. Now, next week may be a different story. Sometimes my weightloss doesn't work like a simple equation, so I may be stuck at a standstill now for a week or two. Or I may (sigh) put on a pound. I will, however, continue to track my input/output, so I know where the issues lie.

Here's how the week went.

Monday I ate 2,001 calories, and worked off 850 with a short run and an hour of dance. My calories left at the end of the day were 169.

Tuesday I ate 1719, burned 696 and left 297 on the metaphoric table.

Wednesday I ate 1280, burned zero and left 40 unconsumed. This day was a particular victory for me, because the day before Thanksgiving is a traditional feast for me and an old friend. I knew I wasn't going to have time to work out, so I limited my calories during the day, and it worked out okay!

Thursday All I can say is, shut up, it was Thanksgiving. I ate 2,614 calories and burned 580 doing the Run 3.14 Pie. I overdid it by 714 calories.

Friday Clearly not yet ready to give up over-indulging, I ate 1,646, burned 193 and overate 133 calories.

Saturday was Thanksgiving at Camp Clovertree, complete with turkey and all the trimmings. I limited myself a bit, and also got a good workout in. By the end of the day, I had eaten 2,019, burned 661 and over-indulged by a tiny 38 calories. I'll take it!

Sunday was not a good day. I was up most of the night with a horrible stomachache (which I still have) and very little appetite. But I am proud that I got a four-mile run in! All told, I ate 1,680, burned 644 and left 284.

So for the week, I was over by only 95 calories over all. I consider this a win! Although I'm not sure how it resulted in a four-pound loss. We'll just have to see what next week brings.

On to the fun activity of the week: the second annual LaGrange 3.14 Run for Pie! You run Pi, get it? 3.14 miles, and at the end, you get a pie. So cool!
The gang - Kristen, Shelly, Me, Lisa, Linda, Julie and Barb - with our pies!
On this run, the "usual suspects" were joined by our friends Barb and Julie, and their friend Lisa - the more the merrier, right? Running with Barb is running with greatness; the woman is an Ironman! The neat thing about our friends is that no one questions another's abilities; we're all just there to have a good time, enjoy the process and support each other. No one seems to mind that it takes me a long time to finish! I was slower this year than last year, and sometimes I think I will always be chasing that 13-minute mile, but I did my best, and that feels good. 

I finished 1,754 out of 2,028 overall, or 90 of 110 in my age group. My finish time as 41:20, or a 13:20 minute mile. (Last year I ran it in 41:04, with a 13:05 minute mile.) I just keep reminding myself that there are lots of markers for good health; finish time is just one of them! Improvement overall, in the big picture, is what matters. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Recapping a week and weighing in

Last week was a good week. I felt pretty much in balance, although there was one sorta splurgy day. I learned something rather important yesterday: I eat too much. Getting back to logging all my food for a full week showed me that even on days I think I'm being really cautious, I'm blowing it. That's pretty much why it's been hard to lose. Yes, menopause is making it harder, but it's up to me to determine how much of a role it will play. So to give myself a frame of reference going forward, I'm going to recap the details of last week.

Monday
Travel day; I returned from Minneapolis and did not log calories. Or work out. Or weigh in. So sort of a lost day.

Tuesday
Weighed in at 214.2; considered that a miracle.
Ate a total of 1,519 calories; burned 388 by running for half an hour. Also did weight training. My "calories remaining" at the end of the day were 189.

Wednesday
Ate a total of 1,690 calories; burned 500 by using the elliptical for 50 minutes. Calories remaining were 130.

Thursday
Big challenge day! I ate 2,670 calories and burned 453 by running first thing in the morning. I knew this day would be a challenge, though because I went out to dinner. I stuck to good choices at Olive Garden but still went well over. I chose a bowl of minestrone, one breadstick, three pieces of bruschetta, lasagna primavera with grilled chicken, and their tiny "dolcini" dessert with strawberries and white chocolate. Still, dinner was 1,020. However, I felt good that a) it wasn't twice that; b) I didn't feel deprived; and c) I had gotten up early to get my run in and offset a few of those calories. Calorie overage was 897.

Friday
After Thursday's debacle, I was a little more careful. My total calories eaten were 1,553, and I burned zero. This time I was going to TGI Friday's for dinner with my family, and I was not going to have time to work out. I ate a very modest lunch of quinoa salad and Greek yogurt, and I thoroughly enjoyed my grilled salmon with broccoli for dinner. I still went over for the day by 233 calories, but this was a completely successful day.

Saturday
Always a good workout day, that Saturday. I ran - burning 635 calories - and lifted weights. I ate modestly, even though I was at an all-day scrapbooking event with great snacks. Calories remaining at the end of the day were 21.

Sunday
Double cardio! I ate 2,229 calories but off set it by swimming and doing Salsa/Funk class. My calories remaining at the end of the day were 237.

So after you do the math, my net calorie overage for the week was 553. I would like to do better on this in the coming weeks, but I am SO pleased that I ended up with a pound loss. I worked hard for it, and I am grateful the work showed up on the scale.

This week will carry its share of challenges, with Thanksgiving and four days off of work (which sometimes makes for a break in the workout routine) ... but I am confident!

Today's weigh-in: 213.2. Down a pound and feeling good about that!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Running through airports, mac-n-cheese, and weighing in

My office was closed for the observance of Veterans Day on Monday, so I took the opportunity to find myself a cheap flight and wing my way to Minneapolis for the long weekend. Much to my chagrin, Tucson Mike and family relocated to MN a few months back, so my sunny getaways will now be something else entirely ... but in exchange, I get fast, cheap flights and more opportunities to see them. Totally worth it. (I think.)

So it's Friday evening, and I'm waiting in the terminal for my flight when it occurs to me that they're announcing a different flight number. Because I am at the wrong gate. In fact, I was accidentally waiting for a flight that was going to Minneapolis by way of Newark; my gate was in the next terminal. Next thing you know, I'm running through the airport like a scene from a movie. In my work clothes (complete with heels) schlepping my duffel bag, sprinting through Midway (praise Jesus I was not at O'Hare), skidding to a halt, taking off (and carrying) my shoes, running the rest of the way in stocking feet and making it to the very end of the boarding line.

I ended up sitting in the middle seat. I'm sure I smelled sweaty. But as I sat there, I thought to myself, "Thank goodness I am a runner!" Otherwise, I'm pretty sure I would have missed the flight. Plus, I get a great story out of the whole mess.

I arrived in Minneapolis and Mike, Rae and Kaylee were there to pick me up. It was a little late to eat dinner, so we just swung through the Wendy's drive-through and I got their apple harvest salad. It was very good! It was also the last healthy food choice I would make all weekend.

The rest of my time up north was filled with homemade banana bread (I love you, Rae), Chinese food at the mall, bake potato pizza (I am not kidding in the slightest) accompanied by the best beer I have ever had, and build-your-own macaroni and cheese. Seriously? I was served this steaming vessel of shell pasta with cheese and breadcrumbs, to which I added chicken, roasted garlic, caramelized onion and ... wait for it ...

white truffle oil.

Pasta nirvana.

It was not a weekend for tracking my calories, to say the least. But it did give me a bit of resolve. I weighed myself this morning, and came in at 214.2. I expect it will go up a bit next week, because sometimes I think my weight is a week behind my efforts, so I'm poised for that. In the meantime, I have assured myself that I can get through the holidays and still lose. I will track my calories and see how it goes; I was back on the bandwagon today, and I'm feeling good about that.

Also, Runners World issued a streak challenge to run at least one mile every day from Thanksgiving through New Year's. You in? I'm gonna go for it!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Inspiration?

I took this week "off" as a runner. It was just too much to ask of myself, especially after my dismal run last sunday. Not to worry, I'll lace up my shoes again on Monday, but I felt like I really needed to give myself a break from the running, and even from thinking about running.

Truth is, I wasn't entirely sure I would get back next week. The Hot Chocolate was so incredibly hard for me. I felt like it was just time to stop pretending to be a runner. I mean, everyone else I know who thinks they are slow runs between a 10- and 12-minute mile. Me, I'm at +14 on my best days. It's sad, this not-making-progress thing. I'm bitter and I'm disappointed in myself.

And then ... I get a random text from a friend. This is a friend I've only gone running with one time. Still, this is what she said:
"You are inspirational! It [running] is addctive. Sometimes all I do is daydream about where and when I will run next. And while running, it is so exciting yet spiritual at the same time. I really want to thank you for every post about every run you do or sign up for. It truly warms my heart and motivates me. You rock!"
I know, right? She said all that about me!

You'll pardon me if I pinch myself. It's important to remember that it isn't about how fast you are. It really isn't about running, per se. It's about who we are becoming along the route.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Hot Chocolate? Hot Mess!

Despite all my excitement for the upcoming Hot Chocolate 15K, the damn race actually turned out to be an abysmal nine-point-three miles of torture for yours truly. And for some effing reason, I'm pretty sure I'll be back for more in the coming years.

To start with, there were lots of complaints about the Expo and packet pickup. Yes, it was in a parking lot at Soldier Field. Yes, it was cold, and yes we had to wait in line outside to get in. But it wasn't horrible, and I got a cute t-shirt, so ... whatever. It was a fun way to spend a Friday evening with my runner girls, for sure.

The race was on Sunday, and I woke up feeling positive. I mean ... how could I not improve over the previous year? I ran an almost 14-minute mile in 2011; surely I've gotten faster than that, right?

Yeah, not so much.

My first split was at 44:09; so I ran a 5K slower than usual. Great. I suppose the fact that this was the part of the race I had to stop to pee during is part of that. No big deal; I left the portalet feeling like I could still achieve my goal.

Oh, my goal? Did I never let you in on that? Yeah ... I was under the ridiculous notion that I could finish in under two hours. Barring that bit of miraculousness, I wanted to do it in less time than I did in 2011. Barring that, I wanted to finish upright.

That final goal was the only one I accomplished.

After the first split, I kept feeling positive. But when we passed mile four, I lost my mojo. My legs started to hurt. My brain started to hurt. I got hot, then cold, then hot, then cold, then bored, then annoyed ... and on and on. The course this year went along the lakefront, but not the pretty part; it just basically went south. (Contrast that with last year, when we ran through the city and had people cheering us on the entire way. There is no comparison; this year's race sucked my will to live.)

My second split was at 1:31:26, so I ran a 10K in that time. I'm going to take a moment here and console myself for the fact that my last 10K took a little longer. The Monster Dash 10K took me 1:30:52, so I shaved what ... half a minute of my 6.2 mile pace? Okay. I'll take it.

And here is when things really got tough for me. I wasn't sure at all if I would be able to finish. Again, it was boring as hell. There was nothing to look at, no one to cheer ... it was hell. Plus, it was kind of disheartening to see all the people who had finished long before me walking the opposite way along the course. That sucked. 

And I felt like I sucked, too.

In the end, I finished in 2:17:49, with a per-mile pace of 14:48. Not my proudest moment. I crossed the finish line vowing never to run again.

Here's the thing: when you've been working at something for two years, you want progress. You want to improve, not backslide. For chrissakes, you want to stop being so bad at that thing you're doing that it seems like you're not doing it. I run so slowly that absolutely none of the programs you use to track calories burned, etc. consider it running. A 15-minute mile is not considered running. It's not even a particularly fast walk. The truth is, I suck at this, and as of last Sunday, I don't much enjoy it, either.

So I've decided that it's okay to give up. I'm committed to a few runs through February of next year, and after that I will reassess. I'm going to do my best, but I'm not going to keep doing this thing if it continues to make me feel like a failure.

Seriously, this race sucked so much, I only took two pictures.
Me, pre-race. I didn't hate my life yet.
It was fun to run into Heidi at the starting line. And yes, I wore a kilt.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Will run for chocolate

This weekend, I return once again to the scene of the crime: the Hot Chocolate race.

It will be my third consecutive year running for chocolate. In 2010, I did the 5k (it was my first) and last year I did the 15k. This year will be a do-over: I'll be going for 15 once again.

I'm a little nervous. I've set some goals (which I'm just gonna own internally for now) and I have followed the training plan as closely as a girl can without going completely bananacakes. So now, all that's left to do is carbo-load (ha!), get some rest, and line up at the start!

Race report coming soon; run time is 7 am. Sunday. See you at the finish!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Weight a minute!

Monday. Weigh-in day. I just never know what to expect anymore. I have days (sometimes two or three strung together) when I'm able to really watch what I eat and I exercise beautifully, and then I'll get on the scale and BAM ... gain. This week, I did well with the workouts (ran quite a bit, lifted weights, felt great) and it showed up a little on the scale.

215.8

But here's the thing: I also succumbed to such things as butternut squash gnocchi, beer, gyros and french fries. How is that possible?

I think this new world - I call it Menopause Land - is much less of a perfect equation of energy in + energy out = weight lost or gained. It's trickier now. It's a friggin' crapshoot, but this week at least it worked in my favor.

This week brings the final week of training for the Hot Chocolate 15K. On Saturday's training run, I had a nasty calf knot (for the first time in quite a while) and had to cut the run short. The cool thing is, it doesn't bother me. I'm pretty sure I can get through 9.3 next Sunday, so I'm just rolling with it. I've done what I can, and I'm just gonna power through now. I mean ... I run nine miles, I eat chocolate, I go to breakfast. How could that be bad?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Weigh in, recap, list

Well, I got on the scale again today, and it's just beating me up. 217.2; that's about 10 pounds heavier than I was at this time last year. I'm trying not to let it get to me.

It's depressing, realizing that I'm growing older and my body is just refusing to cooperate with me. Sure, there were donuts and pizza this week. But not the way I used to eat that stuff; I used to stuff myself! But I am not who I used to be, and I can't let a little setback (or a few years' worth of setbacks) truly hold me back. So I simply keep trying, doing what I can to make progress. We'll see if things look any different next week.

Yesterday found me once again off and running; it was Monster Dash time! Linda and I dressed in our kilts and headed into Chicago for a 10K (with a little extra run at the end, because we had seven miles on the training plan). It was a perfect day for a run; a little chilly, only a few clouds, and a lakefront full of like-minded people. LOVELY!
Maggie, race-ready.
 We ran into our friend and group fitness instructor, the lovely MaryAnn! What are the chances that we'd randomly bump into one another? So much fun to see her. Love that girl!
Me, MaryAnn and Linda. 
The race itself was hard for me. I need to remember that I am pushing 217 pounds through space; it's not going to be easy. So I shouldn't be surprised that I did not do particularly well. I should also acknowledge that I don't really have to do well; it's about getting the training miles in before the Hot Chocolate 15K on November 4, right? So I should knock off the pressure?

Anyway, in the end I finished in 1:30:52, with a pace of 14:53 per mile. I was 519 out of 532 overall, 14 of 15 in my age group and 357 of 369 women. All things considered, I did a little better than I ran my last 10K, in January. The fact that the January race was in blinding snow and I was only two and a half minutes slower kinda pisses me off, but whatever. Sigh ... at least I'm moving.

I guess the whole point is that I'm moving. A lot. I started this year with the goal of completing 12 events during the year. As of now, I am on track to double that, with 24 events in 2012. Here's what I've done so far:

January: Polar Dash 10K, Frozen Zucchini 5K
February: Super Bowl Shuffle 5K, Disney Princess Half Marathon
March: Shamrock Shuffle 8K
April: Race to Wrigley 5K, LifeTime Fitness Indoor Triathlon, Healthy Parks 5K
May: Fat Ass 5K
June: Sweetness 5K, SheRox Spring Triathlon, Warrior Dash
July: Arlington Heights Stampede Run, Chase the Moon 20-mile bike ride
August: Run for Your Lives Zombie Obstacle Race
September: Firefly 5K, Midtown 5K, Harvest Hustle 5K
October: Monster Dash 10K

That's 19. (The only one that isn't included in this blog as a race report is Chase the Moon, because it was not a timed race.) So between now and the end of the year, I have the opportunity to do five more and bring my total to 24. Here's what I'm registered for:

October 27: Delavan Skeleton Scurry (while I'm taking a weekend away in Lake Geneva)
November 4: Hot Chocolate 15K
November 18: Yorkville Chili Chaser 5K
November 22: LaGrange 3.14 Run for Pie (Thanksgiving day)
December 1: Arlington Heights Santa Run 5K

That's it! 24 events in one year. I guess that's proof that you can be active even if you're carrying 50 extra pounds.


Friday, October 19, 2012

Race Reports; well, you're a little late

The day before - and I mean the day before - I left for Hawaii, I ran not one, but two 5K races. A little crazy? Perhaps, but it's no different, really, than running a 10K ... or so I tell myself. So, no big deal, and I think it helped with the jet lag.

I began the day (September 29, to be exact) with the Midtown 5K in Palatine. It was the first time the crew of me, Linda, Pam (and Jim!), Dee, and Shelly participated in a race together in a really long time, so that was awesome.
The crew, clockwise: Me, Mama Dee, Shelly's nephew, Shelly's brother, Pam and Linda.
 We had a blast. It was great fun to get out and run a 5K with my besties. The event benefits Bears Care, the charity of the Chicago Bears, so some of our crew stopped for photographs with Big Cat Williams and some other large football player guys. I opted to have my photo taken with Shelly.
Me and Shelly, who is clearly a head shorter than I am.
LOVE that girl, even if she is little.

My results for the race were pretty good, for me. I finished 508 out of 774 overall, and 71 out of 109 in my age group. I ran it in 41:47, with a pace of 13:26. I have not yet been able to conquer the elusive 40-minute 5K! It's out there, though. I will do it!

As usual, we went out for breakfast afterward. Wildberry in Schaumburg is THE BEST when it comes to post-race food. So delicious! All too soon, it was time to head home to get a little rest before the second 5K of the day.

I met Linda at 3 p.m. in Geneva so we would have time do buy new running shoes and eat some food before the Harvest Hustle. Billed as an "All-Terrain 5K", the race wound through Peck Farm on trails, mowed farmland, gravel and pavement. I loved the race; I hated that I, for some reason, cannot run off road. I must not pick my feet up enough, because they get really hot (friction from brushing the grass?) and then painful. So I had to walk a great deal of the race, and my results were nearly abysmal. 371 of 382 overall, 18 of 19 in my age group, with a total time of 44:35, or a 14:23 minute mile. Ugh! But that's okay, because the next day I was flying to Hawaii.

So, a quick check of my races for the year shows that I have completed 18 as of this writing. Through the end of the year, I have scheduled 22. I just registered for another one, the Skeleton Scurry 10K in Delavan next weekend. That means I have to find one more and I will have doubled my 12 in 12 goal; 24 events in one year! Crazy. And yet, kinda cool.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Travels, training, transition

Oh, Hawaii ... I learned to love you. I love everything about you. I love that you delighted all five senses and never stopped giving me a reason to want to hang out with you.

I returned home a week ago ... and I still miss it. But I am also still recovering in other ways. In Hawaii, I achieved a new Personal Best: I gained eight pounds! Imagine how much it would have sucked if I had not run each morning? Well, except for one; I gave myself one day "off".

Anyhoo, Hawaii was awesome, but when I got home, I weighed in at 220. Seriously! That gave me horrors. But I got right back on the wagon and went to the gym that night and I'm following my usual plan. Lifting weights, running, other cardio ... I'm pretty much back into the routine.

Then last weekend I went to Charleston for Homecoming (which meant beans and hot dogs and wine and a short run/walk with a great friend) so things got a little interrupted once again. But in a delightful way! I got to spend time with people who matter, and I worked in a little workout while I was there, too. It's a wonderful place to regroup and allow myself to be fed, in the soul sense of the word. All too soon, it was back home and time to jump back into our regularly scheduled workout regime.

Which is going to be revised, because as I discovered after my most recent blood draw and testing, as far as my hormone levels are concerned, I am menopausal. Yippee! I'm an overachiever! So my efforts - failed, difficult efforts - over the past year to take off the weight have been just that - failed - for a reason. Do I give up? Nope; just gonna revamp the plan.

I will be lifting weights more, adding more muscle to my frame, in hopes to spark the metabolism in a greater way. Will it be easy? Um, hell no. But it's worth a shot. On top of all that, I am also training for the Hot Chocolate 15K in November, and the Princess Half Marathon in February. I am relatively certain I can do this. It can't hurt! So here's the basic plan for the next month:

  • Take my supplements every day. EVERY day.
  • Drink more water. I'm currently getting about 64 oz. each day; I know I need more on heavy cardio days.
  • Add more strength training. I'm going to dive back into the 30-Day Shred.
That's in addition to my regular stuff - running Monday, Wednesday, Weekend (Saturday or Sunday); Salsa/Funk or biking Monday (the Monday run is usually just two miles); Weights Tuesday and Saturday; and additional cardio as fits in the schedule. And yes, I do need to find time for yoga; once I get this stuff coming as a habit, I will evaluate how to make that happen.

So, there you have it. I am battling the feelings of hopelessness and the odd realization that I am now well and truly middle aged. I may be half done, but the second half is going to be the best.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Aloha, moo

I sure hope the eight extra pounds the scale is showing me this week is water weight.

Hawaii was amazing. I woke up there nine times, and I went running eight of those mornings. I'm not sure - even with the hula pie - how I could have gained eight. This weekend I'm out of town, so we'll see what next weekend brings.

Either way, it's true what the say: losing weight in middle age is tough stuff!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Reflections, plus a weigh-in

Last Saturday, I had the privilege of attending a fantastic funeral.

When is the last time you heard that?

My friend Jack died the previous week. A heart attack killed him, and he was only 58 years old. Yes, I'm at the age when my friends die of natural causes. That's enough to make a girl stand up and take notice, for sure.

The service itself was incredible; a fitting tribute to a man who could wear a Viking helmet while playing the ukulele and make it seem completely ... well ... not normal, per se, but certainly appropriate. We laughed. We cried. The funeral director even took to the microphone at one point to proclaim this the most fun she'd ever had at work. No, I am not surprised.

Following the service, at Jack's request, we all walked New Orleans-style to the Riverfront Playhouse to celebrate his life. We strolled behind the hearse and the band. Yep; band. There can be no more enjoyable way to say goodbye, for sure. As we all gathered at the Playhouse, we ate, drank, talked and reconnected. There were a few tears, but mostly it was just a day for everyone to reflect and remember. It was powerful.

I headed home in mid-afternoon, knowing I had a six-mile run on the schedule. Now, at this point it was about 3:30 and I was full of pizza, barbecue and cheap red wine. I was tired and emotionally drained, so I did what any runner would do: I laid down.

And I did not feel like I could get up.

I napped for an hour or so. I talked myself completely out of running. I didn't want to go; what's more, I didn't feel like I had six miles him me. But, knowing that my plan might need to be adjusted this week, with the big Hawaii trip on the horizon, I knew that if I gave myself a pass now the whole damn thing could derail.

So I got out of bed, suited up, and hit the trail. It was a great run.

There's something about accomplishing something you don't think you can do that just feels awesome. When I was done, I was tired and I was sore, but I was also a damn rockstar. That's success.

A few days later, I weighed in: 213.2. Whatever. I want the scale to move; I hope the increase in my mileage will help make that happen. If not, I am just going to let it be okay. I can't let my entire focus be my weight, so I'm just going to be the healthiest 213-pound woman I know, until the scale begins trending downward.

Monday, September 17, 2012

A winged creature, and yet quite heavy

Not all creatures with wings are built to fly. Ostriches and penguins spring to mind. So I guess I shouldn't feel bad that I am far too heavy to fly, even though I had wings on Saturday night.

The bad news: today's weigh-in said 213.8. Grr.

The good news: I had a great, fun run on Saturday night.

Dee, Meg, Linda, Shelly and I participated in the first Firefly Run in Chicago. In the spirit of the event - an illuminated night-time run through the city - we agreed to wear wings and other wacky things. Because I am clearly out of my mind, I ran in a wig.

 My sister Pat said I looked like Pauley Perette from NCIS; I took this as a compliment.

It was so much fun to dress up and be goofy for a 5K! Here are my buds, with Montrose Beach as a backdrop, in all their finery.
Mama Dee, Meg, Linda and Shelly, winged and ready to race. 

The setting couldn't have been more beautiful. There were a few race glitches - such as a terminal line at bag check pickup and no water at the finish line - but we had a great time.
 The five of us, from the back. In the back row are Linda, Dee and me; front row is Meg and Shelly.
Me, in my wig. And tie-dyed compression socks. And wings. And a borrowed tutu.

Overall, I'd call the race a success. My only true goal in any race is to finish without injury, so this one was a good one. I continue to deal with complications from plantar fasciitis, which causes me some nasty heel pain, but it didn't get any worse throughout the race. Score!

Did I do well? Not particularly. Two years into this running thing and I am still not able to run a 5K in less than 40 minutes. This race found me clocking in at exactly 43 minutes, running a 13:53/mile. I came in 1451 out of 1862 overall (which means there were more than 400 people slower than I) and was 27 out of 44 in my age group.

So in all honesty, it was not a good time ... but I sure had a good time. Sometimes ya gotta focus on what's important.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Monday weigh-in and whining

I hate my scale. Today it said 213 to me. Asshole.

So I'm not going to dwell on that. Sure, it may be a sign that I'm just going to yo-yo the same five pounds back and forth and back ad infinitum. Whatever. Sure, that sucks ... but you know what sucks more?

Injury.

I've been nursing an injury to my left foot for a few weeks now. It gets a little better, and then it tells me to get bent. It's really pissing me off.

I'm worried about the training I'm supposed to be doing right now. I'm worried about the half marathon in February, training for which starts full-on in one month. And I'm worried about my long-term goals of health and wellness. And it's making me sad.

For the moment, I am going to throw myself into the things I can do that don't compromise the foot - swimming, biking, and the elliptical.

But I sure do miss running. Dammit.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Monday Tuesday weigh-in

Last night, my dad asked me how much I weigh.

The sheer number of things that are weird about that fairly boggle my mind. And yet, I found myself answering him - "210, Dad; I'm a big girl" - as if it were the most normal question in the world.

And as I said it, I realized I was proud of the number. In part, because I started this journey almost 90 pounds heavier than I am now. In part because I work hard to keep the number steady while I work (slowly) at bringing it down, bit by little bit. But mostly because I may weigh more than 200 pounds, but I am also an athlete.

That's somethin', right there, and it's something to remember. You do not have to be thin to be an athlete. You do not have to look like an athlete to be an athlete. You only have to be an athlete to be an athlete. Sometimes people are surprised to learn that I have completed countless races. They seem shocked when I tell them I'm a triathlete. But most of the time, people just take it in stride, because fitness does not (always) equate to smallness.

I am a dangerous combination of fit, strong and not tiny. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Oh, for the record, I got on the scale yesterday morning. It said 209.4; to me, that's 210. Down one for the week. Booyah.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Weigh-in Weirdness

Hello, Monday.

Today, I got on the scale. We're trending back in the right direction - 210.8, or 211 for any normal person keeping track.

Felt good after the disastrous 218 of a few weeks back. Obviously those were NOT "real" pounds, but instead imposter pounds designed to throw a wrench in my mental state. Well, screw you, bad boys ... I'm not falling for it.

So over the past few weeks, I've been as careful as I could be under the circumstances (i.e., in the middle of moving, with a killer road trip mixed in for good measure). I've kept up my workouts, and I have not expected myself to be perfect. It is paying off.

As of today, I am living surrounded by boxes and furniture seeking a "home"... and I am dedicated to self care. I have a plan for my workouts this week (which include three runs in preparation for the Hot Chocolate 15k in November) and I feel excited and ready. (It doesn't hurt that part of the plan includes a 75-minute salsa/funk class on Wednesday - not something usually on the agenda!)

It's a new week and I'm feeling capable and strong. I really really want to be less than 200 pounds in the new year; wish me luck!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Run for Your Lives (w/official time)

We came. We saw. We ran from zombies.

In what was undoubtably the oddest race to date, last weekend a group of us donned kilts and participated in Run for Your Lives, an obstacle race during which you also try to avoid zombies. Only one of us - my fake boyfriend Pete - "survived" the apocalypse. 

 Me, Linda, Adam, Terri, Robyn, Lorna, Pete and Alexis.

This race was an absolute HOOT. We laughed the entire time. Prior to starting out each runner is given a belt with three flags on it; they represent your health. You run the race and try keep the zombies from getting your flags. It's harder than it sounds.

We dressed in kilts, wore Braveheart-inspired makeup, and quoted Monty Python. We were an eight-person mixed metaphor. The best part was they way I think we helped other people enjoy their own race. Near the end, when all of us except for Pete were already "dead", we found others to surround and protect. We had a huge group at the end who called us their "heroes" for protecting them through the end of the race. 

Probably the best part was watching Pete avoid the zombies. He's a real athlete - Ironman, marathoner and more. So when he was in danger, he was off like a shot ... or, he was running and flailing like a girl, shocking the hell out of the zombies and cracking everyone up. 


Pete and me.
When all was said and done, we were tired, hungry and victorious; after all, we finished with our bodies and our senses of humor intact. We took almost an hour and a half to run a 5K, but we had such a good time in the process, I don't think anyone minded. "For real" results to post later. For now, I'm just remembering the fun.

Addition: My official time was one hour, 25 minutes and three seconds ... or an average 27.26 minute mile. I do believe that's my slowest race to date. I also believe I don't really care. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Weight a minute!

Yeah, so last week's chart-topping weigh-in was evidently a weird anomaly. Last night I got on the scale at the gym, and it practically smiled at me: 213.

That was after swimming for 45 minutes and doing an hour of spin class, so it's possible that it's a little off one way or the other with the amount of water I drink during a workout, and how much I sweat. But either way, it was a good number. So now I need to keep my nose on the friggin' grindstone and continue to trend downward.

I'm also having some weird back pain lately. It actually kept me up one night last week; not cool, man. Not cool at all. But it seems to be getting better. I (still) need to strengthen my core and take some of the work out of my back. Which means I really kinda need to make that a priority. Guess I should stop saying that and get on with the business of doing it, huh?

Monday, August 13, 2012

I totally forgot

To weigh in this morning! GAH!

It wasn't a horrible weekend, food-wise, but it wasn't perfect, either. I'm hoping to have gone down a little. We shall see; I will hop on at the gym tonight.

Look for fun photographs after my run this coming weekend! I'll be heading to St. Louis to participate in Run for Your Lives - a zombie-infested 5K, in which I will be running in a kilt. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Following up on the panic

So yes, I panicked on Monday. I hate that feeling that my health is slipping away, before I've even come close to reaching my goal. That night, I went to spin class, and after class I talked with my friend, trainer extraordinaire Donna. I explained that I'd put on a few pounds and I wasn't dealing well with it; that stress and busy-ness had kept me from doing my best at my health. And she said:

"So goes the life of an athlete."

It hadn't occurred to me that these ups and downs were, indeed, part of the process. There is a light at the end of the tunnel; I will not be here forever. Soon, the move will be over and I will be able to focus a bit more. But in the meanwhile, I continue to work out, and I'm logging my calories, and - bottom line - I am working on it. It's not about being perfect; it's about trying.

So I keep trying.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Well, that sucks

I have been struggling a lot lately.

Like, a lot a lot.

With packing and prepping to move and all that goes into that, I'm not home a lot. I'm either working at my sister's house to get the place in order, or at the gym (seriously, though that will be hard to believe as you continue to read) or at work or sleeping. When I'm not, I'm packing up my belongings.

I felt puffy when I got on the scale this morning, but I still wasn't prepared to see ...

218.

What the fuck? 218?

That means I've put on about 15 pounds since the half marathon. I think every one of those 15 is around my middle. I can feel them, all squishy. I don't feel good.

I am battling the spiral, and I'm hoping you'll send me any encouragement - through the air, a text message, a comment - that you can. I know I can do it. I know getting back down to where I was is possible. But lately, it's been such a challenge.

Factor in that I'm pretty much starving and hormonal all the time and there you have it. I'm a girl who, if she doesn't get her shit together pretty quick, is at risk of becoming exactly what she used to be.

Today I made myself go walk up and down the stairs, just to get off my ass. Tonight I will do spin class. It's not like I'm just gonna take this shit lying down.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Gravity

Someone pinned this the other day, and I love it.




















And today, I kinda need that reminder. I'm having a bit of a war with my scale these days.

I am committed to weighing in every Monday. I used to weigh on the scale at Schaumburg LTF, but now that I've been going to Bloomingdale on Mondays, I'm using theirs. Back in the beginning of Monday weigh-in, I used the home unit, but then I thought maybe it was malfunctioning, which is why I relied on the one at the gym. But now and then, just to get an idea of where I'm at, I'll step on the one at home.

So let's look at recent history.

Last Monday, the home unit weighed me in at 212. The Bloomindale scale read 213.2. Mind you, I weigh at home in the morning, and at the gym at night, so it's somewhat logical that I would be a bit heavier at night. So I logged the 213.2 as the weight of record.

Yesterday, the home unit weighed me at 210.8. I accepted this as an awesome victory, and expected a similar - within a pound or so - result from the gym scale. Instead, I was greeted with ...

213.8.

Really? Fuck you.

I didn't freak out (much). Because here's the thing: I feel 211. I trust 211. So this morning I hopped on the home unit (again. Shut up.) and it said 211.8. I am taking that as the number of record. That might mean that next Monday blows beyond belief, but that's the number this week.

I think I'm going to buy a new scale - one that doesn't suck - and just start relying on that. There's too much possibility for fluctuation among my other choices, and I just really don't want to freak out. But for the time being, I'm just going to remember that picture up there. My weight is just a number, explaining how I fit in amongst gravitational pull. The work, and the dedication to my health, can't be measured by anything except how I feel.

And I'm feeling pretty awesome.

Monday, July 9, 2012

A friendly stampede

Last year, I spent 4th of July weekend in Lake Geneva, so I missed what was purported to be a great race - the Frontier Days Stampede Run, right in my town. So I vowed that this year, I would not miss it. And I didn't; I ran the 5K yesterday morning.

Although race day dawned sunny and warm, the 81 degrees at the start was a far cry from the previous day's 111, so it actually felt like a weird cold snap. Kristen, Linda and I walked the mile from my place to the race site, and I had a twinge of melancholy. This was my last race here as an Arlington Heights resident, and I wasn't expecting it to hit me. My town really knows how to support and celebrate its runners; it's made me proud to be a runner here. I can't wait to come back and be part of it, either as a runner or a resident, or both.

The run itself was great. I finished in 41:30, at a pace of 13:22 per mile; pretty slow, but pretty good for this girl. I'm still hungering to break the 40-minute mark, but I know one day I'll get there.

At about the halfway point, my left Achilles started to hurt. (It still hurts, which pisses me off, but I'm trying not to panic.) Liberal walk breaks became necessary, and I was starting to really feel the heat. (And seriously, people, when it's 80 degrees, a water station at Mile 2 is not sufficient.) The finish line included great food (Watermelon! Clif bars! Bananas! Bagels! Coconut water!) but no coffee, so we only stuck around long enough to objectify a fireman and scarf down a snack; then, it was off to breakfast (bacado omelet from Egg Harbor, thank you very much).

And as race morning drew to a close, I settled in to enjoy my Sunday. A few chores, a little puttering, and a nap ... ahhh, that's the ticket! I limped around a lot, and I'm gonna have to pay pretty close attention to the Achilles to make sure I haven't done anything more than strain it. Today it hurts a little, but I'm wearing heels, so stretching it out in athletic shoes will tell the true tale ... as will getting on the scale tonight after spin class. As of this morning, I had lost again this week, but that's not on the "official" scale, and you know how I feel about that. So, until tomorrow's update, I'll leave you with this photo from yesterday's race:
Me, in pink (as usual) and ready to run!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Weighing in and stuff

Got on the scale last night - the official weigh-in scale in the locker room at Bloomingdale LTF - and I lost some. Not a lot. Not as much as my home scale said. But I'm down a little more than a pound. As of last night, I'm weighing in at ...

213.2.

Yes, I know. I've been a lot less than that. I think last November I was 206 or something. The week after the half marathon, I hit 204. But that was then; this is now. I know what the horse looks like, and I'm getting back on it.

So, yeah, I'll admit to being a little upset about the uptick in the number over the past few months. But it is what it is. Now it's time to minimize the damage and get on with life.

And I'm still feelin' relatively good. I had a great workout last night - an hour of spin, and about 25 minutes in the outdoor lap pool, which was heavenly. I suppose the best part of all that is that I enjoy it so much. Who would've seen that coming a few years back, huh?

Scratch that; the best part is being able to spend time with incredible people who have encouraged me along on this journey. On my way into the gym, I ran into Donna, who was leaving after her first day as the group fitness department head at the Bloomingdale branch. It was wonderful to see her, even just for a quick conversation. And Pam, who teaches spin, is an incredible instructor and an even better friend. She knows when to push, and I always feel accomplished after I've completed (survived?) one of her classes. Plus, she joined me in the pool, so it was basically Spin & Swim night with Pam. The perfect evening workout!

And here I am, ready for another day of tracking my food and working it off, hoping to continue the (slow) downward trend of the number. I would love to see one-hundred-something by the end of summer. It's been a long time comin'. Not sure what happens when I get close, but when it's within my grasp, I seem to let go.

Not this time.

Monday, July 2, 2012

The switch

You know how it is when you first start a new diet/exercise regimen? Everything is new, and you're raring to go, and it's like someone flipped a switch inside of you that made it possible for you to follow the program to the letter.

Over time, though, you weaken. Real life intervenes and you stray from the path. It happens; we've all been there.

This time, though ... pretty much since I started this blog ... it's been different. I've been bolstered by my faith that even though I may not always be perfect ... even though I stray (sometimes for weeks on end) I know, eventually, I will flip the switch again.

This was a switch-flippin' weekend. Yes, there was good food (ribs, corn, brats, cupcakes). Yes, there were adult beverage. Yes, there were late nights. But there was also balance - balance caused by my own insistance not to obsess, but to allow my best self to run the show. So Thursday night I drove to Wisconsin. First thing Friday morning, I went for a run. I meant to go two miles, but it was so pretty (and damn those hills!)

The people of Wisco refer to us Illinoisians as "flatlanders" ... and this is why. So I found myself out running in this beautiful countryside, and my one mile out/one mile back quick run turned into two out/two back, all of which (I swear) were uphill. Both ways. I thought I was going to die. But it was worth it!

While I was up North of the border, my friends Amber and Jeremiah took the opportunity to visit Northwind Perennial Farm. This place is gorgeous ... and it offered another opportunity to take a little walk.

 Jeremiah and Amber, enjoying the surroundings.
 Goats!
Just one of the many paths we followed through the Farm.

It's such a beautiful place, with litle nooks and crannies (and donkeys and geese) just waiting for you to discover. So pretty!

All too soon my time in Wisconsin was coming to an end. But that didn't mean the workouts ended! On Saturday morning, I attempted to do "the 500". Attempted is the key word here, because it was pretty impossible, but one day I will get there! The 500, as described to me by my friend Ryan, is a pretty simple workout: 100 push-ups, 100 pull-ups (or whatever upper-body move you're capable of), 100 crunches, 100 squats and 100 burpees. I ended up doing the 300, or 60 each of those moves (with bicep curls, shoulder presses and lateral raises instead of pull-ups, because I didn't want to die). By the time I was done, my quads already hurt (dude, it's been years since I've done one burpee, let alone 60) and I knew Sunday wasn't gonna be pretty. But that's okay.

Sunday, I woke up at home, in my own bed, with a full day stretching out before me. Could easily have been a lazy day, but not for this girl. Nope, I chose instead to head out for a bike ride with Kristen through Busse Woods. It was a great day for a ride - 90 degrees and sunny, not a day for running but on the bike, you create your own breeze! Felt good to know that on a three-day weekend, I did not take a single day "off" of working out.

So I feel like the switch remains in the "on" position. If my preliminary weigh-in this morning is any indication, I've taken off a few pounds. We'll weigh in for realzies on the scale at the gym tonight. Full report tomorrow! Until then, remember to move!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Weighty matters

I weighed in this week. Came in about a pound lower than last, but I was on a scale in a different gym, so I'm not gonna own that one. Sorry; you're gonna have to wait until Tuesday so I can weigh at the proper gym Monday night for the straight poop.

Which might actually suck, because I am headed back to Lake Geneva this weekend. But I'm trying not to worry. I can make good food choices, and be sure I'm active. I'm thinking a nice swim, and a bike ride? Might be just the ticket.

So anyway, I will watch what I eat, and get some activity in, and all should be well. But here's what I have to say: I AM SERIOUSLY HUNGRY. All the time. Still.

Sigh. Please send your best wishes for my ability to be satisfied with normal amounts of food.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The heat, the butt, and a willingness to get real

I went for a run last night.

To most folks, that probably doesn't sound like an incredible feat. After all, I run somewhat regularly. (I used to run really regularly, and am determined to get back into the habit.) So what's the big deal about running last night?

Well, it's been hotter than blue blazes in Chicago over the last few weeks. Like, damn-near-100 degrees hot, and humid to boot. So, I suited up (in shorts, no less), grabbed a water bottle and headed out. Just a couple miles, but two is so much more than none.

I wasn't miserable. Well, I wasn't miserable the entire time. In fact, there were moments that felt pretty good. But still, it was a tough 30 minutes. (Okay, 27:32 ... I round up.) My legs felt heavy. My brain felt heavy. My whole damn self felt heavy, and sweaty, and hot, and cranky, and if it hadn't been for John Cougar Mellencamp singing in my ear,  may not have made it. But I did, and in the end it felt good.

Wait ... what's that? "My legs felt heavy"? Oh, yeah? Well, cookie, maybe that's because you have gained seven pounds. Seven; 7; siete; seven pounds of butter. So, yeah, you're gonna feel that.

And here I am, admitting it to the world. Since my best run so far (by "best" I mean my favorite) - the Hot Chocolate last November - I have packed on seven big ones; on Monday night I weighed in at a whopping 214.

So yeah, that shit sucks.

The trouble is, I literally feel hungry all the time. My hormones are out of whack and I just cannot convince myself that I don't need food. I don't eat first thing in the morning, because a) morning comes really early for me; b) once I start eating I can't stop; and c) I swear to sweet Jesus, I will eat three full breakfasts if I start as soon as I wake up. So let's take yesterday as an example: For any rational person, a banana and a breakfast bar, spaced out throughout the morning, should be enough to sustain for the day. So at 9:00, I ate a banana. At 10, I ate a breakfast bar. at 11, in a meeting, I started feeling shaky - like, low blood sugar shaky. NOT cool. So back at my desk, I ate a 100 calorie pack of cheez-its. I honestly felt like I needed food.

Then at noon I ate a sandwich. And more cheez-its. And two Fudge Stripe cookies. And I finished of a co-workers nachos. HOLY FUCK, I ate nachos. I am not a person who eats nachos - at least not the kind that come with 100% plastic cheese - but fo sho, I ate these. (And they were delicious.) So I spent the afternoon beating myself up.

I know, I know, knock it off. I know better. I really do understand that the negative self-talk is destructive, so you can take the lecture elsewhere. The point is, I used it for good (sort of). When I got home, I made myself go for a run.

When I came in, I ate two ears of sweet corn (with olive oil mayo and chili powder) and a turkey sandwich. Dessert was a Drumstick (which was delicious. Shut up.) Sure, there are a few better choices I could have made throughout the day, but what I'm trying to be clear about is I am constantly hungry. So this is going to be a challenge.

I talked to Tucson Mike last night, and he informed me that by sometime in October, he intends to be back in his college jeans. Okay, I thought; I should be able to do that. I want to be able to do that. It's gonna take hard work. It's gonna take making my schedule fit with the workouts (which is admittedly hard these days, but not impossible.) And it's gonna take being hungry. But if I don't get real, I'm going to be stuck. And stuck is just not where I wanna be.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Shootin' at the walls of heartache

There's something really cool about starting an annual tradition. The races that happen every year are certainly no exception, and Warrior Dash is one of my favorites. When else do you get the opportunity to run, jump, climb, slash, leap and crawl, all in the name of a good time?

That's what I thought.

On Father's Day, it was back to the battleground. Linda and I joined up with work friend Mike (whom I no longer work with, but who cares?) to take on 13 obstacles (can I remember all of them?) over three miles. It. Was. Awesome.

In my gut, I want to say that I don't know why this year was so awesome. I want to say that I can't explain why the experience this year was so much better than last. But I'd be lying, and it's my blog, dammit, so if I can't be truthful here, where can I? So ... here goes.

Some of the credit goes to the race organizers. In anticipation of some pretty insanely hot temperatures, they added water stations along the course. They also added water obstacles - wading through a poll and then climbing a wall while "rain" fell on you. It was easier to stay refreshed this year.

Some of the credit goes to precipitation, or lack thereof. The relative dry state of the ground meant that last years' treacherous terrain was simply not that bad. (Also, going off the trail to get up the particularly steep hill was definitely the right choice!)

But most of the credit, I have to admit, goes to me. I did the work that made this year's Dash so much more fun! I think the most vivid memory of last year was how much I hurt at the end. Granted, I was nursing the Achilles injury and battling massive knots in my calves. But after the race, it hurt to walk; my dogs barked with every step. Every muscle in my body cried for relief, and although I had fun, I was so glad it was over.

This year? I would have done it all again if I'd had the time. It was a fucking blast. I tried every obstacle (last year I bypassed a few) and only gave up on one. Most of them were a lot of fun! I just threw myself into the whole experience and had a fantastic time. (The corn and turkey leg afterward were just part of my motivation.)

A lot of progress in just one year. We ran a lot more of it than we did last year, and if we hadn't had to wait in line (occasionally long, slow lines) for several obstacles, we would have made great time. As it was, we shaved four minutes off last year's time, coming in at 1:16:32. I was 529 out of 582 in my age group (40-49) and 8,496 out of 8,797 overall. That's respectable, in my opinion!

After the race, we visited a little bit with Mike, Emily and their son Jax, and settled in for our turkey leg and corn. When it was all over, we were already making plans for next year.

You in?

 Our shoes and socks, a complete mess post-Dash.
  Mike and me, all smiles after finishing the race.
 Will Dash for food.
 Me, proud and satisfied. Shiny medals and bragging rights!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Sometimes, you just gotta Tri

I honestly don't know what's gotten into me.

Maybe it's the way it feels to cross a finish line. Maybe it's the adrenaline rush. Maybe it's the food afterward.  I don't know what the deal is, really, but I know one thing for sure: I love trying out new physical activities. (I know, I know ... what the hell, right?)

So I was just as surprised as you that I wanted to complete a triathlon. And I might be even more surprised than you at how much fun I had, and how well I ended up doing. Again, let's be mindful that in my athletic pursuits, I compare myself only to myself. There is no point in trying to compete against a field of seasoned athletes; it's just me and the course. So when I tell how how long it took me, don't be disappointed, okay?

Okay.

By way of background, it's only fair to let you know that the night before the tri, I attended the wedding of a dear friend (to be sure, he's family to me). The ceremony and reception were in Chicago, and it was a late night. (Totally worth it, if only for the joy of watching three precious nieces walk down the aisle hand in hand as flower girls.) Morning came at the ungodly hour of 4 a.m., and Linda and I were on our way to Naperville for the SheROX Sprint Triathlon.

Sadly, we didn't have cameras with us for the race, because we couldn't take them into the water for the swim (duh) and didn't have a secure place to keep them. Alas, a few before and afters will have to do (see below).

As for the race itself, I went into it with a range of feelings, mostly nervous and excited. What to expect? I had no idea. I just knew I was going to do my best, and I was determined not to freak out on the swim.

We arrived at Centennial Beach, where the race began, at about 5:30 a.m. We got our transition area set up (you have to be super organized to ensure easy transitions between swim and bike, and bike and run) and soon it was time to head to the beach to cheer on other competitors. Our wave, however, didn't begin until around 9 a.m. That meant about two hours of hanging out, waiting. (Yawn!)


Pre-race Maggie, in my Marines t-shirt, in honor of Ryan, the groom.

Soon it was time to put on our swim caps (PINK!) and head into the water. I put on my goggles (also PINK!) and said a little prayer. "Dear sweet little baby Jesus, please don't let me drown." And then ... AIRHORN!

We were off. I got in the water and, based on the advice of a fellow swimmer, took to the outside of the lane. BIG MISTAKE. From here, I had a long way to go to get back to the ropes that divided the lanes (and provided me a little security, in case I felt fatigue). And soon, I did begin to feel fatigue. Maybe it was the crowded pool, or the constant waves; I can't say for sure. I do know that a bit of panic set in when I realized I was pretty far out, the bottom was 20 feet down, and I had a long way to go before I could relax. At this point, I was greeted by a white-capped "Swim Buddy", otherwise known as a guardian angel of the pool. Either the race or the pool itself provided these great swimmers as support for the athletes. "Are you okay?" a Buddy asked; I told her I was okay, but struggling. (Mind you, this was the first half of the first length of the pool; there were six, like a big M with an extra turn, total.) She spent the entire rest of my swim time at my side, coaching me along. When she thought I needed a rest, she guided me to the ropes or had me flip onto my back to catch my breath and get my bearings. With her help, I was able to complete the swim; half mile in the water, done. I did not drown! (Thank you, Swim Buddy, whoever you are!)

I was quickly out of the water and headed back to our transition area to pick up my bike. I was able to quickly get on my way, thanks to my multi-sport shorts and tank from Skirt Sports; worked like a dream! (Plus, I may have looked a little cute.) The bike part was the toughest for me. My bike, while a lovely gift from a friend, is not what I need for racing. Or even general riding anymore. The gears slip, so riding can be precarious at best, dangerous at worst. I quickly gave up trying to shift and just stuck in a high gear for pretty much everything ... which worked great on hills and sucked ass on the flats. But that's okay, because I DID IT; 14.2 miles. Boom, done.

Alas, it was time to run. My legs felt like rubber, but we started off strong. Linda agreed to spend the last two legs of the tri with me, as we were in the Buddy wave. (I know she would have come in a lot sooner if she hadn't hung back by me!) It was really rough going at times, and I was having a little trouble catching my breath. Let's face it; until the race, I'd never asked my legs to run after a bike ride. If I had, they might well have told me to get bent! So I kept going, taking liberal walk breaks, and just letting it be okay that I was tired.

The race provided us with cold, wet towels, they added water stops, and there was even a teenage girl outside her house with a garden hose offering to spray people down. (Yes, please!) It was fantastic to feel supported toward the end of a long journey.

And when the finish line was in sight, I had saved enough in the tank to run across it; I haven't felt so happy since February, when I finished the half marathon.

It was incredible. The support and encouragement, and the accomplishment, have definitely given me some perspective as to what I'm capable of. Next year, I'll be stronger. But I promise you, there will be a next year!

My final results:

750 meter swim - 23: 27
Transition - 10:53
14.2 mile bike - 1:12:00
Transition - 5:26
5K run - 46.15
Overall time: 2:38:00


Linda and me.

Me, after; a proud moment!

Me, at home the night of the race. Exhausted, but so damn happy.
My morning after cup of coffee, fit for a triathlete.