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?


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.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Sweetness is Sweet

For the second summer in a row, I ran the Sweetness 5K. The race benefits the Walter and Connie Payton Foundation to battle liver disease, and honors the life of the late Walter Payton. I run as part of the Walter Payton Liver Center team from University of Illinois Chicago, where my friend Shelly works. Not only is it fun to be part of a big team, it's also nice to get a really cool shirt.

This year the weather cooperated a lot better than last; in fact, it was a near-perfect day for a run. But what made this run truly special was sharing it with my nephew Alex. The race happened to fall on the same day as his graduation party, as he'd graduated high school a few weeks earlier. So he and I shared a great morning together before the big celebration.

The usual suspects were there, too - Linda, Pam, Kristin, Megan and Shelly. It was an awesome morning of fun with friends. I had a pretty good run, too, though not my best by a longshot. The immense hill at the end made sure of that! I came in number 274 out of 420 total, in a time of 43:04.6, or a 13:54 minute mile. I'll take it!

Connie Payton told me she loved my pants.

Shoe wheel!

The Saturday morning Strictly Strength crew:
Shelly, Pam, Linda, Me, Kristin and Meg.

The Boy proves he's not too grown up to love his Aunt Maggie.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Ending MS

Last year, Multiple Sclerosis became personal for me. I learned that someon I love, my friend Gretchen, has the disease, so it was instantly important for me to do what I can to join the fight to end it. So I did the MS walk and raised a few dollars, and hopefully some awareness, too.

This year, Gretchen (or G, as I call her) offered even more ways to make a difference, in the form of an ice-skating fundraiser, and a Salsa/Funk fundraiser. I participated in both, plus Walk MS, donating what I could to help further the cause.

And of course, along the way, we snapped a few photos. Here are a few of my favorites.

My friend Kristin, me, and Linda at Skate to End MS.

Kool-Aid and my friend Sandy at Walk MS.

G and Donna, plus Lucy, Ricky and Pauly Walnuts at Walk MS.

JP and me at Dance to End MS.

All of us, dancing to end MS. See? I smile when I work out.

Just a few of my amazing gym friends - Lesley, JP, DT, G and Lisa.