Saturday, March 30, 2013


Had an awesome time run/walking a 5K with my sister Jenn! We did the Blackberry Farm Spring Gallop, which takes off from Blackberry Farm.

We did not, in fact, gallop.

It was a fun setting for a race, and on my usual route because it was on the Gilman Trail. Jenn is recovering from foot surgery, so we took it easy and just enjoyed the scenery and the company. But even still, we did really well!

We finished in 47 minutes and 59 seconds, with an overall average pace of 15:29. Not bad for a couple old broads, huh?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Weigh Things Are; Challenge Chat

Oh, weigh in. I hate you.

Not really. But yeah. Okay I weighed in yesterday, and came in at 207.2. It's okay, not perfect. I've put on a few since before the half, but before the half I was kicking ass and cutting carbs, and that's just not the sort of momentum I can keep.

I've been lax in logging my food, but not in the activity department; I'm sure that's why I've been able to hold relatively steady. And I'll tell ya, I sure do love the experience of working out. It feels amazing to be able to take a two-hour spin class and follow it up with a six-mile run, and that's what I did on Saturday. It's a lot of fun to head out for a run just because I can. And honestly, it just feels good to be able to.

It's not without its challenges, of course, but it's the challenges that make it interesting. So yes, I've had my share of injuries and weird shit, I've had great runs and runs that suck, and I've had times when I've stuck with the plan and times when I am so far from the plan I don't even see it. But the point is to keep going.

Even when you don't want to.

Even when a co-worker brings in Irish Carbomb Cupcakes.

Even when the run is hard, or the spin class hurts your bum, or you're sad because you can't make it to dance class.

Even when bagels are delicious.



Sunday, March 3, 2013

She's got legs

So I have my share of body image issues. It's not something I'm proud of, but lots of times when I see myself - in my head, in a photograph, in a mirror - the image I see remains one that is ugly. Mis-shapen. Out of shape. Unfit. I think I'm being realistic. I think I am seeing what the world sees. I see photos like the one below, and I am sure that the only thing anyone sees when they look at the image is my thighs.

My lumpy, bumpy, cellulite-ridden thighs.
Please ignore the PROOF marks; I'm trying to make a point.
And how freaking sad is that? I'm sitting here looking at the photo, and that's the first thing that came into my mind. "Gosh, I shouldn't have worn shorts. Those are some hideous legs."

But they're not. I'm wrong. Those are awesome legs.

In the hours before this photo was snapped, those legs carried me 13.1 miles through the humidity of central Florida, weather that couldn't be more different than that which I'd trained in. And they brought me across the finish line.

These legs are my legs. They are not perfect, but really, no one notices that but me. So here is where I stop the rotten self-talk and focus on what's good.

They may not be outwardly muscular, but my legs are incredibly strong. These legs are my legs, and I won't disrespect them any more. These are the legs of a woman, complete with curve and jiggle; this is how they are supposed to look, how they are supposed to work. These aren't just the legs of a runner; these are the legs of a woman who has worked off an extra 90-some-odd pounds. Mine are proud legs. Legs that pulled me through 23 races in 2012. Legs that pedal up hills and around corners while the wind whistles in my ears. Legs that will never be confused with those of supermodels, but given the choice, I'd keep this set anyway.

While we were in Florida to run the half marathon, my friend Carrie introduced us to the Body Peace Treaty, from Seventeen Magazine. In my opinion, the Treaty is revolutionary. It focuses on reminding young girls to value their bodies, and it resonates in women of any age. And, it serves as a reminder that our flaws aren't flaws at all. They are a reflection of what makes a person unique.

Celebrate your essential you-ness. Dare to be different.

And love your legs.

Friday, March 1, 2013

After the half

My second 13.1 is in the books. My second half marathon is but history. (Butt history?) It was a horrible, humid, wonderful, tiring, painful endeavor.
That doesn't mean I have any regrets, or that I won't do it again. Actually, on the contrary - I may actually be looking forward to it more. But my approach will be different, and there will be a new strategy between then and now.

But that's another story for later. For now, here's how the weekend played out.

First of all, as is the tradition, the morning we left was a snowstorm. But we were thankfully able to take off without incident and soon we were in 80 degree blissful warmth. We went to the expo, which was damn crowded and made me cranky, and then to the Pasta in the Park Party.

I love this event. It's a way that Disney really makes you feel special, and I enjoy it very much. But this year I was really tired ... not unlike last year ... and morning was going to come early because we were running a 5k. So I did not take advantage of much other than the meal. Day one, and I was already cranky. It did help, though, that I ran into my friend Cindy, whom we met on the plane headed to Orlando last year. We have a tradition now!

The 5k was a lot of fun, but I'm not sure I would do it again. It isn't timed, and there are a lot of people but not a lot of character stops. Sure, it's fun to run through Epcot, but I wanted a little something more. Not sure I'd do the 5k again, especially since it means getting up super early.
Me, run-ready. I seriously love my running kilt.
After the 5K, we showered and headed to the Magic Kingdom for dinner at Crystal Palace (and Pooh, Piglet, Tigger and Eeyore). And while that was good, the real draw is DOLE WHIP! The only other place you can get it is at the Dole Plantation in Hawaii, so this little taste of goodness was a lovely reminder of a place I love just as much (if not more) than Disney World. Delish.

Me, Linda and Dole Whip.
We spent the remainder of Saturday trying to rest up and save our legs for the main event. Not that it mattered all that much; Sunday morning dawned humid and altogether crummy. But, if I may put on my Pollyanna pants, I'm glad the forecast didn't come true. There could have been thunderstorms and constant rain, so I guess I'll feel lucky the race went on at all.

We reported to Epcot and checked in to the Race Retreat. This is a runner's paradise, with everything you need for pre- (and post- ) race prep. 
My sister Kathie and her friend (mine, too!) Carrie at the Retreat.
They are my family, my coaching team, my mentors,
my inspiration and most of all ... my friends.

Have to take a moment here and acknowledge that, on this trip, I was surrounded by support. My sister Kathie was my first real-life example of an athlete. She showed me that real people - people I knew and loved - risked failure by putting themselves out there and trying to complete races. People just like me. Well ... like the me I wanted to be. By her example, I could see myself becoming something different. The Maggie I was in the beginning only dreamed of the failures I have today, because I wasn't even in good enough shape to fail this way. I couldn't even try. Kathie, and Carrie, and my friend Di - all of whom were on this trip - told me I could do it before I even tried. Then, once I started, my friend Linda bolstered me through a lot of the long, laborious runs. Shelly came along later, and has been consistent with her love and support, too. Everything, it would seem, takes a village ... even if we're just building a stronger Maggie. I can't begin to say what it meant to have this whole team along for the weekend. It was everything my soul could have asked for.

But back to the Retreat. Bagels, bananas, coffee and a place to sit down is most appreciated, as are the private bathrooms and bag check. Soon it was time to walk to the corrals. But not before we took one more photo!

Shelly and me; we were both in Corral G (the slow corral).

Soon it was time for our corral to start, and off we went. And it was horrible. Hot. Humid. Ew. My first mile or three went well - I was on target to finish in sub-3 (less than three hours, my goal). Then at about the halfway mark, after the Magic Kingdom, it seemed to hit everyone. The entire field slowed down, everyone began to walk, and there was just no chance of running at that point. I think it was mile 9 when I realized I was not going to hit my goal. Sub-3 was not in the cards. But I kept repeating my mantras to myself in my brain:
  • Execute the plan.
  • Keep moving forward.
  • Be relentless.
So I finished, eventually. It was really hard! I learned that heat and humidity make it really difficult to effectively run; it was important for me to let go of my expectations and just run (or walk) for the sake of moving forward.

My totals looked like this:
  • Total run time: 3:22:16
  • 15K split: 2:21:13 (15:09 minute mile)
  • 10K split: 1:32:21 (14:52 minute mile)
  • 5K split: 44:48 (14:25 minute mile)
  • Division place: 1,225 out of 1,749
  • Gender place: 15,608 out of 21,222
  • Overal place: 16,792 out of 22701
Pretty abysmal, until you consider this:
  • I beat my 2012 overall time by two minutes and 15 seconds.
In terms of placement, in 2012 my placement stats were:
  • Division: 1,183 out of 1,417
  • Gender: 13,666 out of 15,802
  • Overall: 14664 out of 16,906
So in 2012 in my division, I was at 83.48 percent; 16.52 percent of people were slower than I. In 2013, I was at 70.04 percent in my division; damn near 30 percent of people were slower. This is a huge improvement. 

In 2012 in my gender, I was at 86.48 percent; 13.52 percent of people were slower than I. In 2013, I was at 73.54 percent; 26.46 percent of women were slower than I. 

And overall in 2012, I ranked at 83.73 percent; 16.27 percent of all finishers were slower than I. In 2013, I ranked at 73.97 percent. Fully 26.03 percent of people sucked at running even more than I.

In every comparison, I improved by more than 10 percent. So clearly, everyone struggled with the humidity. So when I do the math, I can appreciate the progress that didn't necessarily show up in my finish time. 

Okay. Enough with the math. We spent race day at Epcot, drinking margaritas and eating anything we damn well pleased. Then we went to the Grand Floridian for dinner with Cinderella. Fun! Bedtime that night came early, and wakeup the next morning came late. We had earned a good night's sleep!

Monday morning, we had breakfast at Cat Cora's new restaurant on the Boardwalk. Delicious! Then we spent the entire rest of the day lounging, poolside.

Literally, lounging poolside.

This was the perfect Florida day, and at this point we deserved it. Such a delight to relax and do nothing except drink something frozen and fruity, and go down a water slide, and eat watermelon rind salad. Seriously, perfect.

It was not a wonderful race, but it was a wonderful weekend. I'm so glad I did it, and we are already making our plans for 2013. It's all worth it when you consider you get to be with friends for an extended weekend at the Happiest Place on Earth. Plus ... Bling.

Heavy Medal.

So now, I have something to prove to myself. I will go the distance at least two more times, pressing myself ever forward toward my goal of a sub-3 half. In May, I am registered for the Great Western Half Marathon, and in July, it's Rock-n-Roll Chicago. One of those will be MINE!