Monday, March 05, 2012
Yesterday I ran my first 14 mile run. I had been pretty nervous about it. Something about crossing the halfway mark makes it all feel more real, and I was worried that it would not go well or that I would have to walk. I chose a different route this time. It has more rolling hills but nothing massive like my usual route. It was a really beautiful run that took me through a couple small villages, and on the run out I had Jay Peak (a gorgeous mountain) in front of me.
My ankle has been a little sore lately, and it was acting up a little in the beginning. I decided to wait and see if it improved, and it did for a while. It started aching again around mile 11, but I kept going and made it the entire 14 without walking. I felt pretty good about finishing it and even better when I realized I had done it in only 10 minutes more than my slowest 12 mile run. I didn't feel like I was going that much faster, but I think the smaller hills helped with that.
Normally, I would be a lot more ecstatic about this accomplishment. This is big for me, and I'm feeling even more confident about being able to finish the marathon. But, I was struggling with something worse than a sore ankle on this run. My grandma had a major stroke on Friday morning and has major trauma to her brain. Things are not looking good. We were basically waiting for her to die because she did not want feeding tubes or anything put in. Even if she pulls through, she has lost her ability to speak and her motor skills. I'd spent the weekend crying randomly, and I knew that a nice, long run was just what I needed.
It mostly worked. The thing I love most about running is the meditative quality. I know I've said it before, but it really is like meditation. Sure, it can be a great time to think and sort out problems, but I often find myself not thinking and just running. It's a wonderful, peaceful time. There is no need to worry about anything except the road and where I am at that moment. I love it. For most of my run, I was able to turn off my thoughts and just go. There were a couple times when I started thinking and cried, but they were short-lived. It's hard to run and cry at the same time.
I was really glad I went running. Not only did I achieve a new distance and another goal in this long training process, but I had some time to escape life. And, I really, really needed it. I'm proud of what I accomplished, and part of me wants to celebrate, but it also felt like an emotional test. I guess what I can take from this run is that running is a far better and more productive way to deal with emotional stress. Much better than comfort eating or drinking.
Monday, February 27, 2012
Yesterday was another 12 mile run. Next week I go up to 14, and I have to admit I am a little nervous. Something about crossing the halfway mark makes me nervous, but I'm also feeling a little excited. I feel pretty comfortable with 12, and I'm ready to challenge myself again. Plus, whoa, I am comfortable with 12. Does that mean I can actually become comfortable with larger distances and maybe, actually can do this marathon?
Anyway, my run was originally scheduled for Saturday, but we got our first (!) big snowstorm, so I decided to wait until Sunday. Luckily, this is vacation week, so neither me or my awesome hubby have to work. I spent Saturday grumbling and watching the snow fall. I love snow, but running in it is not so much fun. I kept thinking of all the reasons why I could skip my run or postpone it for another day. All of my "reasons" were ridiculous excuses, and I knew it. I grudgingly set out my running clothes for the next day while thinking about the warm 43 degree day I'd run only a few days before. I was excited to get rid of the bulky outer layers, and the idea of piling them on again was making me grumpy.
I planned to run in the morning b/c my DD had a birthday party to go to on Sunday, but my husband (without meaning to aid my excuses) suggested I wait a bit so the road would be plowed. I agreed and turned off the alarm.
Luckily, I never sleep in very long. I was up at 7 (when I should have been leaving for my run), and I decided that I would definitely still have time for my run, even if I had to go even slower than usual because of the slippery roads. I ate breakfast, got dressed, and messed around on the computer for a bit. Then, suddenly, I wanted to go. I was ready. I kissed the kids, and I left.
I'm so glad I did. The sun was shining, everything was covered in fresh, thick snow that was still white b/c the snow hadn't started to melt yet. The roads were as white as the snowbanks and trees. The sky was perfectly clear and a shade of blue that almost didn't look real. It was like running in a postcard, and I was so happy to be out there.
I had a great run. One of my best. And, here are some of the things I learned:
1. That it is worth getting out there and doing it. It wasn't perfect. It was cold, and the wind was terrible in places. Still, it made me work harder, and I enjoyed sights that I would never have seen if I'd stayed in bed.
2. That my body is amazing. I've been studying anatomy for my trainer certification, and it's cool to think about how my muscles are working to produce the movement of running.
3. That I live in a beautiful place. I already knew this, but yesterday definitely reminded me of it again. Love VT!
4. That snow packed roads are a lot like dirt when it's really cold. It actually cushioned my feet from the pavement and was a really nice running surface. On the way back, it started to melt, and things were much more slippery.
5. Cold is good! Not only were the roads nice, but it feels great to breath cold, crisp air. Plus, I couldn't feel my legs, so no pain!
6. Most of all, I realized that I really love running. I know it sounds strange since I am training for a marathon, but I wasn't sure I liked running all that much. I used to be the person who "couldn't run", and that kind of thinking for so many years is a hard thing to break. I signed up for a marathon b/c I wanted the challenge and wanted to prove I could do it, but I was still planning for after it was done and I could stop running. Crazy, right?
Yesterday, I realized that I do love it. I love being on my own (which never happens). I love being out in nature. I love testing my body and pushing my limits. I love that distance has a new meaning for me now. I love the way it has changed my body and how I view it. I love that even after all my grumbling, I wanted to go out and do it.
Every time I run, I learn something new. I see something different. My thoughts are clearer, and I am filled with gratitude and a love for life. It is such a gift.
I'm not going to turn into a crazy marathoner. I know what too much running and obsession can do to people - I have 2 friends recovering from surgery b/c they ran when they should have been resting. Still, I absolutely love the half distance. I think after this marathon is over and I've had some time to rest, I may become a half fanatic. It's a great distance that I find comfortable. Anyway, that's what I learned this time. Who knows what 14 will bring?
Thursday, February 23, 2012
When I started exercising and eating well, I had one goal - lose weight. This has been a good motivator for me for 3 years, but it's kind of a never-ending type of goal. I will eventually get to my goal weight, but even then there is maintenance. I've made healthy changes to my lifestyle that I know will last for the rest of my life, but some days the "lose weight" goal just isn't enough.
I always looked at exercise as something I had to do. Burn calories, work my muscles, get my endorphin fix - and I usually enjoy it. By now, I am a complete exercise junkie and can't imagine my life without it. But, when you have no specific physical goals, choosing an exercise is really open. What do I feel like doing? How long do I feel like doing it? It leaves room for slack days and lighter workouts, which is fine - in moderation.
Yesterday, I went for a short run (4 miles). It was a very pleasant day for February, but it was windy, I was tired, the route I chose started out with a mile long climb up a huge hill. There were a lot of reasons (excuses) for me to just stay home. I needed more time to study, it was my only time to myself pretty much al week, the house is a mess, etc.
I went for a run. Not because I really wanted to, but because I am training for a goal. When a marathon is looming in the not-so-distant future, every workout is planned in advance. Everything I do must serve some purpose in getting me prepared for this massive task. The food I eat becomes fuel for these workouts and nothing more. Losing weight right now would be nice - and make me slightly faster - but it's not the focus. Everything is about the marathon.
I struggled with that short run. I did not want to be out there, and it took a while for my mind to calm down and enjoy it. The first moment I really enjoyed was reaching the top of the huge hill at mile 1 and seeing the gorgeous view. You can see the whole town, including the river and a large farm with the mountains in the background, and it was beautiful.
Even after that I struggled. After building a little distance, I have found that it takes me longer to warm up and get into that "I could go forever" place. It takes about 3 miles, so until then every step was a question - "Why am I doing this?"
The answer - to run a marathon.
Anyone who runs knows you have good days and bad days, and the distance isn't the only factor. I ran 10 miles on Saturday, pushed my speed on the hills, and got back 5 minutes before my goal. And, I felt great the whole time. I was focused. I kept pushing, and I enjoyed it.
Yesterday's run should have been easy. A quick, little jaunt out in the sunshine. But, it was one of the worst I've had in awhile. Maybe it was stress, not enough sleep, water, food - who knows? The point is that I'll do it even when it's not ideal because I have a goal.
And, when I finish that marathon, it will have been totally worth it.
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
This is totally where I am at lately. My body is strong. I no longer obsess about the number on the scale. I no longer beat myself up for an indulgence, and I don't let it throw me off course for the whole day (or week or month).
I have become focused on new goals. Things I never thought I could do. Things that seemed like ridiculous dreams a few years ago.
3 1/2 years ago, I was 263 pounds, miserable, scared, anxious, and hated life. I don't even recognize that woman any more.
The struggles are worth it. Pain, sweat, fear - they are all worth it. Nothing feels better than confidence. Nothing feels better than truly loving yourself.
*not sure where the top picture originated. I got it from Fit Chicks on facebook. Awesome.
Friday, February 17, 2012
**This gets pretty personal, so if you're expecting my usual up-beat kind of blog, you have been warned**
This week has been a real roller coaster. My emotions have been all over the place and my stress has been through the roof.
This was supposed to be my relaxing week.
I struggled through every day and did everything that needed to be done. Our lives are usually hectic, but this week was even more so because of Valentine's day parties at school (2 different days) and trying to fit in extra runs and studying.
Last night I got really angry with life. I was burnt out. I needed to vent and had no where to do it. I wrote a long, angry blog last night while fighting a serious urge to binge and then deleted it because it wasn't meant for anyone else to see.
I've struggled with binges a lot. I'm not sure what another person's definition of binge is, but mine are scary and mindless and not something I enjoy. I am a recovering bulimic. I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned it before on SP, but I started pulling myself out of that deep dark sh** hole about 12 years ago. I did it on my own because I had a bad time at a therapist and could never bring myself to try it again. It was hard. Those words don't even come close to describing how difficult it was. There are no words for it. I know some of you know what I'm talking about.
Anyway, it's been over 7 years since I stopped purging, but my struggle continued with bingeing for another 5 years. I've been big, scary binge free for about 2 years. I sometimes find it hard to believe. Most of the time I don't think about it. I am doing well with eating healthy and even when I overindulge I never go above 2500 calories. That's minor compared to what I used to do to myself.
That doesn't mean that the feelings aren't still there. They are. Just because they've gone into hiding doesn't mean they're gone. I think, much like any other addiction, they will always be there, and I will always have to be cautious.
Where am I going with this? Well, last night I just got fed up with everything. It has been a week of constant stress and tons of "little things" piling up, and I was just done. I had my hand on the Little Debbie's box (why is that in my house, anyway?), and I was ready to go into full-on binge mode. But, I stopped myself. I did something different. I wrote the angry blog and ate a small bowl of cheerios. Then I sat on the couch and asked myself what I really needed.
Obviously I needed something. I'm a pretty happy, positive, upbeat kind of gal normally, and that person last night was old Em (and I can't stand that b----). Life has been hectic before. My family kind of thrives on it. Nothing major had happened to me or anyone I knew, and yet I was sad and angry and lonely.
It was fear. Plain and simple. I've taken on a couple big goals, and they both really started this week. I was trying to fit in extra runs as well as find time to study, which is almost impossible in my loud house with 2 young kids. I'm terrified to do these things and worried about what will happen if I fail. I've been keeping up a very positive, "I can and will do this" sort of attitude, but last night it fell apart. Everything I was feeling underneath came out, and it was time for me to deal with it.
What I needed was a plan. I used to be very organized - back when I only had college courses and theatre stuff to worry about. I'd almost forgotten what it was like to plan things a week in advance. So, after I calmed down and studied for a while, I made a plan for how to tackle the first part of this course. I planned it out day by day and gave myself assignments. As long as I stick to it, I will be fine. I also was smart and built in some wiggle room for the things that will inevitably come up to change this plan. I think it will work.
I am doing my best to work out something for marathon training, too. It's hard with everything else I do and the classes that I teach. I'm in pretty good shape, but there is a limit to how much exercise I can do in one day and still feel like I am giving my classes the best of me. I've found time for a shorter run, speed work, and a long run. That may need to be it for now. I know I should be doing more, but I have to make it work for my life.
So, I figured out what I needed. I didn't go back into the black hole. I can keep my no-binge streak going. I feel good about that. It really helped me to look at everything I've overcome. I tend to not think about it and always move forward, but sometimes it's good to look back. If I can survive bulimia, quit smoking/drinking/etc., and lose 80 pounds, I can definitely run a marathon and pass my trainer certification. I just needed a new plan and a better perspective.
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