Sunday, February 13, 2011
Yes, it's yet another race report!
I write most of my blogs as a way of remembering things from this journey I'm on; it helps me not forget the good things when I'm having a bad day or a rough patch. My race reports are no exception; they are a way of sort of decompressing from the excitement (or disappointment) from the day and give me a log to recall what did or didn't go well.
Today was a fun race, the You Knock My Socks Off 4-Miler race in honor of Valentine's Day. You had the option of running solo or as part of a team; hubby and I of course ran as a team.
Weather forecasts all week called for showers this morning, but last night looking at the hourly forecast for the area, I saw that there might be a window of dry weather during some or all of the race. Rain isn't a big deal, but if I have a choice, I'll pick dry weather over wet, even though we have good rain jackets and hats.
We have run in the area where the race was a couple of times now for races. It's about a 45-minute drive from our house to Gig Harbor, where the race was held, so we decided to do a Starbucks run on the way. We got up bright and early and hit Starbucks for an 8-grain roll, cream cheese, and skinny latte, all dressed in our race gear. The gal who waited on us asked where we were running as she runs, too, and wished us well, which was a nice way to start the day.
After a little wandering and a quick online consultation to verify the address, we found the start of the race. Got checked in, made the obligatory potty stop, and got out to line up for the start just in time. There was a little mist when we first arrived, but by the time the race started, it had stopped--YES! No need for a hat, just the jacket as a windbreaker.
The race was on the same trail we had raced on before, but it was on a new section, so we had no idea what it would be like. We quickly found out: it is STEEP! This was a four mile race, two miles out and back; on the way out, we were heading down a steep hill, and all I could think was, we have to do this going UP on the way back. Not only was there a steep hill going down initially, then there was another steep hill going UP near the turnaround point. Hubby and I both decided up front that we were not going to kill ourselves trying to run the entire distance; we ran the bulk of it, but we walked periodically because of the hills.
Seriously, these were the steepest hills we've ever tackled; the sign I saw on the way back up said it's an 8% grade, and my Garmin showed an elevation gain/loss of 761 feet for the course. Great place to go practice running hills, but it was tough for a race.
Overall we were pretty happy with how we did: total time of 55:54, average pace of 13:53 minute mile by my Garmin, though I started mine a few seconds before crossing the start line. Fast? Not by any means, but we were not completely spent when we were done; by walking on some of the steepest portions, we could easily have gone another mile or two or more. For the record, our splits were as follows: 12:46, 13:42, 14:22, and 14:50--obviously slowing down by the end, especially with the hills. We did manage a it of a sprint at the end to cross the finish line, though, so we ended running.
We were reflecting on how good we felt as we headed home; when we ran an 8K race in the same general area last October, we did not run as much of the race as with this one, nor was it on as steep a part of the trail, and we were wiped out at the end. Hubby and I both felt great at the finish, and we finished right about the middle of the pack, nowhere near either the first or last finishers. That was encouraging since we were almost last in the 8K we did there in October
So there we go--another race in the books. This was fun to do as a team; we stayed together the whole way and crossed the finish line together. I think this might become an annual tradition for us!
Wednesday, February 09, 2011
I reached a couple of significant milestones (to me) this past week. When the scale said 182.0, I had to get off and on a couple of times to be sure; that means I have now lost 70 pounds. Yep, that's right, S-E-V-E-N-T-Y pounds. I have been slowly wrapping my brain around that and figuring out that I'm so big any more. To put that in perspective, 70 pounds is over half of what our Alaskan Malamute weighs:
It's also equal to about 8 times what our cat weighs:
And 14 times the wonderful picture of five pounds of fat:
Yeah, it's a wee bit of weight; I have more to lose, but I'm thrilled to have reached this point. It's a milestone in my journey that I want to savor and remember.
Another significant milestone for me was in running. This weekend hubby and I were scheduled to do a 'long' run of 4 miles. It was a super packed weekend, but we had a window of opportunity to do it Saturday afternoon, so we had to decide, outdoors or at the gym. It had been threatening to rain all morning; my initial reaction was to go to the gym as I've had a scratchy throat and didn't want to make it worse by getting halfway out and have it start raining on us. The allure of running with my Garmin outside again, though, was too much--it was dry, the temperature was cool but not cold, and we have rain jackets that work perfectly well. Okay, run outside on the trail; we dressed accordingly.
We drove alongside the trail to measure how far it would be to do an out-and-back run of 4 miles and 4.5 miles plus the usual warmup walk distance. I wanted to do at least 4.5 miles; okay, really, I wanted to do 5 miles, but I was trying to be realistic and conservative in my plans, plus I wasn't feeling great so I didn't know if I'd be up to that long a run. I figured if I had to walk the bulk of it, that's what I'd do, but we needed to get out and get some miles in.
We walked for a few minutes to warm up, then started running. I love love love my Garmin for the audible alerts and other feedback it provides; even if hubby runs ahead, I'm not tempted to rush to keep up with him because I know what a reasonable pace is for me. For some reason the first half mile or so is usually a little hard for me, but I have learned to press through and keep going until it gets easier.
There is an almost constant internal dialogue going on as I run; when I start thinking about slowing to a walk, I take inventory on whether it's a physical need or a mental thing (breathing? fine; legs? fine; everything else? fine; keep running!). I also bargain with myself at times (okay, walk when we get to that tree, to that curve in the trail, at X minutes, at X miles) and then when I get to that point strike a new bargain with myself. I'll also often do a kind of a running mantra to help me--my current one is 'strong, smooth, easy,' over and over again. I read about that a couple of different places, and the first time I tried it on the treadmill, I watched my heart rate slow down even though my pace stayed the same. 'Strong, smooth, easy' has a nice cadence to it, and it reminds me to run strong, keep my stride smooth and easy, and relax.
Hubby was well ahead of me, so he got to the turnaround point if we were doing 4 miles and motioned that he was going to keep going; fine, be that way! I followed him; as he passed me on his way back, I jokingly told him he was brutal but kept running to where he had turned around and made my U-turn. I frequently considered walking, but I kept making those bargains with myself and continued to run. I could see hubby ahead walking and thought I might catch up to him; no dice, as I got closer, he started running again.
He stopped running entirely at around 4.5 miles, but as I got to that point, I realized that I still had something left in the tank and thought, what the heck, keep running. I kept going all the way to 5 miles before I finally stopped the Garmin and slowed to a walk.
I was ecstatic. I ran FIVE MILES, no walking, with only one stop for a few seconds at a stoplight. Oh, and my time? Five miles in one hour 7 minutes, average pace of just over 13 minute mile. Almost every time I go out for a run, I think back to the early days of the Couch to 5K plan when I thought I'd never be able to run for 5 minutes at a time; now I'm running an hour. Crazy.
I think I finally believe that 1) I really am a runner and 2) I may not be entirely out of my mind to think that I can run half marathons by June.
Lest you think it has been all sweetness and light with no problems along the way, that is far from the truth. It took me probably three times as long as most people to make it through the Couch to 5K plan; I took a long, long time to build up to running 30 minutes, and I still can't run a 5K in that time--but I can run a 5K and more now. There are plenty of days where I struggle to stay within a reasonable calorie range and eat healthy. It's not as often, and it's not as hard now, but it still happens There are lots of mornings that I don't feel like getting up early to work out, too. However, I have learned to be, as GRACIE4ONE put it so well in her blog www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
omments , a grown up about these things. I choose to eat healthy and exercise not because I necessarily want to or feel like it but because I need to; the feelings usually come along after the fact if they weren't there to begin with.
Changing my mindset from that of a child (everything should taste like a hot fudge sundae) to that of a grown up (my body needs vegetables and fruits and whole grains, not just sugar) has been the #1 most important thing I have learned to do on this journey. That is the biggest milestone of all as far as I'm concerned; it's what gives me confidence that I can keep going to lose the rest of the weight and then to keep it off for good.
Well, my friends, f you have stayed with me to the end of this blog, you deserve a medal for endurance, LOL! Thanks for all your encouragement, support, and motivation. You help me more than you know!
Wednesday, February 02, 2011
January is history and February is just beginning, so time to reflect on the first month of 2011--what went right, what went wrong--and where to go in February.
Here is what I planned to do in January and the outcome.
- Continue work on keeping the sodium down.
Definite progress here. More days when my sodium was well within the limit than not; it's something to continue to keep an eye on.
- Get adequate fiber.
Ditto here. I don't always hit it but I'm a lot closer most days.
- Complete the 28-day bootcamp challenge here on SparkPeople.
Yep, made it--I think there were two days when I did not do the video on the appropriate day, but I was able to make it up the next day.
- Start building up my run mileage to 15-20 miles per week and begin half marathon training.
Mileage isn't quite at 15-20 miles a week yet but getting close--around 12 miles currently. I ran about 50 miles in January, so I'm pretty pleased with that. Half marathon training is going well and right on track, and I'm officially registered for not one but TWO half marathons, one in June and one in July. My goal for both is simply to finish within the time limit.
- Turn my thankfulness journal from a mental one to a physical one and start writing things down.
Done--I have an actual journal with things in writing there. I need to keep cultivating this habit, but at least there is now something tangible to use.
- Do a new vision collage for 2011.
Done and hanging up in my bedroom where I see it every day. It makes me smile when I look at it, too.
Some other things from January:
I got into size 12 jeans for the first time in many, many years--a total shock, but certainly a happy one. I'm still wearing some 14s, but the 16s are gone and the 14s are getting rather loose. Oh, and I'm wearing MEDIUM tops most of the time, as well as medium workout clothes. Definite non-scale victory there!
I had my first personal training session (free, courtesy of my gym) and found out just how much I have to learn about strength training workouts. I thought I was doing pretty well using the machines at the gym; this was way better. I'm looking forward to free session #2 and going to work out $$$ with the gym to hopefully continue. I need this.
In spite of doing well on all of my goals above, weight loss was less than stunning in January, a whopping 2.4 pounds. Considering all that went on during the month (longer runs = bigger appetite, birthday celebrations too numerous to count, increased strength training activity and resulting water retention as muscles recover), I am not overly surprised--not thrilled, but not surprised either. I've started calorie cycling to see if I can get my body to start letting go of the weight again a bit more readily.
I made the decision to sign up for a second half marathon (which will end up being my first) and am ready to walk as much of both as I need to in order to finish. My goal is simply to do them--and hopefully have fun in the process. Nervous? Yes, but also very excited.
Now for February goals:
- Been mulling this one over a bit. I'm thinking it's time to try some new recipes, so I'll aim for at least four new recipes this month.
- I also want to stick with the calorie cycling plan for at least a month to see how my body responds to it. I want to stay within 25-50 calories of the plan at least 90% of the time.
- Continue half marathon training. I have a spreadsheet with my training plan and then columns for the actual, so I can see how I'm doing; so far so good. I've been pushing myself on speed as well as increasing the distances, and I'm pleased with the progress.
- Continue strength training, either with or without the personal trainer's help. It's going to be a matter of timing and total cost as to whether we'll be able to continue working with him, but in any case I'm learning what I need to do in that area. I feel stronger and am seeing a difference in my shape, or at least I think I do.
- Write regularly, whether blogs, journal, or something else. I enjoy writing and find it incredibly therapeutic for myself; if someone else finds something of use in what I write, so much the better, but I mostly write for myself.
- Keep working on balance in life. Balance is going to be a key theme for me all year long, I'm sure. I need to balance my passion for running and all the work that a healthy lifestyle entails with the mundane yet necessary things of life like work, keeping the house up, and so on.
I don't usually set weight loss goals because they usually don't motivate me--there are too many variables that can come into play over the course of a month that affect weight loss that I don't have control over. Still, I'd really like to say goodbye to the 180s and be in the 170s by the end of February. That's less than 3 pounds now since the scale decided to smile at me today (182.6--new low!), so if I stick to the plan above, it should be possible.
I would love to be one of those success stories who lost 100 pounds in a year, but my body does not cooperate like that. All the years of wrecking my metabolism with crash diets has made it slow going for the most part, especially the closer I creep towards my goal weight. It's (mostly) okay though. This is a marathon, not a sprint, and I'm making changes that I plan to stick with for life.
Friday, January 28, 2011
I've been working out regularly for quite some time now and thought I was doing pretty well. Exercise DVDs, workout videos on SparkPeople, strength training on equipment at the gym; some things have been more challenging than others, but generally I have been able to do them fairly well. I've seen improvements in my strength and more definition in my body; I've lost inches, dropped sizes, and look better than I did when I was 20 pounds lighter a few years ago. Not bad; I was pretty pleased, but I have thought for awhile that if I could get some personal training sessions, I'd learn a few things. Then my gym 'gave' me two free PT sessions; sweet! I knew just the trainer I wanted, Josh, who had led the short-term running club I'd participated in last year. I had talked to him enough that I knew what he was like and just how qualified he was--he's been doing this for years, has a college degree in this stuff and has been in the military.
Yesterday morning before work was the first PT session; hubby and I arranged to do it together since the gym was offering two hours to each of us, and it's just easier doing it together instead of separately. Let's just say, I had no idea what a workout really was until Josh got through with us.
He talked with us before we started to see what our goals were (continue to lose weight, build muscle), and he was straightforward--to lose weight, it takes diet as well as exercise to do that. We showed him our bodybuggs and told him what we had been doing, and then we were ready to start.
We started out with five minutes on the elliptical to warm up our muscles. The elliptical and I are not the best of friends; I just don't enjoy it, although I reluctantly use it occasionally for cross-training. We got on and he set things for us to get a good hard workout, then watched our respective heart rates. "Get it to 150 and keep it there for 5 minutes," he said. Wha-a-a-t? That took some serious work!
After we were thoroughly warmed up (and drenched), we went through a series of exercises, from planks and pushups to squats and lunges, exercises with medicine balls and dumbbells, all with very short breaks, just enough to let the heart rate recover a little in between each. By the time we were done, I was thoroughly drenched, as much as I am after a good run. We scheduled our second free session for next week and went to clean up.
Today, I hurteth. My muscles are telling me in no uncertain terms that they are not used to this kind of treatment. I hurt in surprising places; Josh warned us that we might be feeling it today, and he wasn't kidding. I appreciated him taking time to explain what we were doing and why; he knows his stuff.
I am glad today is a scheduled rest day, but I am already trying to figure out how to squeeze out the money to continue when the free sessions are done. If I can continue, I know Josh will help me progress farther and more quickly than trying to do it all on my own. I've seen him in the gym working on new exercises, new combinations to have his clients do, so he'd be able to help keep the workouts from getting stale.
Yeah, I hurteth today, so a rest day is good. But I'm going to see if I can push myself to do a good hard round again this weekend to stress my muscles again--it's a good hurt, and my running and overall fitness will be better for it.
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