Tuesday, September 07, 2010
I think this was the best long weekend I've had since... well, since ever. It was certainly the best Labor Day weekend I've had. I spent the weekend at my parents' house in Northern Michigan. They actually live 250 miles from my house, so I only visit about once a month. It's a really nice area. They live in a hexagonal house set into a hillside at a Y-intersection. There's a river across the road and their deck has a view of a nearby ski resort. The house has cedar siding, a green shingled roof and is surrounded by trees, so I often refer to it as "the tree house." It's one of the most restful places I have ever been.
It rained pretty much all day on Saturday, but I didn't let that deter me from my planned five mile run. It was a lot like running through a cool shower for an hour. I was soaked to the skin and totally exhausted, but I felt great. I picked my chosen route because it was more level than some of the other options. You know what forms up around rivers? Valleys! The intersection in front of my parents' house is at the bottom of a sort of bowl. Go right, you go up a steep sharp hill and just keep climbing. Go straight, you go up a long, straight and gradual hill, and then have your choice- down hill straight or down hill curvy, both fairly high traffic. Go left, and you go on a winding, rolling road through the woods. That's what I chose.
It's amazing the things you notice when you travel on foot. I never realized how hilly the road was. Or how quiet it got back there. Or that there was a pretty noisy patch of rapids in the river. Or that I crossed the river at all! Rain or not, cold or not, it was just an incredible feeling to be out there running on that road. It was kind of the epitome of what Michiganders think of as "Up North." There was more traffic than I would have expected- maybe ten or fifteen cars- and there are no sidewalks anywhere in that area, so I tried to be as safe as possible. I wore a bright coral colored singlet, only used one earbud of my iPod, and followed all the traffic safety rules I never have to concern myself with on park paths, tracks or sidewalks. I would have to say it was the best run of my life. And the odd thing was, even though it was my longest distance yet, I didn't really feel tired.
Well, I didn't feel tired until I got to the hill up to my parents' house, anyway. Let's just put it this way, on snowy days, I have to downshift my car to make it up that hill, and I often have to drive past their driveway, drive all the way up the hill and then turn around and approach their driveway from above. See, their driveway is also a big hill. This is an improvement over my last car. My Grand Am GT occasionally had to be towed to the house in bad weather. I climbed up the hill at the end of my run and promptly felt like I wanted to vomit or faint or both. However, I did neither. I just took a shower, had a PB&J and convinced my parents that we needed to drive 24 miles round trip so we could buy pepper. It's special pepper! It's from this place called Alden Mill House. I get their garlic pepper and use it to season chicken. It's amazing. I don't know about 24 miles amazing, but I thought it would be nice to take a drive. It turns out my mom hadn't been out of the house in a week, so I'm glad I finagled the family trip.
On Sunday, my Dad and I went golfing and I played better than I have in ages. It was the first time either of us had played the course, and we both liked it a great deal. It was very well laid out and had a lot of elevation changes. It was also the first non-scramble round of 18 holes I've played since I started working out. Every other time I have played 18 holes, I have fallen apart on the back nine because I just didn't have the stamina. This time, I actually lowered my score against the front by one stroke. I think it's my totally awesome biceps that did it.
Yesterday, I woke up later than I would have liked and headed out for my weekday half-hour run. I picked the same route and expected to get to the river at the halfway point, then turn back. However, I accidentally selected the 5K run instead of the half-hour run, so I kept wondering when the halfway point cue was going to come. After 18 minutes, I finally checked it out and discovered my error. It was also about that time that my Mom drove past me in her Buick.
I should probably explain that my mother is extremely overprotective of me and just about every other person she's ever met. (Really.) When I first mentioned running on that road, she said that she wanted my Dad to drive to the halfway point and spot for me because she was worried someone might kidnap me. (Seriously.) I asked her who would do such a thing. She replied "Visiting Downstaters." I didn't fight her on it, because honestly, it's just easier to give in, and besides, I'm not an experienced road runner and I appreciated the security detail. Of course, I was thinking distracted drivers, not ravening madmen. After my run, when I did not get kidnapped by a traveling psycho or run down by a wayward Fudgie, my mother latched onto the thought that I might run across a bear in the woods. (I'm not kidding.) It's not an entirely preposterous idea. A bear stole their finch feeder a few years ago- twice actually, since they replaced it the same week and the bear wasn't that stupid. I pointed out that any bear I spotted in the woods near their house would run up a tree if it saw a crazy, panting two-leg monster running toward it. I did find a couple of wild turkey feathers and heard a bird yelling at me, though. So, anyway, Mom decided that on my Monday run, she would spot for me herself.
When I realized that I'd tacked a good half mile onto my run, I thought, "Hey, Mom can drive me up the hill at the end, since I'll be plenty cooled down before I get there." So I started waving to her every time I saw her, trying to get her attention. Unlike my Dad, Mom didn't just assume that if I made it halfway, I'd make it all the way and head home. Nope, Mom would pull ahead until she couldn't see me and then wait until she spotted me again. I'm sure the other drivers loved her! So there I was, tired and with kind of a tummy ache, waving frantically at my Mom every time I saw her car. And every time, she'd drive off. She was the carrot to my donkey, the stuffed rabbit to my greyhound. At one point, I thought I would just sit at the bottom of the hill and wait until someone missed me. But that seemed extraordinarily wussy and besides, it had started to rain. So I climbed, climbed, climbed up the hill. Then climbed, climbed, climbed up the driveway. All told, I walked for 12 minutes after my half hour run.
When I saw my Mom, I asked her, "If I was to ask you what this movement means, with me TURNing my arm AROUND my head, what would you say it meant?" She had no clue. She thought I was waving her on. Plus, she was looking around the woods and enjoying being out there, too. Spotting for me was really for her benefit, not mine, you see, and she copped to that without hesitation. She saw I was upright and that was good enough for her. I told her that I wanted to continue this practice but with some slight modifications. First of all, I will never wave her away. Doing absolutely nothing but walk and run means, "I'm fine, keep going." Waving like a mad fool means, "OMG! I need help! MOOOOOMMMMMMMY!" Second of all, she needs to bring her cell phone with her, because the phone in my waist pack isn't doing me any good if there isn't someone at the other end.
My parents are truly my favorite thing in my whole life. This weekend with them was just a treasure and I wouldn't have changed a single thing.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
So, last night I didn't get home until close to dusk. I had been keeping an eye on the temperature on that loooong drive home and resolved that if it dropped to 85F or below, I would head to the park. Naturally, it did drop just as I got home, but so did the sun. I don't know that I'm mentally ready or have the right gear for night running. Plus, I made the rookie mistake of telling my mom that I was thinking about it and she hit me with a wave of long-distance overprotection that I could feel for over 250 miles. Either that, or I was subconsciously looking for a reason not to run when it was getting dark. (Last time I ran when it was getting dark, I got so many bug bites I looked like one big, red bump.)
Instead, I dragged out my Wii Fit for the first time in 447 days. I know this, because a little animated balance board with a squeaky voice told me so. On the other hand, it did seem impressed that I met the goal I set for myself back then, so that was nice. I don't remember what the goal was, but good for me! I actually had the newer Wii Fit Plus disc, but it was still in the shrink wrap. I'd say that was because of good intentions gone awry, but the real reason is that I've been so busy going to the gym that going to the pretend gym didn't happen. Anyway, it took two hours to do 42 minutes worth of exercise because it had to show me all the new features. Some of them are pretty cool and it actually does address a lot of the things I didn't like about the old Wii Fit.
So I spent a great deal of time running in place, "pedaling" (which is really just running in place on the balance board), twirling hoops, doing step aerobics, flapping my arms and other activities that would have looked ridiculous to any Peeping Toms. I also did the push-up/side plank in the yoga exercises and discovered that I'm closer to my goal of doing push-ups than I thought I was. The arms are willing, but the core is weak. The game said I burned 190 calories in my 42 minutes of activity, which just seems so pitiful compared to the same amount of time on an elliptical. However, it probably burned off more calories than sitting on my butt and watching reruns of "House" would have. Okay, so make that "probably" a "definitely."
I miss the gym.
Monday, August 30, 2010
So, this is pretty frustrating. It's a run day. It's 93F out right now. My community center is closed this week for their annual maintenance shutdown. (Confidential to KONKLES, AD and SD: the Summit in Canton, it's weird that Canton and Livonia are both shutdown this week.) So far, I haven't come up with any potential substitute indoor locations for my weekday runs this week. There's an indoor track at one of the high schools, but I doubt it's open later in the evening, when I would need to run.
As far as I can see, I have two options: skip my half hour weekday runs; or wake up early and run before it gets hot. The first option is... well, it's not an option. After the awful run I had on Saturday, I need to run to feel better about that. Long story short, I stupidly took my longest run yet at high noon on a hot day and had the worst run I've had in months. The second option is difficult to say the least. Because of my commute, I wake up at about 5:30 AM in order to get out the door by 7:00 or shortly after. It takes me a long time to wake up enough to really get moving. I reckon I would have to wake up at 5:00 at the latest to get ready for a morning run. There's a park near my house and I figured out that the perimeter trail is about .65 miles. Of course, it's technically not open until 8:00 AM, which raises a whole different set of concerns.
Friday, August 27, 2010
I've been doing a lot of thinking about motivation and future plans, as well as how far I've come so far. Lately, I seem to be sticking to my goals more consistently and it's paying off. I can see that and feel it, too. I'm more fit, more confident, and the combination is making me more attractive. A year ago, I weighed 243 pounds. Eight months ago, I weighed 232 pounds. Today, I weigh 203 pounds. I am thisclose to breaking into the 100s. That is a place I have not seen in at least thirteen years. I really don't know when I first weighed over 200 pounds, I just remember that when my cousin's 15 year old daughter was a toddler, I informed one of my cousin's friends that I weighed 205 pounds. The last time I was this close was five years ago, when I lost 20 pounds through exercise alone (cardio 5-6 days per week, strength 4 days per week). I distinctly remember weighing 202.5 pounds before leaving for a week long vacation and then gaining every single pound back because I couldn't get myself to the gym and was lacking motivation. I didn't have a goal back then. Well, I did, but it was just "Get to 150 pounds." I had no target, no plan, and no real mechanism to get there. Now, I have a target. I will be at my healthy weight by March 15, 2011. I have a plan. I will continue using the Spark People tools to ensure that my nutritional goals are met; continue to use whole grains, lean protein and vegetables as the foundation of a diet where nothing is outright forbidden; and I will the fitness tracker and my Nike+ to train for the 2011 Disney Princess Half-marathon.
As Fall is rapidly approaching, I've been thinking about goals and incentives for the season. I haven't taken part in any challenges on SP, but I'm interested in challenging myself, even if I end up being "an Army of one" (so to speak). I am taking part of a Nike+ challenge on Nikerunning.com, but it's a pretty limited challenge. I have to run 154 miles and achieve the Green level by the end of the year. I shouldn't have that much trouble meeting the challenge as long as I stick to my current training plan. I'm currently in 164th place with 38.53 miles which is fine by me. I want other people to run more, even if they run more than I do and leave me in their dust. I also wanted to do something else. Something not running-related. I started thinking about what other fitness thing I want to do and one word jumped to the front of my brain: pushups. I want to be able to do pushups- at least the modified "girl" pushups- by the end of the year, with an eye on doing "boy" pushups in 2011.
It seems like something so simple, but at this point, I can't even do one regular pushup. I tried a while ago, just out of curiosity. Forget about my arm and shoulder strength. My core was too weak to support the position and I felt like my back just buckled on me. After that, I started adding back extensions on the Roman chair to my strength training. However, I haven't been consistent with strength training. Can you believe that? I don't think I've had fewer than three runs in a week since June, but I can't seem to do strength more frequently than once every ten days or so. And I was always the girl who wanted to lift weights so much more than I ever wanted to do cardio. It makes no sense to me. No sense, that is, until I start looking at my crazy schedule. Strength at the gym takes me about an hour whether I work in cardio intervals or not. From shoes on to post-run stretching, my weekday short run also takes about an hour. However, since I'm training for a half marathon in six months (exactly 6 months today), and not, say, a fitness test, there hasn't been as much incentive to strength train.
Well, that's going to change. My stated goal is "fit by 40," not just 13 miles by 40 or healthy weight by 40. My 40th birthday is March 15, 2011. Prior to that day, I intend to score at least a "good" on these fitness tests: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/fitnes
s_articles.asp?id=1112 And when I do, I'm going to buy myself a fancy reward. Probably one that comes in a little blue box. That will serve as my "finisher's medal." Anyway, I'm starting with a baseline test and either wall or incline pushups tonight. And tomorrow morning, 4.5 miles running. This Fall should be very, very interesting!
Thursday, August 26, 2010
I need to run off for golf, but I need to vent. There's a poster in the Princess Half thread on the DIS boards who is absolutely infuriating. A couple of weeks ago, she pissed off a lot of people by saying that the advice an experience running coach is volunteering is "bunk." Today, she is saying that most people don't need the kind of conservative training advocated by the likes of Bingham and Galloway. She says that the vast majority of people could wake up tomorrow and walk a half marathon inside the 3.5 hour (16 min mile) limit, as long as they're reasonably fit and healthy. The latest declaration is "Anyone can walk 13 miles. You just put one foot in front of the other."
And now she reveals that she's 30, weighs 106 pounds and has only been running since March. Oh, and she lives in a large city where the primary mode of transportation is walking.
Well, I know a fat Midwestern 39 year old with bad knees who's been running since January who would find a way to get to the finish line tomorrow if I could have a word with Miss Young and Skinny. A lot of reasons why that would be a really bad idea, though, not least of which is she makes me feel face-punchy and violence is never the answer.
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