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.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Yesterday, the (major US auto) company I've been working for had a company picnic for everyone at headquarters. They enforced attendance by closing the cafeterias. My schedule has been totally off for the past few weeks, so I haven't had time to grocery shop lately. Or, at least, I haven't had time to go to the grocery store that carries the deli meat I like. So I haven't been packing my lunch lately. And I forgot about the picnic, otherwise I would have made more of an effort. Anyway, they had typical picnic food: hot dogs, hamburgers, veggie burgers, chips, and Good Humor wagons full of novelties. You know how you aren't supposed to shop hungry? It applies to going to company picnics, too, because I lost all sense when I got to the front of the line. I wanted a veggie burger. They had none ready and there were a lot of people waiting. So what did I do? I got a burger *and* a hot dog, and chips, and then capped it off with a chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich! Freaking Good Humor wagon... grumble grumble.
When I got to my desk I dutifully entered my lunch into my nutrition tracker. My first instinct was to declare the day a wash, skip entering the items and resolve to do better. But I decided to take my lumps and enter the meal. Get this- lunch came to 1400 calories! Pardon me, I think I just fainted. I quickly determined what I could have for dinner (an egg and a side salad) and entered my pre-workout snack of a Kashi granola bar and then figured out what I needed to do at the gym after work to make up the discrepancy.
I started my workout with 15 minutes on the elliptical, then started working in strength training with 10 minutes on the elliptical. Any time my energy started flagging, I thought about my lunch and that renewed my resolve. It kept me fast, too. So after working out for an hour and a half, I was feeling pretty kick-butt, like the bad foods were some kind of super-villain and I was fighting them to protect my weight-loss. KAPOW, hamburger! SMACK, ice cream cookie sandwich! Get outta here, hot dog and never show your face on the streets of Jentropolis again!
And thinking about that this morning made the Shonen Knife song, "Buttercup (I'm a Super Girl)" pop into my head. It's on a Powerpuff Girls CD called "Heroes and Villains" and basically sounds like the Ramones' "Blitzkrieg Bop." The lyrics seem particularly appropriate for me today.
You know I'm a super girl
Yes I'm a punky girl
I never say die
No one can stop me
Flying into high speed
having the courage
Getting over crises
I rescue the people
There's a reason Buttercup was always my favorite Powerpuff Girl. If I can hang onto my Buttercup attitude today (without the accidental ingredient, Chemical X ) I will be all over my run tonight!
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Many thanks to everyone for the lovely comments on yesterday's blog post. You guys really make me feel like I accomplished something, even if it wasn't what I set out to do. And do I know how to make lemonade out of lemons, or what?
One of the things I noticed after the run is that, while my pace was all over the place because I had to stop to ask for directions so often, the parts when I was running were generally faster than usual. Actually, my walking stride was a bit faster than usual, too. I checked out my graphs on the Nike Running site and I usually run at about a 10-12 minute pace. On Saturday, it was more like 9-11. I know many runners have written about race day adrenaline and how it often makes you run faster and stronger, but I wasn't prepared for the difference to be a full minute.
I found the running pace I was able to maintain so inspiring that I started to play with speed for the first time on last night's run. I didn't do a lot, because honestly, I'm not unhappy with my pace and I'm more interested in building endurance. But I was curious. I knew I couldn't maintain a faster pace for very long yet, so I decided on half a lap to start and I would just run fast. Not lightning fast, but as fast as I could comfortably run. I did it twice, once toward the end of my run and then for the last 30 seconds of my run. (For some stupid reason, I have the Black Eyed Peas' "I Gotta Feeling" starting at 29:15 on my running track!) I felt fast on the first try, but I felt like I was really pushing on the last one. Looking at the graph, the first try at speed was barely faster than my usual pace. The second burst was faster than usual, but about equal to what I was doing on Saturday. Hmmm.
So what does all that mean? Well, I think I'm going to continue to play with speed sometimes, but I think I would be better served working to increase my running intervals on weekdays and my mileage on weekends. I would rather know that I can finish and finish strong and just accept the race day adrenaline as a nice little bonus.
Monday, August 23, 2010
Or, "Running My First 5K 'Backwards'"
I don't know if I mentioned that the 5K I ran on Saturday was not only my first 5K, it was the inaugural year for that particular 5K. Let's just say there are some details they need to iron out before next year! There were evidently some big issues with the course markings, but I would have to say the biggest problem I ran into was self-inflicted. My niece and I somehow managed to miss the start of the 5K. We got there almost two hours prior to the race, got our timing chips, and walked around a bit. Then stretched. Then, as 1 mile runners and first finishers of the 10k came in, we stood by the finish line and cheered them on. The finish line for all races was about 100 yards from the start and that's where we were standing 10 minutes before the 5K started. Not only did we not see 181 people lining up for the 5K start, we evidently missed a starter pistol. Heard it for the start of the 10K, missed it for the 5K. The first indication we had that we had missed the start was when the guy organizing it said, "The first finishers for the 5K should be arriving any minute, make sure you cheer them in!" Wait... WHAT?!
So, my niece and I asked him if it had already started. Yep, at 9:00 AM, 15 minutes earlier. Can we still run it? Yes, do you know the course? No! Well, we'll just look for signs, ask directions and wing it. So we took off. The first time we took a wrong turn, we asked a police officer directing traffic which way we were supposed to go. He had no idea. We ended up running down a hill toward the finish line. Oops! Back up the hill we go! At the top of the hill, another police officer and a volunteer couldn't tell us which way to get to that first turn. "Should we just skip it, try to get a refund and register for another 5K in the future?" I asked my niece. She said "Whatever you want to do." Typical 13 year old response. I had turned on my Nike+ at the start of the race, so I decided we'd try to follow the course as best we could and use the Nike+ to figure out our distance. If nothing else, we'd have a good run and a lesson learned.
About that time, we passed a woman who gave us a quizzical look. We explained what had happened and she suggested we run the course "backward" because we'd be able to see the path the other runners were taking in the opposite direction. It was such a good idea and kind of a relief when she told us that other people had also gotten lost. We got some funny looks from the other runners, because we were running in the exact opposite direction they were. But telling people "You're running in the right direction. We started late and are running backward!" made it kind of a light-hearted thing. My niece was particularly amused. At one point, we found some course marking arrows, so we started going in the right direction. That was probably a good idea for not getting lost, but a bad idea for giving us the correct distance. At that point, we asked a volunteer what mile or km he was at. He didn't know because they told him where to be at the last minute, but he thought he was a little over halfway through the course. The Nike+ said we were at 2.76K, so that seemed about right and we followed the course from that point.
My plans for sticking to my 2:1 intervals became a shambles during the race, by the way, because I loaded my running interval track onto my old iPod shuffle and gave it to my niece, but we started them 15 seconds apart in all the missed-start hubbub. Plus, we had to keep stopping to ask directions. Our pace was all over the place! Toward the end of the run, we passed a woman who was alternating walking with running and obviously struggling. I wanted so badly to declare the race a wash and stay with her to the finish line, but I didn't want to hold my niece back, so we left her behind. I feel bad, because I think we ended up with all the cheerleaders at the finish line.
When we approached the hill we'd run down the first time we got turned around, I realized that we were going to be significantly short of 5K. I was incredibly disappointed because after all the weirdness of our run, it wouldn't even be 5K. In my mind, I have not run a 5K race. I've been in a race. I've run over 5K. I have not run a 5K race. I told my niece that unlike everyone else in the race, we ran up and down the final hill and that should count for something, but I didn't and don't believe it's good enough. As we ran down the hill, I heard the guy with the megaphone say something like "(My Name), please check in." It turns out, he was telling the crowd that me and my niece had missed the start, began 15 minutes after everyone else, and ran anyway, so please cheer us on! After entering the park, I told my niece that I wanted to take a short walk break to get my wind back so I could finish running.
And then our cheerleader appeared. This man I had never seen before, obviously an experienced runner, told us we were doing great, poured a little cold water on our backs and informed me he was going to run the last of the race with us. I tried to get him to run fast with my niece, but he said she needed him less. We then encouraged her to run as fast as she could to the finish line. This is my amazing niece, literally flying through the finish. (My stride doesn't allow me to get airborne like that!)
I was tired, but I wanted to finish strong, so I put every bit of energy into my final few hundred meters. My Nike+ says my pace at that point was 8:18 min/mile. My sister's partner didn't realize I was passing her, so my finish line picture is, appropriately enough, from the back.
I got distracted by talking to my family, grabbing water and turning in my chip, so I didn't warm down properly. And looking back, I'm kind of appalled at my lack of etiquette in standing around in the finish line area. Sure there were only two people behind us, but that's just Not Done. But this is how I felt when I got there.
Anyway, our cheerleader informed my niece that he's a cross-country coach and he believes she's got a great stride and should join the cross-country team at her school this year. He also told me he thinks I'm selling myself short and that I'm capable of greater distances than I've done. He really wants me to run the Bobby Crim race up in Flint this coming weekend. I'm thinking about the 8K because I'm scheduled to run 4.5 miles this weekend and there's not much difference between 4.5 miles and 4.9whatever miles. However, I could really use a weekend without substantial plans and think I'd rather have a free 4.5 mile run than a $27 5 mile run this weekend! My next scheduled shorter run is the weekend of Sept. 11, and lo and behold, there's a 5K run/walk for cancer at a hospital about 10 miles from my house. It's the fourth year that one's been run, so they should have all the kinks ironed out. I'll be calling that one my "first and a half" 5K race.
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