Tuesday, July 07, 2009
Now for some news about the race itself. First, how the six of us did, in a field of 195 runners:
#105 Mr. Jespah 27:34
#118 Laurel 28:32
#162 Quirkles 33:29 www.sparkpeople.com/mypage.as
#163 Thomas 33:32
#180 Lab Lover 35:25 www.sparkpeople.com/mypage.as
#194 me 43:38
I was not last. I was second to last, but still! I beat a 33 year old, by some 3 minutes or so.
Last night's blog, I was in a rush. Tonight I want to give good info about the race.
We had a blast. Mr. J had never run one of these before. It was my second. He asked me if I wanted him to run with me. Naah. Go play and do well. And he did! We know Thomas from another site, and Thomas and I are in a BMI race to 30.0. This is why (jokingly, of course), he suggests I have some lovely pastries at every meal. Hey, he's competitive.
Here are pictures of us.
Quirkles (watch out, Thomas is gaining on you!):
Mr. Jespah, on the right (hubba hubba):
Who's that gal on the left, in the red hat?:
We're all so dang cute. I recall the first picture I ever got of Mr. J (we met through the Village Voice personal ads) was of him in swimming trunks. That was 20 years ago. These pictures remind me of that dude.
The day was warm and sunny. Nice day for basking but kinda warm for trucking along on foot. I had my new iPod, I had semi-figured out iTunes and had a Running playlist. First song: David Bowie's "Heroes" (it was yesterday's blog song, too). There's just something about bouncing along with the Thin White Duke singing, "We can be heroes, just for one day".
Then the next song was today's blog song! Blues Traveler's "Run-Around". I had to remind myself: DON'T SING ALONG.
The course took us around the park and then on a bridge over into Cambridge. It was then that my right glute decided: I wanna stay in Boston. I told the glute it had no choice and it was coming to Cambridge. It whined, and I limped a bit, but I did not leave any body parts behind (heh, I said behind).
On the Cambridge side of things, it was a small highway (Memorial Drive), but traffic was light, probably due to the holiday weekend, plus the students are mainly gone this time of year. But it was sunny! Intensely sunny. I decided to pace myself and only jog when there was shade. There were trees but not always cheek by jowl to the street so shade was intermittent.
The pack had thinned considerably. On occasion I would catch glimpses of the other side of the Charles River and see people getting close to the finish line. I mainly saw a guy in a dark orange shirt and a woman in lavender sweats on my side of the river. Mainly they were in front of me.
Going slowly means you catch things that other people miss. I picked up a small profit along the way (I think Bow Wow Wow's "I Want Candy" was playing then): it is now my lucky nickel. Inflation has hit the lucky penny.
I pressed on.
I passed Miss Lavender Sweats, it was not too far before the bridge to return us to Boston. That was a little uphill. I think my right glute was happy to be returning to Boston (ungrateful body part!). The rest of me was pretty cool with that, too.
Over the bridge, it switches back very slightly, and I could see Miss Lavender Sweats. I waved; she was focused. The orange shirt dude was far away already. Lavender Sweats then passed me. We were pretty much neck and neck until Blondie came on. I mean, "Call Me"? What was I thinking? Too odd for running.
I passed by some sort of official, who asked me if there was anyone behind me. I said I didn't think so.
The finish was looming.
I expected a slow time. My last time had been over an hour. I figured, given that I had listened to about eight songs (I turned off the iPod after Blondie), if they're around an average of five minutes apiece, that's forty minutes, but that hardly seemed right to me. Given my limping, the heat, and the placement of the moon in the sky for all I knew or thought about, I figured I did not beat my PR (personal record).
I saw the clock.
Forty something something?
Are you people on crack?
Is your timer broken?
I mean, come on!
This is ME we're talking about.
I'm not fast. I'm not an athlete. I'm not in shape. I'm a lumbering beast and no gazelle.
The clock came closer.
I said to hell with it.
I started to run.
I ran like I haven't run in four decades, not since I was a child.
Pound pound slap slap
Lavender Sweats was in view.
Pound pound slap slap
Mr. J. Lab Lover. Thomas. Quirkles. Laurel.
Pound pound slap slap
Through the chute, heart going fast but not gallumphing out of my chest. Not winded. Not dying. Not coughing. Not barely able to keep my head up.
I called out, "Miss! Miss!"
Lavender Sweats turned around.
"You ran great!" I said. Lavender Sweats thanked me profusely. This might be the first time that she was not dead last. I made her a winner.
I went to join everyone, walked around, joked and then we parted ways after the raffle (I think Laurel won a RoadID). Mr. J and I had lunch with Thomas who I then dropped off at his hotel.
And I recognized that I am not some lumbering beast, although I am not necessarily a gazelle, at least not yet. And I'm actually in some semblance of shape. And I am an athlete, despite what my right glute wants me to believe.
And even if I am never elite or fast or even that good, I can make the gal in the Lavender Sweats smile. And that's worth something.
Miss Lavender Sweats:
Monday, July 06, 2009
I wish this video was better, but the visual is such a kick I had to leave it in.
So -- plateaus.
I have been battling a nasty one. Here's what I did, and what happened and why it actually worked.
It had been 6 weeks and I had lost less than 2 lbs. That may sound fine, but I take alli, and have been used to a 10 lb./month loss kind of a clip. I recognize that these things slow down, but really! It seemed useless to continue to take the drug, and, well, then what?
The first thing I did was contact the alli people and ask them. They told me that it can be effective for up to two years. I'd only been taking it for 17 months so that was probably not it. They said it would be fine to just stop taking it for a while and to go back to it if I so desired. Either way, it's all good. I wouldn't be hurting myself and it was possible that I'd kick start things again.
So I stopped taking it on June 1st, and instead embarked on a somewhat ambitious program. I did not change up my food that much. However, I did the following:
* added 2 more cups of water to the day
* added 3 days of not lifting weights (I had been lifting every day)
* got more intense at the gym, making sure to burn around 350 or more calories/hour, per their machines, and go faster on the treadmill, etc. but not spend any more time there (one hour per session, three sessions per week).
* walked to a farther bus stop in the morning, and from a farther one, up a serious hill, in the evening
* walked from a much farther bus stop three evenings per week
* entered two 5K road races
* made sure to average 10,000 steps/day
What happened to me during that five-week period (I just finished it yesterday)?
* I lost 7.0 lbs.
* I hit new personal best measurements for my bicep and belly. Both of those had been records that had taken many months to fall. My other measurements are also pretty low. I lost about a total of five inches, total, from the eight areas I regularly measure.
* I finished my first 5K in 1 hour, 4 minutes and 4 seconds. I finished my second in 43 minutes and 36 seconds. At the end of the last one (which was yesterday), I flat out ran for a good minute or so, probably about 5.5. MPH. I haven't flat out run, not without some sort of pain, since I was a kid.
* I took 362,623 steps. If I stride about 2 feet per step, then that's a total of 181,311.5 feet, also known as 34 1/3 miles. This includes just the first 5K and not the second. A 5K is about 3.54 miles.
* The extra water didn't make me spend too much extra time in the john.
* I didn't go nuts with eating everything in sight.
* The gym work was fine.
* The world did not go careening off its axis.
I've got 46 lbs. to go. And, yes, I've gone back to taking alli (after all, I've got 4 months' worth of it). I don't know if next month's weight loss rate will be better, worse or the same as this little experimental time's was, or if I'll be back on a plateau. Hey, wackier things have happened.
But in the meantime, I've also learned some things and come to what I think are some fundamental truths.
* Variety helps. Do different things and you might get different results, whereas doing the same thing and expecting different results is the way madness lies.
* Rest is really helpful, and useful. For weeks when I missed resting, I did not do as well.
* Exercise does not have to take forever, but you should put more intensity into it. Faster, harder, steeper, more weight, whatever.
* This goes along with the last one: challenge yourself.
* Sometimes, no matter what you do, the scale still doesn't budge. Recognize that and wrap your head around other concepts, like better measurements or improved fitness levels. Don't let the scale dictate your mood or your thoughts.
And, finally, perhaps the greatest truth of all.
Just when I think there are things I can't do, suddenly I prove myself wrong, and I can do them.
You have come so far, and I have come so far, and we all have, to let a plateau scare or worry us. Sometimes things are just cosmically less than optimal and it feels like nothing will ever work. And then suddenly you have a breakthrough. It's that moment when I flat out ran for the first time in maybe 4 decades. Yesterday morning, I KNEW I couldn't do that.
Now I know I was wrong.
Kick those misconceptions to the curb and you know something? That plateau of yours just might bounce away with 'em.
Monday, June 29, 2009
It's all anyone needs, really. And yes, the clock is ticking on your life, and on mine, and sometimes that paying of the piper comes due faster than expected, witness the lead singer of this week's song.
But for many of us there IS time.
So let's use it wisely.
And give ourselves more chances.
Because the amazing thing is, we only need one more, but we can get several.
Every day, every moment, can be another chance. Another choice.
Walk or drive.
Eat junk or eat healthy.
Cook or eat out.
Water or soda.
Help or hinder.
Record or forget.
Degrade or praise.
Exercise or laze.
Give or take.
Lots and lots of these choices, these chances. Every single day. And the wacky thing is, very few of these choices are truly dependent on each other. I mean, if you walk today, it doesn't mean you can or have to hinder someone tomorrow. Or you do. But it's the old "post hoc ergo propter hoc" fallacy, e. g. that so many of us think that just because Y comes after X that it had to have been caused by X. Well, not necessarily. Sometimes it's just an accident of time. And next time X and Y will happen at the same time, or X will happen after Y or X won't happen at all.
I'm kind of rolling this around in my head because the whole plateau busting thing is frustrating but it's another round of post hoc ergo propter hoc. I mean, I exercise more, I gain. Or I lose. I eat less. I gain. Or I lose. I rest more. I gain. Or I lose. The bottom line is eventual, incremental, continuing, sustained and cumulative losses. But it can be hard to see that very large picture in light of little speed bumps.
So I'll toss out post hoc with the bathwater it came in and instead just ride along on the journey. I'm confident that good choices will lead to good results, but not necessarily on my own happy little personal timetable. My body has no calendar; it's going to do its thing on its own sweet timetable and the only thing I CAN do about it is to continue to do good things for it. And trust in things to eventually work themselves out and right and good and properly.
And in the meantime, seize my life, because it is short, all too short.
Seize yours. Yours is worth getting back. You want it back?
All you need is one more chance.
Friday, June 26, 2009
Yesterday I ran a road race for the very first time. It was the Corporate Challenge in Boston, see: www.mapmyrun.com/run/united-s
tates/ma/boston/887865102 for a good look at the route.
This is not something that I ever thought I would do. Not in a trillion years. Not in ten trillion. Running hurt. Running was boring. Running was tiring. Running was mindless. And, truth be told, I didn't run the course that much, only about 10 - 15 minutes out of 1 hour, 4 minutes and 4 seconds.
But I still did it.
Now, I am tired today. And my pains are in some expected places (hello, ankles, calves and hips) and unexpected ones (hello, back, huh?). And no pain in an area where I truly feared it would be: my shins. See, way back, a year and a half ago, I'd walk for maybe 5 minutes and I'd get shin splints.
They are suddenly, miraculously, cured.
Heck, at this point my shins are pretty much the only things staying together.
My husband asked me this morning, "So, what doesn't hurt?"
They do not hurt.
Hence I am typing to all of you, to tell you about this. And it's hysterical because I'm almost as excited as I was about the TV thing (true story: a remote coworker of mine called me up yesterday for work purposes but we got to a lull so she asked me, "Been on any talk shows lately?" Er, not recently, you silly gal).
There were 15 people on our office team. And I undoubtedly came in last of all of us, although I was far from last in the overall race.
I had my husband's iPod knockoff with me so I was listening to music. One of the first songs I heard was Bob Seger's "Rock and Roll Never Forgets". Every time I heard, "... and now Sweet Sixteen has turned thirty-one...", I'd sprint. Except I saw 41 five years ago, almost six. Eh, it's the thought that counts.
Farther along, they played a block of David Bowie. This included "Golden Years". And I decided to jog for all of it. I just looked it up; it's about 3 1/2 minutes long. If it was "Space Oddity", I'd be in more calf pain -- that one's over 5 minutes long.
I accepted water from a little girl who was volunteering with her family, then promptly poured it over my hands and face (I had a water bottle of tea with me; I was anything but dehydrated). It's fun to take the water; makes you feel like the real thing, like you're in the Olympics. Farther along, a bunch of prep schoolboys were handing out water. They told every woman who ran by that she was beautiful. That made me smile, even though I could practically be their granny at this point in my life.
The far turn was back around The Public Garden and there were people out walking their dogs (the race started at 7:15 PM, so by this time it was after 8 PM). I gave a fast pat to a lovely Dalmatian and then it was time to focus on finishing.
I came around the turn and there was the end, with two electronic clocks hung on an overpass. Even with my glasses on, it was hard for me to tell how much time had elapsed although I estimated around an hour. When I got closer, I saw it was one hour and three minutes and change. I sprinted, tried to finish before it hit one hour and four minutes but missed that very slightly.
Raised my arms over my head in a V for victory at the one hour, four minutes, four seconds mark. When I had signed up, I had honestly thought the whole thing would take me an hour and a half to two hours.
And what happened to me yesterday is something extraordinary.
Running is not mindless. It is not boring.
It teaches you many, many interesting things, and I was finally receptive to them and I have finally learned them.
I am stronger than I thought I was.
I can be stronger still.
I haven't broken the light-speed barrier yet, but so long as I'm working on that, it's all good.
I have never had a runner's high and it's possible I never will, but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy the experience.
A little pain stinks, but the more you do of this running business, the less pain you'll have.
The pain fades, the memory does not.
My new lucky number is the one I wore: 6827. It is a prime number.
If you keep tea, tunes, a handkerchief and a pedometer with you, you're golden.
Taking a second to pet a cute dog never hurts.
The water station volunteers are exceptional people.
You can take a great tour of the city bouncing along at 3.5 MPH.
You get a free tee shirt (I ended up with two; one for the race and one designed by my company).
No matter how fast you went, or whether you ever do it again, you can forever say you are a runner.
I look kinda cute in shorts.
And I'm already thinking of when I'm gonna do this again.
C'mon and join me.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Being semi-off a plateau, but not thrilled about that, and being less than happy when Summer begins, are two things that really should cause the universe to scream out and say, "Why, you ungrateful wretch!"
Well, yah. Duh.
I had over a month of plateauing, so three weeks ago I decided to change things up. The first week, I lost. Second week, I regained almost 2/3 of that (let's blame TOM). This week, I lost more, gained the ground from the first week and surpassed it. Lowest numbers yet!
Yet I was and am less than happy. Huh?
And then, well, today, I was getting dressed for work, and I figured, what the hell, and pulled on a pair of size 10 pants. Now, they stretch (thank you, Lee Jean/Pant/whatever company). And I have a mini-muffin top going on. But they fit, and I can tuck my shirt and not feel like I look like golfer John Daly pre-stomach stapling surgery (Google his pics, if you dare. Don't say you haven't been warned).
And I was okay with that, certainly not unhappy, but not turning cartwheels. Plus I got some lovely comments, here and on my site and on Facebook, about new pics, new milestones hit, etc.
I should feel fantastic.
Yet I am, well, I'm okay.
I guess some of it is just from it being still a tough slog. Or from it being, well, months away even if my current weight loss rate remains relatively constant. Or from having sent a note to a Plastic Surgeon, and wondering how all of that is going to go down. There is a finish line out there, and I can kinda, sorta see it. And it excites me and frightens me, all at the same time.
Everyone tells me I should feel amazing. And I do feel better. But it's not always perfection. There are plenty of down days. So I've started taking St. John's Wort again, something I thought I'd never do in the Summer as I love the Summer. But it's been cold as hell for weeks. I doesn't feel like Summer. It feels like gnarly, chilly, wet, stinky late Autumn. You know, when the trees are bare and the sky is the color of a battleship and you start seeing snow shovels and rock salt for sale? Yeah. It's felt like that. And I've gotten all of the attendent internal feelings that go along with it.
Not so easy to admit to myself that I am so affected, but I am. They call it Seasonal Affective Disorder, and it makes sense in January. But in June it just seems like so much ingratitude. Like my body and my mind don't know what the heck is happening but are dragging the me part along for the ride. And I don't want to go, but I'm strapped in anyway.
So forgive me if I am not turning cartwheels, and I seem ungrateful and strange, and aloof and remote, and even with an optimistic song -- for I do feel that as well -- some of it is also a slight bit of, well, believe it or not, sorrow. I have said before that I don't know who I am any more. And sometimes I don't, and that is hard to take. I identified in this manner, as an oh so big person, for so very, very long. It is hard to break out of that.
************ Quick Interlude To Talk About Numbers And Do The Month In Review Thing
151.4 lbs. off since January of 2008. Down from size 28 to size 10, more or less officially.
Measurements are decent, at or close to most personal best levels. Energy levels are good. Getting hit on, on occasion, which amuses me. Able to handle the hunger. Able to change things up enough to hack away at a plateau, even if the hacking is imperfect. Size 10 pants, size 7 panties, mediums all over the place. All systems more or less a go. ************
And now here's where I really show how strong my geek hand is:
In the book, _2001_ (not the movie!), Sir Arthur C. Clarke talks about the ape-men and the effect that the monolith is having on them. And he wrote the most extraordinary thing. He wrote, "The very atoms of his simple brain were being changed." And that's what is happening to me. On an atomic level, hell, let's go for broke, on the subatomic, quark and meson level, I am going through alterations. The electrons are being made to bang a uey and my consciousness is kinda losing its way a little. No wonder I've got identity issues; the whole shooting match is being changed up. Over, under, sideways, down.
I do hope that's coherent and I don't sound any wackier than, well, than usual.
I appreciate your kindnesses more than you may know. And I do feel good, mostly. But there's still that pain that comes from flipping around the neurons. All I can tell you is that I am sure that I do believe. Not just in plateau-busting and in Spark and in the powers of exercise and diet and positive thinking. But in that person who looks back at me when I glance in a mirror.
Whoever the hell that is.
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