Friday, November 11, 2011
After not posting a race report for the 10K I ran back in August, I figured that I both owed you guys a blog, and owed myself an accurate representation of my year in running. I know I'm going to regret not posting my 10K report. This blog is like a scrapbook for me of my journey here and I've been away for far too long!
My prep for this race was much like my prep for all my other races - except this time I started "carb loading" a couple of days in advance. I stayed within my calorie range, but ate more whole grains, pasta and bread than I usually do to beef up my stores a bit. I knew that I didn't want to fade out at mile 7 or 8, so I was going to need the extra energy. And I am also a runner that still runs without any assistance from gels or even water on the course. So I stock up early and often to make sure I am ready to hit the GO button when it's time to race.
The Friday night before the race I had planned to stay with Nikhil at his place since he lives right beside Grant park - an easy 5 minute walk to the start line - glorious! I had a very busy Friday, waking early in the morning for Day 2 of a conference I was attending downtown, then over to meet my boy for lunch, a walk to Union Station to pick up my race packet, back to my house to pack for the weekend, a visit at work quickly to cut some checks for staff, then back on the train downtown for the night. Whew! My bus card got a serious workout that day. By the time I made it back to his apartment, I was tired. I had a nice, big chicken ranch salad and a cheese twist from Dunkin Donuts (definitely a pre-race treat) and awaited him to get home from his Friday night class.
When he arrived home he was a bit irritated with me that I had eaten dinner already (we had never really decided if we were eating together that night or not, so I decided to go ahead and eat early). I brushed it off as he made himself dinner and plowed through about 6 Rice Krispie Treats. Odd behaviour I thought, but I was too much in my own head to really worry about him at that moment. After all - he wasn't even running in the morning - so I had to think about me and what I needed that night.
We watched a bit of TV and chatted for a bit. I asked him where he was planning to be on the race route so I could look for him. I told him that I'd love to see him at mile 8.5 - the intersection of Jackson & State where we rounded the corner into the final stretch. He said he wasn't sure where he'd be yet, but that sounded ok. I asked him if he'd hold my stuff for me instead of me putting it in gear check. He said no. Umm, ok - I'll check my gear. No big. But I was really starting to wonder what the heck his problem was. Probably just upset with me because I had been teasing him for a couple of months about being a wuss for not running the race with me. He's a multi-race Half Marathoner after all - what's a 15K to him? But whatever. My race, not his. I readied myself for bed.
When he turned in with me at 10:15pm I thought there might actually be a chance that he was coming down with something. Great. Just what I needed. He's usually up until all hours even if I sleep early.
I didn't sleep very well. It wasn't MY bed and I heard his roommate get up to leave for work at 4:30am (she's a nurse). Plus - I was nervous. 15K (9.3 miles) is a LONG race. And even though I had done the distance before, a number of times, I still doubt myself on race morning. What on earth am I going to be like the morning I run the marathon? Ha! The alarm went off at 6:15am and I was up. I had brought my own breakfast because I know his place isn't stocked all that well for a.m. eating. I made overnight oatmeal with flax seed and sunflower seeds and coconut and chocolate chips. Aw yeah. Washed that down with a cup of chocolate almond milk and a cup of coconut water and a big mug of tea. Perfect race breakfast.
No sooner had the microwave beeped and I see Nikhil out of bed and trotting to the bathroom. What the heck? I thought he was sleeping until 10am?? I sit on the couch to eat my breakfast and out he comes with the biggest smirk on his face.
HIM: "So you know how I've been talking about a surprise that I had for you?"
ME: "Uh, yeah"
HIM: *running into the office to get his race packet* "Guess who's running the race with you today?"
ME: "You SH*T - This explains everything!"
So all the weird behaviour - the eating, the going to bed early, the not being able to hold my stuff - all because he knew he was running! And apparently so did everyone else. HAHA! I was completely oblivious to it. Can you blame me though? I had to have my own race-face on.
By now it was time to get dressed and get to the start line. I was really, really nervous, but somehow walking there with him, checking my gear and then having him hold my hand in the start corral made it all better. By the time the crowd surged forward to start the race, I felt great. One big breath, a kiss and a "Have a great race, Babe" and we were off running.
Already I was enjoying the 15K distance much better than any race I have run before. The pace of everyone starting out is much slower, so I didn't feel like I was tripping over anyone or they were tripping over me. It's such an exhilarating feeling running up Columbus Ave and hitting the first underpass. Everyone whoops and hollers and cheers and the echo of excited runners bounces off all the walls of the tunnel. Here we go - and this is gonna be FUN!
I was feeling really great rounding on to Grand and then onto LaSalle. I was disappointed not to run down State because I love running by the Chicago Theater, but running down LaSalle was equally as cool because you can see the Stock Exchange in the distance before looping around to Madison. My first 5K came in at 35 minutes. Perfect pace. I gave myself permission to run the second 5K a little slower. In fact, my mantra for the run was "Slow Down" since my goal for this one wasn't time, but just to finish and to finish feeling strong.
Once we got to Madison it was time to settle in. I knew this was the long stretch and we were going to be here for a few miles. All the way out to Damen past the United Center where the Hawks play! I just enjoyed the scenery, the people out on their doorsteps cheering us on, and watching the funny race gimmicks that happen along the way. One guy turned around and started running backwards...just cause. A lot of other people started shedding articles of clothing at this point, which I always find funny. One couple were taking turns exchanging an iPhone and taking pics of each other running without stopping!
My mind was on my music and where Nikhil was on the course. I had left him in my dust early on, so I knew he was behind me, but still waiting for him to maybe come up behind me at some point kept me going. To his credit, he isn't in his same Half Marathon shape right now and the longest distance he'd run to train for this race was 6.5 miles. So I was really proud of him for getting out there with me and risking sore knees for a week just to be with me.
We finally reached the United Center and I grinned. The turnaround point was coming soon and I still felt really good. We were almost to 10K. Another round of the bend and BAM! there was the Sears Tower calling to us - "Common back home kids!" I almost cried. The day was so utterly beautiful and the sun in the sky behind that gorgeous building is just a breathtaking and powerful sight. And I knew once I reached it I was 2 miles to the end. I ran towards it like I wanted it - and I did want it. I trained my eye on it and just lost myself for a bit in the feeling and all of a sudden I couldn't feel my legs, or my lungs or anything else. The runner's high kicked in and I felt like I was flying. So awesome. The 10K marker came and went and I remember saying to myself that I was officially in new territory. As 10K was the last race distance I had run, from here on out was my chance to make THIS race really wonderful.
As the mile markers ticked by I knew I was within my goal. I was running about 11-12 minute miles consistently even though I kept telling myself to slow down. By mile 7 I was starting to feel the race in my legs, but my lungs were still happy and strong and my breathing wasn't at all laboured or painful, so I just kept the pace that was working for me. Mile Marker 8 felt like it would never come. After we passed the Sears Tower I started looking for it - and when you look for it, it's never where you want it to be. I finally found and passed it under the EL Tracks running back towards the city on Jackson. Michigan Ave was coming closer and closer, I could finally see it and as we made the turn onto the Magnificent Mile the crowds started cheering fiercely. At this point I was thankful for RAM Racing's decision to start the 5K race first since by this time, they were all finished and there were tons of people lining the streets to cheer us on as we finished.
As my legs ran themselves down Michigan at this point (I think I clocked a 9.5 minute mile for the last 1.3 miles) I was scanning the crowd for my friends who had run the 5K and saw a couple of hilarious signs that I loved: "GO TOTAL STRANGER! GO!" "You Have Stamina, I Like That, Call Me! (and a phone number)" and my personal favorite "You're Almost Done - DON'T POOP!" Hahahaha! Love that group of people who were all positioned right before the dreaded hill. Gave me a nice laugh and a good frame of mind for that final challenge.
"The Hill" - that horrid stretch between the 8.8 miles that you've just run and the Finish Line. Oh Lord, it sucks. But I powered through and did it anyway. I had run ALL this way, I wasn't slowing down now. Not ever. And so that's where THIS face comes from:
They HAD to go putting the race photographers at the top of the dang hill. Of course they did. So when I saw them, that prompted THIS picture:
Oh - I'm a funny girl. But in all seriousness, this photo sums up the race for me:
Calm. Even keeled. And with a smile on my face. I AM DOING THIS. 3 Perfect 35 minute 5Ks back to back.
The thing about going UP hill is that at some point, you have to come back down. And thankfully, this route ends on a downhill grade for the last .2 miles to the Finish. So you can BURN IT. Seriously. Which I did. This is me right before letting out my Finish Line "WOO-HOO!"
I booked it to the water station as soon as I crossed, grabbed two bottles and backtracked to wait for Nikhil to cross the line. 7 minutes later he finished as well - tired, but happy that his time came in under 2 hours. We stretched for a bit, then headed to the Finisher Photo area to snap a couple official shots:
Haha - this was so the photographer could get his race number which was on his back
By now it was time for CHOCOLATE. I mean, this is what this race is all about - right? I snapped a quick photo of my Garmin and another of me and the skyline to match this one taken a year ago with my girls Kathy & Jen:
Quite the difference huh?
In under 1:45! (Which was the "soft" goal of the race, even though the real goal was just to finish)
A couple of photographers caught us on the way to the Hot Chocolate and even though Nikhil looks funny, I like this pic of me :)
Me with the Chocolate Truck:
After some sweet treats with my sweet man, we headed back to his place, jumped into our swim suits and headed up to the roof to the hot tub for a nice long soak. Yeah. I'm spoiled. And let me tell you - after a leg massage from my honey (I gave him one too - hehe) and an afternoon nap, I felt better than I have ever felt after running. Especially that distance.
It is without a doubt that I will run 13.1 miles before the "close" of this race season. Whether that is at the Schaumburg Turkey Trot Half Marathon on the 26th of November or whether it's just on my own one of these days, that's the next goal. I know I can do it. And I will.
And then I will officially be half way to the big goal: Chicago 2012 Marathon. And with only a little less than a year to train.
A moment to reflect on how far I have come in one year. One year ago I posted my very first Race Report ever: www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
I had lost 60 pounds at that point and running a 5K was the biggest challenge that I had ever thought to undertake. I did it. It was hard. But I made a promise to myself then to keep going and keep trying and that next year, I would run the 15K distance.
Well - guess what? I fulfilled my promise to myself. I have now lost 125 pounds, and I just ran my best race yet. My future in running is bright - and if this race has anything to do with it - full of a little sweetness!
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
You want to know what happens when you eat EIGHT fun-sized Halloween candy bars after coming home from work and cooking a delicious veggie-filled dinner with crazy amounts of good-for-you nutrients?
You can't get out of bed the next morning, and when you do, all you want is another chocolate bar.
THE INSANITY MUST END!
After my big loss last week, two days later the stupid scale was back up to 191 where it's been hanging out for 2 months now. Today it's at 192. Wrong direction. Sure I have a long run tonight and tomorrow it will likely be back down from water loss, but in order to get it to actually stick, I need a serious attitude (and nutrient) overhaul.
When I was actually losing weight there were a few small habits that I was focusing on that I now believe are a large part of my pound-loss success:
- No Coffee. Tea til the cows come home, but ditch the daily cuppa Joe. This is going to be rough because though I was a sworn tea-granny and never really indulged in that sweet caffeinated nectar of the gods, I have recently picked up a terrible daily habit of a $4 trip to Starbucks for my "Venti Half-Caf Sugar-Free Vanilla Americano with room for Skim." Just think of the cash I'm going to save. And my body just does better without it. Period.
- No Soft Drinks. Same as the above. Just as hard a habit to break. But I just stocked up on Crystal Light. And tea. Tea, tea, tea.
- Get up in the morning. This is certainly easier when you...
- Go to bed early. Get back on a sleep schedule. Stop binging on chocolate and having sugar crashes making it impossible to separate oneself from one's sheets in the morning.
- Add back strength training. I was never doing this specifically before, but had good enough success with bootcamp. Maybe THIS will be the thing that helps. So here's to trying a month-long (and then longer) streak at daily exercise. Even 10 minutes of resistance bands are better than nothing.
- BE PREPARED. It's the Girl Guide motto. It means something. The better I prep, the better success I have. Invest the time, now, in me and reap the rewards of it later.
I have to get back to looking out for me. I am important - more important than eating EIGHT fun-sized Halloween chocolate bars. And it's time to start acting like it.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
So much for my daily confessionals. I swear I have an excuse for that too! But honestly, the more I think about these "excuses," the more I realize that they're not so much excuses as numerous reasons that my life is TOTALLY NORMAL every single day.
So Friday I was on track until hour 9 of my insanely long 15 hour work day when I went to get dinner, ordered a healthy turkey wrap and forgot to ask them to hold the fries. When it came out of the kitchen with those sexy greased potato strips of love, I devoured each and every single one of them along with the 2 glasses of wine that I believe I was OWED at that point in the day. Then enter skeezy bar manager who, though we work next door to each other, only recently noticed my weight loss for the first time and now believes that he has the right to 1. ogle my new body every time I walk down the street, and 2. make comments about my dinner choices. Which he did while I was trying to enjoy it. Him, as I am scarfing down my fries: "So is this part of the new diet?" Me: "There is no diet and I ran 9 miles on Tuesday, so I think that entitles me to eat what I want on a Friday night." What I Wanted To Say: "OMG, it's none of your $^%#*($#^$# business - get out of my life and let me enjoy my dinner in peace you #%$^&@&*#^" But I'm nicer than that. So I just ate too many fries and drank too much wine to wash his nasty comments and dirty, greasy looks out of my system.
Saturday was pretty good. I went to my Zumba class and loved every minute of it, per usual. And was totally on track with my food choices up until a late dinner with Nikhil (he made dosas - deep fried Indian pancakes that are made from ground lentils and meal flour and served with oily peanut spice paste - very dense, very delicious and only better when washed down with alcoholic beverages!) I was actually very proud of myself for opting to swing by Panera and pick up a bowl of chili and a bagel for lunch before meeting him for a study date at the library as opposed to waiting for him to make any food choices for us, because I know that he ALWAYS waits too long to eat and then makes poor decisions which I can't let be my habit as well. And as I suspected, our study date was followed by a mad dash to 7-Eleven to buy a churro to scarf down on the way home. I definitely felt like I won that one!
So as much as Saturday was a small triumph, Sunday was a total bust. My goals for the day? Stay in my calorie range and go for a 5 mile run. I didn't do either. We slept in and had a lazy morning over coffee and, yes, a caramel apple and leftover cheesecake from Thanksgiving. Ouch. Then came a late lunch at an Indian buffet - his treat. The food wasn't good at all (the authentic food he makes is so much better than anything at that restaurant and he usually makes it light and low fat for me!) and because he felt bad about lunch being a disappointment, after a leisurely walk by the waterfront (taking the place of my run, but at least it was SOME exercise) he took me to a chocolate shop to pick out handmade TRUFFLES for Sweetest Day. Oh lord in heaven. At least I didn't eat dinner.
Getting tired of my excuses, yesterday and today have been real, true, honest efforts at getting my act together. I made some really great choices yesterday - was on schedule with everything and even managed to fare pretty well at a work function last night. It's always really difficult to count finger foods, so I estimated the best I could and I actually don't believe I went over my calorie limits as badly as my tracker says I did. I promised myself I wasn't going to drink and held to that promise. I had a couple of finger sandwiches, a couple of pieces of bruschetta, some veggies and dip and ONE dessert bar. And then I got the heck out of there. Not only was I tired of networking for the evening, I knew that if I stayed, I would cave to having a drink and then I would surely eat more, so I did what I needed to do and extricated myself from the free food. Free food is deadly. Then, since I was in the neighbourhood, I swung by Caribou Coffee and picked up a hot chocolate for my beau and a tea for myself and surprised Nikhil at his place since I know he's been studying hard for his mid-terms this week. He was super cute, very surprised and very happy to see me (and the hot chocolate). I stole kisses for 30 minutes and then left him to keep working. A perfect little Monday night break.
Today has been good. I am on track again. And it's running day. I'm nervous because I haven't run in a week having skipped my run on Sunday, and tonight is my first 10-miler. But I've had my brownie! And even though it's raining and cold and miserable outside, I'm gonna do this! (Cause I have to. Cause I fueled with a brownie and running 10 miles is my only reason for being able to eat brownies.)
So excuses or just life? Take it as you will, but I'm feeling better about things. I can't be perfect every day, but I can be better than average. And I can deal with changes in the schedule as they come up. I'm learning how to be adaptable and I'm still improving myself. Gotta love that.
No more excuses this week. It's going to be great! Now - for that 10-miler...
Thursday, October 13, 2011
OK - so everyone has those days when things just don't go according to plan, but when you're already in a vulnerable position sometimes it's easier to make excuses for partaking in bad behaviour when the going gets tough instead of making the best of the situation and choosing the healthy road.
In an effort to be more accountable for my (off-track) actions of late, I'm going to start writing daily confessional blogs every time something goes awry in my plan. Feel free to pitch in your own excuses for why you didn't do your absolute best today. Once they're out in the open, they're less likely to eat away at you (or rather, cause you to eat) - and maybe you'll think twice before doing the same thing again!
1. Stay in my calorie range
2. Do some form of exercise to make up for skipping the pool yesterday
The Dog Ate My Homework:
Started the day off on track. I'm trying a new "Whole Foods" mantra. No - I'm not the new spokesperson for the grocery store (although I do LOVE Whole Foods), but I know that my body responds well to eating wholesome, nutritious and unprocessed foods - meat, dairy, whole grains, fruits and veggies. I had prepped lunches for the week last night and had my turkey pot pie packed and ready to go with a yogurt and an apple and a Skinny Cow treat. Not a "whole food" I know, but after the incredible amounts of sugar I have been ingesting over the last few days, I knew I was going to need SOMETHING to prevent the afternoon cravings. I had a healthy breakfast of an egg, a slice of bacon and some cheese on an organic flaxseed waffle with a cup of diced watermelon. Yum! On track and loving it, until...
I had to detour from my normal work route this morning to pick up 5 cases of candy for our concessions stand at the theatre. I usually never have to pick it up, but my poor custodian got his car stolen, so I offered to go over to get the candy myself and cab it back to the theatre. On the way out from doing the pick-up, my contact at the store asked if I'd like to take a sample bag of something back with me. DOH! I could have anything in the store. I chose a bag of "Mardi Gras Mix" (for my staff) and went on my way. Mardi Gras Mix is a blend of spicy sesame sticks, honey roasted mixed nuts, toffee covered peanuts and crispy rice sticks. OH MY GOD the stuff is ridiculous. How do I know? Because of course upon returning to the office with my sample bag "for my staff" I had to bust it out and try some. It didn't help that my delicious breakfast had left me earlier than expected and I was now starving. I ate about a cup of it. Down the hatch.
And about that exercise? I woke up today to pouring rain which makes me want to pull my covers over my head and never get out. After the ordeal of picking up the candy without a car and toting my umbrella and lunch bag along for the ride as well, I was quite happy to sit on my duff in the office today and do little more than visit the washroom twice and the water cooler once. Another post-work errand came up that I had to run with another big box to carry, so out I went in the rain again to hail another cab. Once the delivery was made and I was free of the heavy boxes for the day, I attempted to wait for a bus to take me home. Whatever it is with rain in the city of Chicago and the city bus system, I will never know. But the CTA was TERRIBLE tonight and it took me over 1.5 hours to get home. I ended up running a quick errand for myself at CVS while I waited for the first bus and then another errand to Dominick's to pick up carrots and celery for my healthy turkey soup while I waited for the second bus. By the time I got home it was almost 9pm, I still hadn't eaten dinner and my head was about to split open from a combo tension/barometer headache. Exercise is not happening tonight. Unless you count lugging boxes and fighting public transportation as exercise. Unfortunately, I don't.
So - those are the excuses. What am I gonna do about it? Set new goals for tomorrow and try to reach them.
1. Get out of bed 30 minutes earlier than usual
2. Do some exercise to make up for pool skipping on Wednesday
3. Stay within my calorie range
Simple enough right? We shall see :) I suppose the biggest objective right now is not to have to write an "Excuse of the Day" blog "Part 2" tomorrow!
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
When I eat a HUGE double chocolate brownie 2-4 hours before heading out for a run, I can knock out 9 miles like my arse is on fire. In fact - that's exactly what I did yesterday. I stayed within my calorie range for everything else I ate during the day and then proceeded to consume almost every calorie I was going to burn in ooey-gooey chocolatey goodness.
This is the problem with training. This is also the reason the scale hasn't moved in weeks. I know it, the scale knows it - but here and now is when I let you in on my dirty little secret. I'm allowing myself to over-fuel because it feels like as long as I'm not gaining, I'm getting away with it. But it has to stop!
I know I haven't been around for a while. Life has been happening, but my plateau has brought about an avoidance of blogging (though I still read yours and creep all your Spark pages frequently!) I'm definitely one of those people that feels as though if I have nothing positive to say or no life lesson to impart, then there's no point running my mouth about the lack of success I've been having lately. But the "No Boring Blogs" rule has perhaps allowed me a little too much slack and freedom and maybe I just need to buck up and get accountable again - or if not that, just vent a little about the frustrations I'm feeling over being hungry all the time and being able to do little about it...but eat.
So back to the chocolate brownie. It seriously is THE BEST fuel I have found for my long runs. And so how can I deny myself that little piece of decadence before setting out to tackle impossible distance after impossible distance? Tell me a year ago that today I'd be a person who could run 9+ miles and I'd slap you silly. But it's true. I can do it. And if eating the brownie before hand gives me the positive brain power and bodily energy (aka sugar rush) to believe that I can do it, then so be it.
But it's not helping the scale. And neither is pigging out the day AFTER the long run because my body is still burning at an elevated rate and I'm hungry like hippo for the majority of the day. And neither is skipping my swim night because I just don't have it in me only to come home and eat MORE food (which I just made myself track every single stinkin' ounce of).
This week is particularly bad. Because I just celebrated Thanksgiving over the weekend I have a fridge full of delicious leftovers - which for the most part are healthy - turkey, squash, cauliflower, potatoes. But with the healthy leftovers also comes the cakes, cookies and pies that I NEVER have in my house. I wake up in the morning and walk directly to the chocolate cupcakes and eat two before I can even wipe the sleep out of my eyes. That is INSANE. But that's what I've been doing. Thankfully, I consumed the last of the chocolate this morning. One less thing to worry about. But the pies are still there. I even tried to get rid of most of it at a work meeting on Monday. Still came home with over half of it left. I could throw it out. I could. Why can't I just throw it out?
So I'm struggling. Big time. But the good news is that I'm running my butt off and my training is progressing nicely. I can already run a 15K and my race isn't for another 3 weeks, so I'm going to keep training for a half marathon distance until there's snow on the ground. So at least there's that. I'm not just eating. There is major calorie burn happening as well - but only enough to take care of the extra 'narf sessions shoving pastries in my pie hole as I'm leaning over the sink. Sexy. It happens to the best of us I suppose.
I'm not one to throw excuses at bad behaviour (who am I joking, of course I am) but I did just go back on the pill and my hormones are likely messed up and causing some of this crazy hunger/eating. And there's the running. And then there's just life which someone makes me want to binge every day just for living it. Things are ok - but they're JUST ok, and I'm only capable of making change happen as fast as it will happen...which right now is really darn slow.
I really shouldn't have skipped my swim tonight. But at least I'm here writing again in lieu of the exercise. And I'll do something active tomorrow on my regular day off to make up for it.
My mantra has always been "As long as you're doing everything right, the weight will come off." I just need to get back to doing everything right again.
I might still keep the chocolate brownie fuel for my long-run days, but that leaves six other days of the week to make up the difference. I need to kick the sugar to the curb, refresh my system with whole foods and tons of fruits and veggies, and start fueling my body the way I should be and the way that I KNOW feels better than what I'm doing now. No more being tired all the time, no more sugar highs and sugar lows, no more being lazy about getting the proper nutrients to make sure that I'm NOT hungry all the time. My body has been running on economy grade long enough. Time to give it the high test and then let it perform to the max.
It's time to feel better (cause I'm tired of feeling crappy) and it's up to me to make that happen. Time to taste the difference between just "food" and real, solid, delicious, and good-for-you FUEL.
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