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Project Pixie Dust: Day 3 11-16-10

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

All you need is faith, trust, and a little pixie dust!

After not feeling completely satisfied with yesterday's eats, I pretty much redeemed myself today! And I avoided some major cafeteria temptations, including sugar cookies, lemon bars, and creamy chicken dumpling soup. OMG, all of the above looked amazing, and I managed (barely) to pass on them all! Baked goods are a major weakness for me...as are dumplings, potatoes, noodles...carbs...mmmmmm. Also got some solid working out done today, so I'm happy! Tomorrow night is another eat out night - I'm going to a Japanese place with some work friends. But, I have a feeling that it will be easier to find healthier fare at a Japanese restaurant than at a sports bar-ish pub-ish place, don't you think?

Drink my water, 64+ ounces: DONE! Enjoyed some more hot tea today. We're really getting into tea/cocoa season now. Still haven't really seen snow, other than a few wayward flakes the other day, but it sure is cold out there!

Eat five servings of fruits and veggies: DONE! And it was pretty evenly split between fruits and veggies, and throughout the day. I had one of those Green Giant single serving broccoli thingies today, and I think I'm losing my taste for them. I could barely get through today's tray, but thankfully it was the very last one in the freezer. I ate these things ALL THE TIME last year, but now the veggies just taste mushy and artificial to me...like cooking up fresh veggies to the "perfect" texture and seasoning to taste MUCH better!

Eat mindfully all day and night: DONE! I skipped the treats at work and feel great about the decisions I made today. I cooked chicken and broccoli stir-fry for dinner and served it over brown rice. Very filling and yummy! I've been weighing and measuring my food just to make sure I'm not suffering from "portion distortion." It's SO easy to fall into that trap! After dinner, I still had to eat 150 calories to get to the low end of the scale, so while I was at the gym, I daydreamed about what I would eat to meet my calorie count...ended up with a mini pizza made from a sandwich thin, tomato sauce, and Laughing Cow.

Running: 4.18 miles on the treadmill, took 45 minutes. It was a little tedious and slow going, but I got it done. I watched the latest episode of Parenthood while I ran. It's funny how the only time I really seem to have for TV these days is at the gym. I just have too much else to do when I'm at home. We're talking about canceling our cable...since we barely watch anyway! I finished my workout with five minutes of walking, to add 0.25 to my mileage.

Cross Training: I have ended my last couple of days with a few minutes of stretching, and it really does seem to relax me for bedtime, so I did a ten minute Denise Austin stretching workout after my run. Loved it!

Strength Training: The SP bootcamp program had me doing a quickie seven-minute upper body toning video, which was pretty basic stuff, although did give me a couple of new ideas. And it had my "favorite" (as in not)...push ups! After that, I did a Ten Minute Solutions Pilates sculpting workout, staying with the upper body theme.

So there...a couple of hiccups yesterday, no biggie! Right back on track today!

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JANEYINMADTOWN 11/18/2010 6:29AM

    Well done sister Tink!

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JENN26POINT2 11/17/2010 3:59PM

    Sounds like you had a successful day! Congrats! Now you know how easy it is and can continue it! :)

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_MSAPRIL17_ 11/17/2010 3:12PM

    Looks like a great day!!!!

Awesome!!

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LAURIE5658 11/17/2010 9:51AM

    Oh, I love today's Tinker Bell! RB, you are doing great and think of the choices you could have possibly made if it weren't for PPD. Thats what I do and it helps keep me motivated to keep on going with OMM. The upper body workout for yesterday is one of my faves. I love the concentrated bicep curl you do cuz I can see my little guns forming LOL. They are cute!

Remember to make wise choises today as I know you will!

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FUNFROG79 11/17/2010 8:05AM

    I think you had a fantastic day! You are ticking your daily goals right off your list! emoticon

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BUTTERFLYEMERGE 11/17/2010 7:41AM

    YOU had a great day!!!!! WAY TO GO!!! Hope you have a whole bunch more! emoticon

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ITSHOWYOULIVE 11/17/2010 12:35AM

    Yay!! Way to go on a great day!!

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Project Pixie Dust: Day 2 11-15-10

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

All you need is faith, trust, and a little pixie dust!

First weekday of Project Pixie Dust, and I would call it generally successful. One small victory from my work day is that the cafeteria was serving free lunch, including these delightfully/horribly tempting sugar cookies, and I managed to avoid it ALL. I ate my packed lunch, and the only thing I actually got from the cafeteria was an apple to add to my produce stash. You know, since it was free and all. Some of Bruce's friends (some really awesome musicians) were in town, and we took them out for dinner at The Great Dane. My dinner put me pretty well over my calorie limit for the day...but I did manage to reel in the feasting a bit and keep things somewhat under control. Often times, if I had a really "bad" meal, from there on out, I'd scrap the whole day and just eat like crap since I figured I had already blown the day on a big meal! But today, after dinner, I dutifully put all my selections into my food tracker (taking my best guess at calorie counts) and kept my munchies in check until bedtime. It's funny, once I ate my sandwich and half of my fries, I found that I actually wasn't even hungry anymore. While I was tempted to clear my plate, it was more out of the need to have something to do with my hands...hmmm. I did box up my leftovers to take home, because one thing I really don't like is food waste. Here's how I did with everything today...

Drink my water, 64+ ounces: DONE! Most of this was plain water, although in the evening I had a couple of cups of hot herbal tea. Mmm...some of the teas out there are great for soothing sweet cravings.

Eat five servings of fruits and veggies: DONE! Barely...I struggled a bit today, especially with dinner being pub food. But I did scrape by, although I'll openly admit that two of those servings were unsweetened applesauce. Better day tomorrow, perhaps. I am seriously in awe of my friends who can eat 8, 9, or even 10+ servings of fruits and veggies. I'm still trying to figure that one out. That's amazing!

Eat mindfully all day and night: DONE! Even though I went over my calorie count (as well as fat and carbs), I'm fairly satisfied with how I handled today. I stuck to my planned meals for breakfast and lunch in spite of the temptations at work, and at dinner, even though I ate a hefty meal, way heftier than what I would have eaten at home, I didn't go absolutely off-the-chain crazy, as in eating half an appetizer, the whole meal, and a dessert! Once I got home, I had my tea to handle my hankering for dessert, and that was pretty much it. While calorie/carb/fat statistics are useful guidelines, they're not the only measure of success or improvement. Could I have eaten a bit less today? Sure, of course. Could I have chosen something healthier than the sandwich and fries? I'm sure it was possible. But I'm still happy that tonight's dinner was a LOT more restrained than many of the dinners I've had there in recent months. So...in spite of the numbers, I call today a success!

Running: I had off today, but have four miles on tomorrow's schedule, probably on the gym treadmill.

Cross Training: I kept it pretty gentle today, with a relaxing ten minute stretching video, the Ten Minute Solutions Pilates one.

Strength Training: Did the other half of my "old reliable"Crunch Total Body Resculpt video. It gave my upper body a nice, well-rounded workout. I used two-pound dumbbells but think I might go ahead and switch to three-pounders next time for a bit more of a challenge. It felt a little too easy. I also did day two of the SP bootcamp video series, which was ten minutes of lower body toning. The video had some interesting ideas which I would have never thought of on my own! It was a bit easier than yesterday since it didn't have all of the jumping in it. Considering that ST is "not my thing," I'm proud of myself for buckling down and getting all of my planned workouts done, even though they were about the last thing I wanted to do after dinner.

And on to day three we go...

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ITSHOWYOULIVE 11/16/2010 10:47AM

    Awesome!! I love the pixie dust plan!! Small victories are really big victories in disguise :)!

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FUNFROG79 11/16/2010 10:37AM

    Great job! So proud of you for avoiding a lunch time disaster! WAY TO GO! emoticon

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LAURIE5658 11/16/2010 10:00AM

    rb, YOU MADE THE BEST OUT OF WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN A REAL DISASTER. Oops, sorry bout the caps. You made some very wise decisions and that is truly great.

I want you to know that because of you I ordered two Crunch dvd's as they look pretty interesting to me. I bought them cheaply on Amazon so it is a win-win.

Remember to make wise choices today! emoticon

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SARASHAPESUP 11/16/2010 9:51AM

    Great job Christina! Excellent outlook on your evening meal. I am totally that way too... past practice was to eat like crap ALL day if one meal or snack threw me off. No more though! Normal life includes eating out once in awhile and I figure that I have to just be reasonable and listen to my body, no matter the calorie count.

By the way, I just joined the 28 Day Bootcamp team too - you're right, day 1 DOES have a LOT of jumping in it. I can't do the Burpee-ish exercises toward the end, with my recovering legs - so I did the modified version instead, and it was pretty intense still.

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KATVHALE 11/16/2010 9:38AM

  You are well on your way! I like that you are not beating yourself up over the slipups! Good going!

Kat

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BECOMESTRONGER 11/16/2010 1:26AM

    emoticon Keep it up!

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Project Pixie Dust: Day 1 11-14-10

Sunday, November 14, 2010

All you need is faith, trust, and a little pixie dust!

So, while I introduced you to my latest project, I was also hard at work on my first day of self-improvement. I tracked my calories, drank my water, and did my exercising (cardio and strength training). One day is a small step in a long journey, but you do have to start somewhere! I feel good about my day, and that I did all the "right" things, and none of it was too difficult or painful. My plan is to post my progress each day, complete with how I did with my day-to-day goals...so here comes the first one!

Drink my water, 64+ ounces: DONE! It was a little slow-going at first, especially since I really don't love plain water, but I got my eight cups in.

Eat five servings of fruits and veggies: DONE! Thankfully, in anticipation of starting this plan, I stocked up at the grocery store yesterday. Some of my selections were not whole fruits/veggies, like applesauce and tomato soup, but I'm still counting them!

Eat mindfully all day and night: DONE! My hope is that I'll track all of my food intake, like I did on Weight Watchers, and stay within my calorie range, and I managed to do this today without any major trouble. I'm figuring there WILL be days when it's trickier, especially if I am eating out, but the spirit of this goal is to avoid emotional eating or unhealthy binges. So even if not every calorie is accounted for, at least I will feel good about my decision! Today, it helped that I had a lot of my staple items from Weight Watchers on hand, so I fell back to a lot of my old favorites, like the Hungry Girl English muffin mini pizzas and spinach salad. Nothing wrong with predictable eating if it works for you!

Running: I started out the day with an attempt at a six mile run outdoors. Not so easy. It was 37 degrees with a lot of wind. A LOT. Running into it was extremely uncomfortable and wearing. By three or four miles into it, I was really struggling to hold my run/walk intervals, and I ended up walking a lot more than I really wanted to. I completed 5.66 miles in 1:05:15, for an 11:29 AP. Much slower than I usually go, but could be a lot worse. Given the hideous weather conditions and the fact that this was my first 4+ mile run since the Haunted Hustle, I'll take it. It's better than the run I didn't do, right?! I saw a really cool quote about running on a chat board this morning: ""A runner will see an opportunity to get a run in and go for it, while someone else might will fidget and fuss until that opportunity is wasted" So true! Conditions were less than ideal this morning, and a huge part of me wanted to stay nestled in my warm cozy bed. But I had some free time all to myself, which is pretty rare around here, and it would have seemed silly not to at least try. But a part of me wonders if I might have been better off on the treadmill today. I'm a big baby about the cold, in case you haven't noticed.

Cross Training: Today I didn't have XT on the agenda, but later in the evening, I was a littel bored and tried out a Spark People bootcamp video. Just 10 minutes of cardio exercises, although a few of them were kind of hard...mainly because they involved jumping. Jumping and I don't really get along. I can do a basic jumping jack without any trouble, but anything much more than that is a challenge for me. So I followed along the best I could and racked up ten extra fitness minutes...not altogether bad!

Strength Training: Did an "old reliable" video, Crunch Total Body Resculpt...sort of cheesy but one I always kind of liked. I stuck with the lower body workout, which is about 20 minutes. May go ahead and do the upper body part tomorrow.

I'm happy to get off to a great start! Tomorrow is a work day, and I'll be facing the usual temptations, like the coffee cart and the desserts in the cafeteria. My plan to combat all of that is to pack a healthy lunch with some appealing items in it...that way the temptations shouldn't matter too much!

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ITSHOWYOULIVE 11/15/2010 10:36PM

    Yay for day 1! Boo to cold, windy runs. But isn't there also a saying about any day you get to run is a good day? Glad you did it despite the conditions!! I love faith, trust and pixie dust!!

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LAURIE5658 11/15/2010 10:08AM

    Oh! You got to enjoy the same exact weather conditions we had down here and it was not fun at times. Why does it seem like when you run UP a hill it was INTO that cold wind? You had a great start, RB, and with that you can go into Day Two with a plan!! The key...SMART CHOICES!!

emoticon (Spark's version of Tinker Bell LOL)

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JANEYINMADTOWN 11/15/2010 8:45AM

    emoticon

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MRSBRAUCHT 11/15/2010 8:18AM

    Great job! The wind yesterday was ridiculous! My last two miles of my 10 miler was head on with the wind, it caused my eyes to tear up so I am sure to passer-byers it looked like I was crying..LOL..which sometimes when I run I want to cry LOL!

Great job again on day one, keep it going!

emoticon

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FUNFROG79 11/15/2010 6:59AM

    Whew, what a cold run! You first day was a great success!! Good luck at work, I know you can do it! emoticon

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KMICHA 11/15/2010 5:27AM

    You are off to a great beginning! Keep up the good work! emoticon emoticon

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FORTHEGIRLS 11/15/2010 5:18AM

    Great start! Hope my first day is as good as yours.

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MYRTLEBEACHWINS 11/15/2010 12:19AM

    Your off to a Great Start! Keep it going.

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AUDIEPRINCESS 11/14/2010 11:48PM

    Sounds like you had a great first day!! Keep up the great work!!!

emoticon

--Audrey

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Introducing...Project Pixie Dust!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

*** All you need is faith and trust and a little pixie dust. ***

It's been two weeks since the Haunted Hustle, and since I've been more or less MIA since then, it's about time for a "what's up with Christina" post. Well, what's up is that my motivation seems to have taken a hike. I don't know if it's just the letdown from having done several halfs in a row and all of a sudden not having anything to train for after a year of being in almost constant half training. Or is it just being so burnt out at work that hardly anything else makes it onto my radar? The early onset of winter blahs? The bottom line is that I don't feel driven to run or exercise, my eating habits have hit new lows, and I'm feeling flabby, fluffy, and generally gross. Today it's cold, gray, windy, and drizzly out (and we spotted our first snowflakes of the season, to boot), and my mood and motivation level more or less reflect the weather conditions. I do NOT feel one bit like Super Running Chick. I do not feel cute or sexy. I feel more or less like a big, pale, gooey marshmallow. When I was outside running a few days ago, I felt things jiggling which I was sure were not jiggling a few months ago. Some of my "end of Weight Watchers" clothes have been relegated to the bottom dresser drawers because I have, sadly, outgrown them. I am lucky if I get my five a day of fruits and veggies even once a week. I could keep going down this path to find myself heavier and in worse shape than I was when I started Weight Watchers last year, but I really (as in really) don't want to. It's time to do something to get myself back on track.

I've tried this a few times, without much success. My motivation peaks for a few days, and then I get distracted or bored, or I make a minor indiscretion which snowballs back into old habits, and I may as well just not have bothered. I don't know why it is that I struggle as much as I do with food, particularly emotional (over)eating, but I know that it's been an issue since college, and I haven't yet found quite what I need to keep it away long term. It certainly does not help that my husband is quite the muncher and that we both come from families of eaters. But I know I can't keep falling back into these traps and making the same excuses. I want to set a good example for Timmy and show him how enjoyable and rewarding a healthy lifestyle can be. And the strange thing is that, when I was actively on Weight Watchers, I didn't mind cutting back my quantities and carefully monitoring my food-related choices, even when the going got rough.

So in short, I have NO idea what happened. But I need to snap out of it and start figuring some things out. Long term, I'm not sure what steps I will need to take, but short term, I know that it just involves taking it one day at a time, making positive choices, and trying to find alternative ways of handling stress and difficult emotions that do not involve stuffing my face. I'm piggybacking off of an idea my friend came up with to get in shape for an upcoming vacation: starting a "project" which will keep me motivated and accountable for my actions. Each day, I will have goals, basic things like drinking all of my water, eating five a day, tracking my food on SparkPeople, and keeping up with my fitness routine. By the way, since I'm not in training (eek) my fitness routine is not as structured as I'm used to, but here is what I have in mind for starters:

Monday: Cross train 30-45 minutes
Tuesday: Run 3-4 miles
Wednesday: Cross train 30-45 minutes
Thursday: Run 3-4 miles
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Cross train 30-45 minutes
Sunday: Long run 6-8 miles

Running will remain my primary form of exercise, but in my cross training, I'll give myself freedom to mix it up: walking, Zumba, yoga, swimming, cycling, rock climbing, skiing, whatever catches my eye! Since Monday follows my long run day, I'll probably keep cross training to gentle exercises like walking or stretching. Or I'll take an extra rest day if necessary. Strength training will also be in there somewhere, although I haven't quite decided on the schedule. I'm thinking of splitting it up into lots of shorter sessions because the longer ones really tend to get me burnt out quickly! My goal will be for 90 minutes/week, more being icing on the cake, and splitting it up fairly evenly between lower body, upper body, and core.

In the beginning, I will not be watching the scale. Emotionally, I am not ready for that, and do not want my project to be purely numbers-driven. It's more about how I feel: how my clothes fit, how I feel when I'm out there running, my energy level, my confidence, my self-image, how much I'm really enjoying life. Maybe that sounds totally cheesy and smarmy, but getting caught up in the scale's day to day fluctuations just doesn't work for me. As I get more established, I'll probably check in with my weight and maybe measurements from time to time...just not now.

My end goal? By the time I head to the Country Music Marathon for my Half Fanatic debut on April 30, I want to be back to my ideal (to me) weight of 135. I want to fit comfortably into my thin clothes, and I don't want to feel jiggly when I'm out there running. I want to gravitate towards moderate, healthy eating habits and be at a point where one meal/snack/day off track won't completely derail me. When I'm having a rough day, I want to turn to something or someone else other than overeating for comfort. I want to be proud of who I am, and feel like my son can look to me as a solid example of healthy living. A tall order? One day at a time, one step at a time. For now, I'm just looking to April 30. Once that day comes and goes, there is more work to do to keep the ball rolling...but at least I have a plan to get me through to April!

To add an element of fun to my efforts, I'm giving them an official name, motto, and mascot. Project Pixie Dust! I thought Tinkerbell would be perfect for me. She's fun, sassy, energetic, and just so darned cute...and fits in with my love of all things Disney. I will have FAITH that I can make healthy decisions and build healthy habits which will last. I will TRUST myself with the important duty of keeping myself healthy for my family and for myself. And the PIXIE DUST is the fun I will have along the way, the joy in the journey.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SARASHAPESUP 11/15/2010 9:42AM

    Ahhhh Christina you ROCK! I love that you created Project Pixie Dust. I am the other Sparker who took Laurie's idea and customized it for personal use... Operation Ice Princess!! :) I am right there with you in feeling the post-half letdown. In my case it is partly brought on by a couple of injuries that have left me unable to run for a few weeks. I, too have trouble getting in my 5-a-day. I, too feel like a big gooey pale marshmallow right now and I am SICK of it and doing something about it! Let's DO THIS! :)

emoticon

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FUNFROG79 11/15/2010 6:58AM

    I love it! I know my Wonder Woman Challenge has helped my motivation BIG TIME! Being a big Disney fan myself, I LOVE Tinkerbell!! Great job! I think you are going be fantastic! emoticon

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BECOMESTRONGER 11/15/2010 12:13AM

    We all find ourselves in a slump once in a while. Good luck with Project Pixie Dust. You can do it!

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BUDRFLY31 11/14/2010 10:28PM

    So many times I have fallen into the same cycle you have. I also named the project I am committed to at this time. Mine is called Sand Dollar days. Some day I will blog about where I came up with the name, so stay tuned:)

Good luck, Pixie girl!

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KATVHALE 11/14/2010 8:12PM

  So you fell of the wagon; big deal! We all do it; I do it! You know what to do and you will pick yourself up and get back to that cute little running chick in no time at all. You already started by making that chart of goals every day and they aren't anything that you haven't done already so get your strong mindset back and get running! The pixie dust is inside of you already just start clapping your hands to bring it to the surface!

Kat

emoticon emoticon emoticon

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MBUSSAN210 11/14/2010 7:52PM

    You can do this! I always seem to get this feeling as the cold weather starts. Your post is motivating me, too. emoticon

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RUN2BEFREE 11/14/2010 7:12PM

    Love the project name! Sending some pixie dust your way! emoticon

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RUN2BEFREE 11/14/2010 7:10PM

    Love the project name! Sending some pixie dust your way! emoticon

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RUN2BEFREE 11/14/2010 7:10PM

    Love the project name! Sending some pixie dust your way! emoticon

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JANEYINMADTOWN 11/14/2010 7:00PM

    Are we gonna be twins?

emoticon

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LAURIE5658 11/14/2010 6:29PM

    RB, you are at least the second Sparker that took my idea and ran with it (pun fully intended!!) and I LOVE IT!!! DO you realize that you are feeling EXACTLY the way I felt after my HM training and actual race. EXACTLY!!!! That just goes to show you that there really must be something to the post-race letdown. It actually does force you to re-evaluate where you are at and where you want to go. Its a great thing and CONGRATULATIONS on coming to terms with yourself and starting PROJECT PIXIE DUST! You made the first step and that was hitting bottom and deciding to do something for yourself. You can do this, Christina, and always come to me when you need a boost! Its working for me and I know it will work for you when you get that initial jolt of feeling great after you start. baby steps!

emoticon emoticon

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MRSBRAUCHT 11/14/2010 6:28PM

    Being a big Disney fan myself I think its a great project name :)
You can do it!! Best of luck to you, surviving the winter blahs are hard....especially in WI where winter seems to last for 9 months out of the year!


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SOPKAMANJU 11/14/2010 6:18PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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Haunted Hustle Half Marathon: Race Report!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

As the morning of my final half marathon of 2010 approached, I wasn't exactly what you'd call fighting fit. I was overworked, having traveled twice on business within two weeks. My training schedule had fallen way, WAY off kilter. My last training run ended up being the four miler on the hotel treadmill. As for the rest of the week, life just kept getting in the way. And to make things even better, I had caught some kind of funky "airplane crud" on my most recent trip to California, and I was coughing, hacking, and barely able to talk on the eve of my race. My mother, who was here visiting, asked me, "Are you sure you should be running tomorrow?" as we ate pizza for dinner on Friday evening.

Well...not completely sure, admittedly, but as long as the crud stayed in the neck-up region, I was at least going to show up and start the race. What's the worst thing that could happen, really? I'd have to truck it on over to the medical station and/or register my first DNF. And if I was feeling worse in the morning, I could re-evaluate in the morning. So after some pizza, it wasn't long before I headed to bed myself. Before I turned in, I lay out my clothes, a pair of long pants, a long-sleeved tech shirt (the same one I wore at my first half in March), and a new light blue running jacket. I added to the pile my race number, fuel belt, a couple of gels, and my Gymboss timer. No iPod or headset, as I've slowly grown to prefer racing sans music, really with as little gear as possible. And the new running shoes this time. My blister had finally healed up enough to where I could wear the shoes (although I did plan to tape it up nice and tight to be sure), and the shoes were sufficiently broken in.

The Haunted Hustle, held in Middleton, was in its inaugural year. Initially when I heard about it, I actually considered volunteering rather than running. But somewhere along the way, my ambition shifted to running. Sometime over the summer, one of my online buddies joined an organization called Half Fanatics, which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: a group of runners who are (crazy) mad about the half marathon distance. To qualify for the HF, you have to run a certain number of half marathons with in a specified time frame. One of the "minimum" qualifications is 3 half marathons within 90 days. When I saw my friend join the HF, I thought to myself, "wouldn't it be great if I joined the fanatics in a year or two?" and I mentally filed the idea away in my "wouldn't it be fun to..." to-do list.

In a moment of insanity, sometime in July, it dawned on me that I was already registered for two half marathons, about six weeks apart: the Madison Mini Marathon and the Wine & Dine Half Marathon. The Haunted Hustle would be the final piece of the puzzle...my qualifying race for the Half Fanatics. Before I knew it, I was online, shelling out my registration fee and requesting October 29 as a vacation day so I'd be able to rest up and hit the expo the day before showtime. And, after I almost tearfully crossed the finish line at Disney World, I was driving to the Marriot to pick up my Haunted Hustle race materials.

Considering that this was a smaller race and an inaugural event, I was very impressed with the expo. The packet pickup was very well organized, and I didn't have to wait in any lines or scratch my head trying to figure out what to do or where to go. The official Haunted Hustle tech shirt was awesome, and although there wasn't a lot of merchandise for sale, it was all very well organized in a Halloween-themed showroom. I ended up leaving the expo with a discounted pair of Vibram Bikilas. I've been thinking about getting a pair for a little while now, and with the generous discount, I decided to go ahead and take the plunge! I assured the saleslady that I had no plans to wear them until after the race...no, no, no, wearing them to the race would be beyond crazy. Yes, I am seeking membership into an organization which basically has "crazy" in its title, but I am not crazy enough to basically do a half marathon barefoot when I've never run more than a few steps barefoot in my life. (And if you're wondering about my reason for purchasing said Bikalas...well...more on that later!) A lady trying on Vibrams next to me was wearing a Madison Mini Marathon tech shirt, as was I, so we did the obligatory, "Hey, nice shirt!" bit as we laboriously wiggled our feet into the shoes. I left the expo feeling a bit poorer, although not as broke as I feel after a trip to Disney, but energized and excited for Saturday morning.

Now let's fast-forward to Saturday morning, shall we? I woke up around five o' clock, feeling grateful that Middleton was just a short drive away and didn't seem like a high hassle (as in traffic and parking woes) area. I was a bit concerned about how last night's pizza feast would sit in my belly after five, ten, twelve miles, but it was too late to do anything by now! As for my airplane funk, my voice was still very much MIA, but otherwise, I felt as good as I really could. No cough or lingering fatigue or body aches. I got dressed and ate a typical race day breakfast, a bagel thin, string cheese, and a bottle of water. I snuck out of the house before Timmy, Bruce, or my mother had even begun stirring.

It was about an hour and a half before the gun when I arrived at the parking garage in Middleton. There were only a few cars there. Yeah, what can I say, I'm a bit of an early bird...but at least I hardly ever have trouble getting a parking spot! It was maybe about thirty degrees outside, so I did what all of the other cars' occupants were doing: hanging out in my warm car rather than pacing around the staging area for ninety freezing cold minutes! I was quite comfortable. I listened to music, sipped on some water, and did a Sudoku puzzle while I waited. As the minutes quickly ticked by, the garage filled up with more and more cars, and crowds of runners, some in costume, others not, flocked towards the portapotties and warming tents. I did take a couple of quick potty breaks, but each time retreated back to my car to take advantage of its toasty warmth!

At about seven twenty, the gun was less than a half hour away, so I decided it was time to brave the chilly weather. I jogged lightly to the start line and people watched while the announcer periodically told us how long we had before the start. Because of all of the costumes, this was definitely one of the better races for people watching! It wasn't long before we were directed towards the starting lines. We weren't formally organized by pace, but I spotted the 4:00 marathon pacer and decided to position myself somewhere behind him...not directly behind him but a little way back. Yeah, that works. I heard a few confused runners trying to decide where they should stand since there weren't corrals or (very many) pacing signs or anything to guide us. I did a final check to make sure I had everything I needed. Fuel, yep. Gymboss, yep. On my belt in an inconspicuous location, so I'd be able to hear the timing beeps but not be able to see the numbers and obsess about my time or pace. Sunglasses in case it got bright later on. Yep. Shoes double knotted, jacket zipped up, number pinned on. Yep. Timing chip on ankle. Yep. I was ready as I could ever be!

I heard the announcer say that they'd be playing the National Anthem and then starting us off, but never heard the Anthem. I just heard the blaring of a fire truck's horn up ahead, and then noticed a stream of runners escaping past the start line. And then we surged forward and across the line, and we were off! Well, so much for the big start, eh? I kind of missed the boat on that one!

The course was on the crowded side at first, although not unbearably so. We would be mixed with the marathon runners for a while, but there didn't seem to be all that much jostling, pushing, or stepping on toes going on. I was spotting a lot of great costumes along the way: two Harlem Globetrotters (two of my favorites, and apparently the race organizers liked them too because they both won costume awards!), Mario and Luigi, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, Where's Waldo, and a Cheshire Cat. Right around the first mile marker, we came up to the first water station. Of course I was completely on the wrong side of the road - it wasn't a two-sided station. I did my best to work my way across the stream of runners, but still ended up getting in someone's way. She gave me a light push - not enough to make me fall or anything - and I choked out a sorry the best I could with the little voice I had as I scurried off to the side. Oh well. That water did surely hit the spot though!

We were now racing through a residential area with rolling hills, and it was very relaxing. Some of the homeowners had come outside to watch us and cheer us on a bit. We hit another water station, and there were kids giving out CANDY!!! In need of a bit of a sugar rush, I took a fun-sized Kit Kat, gobbled it up, and grabbed an apple-flavored energy gel for later. Mmmm...chocolate...mmm. I could have hugged the little boy that handed me that Kit Kat!

The next five or six or even seven miles or so were a happy blur. We tromped through idyllic neighborhoods and downtown Middleton, and then ventured down into a nature preserve, along a bike path lined with trees and ponds. We ran along an out-and-back portion, which was a little unnerving. I kept seeing runners fly past me going the other way, and I kept wondering "how long is it before I'll be going that way?" For some reason it seemed to take a lo-o-o-ong time to get to the turnaround, but we finally did! Five miles into the race, I was feeling invigorated and full of energy. Wasn't sure if it was the colder weather or the fact that my crazy work schedule had really forced me to taper dramatically, but I wasn't feeling as sluggish as I had felt even midway into the Wine & Dine half. I didn't even feel the need to fuel up according to my usual "eat first gel after 45-60 minutes" rule of thumb, which would later prove to be a bit of a dubious (although not detrimental) decision. Next, we did a big, BIG loop around a pond and through a park. I was still feeling pretty strong, but as we got to miles 8 or 9 or somewhere thereabouts, I started to feel a bit weak and realized that I still hadn't taken in any fuel other than the Kit Kat in the second mile. Um...oops.

I had shot blocks and gel on me and went straight for the gel, as that usually seems to give me a more intense, direct shot of energy (even if it is generally a little harder on my digestive system). I took it slow for a couple of intervals to let the gel do its magic. We passed plenty of water stations, including one manned by volunteers for the Feingold and Baldwin political campaigns and another staffed by young adults in Harry Potter costumes - very authentic there, the Hermione Granger character even had a S.P.E.W. badge! I was amazed by all of the costumes I saw out there! So many creative ideas. I saw a lady dressed up as a Tour de France king (queen?) of the mountain, complete with bike helmet and polka dot jersey. I saw a "cereal killer" wearing a belt laden with boxes of Wheaties stabbed open with spoons. A man in a nun's habit. A hamburglar running with a McDonald's sack in hand. Allegedly, Forrest Gump was out on the course, and so was a Ghostbuster, but I missed them!

This time fatigue set in around mile ten, although it wasn't nearly as much of a bummer as it was earlier in the month. I knew I would get past it, and I could relish the fact that less than a 5k separated ME from HALF FANATICS membership! Even if I had to walk it, I would earn myself a spot in the "asylum" within the next 30-45 minutes. So I huffed and puffed for a while, and then we came out of the enormous loop. At that time, I saw a couple of course marshals riding up on bikes announcing that the marathon leaders were on their way! Two buff guys flew into the loop looking more like Greek gods than human beings. One of them looked very familiar...just like one of my co-workers. But...really? Nah...couldn't be. I was tired and was probably imagining it!

On to the task of tackling three more miles, and they felt like long, LONG miles. But one by one, they passed and the finish line came into view, with just about a half mile to go. A big part of me was eager to just be done with the thing, but a more sentimental side of me chided the exhausted side of me saying, "Buck up, this is your last five minutes of half marathoning in 2010, just sit back and enjoy it. Don't wish it away!" So that's what I tried to do, heavy as my legs were starting to feel. It was brightening up and I pulled out my sunglasses. Admittedly, the glasses were a bit of vanity on my part, not so much a necessity. If I was wearing the sunglasses in my finish line photo, nobody would see my tired, puffy eyes and guess how run down I was actually feeling!

We looped around on a paved bike path and then it was the home stretch. I saw the fire truck up ahead and knew that I was almost there. I felt a tiny surge of energy and couldn't help but smile as I sailed on up to the finish line. I had done it, my fifth marathon of 2010, my Half Fanatics qualifying race! And to make things even better, even with sub-par training, crazy work schedule, and airplane funk holding me back, I got within two minutes of my PR with a time of 2:19:41. (I heard a few fleeting rumors from Garmin owners that the course came up slightly short of 13.1 miles...but I'll just stick my fingers in my ears, shout la-la-la-la-la, and pretend that I didn't hear the rumors. 12.95 miles or 13.01 miles is still a whole lot of running, but doesn't quite hold the same appeal as 13.1!)

I crossed the finish line and waved to the cameras. One volunteer took my timing chip, and another gave me a skull-shaped medal. The medal was a little small for my liking...but still pretty cool! Then, it was on to get a space blanket, which was surprisingly warm but extremely crinkly, and a cup of water. The only thing that seemed to be missing from the finisher's chute was food. No bottles of water or sports drink, no bagels or muffins, no bananas or granola bars or chocolate milk. One of the race's major shortcomings. (Although thankfully that was about the only shortcoming that really bothered me at all.)

There was a food tent serving chips, pizza, and beer, but there was a super long line for it, so I just stuck around the finish line while I stretched and cooled down and watched finishers come in. At around the 2:50 mark, a small cluster of marathoners sprinted in, and I was surprised to hear the DJ announce them as "marathon finishers" and not leaders. That was odd, as no other marathoners had come in between my arrival and them. And I seriously doubted that there were any sub-2:19 marathoners in the group. And then about five minutes later, right after I had gone to the results trailer to pick up my official time, the DJ announced the arrival of the marathon winner...my co-worker! Talk about a "holy crap" moment!! Every other time I had seen him, it was as a computer geek at work...just like me. But here he was, running shirtless as a marathon WINNER! WOW!

I stuck around for ten or fifteen more minutes, and the food tent was still hopping, and the line was growing and growing. I was getting hungry by now, and decided to go find some fast food rather than enduring the food tent line. I stopped at the Taco Bell drive-thru on my way home. Yeah, classy, huh? I didn't waste any time applying for my Half Fanatics membership. As soon as the race organizers published the results online, I submitted my application, and not two hours later, I became Half Fanatic #610.

That's it for 2010. No more races on the horizon, and I haven't even registered for any. It's the first time I've finished a race without being signed up for the next. It's an odd feeling, a bit disconcerting, but not too terribly uncomfortable. I know I have really worked myself hard over the last few months, and it will be refreshing to lay low for a few months before I start training for my first 2011 half, the Country Music Half Marathon in April. Until then, I'll just keep on running, working on cross training and overall fitness, and enjoying my new FANATICAL status!



I DID IT!*

*One of the rare finish line photos where I don't look like death warmed over or complete poo. Told you the sunglasses served more of a narcissistic than functional purpose. And shocker of shockers, I'm actually smiling. However, even though I look halfway presentable, in this photo, it does happen to showcase the horrid, massive heel strike which somehow snuck into and made itself at home in my running form. Guess I need to do something about that one of these days.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

IMSMILEY88 7/23/2011 8:24PM

    I see I actually already commented on this post! At that time, I had no plans on becoming a Half Fanatic. I'm not sure I even knew what it was! But, now I'm finalizing plans to become a FANATIC! I'm running 3 HMs...Nov, Dec & Jan. Can't wait to join you as a FANATIC!

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MBUSSAN210 11/5/2010 6:50PM

    I loved reading your report. You looked Fantastic (or maybe fanatic...) in your running picture!

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IMSMILEY88 11/4/2010 10:25PM

    I loved reading every word of your post. emoticon Congrats on a great race and congrats on becoming a Half Fanatic! Also, thanks for the sunglass tip. I'll have to remember that!

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LIGHTNINGRUNNER 11/4/2010 9:47PM

    Congrats to you for being a Half Fanatic. You had a good race and a good report - hopeful your illness will quickly pass now.

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DANIMITE2 11/4/2010 5:42PM

    What an awesome race report! Congratulations on a fabulous 2010!

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JANEYINMADTOWN 11/4/2010 3:21PM

    emoticon you never cease to amaze me Christine..what a great year you have had!

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LAURIE5658 11/4/2010 2:05PM

    RB, I simply love you to pieces and thank God every day that you are indeed my running buddy. You had a SUPERB first year of Half marathon training and racing and you truly are a HALF FANATIC!! I am so excited to see what 2011 brings to you and one thing is for sure...you and I WILL be racing together! Love you!

emoticon

RAWK!

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MRSBRAUCHT 11/4/2010 8:17AM

    LOL I am pretty sure I saw you out on the course, but obviously didnt know it was you!!! Congrats again!!
And I agree the medals were VERY cool design but SO tiny!!

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MOONANGEL23 11/4/2010 7:00AM

    Great job! Sounds like you had a great race...and welcome to the Fanatics!

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JETERSGAL729 11/4/2010 3:06AM

    Wow you are such a great writer!!! I am so jealous of all your half marathons and I am ALSO trying to be ready for the Country Music Half in April!!! What is good advice since it'll be my 1st ever half!!!??? Also where do you live?? I'm in Madison, TN.

Congrats!!

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SLEEPYDEAN 11/4/2010 1:14AM

    I want to become a Half Fanatic next year. Already starting to schedule halfs in different states to try and make it, and make vacations out of the weekends.

Congrats on 5 halfs this year! (I'll be tackling my first ever in 10 days - thanks for the motivation.)

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ROOT4HOME 11/3/2010 11:47PM

    You look GREAT!! Congrats on having such an AWESOME Half (again)!! I just recently heard about the Half Fanatics...may have to consider joining that one day too! emoticon

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