Saturday, June 30, 2012
I ran a 4 mile race last Saturday with a few friends (see my last blog) and we decided to make post-race a beach hang-out day.
There was a sandbar out in the ocean that my friends and I wanted to swim out to. However, it was a bit of a distance out there. Now, I can swim. But I only ever learned how to do the crawl and the backstroke. My friend tried to teach me how to do the breaststroke with my head out of the water (I wear contacts so I wasn't dipping my head into the water). So I tried doing that.
Oh boy was that HARD. Like REALLY, REALLY HARD. Like this is the HARDEST thing I have done ALL DAY kind of hard. Like this is way too hard, forget this sandbar nonsense. I just ran a 4 mile race! How come I can run 4 miles in less than 45 min but swimming 4 yards makes me feel like I want to die? It gave me a new found appreciation for all those Sparkers out there who use swimming as their primary form of exercise. Yes, BOSS61, I am thinking of you.
Well, there goes my dream of doing a sprint triathlon. I thought I was pretty physically fit. What a humbling experience.
Up until then, I had considered myself "fit.' I am at my happy weight. My BMI is safely within the normal range. And whenever a medical professional takes my history now, I can honestly answer "why yes, I exercise 60 min five times a week." Then they nod approvingly. This is much preferable to before when I'd answer "no" and then have to listen to my doctor tell me why it's important not be overweight and why it's important to exercise. As if I didn't know all those reasons already.
Since I got back on the fitness bandwagon in January, I have noticed that exercise has gotten easier and easier. My preferred mode of exercise was always the elliptical machine and although I still use it, it's simply not as difficult for me to do anymore (and yes, I keep upping the resistance). Back in January, a 20 minute, one mile Leslie Sansone Walk Away the Pounds video would have my heart racing and leave me drenched in sweat. But a month later, the video was no longer difficult. So I started doing her Walk/Jog video. But again, a month later, it was not challenging enough anymore. So I took up running in March. When I started running, I barely ran faster than my fastest walking speed. Now I can run a mile in just over 11 min. When I started running at the Duck Pond, it took me almost 20 min with walk/jog intervals to make one loop around. Now? Just 10 min.
I'm getting fitter and fitter every day so why can't I swim? Oh yeah, that's right. I'm fit enough to run. I'm fit enough to kickbox. But I haven't trained for swimming. That's a whole 'nother ball game. Silly me. If I knew that I couldn't just start running 5Ks without training, what made me possibly think that I wouldn't need training in order to swim? There's a lot I need to do before I can become "swimming fit." So the new fitness goal is to be more rounded when it comes to fitness. And to be able to swim more than 4 yards without getting winded.
Just because I'm fitter now than I was in January, it doesn't mean I've come to the end of the road when it comes to exercise. I have to continue to push myself. I'll never be 100% fit. I'll always be "fitter than I was a few months ago."
We can never truly achieve fitness. Itís not a destination but a journey.
(By the way, I can't claim credit for that lat line. I'm paraphrasing GIRLALLIN who is paraphrasing John Bingham. You should check out her last blog "I look like a Dalmation" as she touches on a similar topic there.)
Sunday, June 24, 2012
After I took up running, I set a goal for myself: to run one 3 mile (minimum) race per month between April and September. I signed up for races as a way to motivate myself to continue to train and run. I was worried that during the summer, I would slack off due to be being busy with social stuff and that I'd blow off running because "it's too hot." I have a race booked for July, one I plan on for September, and I'm still trying to figure out which race to run for August. Yesterday was race #3 (June).
It was the 28th Annual Run around the Lake in Ronkonkoma, NY (Long Island). This year, the 4-mile race was in honor and memory of Navy Seal Lt. Michael P. Murphy. I was not familiar with his story until a friend of mine told me (the same one who told me about the race). He was a local guy who died while serving in Afghanistan and was awarded the Medal of Honor. It's a sad but heroic story. It always sucks when one of the good guys is taken from this world too early. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_P._Mu
rphy A lot of the people who participated were military personnel.
Yes, they ran in full uniform and with heavy backpacks. I'm in total awe of these guys.
The race is sponsored by the Rotary Club of Ronkonkoma and proceeds go to the various charities that the rotary club supports. I even got a really cool commemorative T-shirt out of it. The T-shirt had the name of the race and a picture of Lt. Murphy on it and was made out of moisture-wicking material. Unfortunately, the only sizes left were men's large sizes so it's really big on me. It's so big, it won't even fit my husband (he's a pretty skinny dude) so I have to figure out who I can give it to. I don't want to waste such a nice shirt.
The race was a bit far for me but the reason why I participated in this one was because my friends were doing it (they're local). I figured that we'd drive out there, I would race and my husband would hang out with his friends while I ran. (It's rather funny that it's the wives/girlfriends who run and our husbands/boyfriends who drink beer and wait for us. I'm not joking, they had beer at this event). Then we'd all make a beach day of it afterwards.
Before the race, on the beach of Lake Ronkonkoma
Our recent extreme heat wave had broken the day before but it was still a pretty hot summer day. Temperatures were still in the 80s. They had three water stations along the route after each mile marker and I stopped each time because it was just too hot. The last time, I wasn't even thirsty; I just dumped the water over me to cool myself down. I shouldn't complain too much; at least I didn't have to run it in full uniform and gear. I'm totally in awe of all the military men who ran this race like that. They run faster than I do without all that equipment. They are BAD A$$.
Despite its name, we didn't actually get to race exactly next to the lake. It was a road race and we were only running on roads alongside the lake for maybe 40% (or less) of the race. It would have been cool (both visually and temperature-wise) if we could have raced 100% along the lake. Most of the race was through residential neighborhoods so all the locals got quite the entertainment that morning. One guy (bless his heart) took his garden hose out and sprayed it over the side of his porch. Myself and many other runners bee-lined for the water. It felt glorious getting sprayed with the cool water.
This race was much smaller than the other 2 races (Bronx Zoo 5K, Wall Street Heart Run) I had participated in. There were only about 900 runners. But that was actually a good thing. Since they closed off the roads for us, we were able to expand out early. I liked that very much. The other races, I always got into traffic jams with the other runners. I also liked that at the 3 mile mark, they had a gigantic American flag hanging off the extended ladder of a fire truck. That was a pretty awesome sight. Too bad I didn't take a picture of it.
Due to the heat, I was definitely feeling exhausted much earlier than I usually do when I run. It also didn't help that there were some hills at the very beginning. I finished each of the first miles in less than 10 or 11 min, but that last mile was KILLER. The last mile was all up hill. They weren't big hills but it was enough to tire me significantly. Since I was already feeling pretty tired, I started doing walk/run intervals after the second mile. But I had to take more and more walking breaks as I progressed. Every time I encountered a hill in the last mile, I walked. I knew I was doing the fourth mile really poorly. At the pace I was going, it would take me 15 min to finish that last mile.
In that fourth mile, I was totally ready for the race to be over. I was tired. I was hot. I was taking shorter and shorter run intervals to deal with that. I was about to go into another walking interval when I started to see runners who had already finished. I knew that meant I was almost at the end. So I pushed through. I kept running and didn't take any more walking breaks. When I saw the turn into the driveway to the beach that was the last leg of race, I kicked it up a notch. It was hard but I somehow managed to find it within me. And I saw my husband waiting there, ready to take a picture of me crossing the finish line. And since we were chip timed, they knew who we were as we crossed so as I was coming up to the finish line, they announced my name. That was HUGE rush and really helped me to sprint to the finish line.
Guess what? I finished this 4 mile race in 44:28.19 with a pace of 11:08 min/mile. I've only participated in 2 chip timed races but 11:08 is an improvement over my previous pace of 11:17. Given the heat, I did not dare to hope that I could possibly finish in less than 45 min. And yet I did. It might have been hard but I did it!
My friend Kathryn coming into the finish line. We ran the Bronx Zoo 5K together. She finished in 33 min. We were all so proud of Kathryn.
Kathryn's friend Beth at the finish line, who also ran the Bronx Zoo 5K with us
Me, coming into the finish line.
These guys must have known Lt. Murphy
Megan, the friend who got myself and Kathryn to run this race. This was her first race and we're really proud of her 52 min time. Her goal next year is to finish in 45 min.
Post-race. They had a lot of bananas left so we all took some home.
ETA 6/27/12: They e-mailed us some links to race photos that the race photographers took. There are 2 albums:
What's funny is that I only see Megan in one photo in the first album and I don't see any of my friends or their friends in the other album. However, there are tons of my husband, haha!
Thursday, June 21, 2012
We're supposed to post this as an update to our SparkPages but I really hate how tiny the text and space is on the side of SparkPages. I don't find it aesthetically pleasing. Until SP decides to change the layout, I'm not going to fiddle around with those parts too much.
I participated in the 5% spring challenge as a member of the Cats team. For those of you who may not know, the goal of the challenge is to lose 5% of your starting weight over the course of 8 weeks. The spring challenge was perfect for me because the 5% weight loss got me very close to my goal. In fact, I not only lost 5%, I actually met my goal weight. When I started the challenge, I was in the middle of a weight loss plateau. I credit participating in the challenge and picking up running with helping me to break through that plateau.
Q: Have you got your gym clothes, runners, water bottle, etc. ready to go?
A: Yep! I have pretty much everything already as this is my second challenge but there are a few more things I think I might pick up since fitness accessories are almost addictive as regular accessories. With this recent heat wave, I think a new moisture wicking tank top might be a good idea and some short running shorts. Iím also thinking of getting a CamelBak. Google it, youíll understand why itís called that
Q: What is your exercise plan?
A: Run ~3 miles 2-3 times per week with either walking or the elliptical as my cross-training activity on the in between days. Take 1-2 rest days per week.
Q: Do you know what diet you will follow? Found some recipes? Have you stocked up on the foods?
A: I'm not really following a "diet" anymore. Even before when I was in weight loss mode, I didn't do a "diet." I ate sensibly, which is what I will continue to do. I will continue to track my food and eat balanced so that I get enough fat, carbs, and protein (I struggle to eat enough fat). How much I eat each day will be dictated by how much physical activity I do that day.
I'm not really a fan of SparkRecipes or recipes in general. I like experimenting and letting my imagination run wild. With it being summer, fresh produce is easy to get so I imagine there will be a lot of creative salads and stir fries this summer. I also do plan on eating (even) more fruit in my daily diet than normal due to everything being in season. Can't exactly stock up on fresh fruit
Q: Do you know how to connect with your team mates?
A: Without a doubt!
Monday, June 18, 2012
Thanks guys for all the get well wishes! I'm still not 100% today but I'm slowly but surely improving. I still have a cough that comes and goes but it sounds like it's breaking up now. The unfortunate thing is that I'm still a snot factory. It's seriously disgusting how much mucus one person can produce. I went through 4 (!!!) tissue boxes this weekend.
I went back to work today and because of all the walking I had to do, I had a feeling that I would be OK if I ran tonight. I tried to keep it short and not push it too much. So I ran 2.37 miles in 26:14. When I was done, I was screaming in my head, "I'm back!", and doing the happy dance. Of course, my run was not perfect: I still had to blow my nose during each walking interval. But honestly, how is that different from when I normally run? Overall, I felt great!
The funny thing is, it didn't feel all that hard to get back into running. Before, when fitness wasn't such a regular part of my routine, if I went a few days without exercise, it was always so hard on my cardiovascular system to start up again. Missing workouts always made the next workout that much harder. And of course, that's one of the reasons why I never stuck with them. "Exercise is too hard. I'm going to give up." Well, duh, of course it was hard. This is one of those "practice makes perfect" kind of things. It's never going to get easier if you just quit.
During my cool down and stretching, I realized that I have less tightness in my IT band and calves than normal. I might have been pushing a little too hard last week because all my muscles felt tight. So it was also a blessing in disguise that I caught a cold and gave myself the rest my muscles needed too.
I've been itching these last 3 days to go for a run. I know that R&R was what my body needed to get better but I realized after today's run that I was BORED these last few days. I realized that I hate sitting on my butt and not doing anything. Oh, how times have changed.
Saturday, June 16, 2012
Who catches a cold in the summer time? Apparently, I do.
Friday morning, I woke up feeling like I had been run over by a truck. I had a sore throat and terrible nasal congestion. The nasal congestion was giving me sinus pain and a splitting headache and the splitting headache made me feel dizzy every time I moved. I took the day off from work to recuperate and to see the doctor. Luckily it's just a cold and not a sinus infection so I don't need antibiotics. But between the cold and the cold medicine, I was knocked out all day Friday.
Wanna know what that does to my activity level? I'm normally quite active due to the fact that I walk to work, I have a pretty active job, and I do some form of exercise (almost) every day. I normally average 15,000 steps per day. Since I bought my pedometer, the most steps I've ever tracked was 28,982. One day, I'd like to see if I can crack 30,000. Yesterday, I took a whopping total of 1,622 steps. Today, with no exercise I'm already at 8,126. What a huge difference.
And of course, I've been waiting for the weather to get nice all week so I could go running. But I was in no shape to do that yesterday. Being sick and stuck indoors when the weather is gorgeous is like getting a broken toy on Christmas or some other thing that's really lame. That's how much being sick during the summer SUCKS.
Yesterday I was feeling pretty guilty about not exercising, specifically for not running when the weather was perfect for doing so. I am feeling much better today. I'm still feeling kind of crummy but less crummy. I still easily tire but at least I'm not passed out. So today I thought I might test the waters with a walk outside (at least to enjoy the weather) but unfortunately just don't have the time. Obviously, I was well enough to run the errands I needed to do. But between the errands and the fact that I'm about to head out to cheer on a friend in a roller derby match, I just ran out of time today.
So yes, I am learning not to feel guilty when I don't exercise. Isn't that such a funny statement? Once upon a time, I sat on my butt all day, all week, and all year long. But now exercise is a habit of mine. It's just part of my routine. Not exercising feels like forgetting to shower. It feels gross. It feels wrong.
This morning when I started beating myself up over not exercising, that's when logic FINALLY kicked in. In all other aspects of my health, I live by the rule of "LISTEN TO YOUR BODY." I eat when I'm hungry even if I'm over my caloric budget because my body is telling me it needs more nutrition. I don't eat when I'm not hungry even if I still have some calories to burn. Why eat those extra calories just to eat them? I stop any exercise if I feel like I'm pushing myself too hard to be safe. I take rest days when my body tells me to. So listening to my body when it's sick is the same thing. I shouldn't push myself just because I'm going to miss a few workouts. I need time to recover.
And summer hasn't even officially started yet. There will still be beautiful weekends for me to go running or biking and to enjoy the sun. And I've still got a week before my next race. It's plenty of time for me to recover and get in a practice run before the race. Relax, Jen, relax. So what if you're sick during the summer and can't exercise? It's not the end of the world. Just go have fun at roller derby tonight.
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