Wednesday, January 19, 2011
I don't know how many times I start out to write a blog and never finish. It's not that I don't have thoughts I want to get out of my head and sort through in writing, but I am long-winded and a perfectionist = verrry difficult to actually FINISH a blog that I start because each one becomes an essay! So I'm no longer trying to make each one a masterpiece but just get out what's rumbling around in my head.
In the last half of 2010 I gained back 10-15 lbs that I had lost the previous year and am currently 12 lbs above my previous goal of 135 lbs. I have really struggled with getting this weight back off the past few months, making very little progress. I have made various excuses for this - I have a lot of muscle and muscle weighs more than fat...my body fat % is in the healthy range...I should be able to indulge now and then. There is truth in all of this, which is why it has been such a struggle to buckle down. But ultimately I want to uncover muscle and right now it is pretty much in hiding. I want my hard work to show in the form of muscle definition and faster race times, which can only be accomplished by dropping the unnecessary fat. So it is time to stop thinking of myself as being "at goal" and raise the bar.
I have come to realize that having a positive attitude about life in general is the foundation for reaching my goals, though this is not always my default attitude - I still need a reminder some days. I have been extremely blessed and I know if I start each day reviewing some of my blessings it will get me in the right frame of mind to accomplish my goals for the day and keep everything in perspective.
So, some of my goals going forward, not necessarily in order of importance:
- Write down three things I am thankful for each day.
- Eat within my calorie/macro ranges 6 days out of the week.
- One cheat meal/week.
- Follow olympic-distance triathlon training plan (race on May 15!)
- Strength train 3X/week.
- Lose 17 lbs by my birthday, April 7.
- Come up with a list of rewards for each lb lost (the fun part!)
Off to get to work on that last one...
Sunday, December 05, 2010
I'm currently two weeks into the BFFM Holiday Challenge. It goes for 7 weeks, from Nov. 18 to Jan. 8, but I plan to continue at least through the end of Jan. I did take before pics for that challenge but in different poses so I'm only posting my pics from today here. I am at 21.4% body fat using the Accumeasure or 25.6% using Omron and want to get down to about 17-18% body fat (Accumeasure). The number on the scale and actual number of lbs lost are not as important to me, though I'll track this, too.
I'm doing carb cycling for this challenge, three low carb days followed by one high carb/calorie day. On low carb days I eat around 1500-1600 calories with around 125g carbs, on high carb days I eat around 2100-2300 calories and about 240g carbs. I aim for about 175g protein every day, and fat is usually around 30-40g. This is modeled after Tom Venuto's BFFM plan. I shoot for all high quality calories on low carb days and one "cheat" meal or treat on high carb days. I haven't ever fully committed to carb cycling in the past, but this time am giving it 100% effort and it is not as difficult as I had imagined, though I definitely have to plan ahead - if I just wing it I tend to end up too high with carbs on low carb days and low on protein.
I'm doing four days of weight lifting each week - two days upper body, two days lower body/abs - with two 20-30 min HIIT cardio sessions and two 45 min steady state cardio sessions each week. This is less cardio than I am used to coming off of a marathon training plan, but I'm liking it! In the past two weeks I've dropped a little over 2 lbs of fat, thanks to sticking to my nutrition plan and hitting the weights hard. Cardio is SO overrated!
Anyhow, here are today's pics (please excuse the hair ):
Saturday, November 13, 2010
So, last Sunday I became a marathon runner when I completed the New York City marathon! A very cool first marathon, in my opinion - when I entered the lottery at the beginning of last year I figured, hey, if I never ran another marathon at least I could say I went big - and then was lucky enough to have my name drawn (on my birthday, no less!)
The marathon went very well overall. I finished in 5:00:45, which I am happy with. Going into it, I thought I might be able to finish in 4:30...that would have been a bit faster pace than what I had averaged during training, but I thought it was a possibility I could pull it off with the race day adrenaline and my muscles being rested up from the taper. The first 10-11 miles felt GREAT, very easy and pain-free, and I hit 13.1 miles in 2:16...so at that point I was on track for a 4:30ish finish. BUT, around mile 12 a side stitch reared its ugly head out of nowhere. I struggled with it for about a half mile before it went away, but after that I felt like the wind had gone out of my sails and my pace slowed.
From the halfway point through mile 20 I went into "keep putting one foot in front of the other" mode. My pace slowed to around 12:00-12:20MM, but I was able to block out the gradually increasing soreness in my lower body by tuning into my music. The Queensboro Bridge was a killer at mile 15, but I did not stop and walk, I kept running! I had just waved hello to my husband, son and parents right before it and that gave me a boost to keep going. I had worn my fuel belt but my water bottles were empty by the halfway point (as I expected them to be), so after that I was grabbing water or Gatorade at the stations at each mile, walking while I drank up, then quickly getting back to running.
I expected that once I hit mile 20 I would feel a great rush of relief knowing that only 6.2 miles lay in front of me...uh, no...all I could think was...I can't believe I have to keep doing this for at least another hour!!! I did know for certain at mile 20 that I WOULD finish, but let's just say I did not see another marathon in my future at that point. But I kept going, anxious for each water station as an excuse to walk for a few seconds.
Round about mile 22 my iPod up and died...ugh! I had fully charged it and would have sworn the battery had longer than a 4 hour life, but apparently not. So I pulled the ear buds out and thought, hey, at least the spectators are great, I guess I'll get to FULLY experience the marathon with no distractions now! And I told myself, when I get to mile 23 THEN I will feel good knowing there is only a 5K left. Uh, not so much...let me tell you, I was really hurting by then...I could tell I was going to lose one of my toe nails, and every time I began running again after walking through a water station my pelvis just ached with the first few jarring steps.
Somewhere around this point we entered Central Park and the spectators were just TREMENDOUS there, but it was hard to appreciate at that point when all I wanted was to be done. There was a nasty little hill in Central Park, and at that point I decided to alternate between running and walking, water station or no. Whatever it took to get me to the finish! My family had planned to be watching for me again at mile 24, so I made sure I ran through that mile marker as I didn't want my son to see me walking (I later found out that I was running when they saw me, yay!)
At mile 26 I looked at my Garmin and saw that my time was 4:58...I knew if I booked that last 0.2 I could finish in 5:00, so I took off...and I made it! Leading up to the race, anytime I would imagine crossing the finish line I would get choked up, but when I actually crossed the finish I was so tired that I was just relieved to be done!
I am so proud of myself for following through for the 16+ weeks of training: showing up every weekend for those long runs, even when I didn't really feel like it...persevering after a bad run...turning down activities that might have compromised my ability to perform well during my runs...modifying my training plan the last three weeks when I developed tendonitis in my knee. I honestly felt like the marathon itself was just the icing on the cake - I already felt like a success just for completing the training. And despite my thoughts toward the end of the marathon, by the next day I was already thinking about how I could do the next one better! :)
Monday, October 18, 2010
I ran the Women's 5K Classic in Allentown, PA, this past Sat. The race benefits breast cancer research. Though I didn't set a PR, I was very happy with how the race went. I finished in 27:40, a mere 15 seconds slower than my PR from March (27:25) and this was a much hillier course, so I'll call it a tie! I felt like I paced myself well, didn't go out so fast that I was dead a mile in, and was able to push it at the end. I had that pukey feeling after I crossed the finish line, which I take as a sign that I did my best!
The cool thing was that when I checked the race results I finished 27th out of 232 in my age division (35-39) and 177th out of 1416 total women. That puts me in the top 12% for my age and the top 13% overall. Totally psyched about that - I am moving up in the ranks! It will be a benchmark for me when I start to finish in the top 10%. I don't think I am going to hit my 5K goal for the year, which was to finish a 5K in under 25 minutes, but I am okay with that. With the marathon training my focus has been primarily distance/endurance, so it is unrealistic to expect great gains in speed in shorter races. I still want to hit that goal, but will move it to next year and take some time to follow a training plan with emphasis on increasing speed.
On the marathon training front, it has not been going as smoothly as I had hoped. I began having pain on the outside of my right knee during my 20 mile run a couple weekends ago, and it came back the following weekend during my 15 mile run. Though I was able to complete both runs, the knee really hurt afterwards and the next day. Recovery was about 48 hours the first time, but the second time it took 4 days before it didn't hurt just to walk. Consequently, I missed a couple of my mid-week runs last week - didn't seem advisable to run on a bum knee!
So yesterday I went out for what was to be my second 20 mile run, and could feel the knee acting up again. Didn't really hurt to run, but when I stopped after almost 7 miles to refill my water bottle the knee locked up a bit and the pain set in. I decided to call it a day rather than push for the full 20 miles and potentially make things worse. Came home and took an ice bath and some ibuprofen, and things feel good today, so I think it was the right decision. I'm going to move my training schedule around a bit to still try to get that second 20 mile run in - my plan is to do it this Wed., do a 5-6 mile run next weekend, then the following weekend do 12 miles as was originally in my training schedule. I don't want my last 20-miler to be 5 weeks out from the marathon, and I think getting one in 2.5 weeks before the marathon still allows adequate time for the taper.
Hoping the knee will hold up, I'm focusing more on cross-training and leg strength training these next 3 weeks in an effort to help correct any muscle imbalances, which I think is what is to blame for my knee problems right now. I hadn't been doing much cross-training or leg work for the past month or so as the runs were really taking it out of me and I was trying to save the leg muscles and my energy for them. But I think that may have been a mistake - live and learn!
Monday, September 27, 2010
Marathon training had been going well. I was feeling fast after my speed workouts on Tues., keeping a good clip for my tempo runs on Thurs. and had been conquering my long runs on the weekends, solidly completing each long run as the distance increased each week, even if my pace was gradually slowing a bit. I was feeling on track and very much looking forward to rocking the NYC marathon!
Until this weekend. Saturday was an 18-miler and it did NOT feel good. The temps that morning weren't bad, in the 70s, but it was HUMID and I sure did feel that. I was pretty happy with my pace for the first 12 miles, but ended up taking walk breaks to get through the final 6 miles. That is the first time I have EVER taken walk breaks during my long run, it was something that I always prided myself on not doing - I would tell myself it was okay to slow the jog down as much as needed just so long as I kept a jog going. But I had to stop and walk a number of times to complete this one. I will give myself props that I never walked for longer than a minute and after the crisis had passed (out of breath, stitch in side, etc.) I did always begin running again - I don't think altogether I walked for more than 1/4 mile. It was still disappointing, though.
In truth, I have been feeling more and more stressed about the marathon training. My legs have not felt fresh going into the long run for several weeks now, even when I take the day before off completely. It seems that they become sore sooner in the run than they used to, and as I mentioned earlier, my pace has been slowing - which is the opposite of what I expected to happen as I got further along in the training program. An unpleasant side effect of the stress - and something that is just adding to the stress - is that I have been having days in which my eating choices are not what they should be. And it turns out, eating unhealthy foods still sets off a vicious cycle for me - I am not satisfied with one doughnut, it makes me crave more junk! Funny how marathon training has not altered this.
My weight is up 6 lbs since I began the marathon training plan in July. I can feel it in my clothes - while I can still button my smallest pants, there is muffin-top going on. *sigh* I am struggling with how to manage my calories with marathon training. My strategy has been to keep my calories around 1600 during the week, during which I time I generally do great with making healthy choices. The night before a long run I will have a somewhat larger, carbier dinner than usual, and the day of the long run I let myself have some things I wouldn't normally eat, like a pancake/sausage/egg/cheese breakfast sandwich from Wawa, my post-run treat the past two weeks - yum!, and maybe pizza for dinner. The problem is, when I do my long run on Sat. I tend to have trouble reining my eating back in on Sun.
I would really like to drop some of this weight I have picked back up, but I'm not sure if it is wise to try to lose weight while training for the marathon as I definitely need to have enough energy for the runs! But I am stressed about not being able to wear some of the clothes I would like to, and I hate that I have been losing control sometimes with my food. I would like to be able to cash in on some of this calorie-burning surplus I've got going on by indulging a bit, but I think as a former junk-food addict maybe that is not going to be possible.
But back to the training itself. I decided to scope out some other marathon training plans to see if I could come up with a plan to finish out these last 6 weeks before the marathon without dreading the long run each weekend. And I think I may have found the answer in the form of walk breaks, ironically enough, since they were something I totally eschewed before! I knew that Jeff Galloway recommended walk breaks and read a little about the objective behind taking them - give running muscles a break early and often so that they can keep going strong through the end of the marathon. So next weekend I am going to try a pattern of 4 minutes running followed by 1 minute for the duration of the run. JG's site estimates this adds 15-20 seconds to your overall pace, which seems like small price to pay to feel better at the end of the long run.
So I am kind of excited now to give this a try next weekend! Which was the point of looking for an alternative plan - to feel excited about running again. Mission accomplished! Now if I can only hang onto that excitement for another 6 weeks!
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