Monday, June 27, 2011

Weather so thick you can cut it with a knife

I had decided as of yesterday that instead of a true long run this week, I would do something between my normal run and a long run. So, to this end, I tried a little experiment today. I ran for two hours with the intent of seeing how far I could go in those two hours. While, the distance wasn't as great as maybe it should have been, it wasn't too bad when all was said and done.

Today was a super humid day here in the Pacific NW and it warmed up fairly early today, so any workout not done in a hermetically sealed air conditioned environment was pretty miserable. I don't know why it is that on a humid day it feels like all the moisture is sucked out of your body the minute you step outside. On the surface, that seems counter-intuitive, but it felt that way to me today. I was so thirsty through the entire 2nd half of my run today. And then, to make matters worse sometimes I'm really bad about rationing out my water/Gatorade consumption so I end up drinking way too much and feeling sloshy and bloated. Yuck.

Anyway, I guess given the weather I really shouldn't complain about my results for the day. According to Jeff Galloway, runners should slow their pace down by 30 seconds/mile for every 5º over 60º F. If you think about it, that's slowing your speed down by quite a bit when the weather starts to heat up. I guess I should just be thankful that I don't live in TX!

The weather guys are predicting rain for tomorrow. Let's hope it comes to pass... it might actually help break the humidity around here!

Today's Run
9.8 Miles
4.9 mph

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Late Week Meltdown

Well, on Thursday, my body finally lodged the protest that was long overdue. I had been keeping up my normal training schedule all week, running a little over 7 miles on Tuesday and doing my full cross-training schedule on Monday and Wednesday. Come Thursday about 5 miles into my run my body said "NO MORE!!!" I made it to 5.25 miles, but that was it. Running any further than that was just not a possibility. My knees were complaining and my muscles were stiff and aching. Okay, okay, I can take a (none-too-subtle) hint. It was time to give my legs the bit of rest they deserved after running the half on Sunday.

I did manage to do a full cross-train yesterday, but have taken today completely off from working out altogether. Now the real trick will be getting back on track tomorrow! Wish me luck.

Thursday's Run
5.25 Miles
5.1 mph

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Ongoing Journey

I was hanging out chatting with my family at my brother & SIL's house on Sunday (Father's Day) after finishing up the Vancouver USA Half. My family were all being their totally supportive selves with regard to my running and my weight loss efforts when one of them asked me "So what changed?" (to motivate me) to which my SIL pipes up and says "What hasn't changed???" And if I think about it, yes, so much has changed over the last couple of years that the me of today barely resembles the me of a few years back. And this is both physically AND mentally.
I've lost just a little over 75 lbs to date. I still have a ways to go, but wanted to share my progress along the way.

I've been thinking about this a lot for the last couple of days trying to figure out exactly what switch got flipped on in my head this time that had never been flipped before... at least not completely like it has now. In the past I always wondered what exactly it took for those people who get so motivated to do whatever it is they set out to do... Do they have a "eureka!" moment or do they just forge ahead or what?

Well, I can't answer this question for anyone but myself. I had always hoped that there would be an Eureka moment, thinking that would make the lifestyle change easier. Alas, that never really happened for me. It just seems like there were a series of events that all kind of converged to make me what to change things about my life.
  1. I lost my job... as much as I still rebel at the idea, the harsh reality of the matter is, it IS harder to get a job when you're overweight. There's a preconception that somehow your weight will hinder you from getting the job done. 
  2. My blood pressure was off the charts. My primary care provider (who is also a friend of mine) was freaking out when she saw the numbers. Stroking out was not out of the realm of possibilities.
  3. My blood glucose had started to creep up. My mother is a Type II diabetic, as was my grandmother. This doesn't bode well for me. I need to curb that trend if at all possible. While I may still become diabetic someday, I'm hoping to put it off as long as possible.
  4. I had started doing a run/walk couch to 5K program about the same time that I found out my SIL & brother had started running. Even though they were still living in Cincinnati at the time, it inspired me to push forward. Now that they've moved back to the Pacific NW, it's great to be able to run with my SIL, instead of just being a sideline observer.
  5. Finally, I'm now in my 40's... and it was depressing me to think about being perceived as an inactive, frumpy, middle-aged housewife who doesn't do anything interesting. Call it a case of mid-life crisis, but I did NOT want that to be my lot in life. I had to get out of that rut.
I can't say that any one of these was the single deciding factor, but I know that they all played a part in influencing how the changes in my life came about.  Now that I'm on my way towards my goal weight and my goal of being able to (eventually) run a full marathon, I look forward to being able to help others on their journeys to physical and mental well being. I feel like I've gained so much from traveling this path that I want to be able to share it with others and hope that I can, in some small way, inspire them to achieve their own goals, no matter what they might be.

Yesterday's Run
7.14 Miles
4.8 mph

Monday, June 20, 2011

Vancouver USA Half Marathon

I ran the Vancouver USA Half Marathon on Sunday... let me say I have almost entirely all positive reviews for this event. The organization of this was awesome. I was really impressed with it, especially considering it was their inaugural event. Someone obviously had some event planning experience somewhere...

Thanks to Heather & her Garmin for this route map!
The course was mapped out along the Columbia River. The marathoners got to see a bit more of the river than us half marathoners, but still it was a pretty nice route. We went through Fort Vancouver, around Pearson Airfield and through several parks and along a few trails right next to the waterfront. They had a good number of runners (my SIL says she thinks she heard in the 3,000's). Big enough to have a good vibe to the race, but not so huge as to be constantly bumping into people and having to dart in and around traffic. They had their porta-potties and hydration/first-aid stations positioned about every two miles, so there was never really any need to panic about making it to the next stop for whatever need you had. They also had LOTS of volunteers and cheerleaders throughout the entire race, as well as some bands at various points along the race. It made for a very fun & festive atmosphere. Then, at the end they had lots of munchies and drinks for all the finishers... Heather & I weren't really hungry, but we both walked away from the race with liquid-filled sloshing tummies. LOL!

Personally, I was really excited. After last month's Hippie Chick, I needed some personal redemption. Yesterday, I felt really good through about the first 9 miles of this run... okay, the huge hill at mile 6 kind of sucked, but then huge hills always suck for me and the fact that it was a long (nearly a mile) huge hill didn't exactly help matters. Still, I felt mostly okay through miles 9 and 10 and it was only about mile 11 that I started feeling like total crud. I dropped my fuel belt water bottle twice along miles 11 and 12 and almost died to have to bend over and pick it back up. My pace was a little slower than I would have liked, but not bad considering I took two bathroom breaks along the course. Unfortunately, my official time isn't showing up on the results board (did I block my timing chip w/ my fuel belt??? I don't know what happened), but my unofficial time is 2:48+ which is about 15 minutes less than what I did at Hippie Chick. For me, this is huge. I feel vindicated and I now have a better idea of where I'm really at and what to shoot for come the Girlfriends' Half in October.

To make the day even better, Heather finally broke her personal goal of running a Half in less than 2:30. Let me tell you, she actually smashed that goal. Her final time was 2:22:38. Yea Heather! Congratulations!!!

My only two complaints for the entire day were (relatively) minor. First, my brother had originally signed up to run this race. Unfortunately, due to an injury he wasn't able to run yesterday, but they wouldn't let him transfer his registration fee to next year's run or to anyone else for this year, so basically, it was a lost fee for him. I know that some of the larger events are starting to allow transfer of your registration to the following year if you are unable to attend the current event. I think that VUM should seriously consider this in the future. My second complaint is pretty nit-picky... it is that for the registration fee you only were given a t-shirt, not a tech shirt and Heather said they would not allow her to change out sizes once she picked everyone's stuff up at the Expo. The t-shirts are way oversized and since they couldn't be changed out, probably won't get much use... and certainly not the kind of use they would have gotten had they been tech shirts...  There were tech shirts available for this event, but they were available for purchase only. Not a huge deal, but still, it would have been nice.
My SIL (center) along with my niece and brother who came along to support our race efforts. Thanks guys!

Anyway, if any of you are looking for an event to do next June, I would definitely recommend this run. I look forward to doing it again next year and I think Heather is planning on shooting for the full marathon! You go girl!

Yesterday's Run
13.1 Miles
4.7 mph

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Big sigh of relief!

Yea! This is shaping up to be a much better week than last week. Technically, this is supposed to be a taper week for me since I am running a half on Sunday, but basically what I've decided is that I mostly just won't do a long run this week... okay, and maybe I'll reduce the amount of time on my workouts toward the end of the week. We'll see.

Since I'm really not running the half with any kind of new stellar time in mind (since I wasn't even planning on running this one until just a few weeks ago!), I'd much rather keep my focus on having good, strong daily workouts since health and weight loss are my primary goals for my running anyway. Being able to complete a half marathon is just kind of an added bonus that keeps my workout life interesting!

I hadn't originally planned on running today, but I hopped on the treadmill (fully intending to do a hill climbing session) and felt like running for a bit... it felt pretty good so I ended up running for a full 7 miles. It's so nice to feel good after a workout, unlike last week where almost everything was just an exercise in physical and mental torment.

BTW, I have run over 515 miles so far this year... Well on track for a 1,000+ mile year. Yea me!

Today's Run
7.0 miles
5.1 mph

Yesterday's Run
7.0 miles
5.2 mph

Friday, June 10, 2011

The rumor mill is working overtime at our house!

Apparently, word has gotten back to my coach that my workouts this week have basically sucked. For the first time in several weeks, Coach Scruggs made an appearance today.

Unfortunately, she didn't show up until after I had finished yet another abysmal run. What is with me this week? I really hope it's not a mental barrier/self-fulfilling prophecy that I think my workout is going to suck and so it does... Not a good thing to think about going into next week's run. Well, tomorrow is my normal rest day for the week, so hopefully it will give me a chance to recover a bit... so I can make Coach Scruggs proud next week. LOL!

Today's Run
5.3 Miles
5.0 mph

Thursday, June 9, 2011

My brain & body... can't they just get along?

I wish I could say that I was having a good week of running. In fact, it's pretty much been anything but. Every morning I wake up and think I'm going to hit the pavement and do a great job with my pacing and get in a great run. My brain really wants it... unfortunately, the news isn't reaching my body. Yesterday's run I think I set out too fast. I really wanted to fartlek a bit and had it in my mind to do just that. A little bit of quick followed by some slow & steady running. Again mind NOT synced with body. Ugh. After about 3 miles I was feeling miserable. I had originally planned on running around 7 miles, but I toughed out another 3 and was done. 

Not sure exactly what's going on. I suspect hormones, coupled with maybe a lack of hydration... part driver error, part just good ol' Mother Nature (I hate that commercial btw) rearing her ugly head. Fotunately, if this is a down week for me, that means next week will be an up week, which is good, because the next half marathon is a week from Sunday. Honestly, this week has made me dread it a bit, but I'm trying to maintain my optimism. 

I've still got a full run to get through tomorrow to get my miles in for the week. Wish me luck!

Yesterday's Run
6.0 Miles
5.0 mph

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Ugly Feet? We got 'em!

  • Calluses? Check.
  • Blisters? Check. Check.
  • Black or missing toenails? Check. Check. Check. (okay, not me per se, but I do know many runners who are missing toenails)
  • Foot fungus? Let’s try not to think about this one too much...
I was thinking about runner’s feet the other day in church. I had taken the daring step of actually wearing flip flops to church, baring my unsightly feet to all. Okay, granted, I probably should have been focused on something other than my feet, but every time I bent my head for a prayer, there they were like my own personal beacon of shame/badge of honor (it’s up to you to decide). And all I could think was ‘man, those are some ugly feet!’ 

Even on a good day my feet would not win any beauty contests, but since starting to run serious distances they have taken ugliness to the next level. The bottoms of my feet are completely callused over from the backs of my heels, all the way to the tips of my toes (yes, everyone, what started out as blisters on the tips of my toes have, over time, aged into well worn, toughened calluses. My toenails on a couple of my toes curl if I don’t keep them meticulously trimmed and although I don’t yet have any missing toenails, I do have one that is really tender to the touch after long runs and I wouldn’t be surprised if I lost it at some point in the future… to anyone but a runner this would be an “EWWW, GROSS!!!” moment. 

These are just a few of the unsightly attributes that say to all around you that yes, you are a runner. In fact, horribly ugly feet are so commonplace among runners that Mark Remy in his book The Runner’s Field Manual devotes an entire section on not subjecting strangers to your offensive feet which will no doubt scare small children and turn even the strongest of stomachs. He even has guidelines on offering aid to those who have been traumatized by seeing your feet for the first time.

Then, in the ultimate insult to injured dignity, we runners are not allowed to go get pedicures to get rid of all that disfigurement adorning our feet. No, those calluses are there to protect us and to remove them would be akin to saying all those miles spent building up those protective barriers don’t matter. It would be like admitting that you love blisters and are willing to throw away all that work just for the sake of vanity. The best we can hope for is a little nail trimming, a little cuticle maintenance and a coat of polish to hopefully hide those nails that haven’t come off but are threatening to (my sis-in-law even has a friend who painted the callused nailbed where the nail used to be so as to not draw unnecessary attention to the offending digit). 

Alas, most people won’t understand the seemingly unfounded pride we have in the runners’ version of battle scars and it’s not like I go around explaining myself, telling people ‘Don’t mind my feet, I’m a runner.’ Still, as unsightly as they are, I think my (our) feet have earned the right to go out in the sunshine and fresh air completely unhindered by stability shoes and toe socks. Still, I might think about carrying smelling salts with me for small children or the uninitiated who are subjected to my lack of shame over my feet.

Yesterday's Run
12.04 Miles (long run day!)
4.8 mph

Friday, June 3, 2011

The National Weight Control Registry

As many of you probably already know, my venture into long distance running has been a part of my lifestyle makeover that I have been engaged in for almost three years now. To date I have lost nearly 75 pounds, but alas, I still have a ways to go.

However to me, even more worrisome than losing the weight is actually maintaining the weight loss - for both me and my fellow chubby runners. Most of us have heard the truly frightening statistics (which I am happy to hear might be improving somewhat) that almost 95% of people who have lost weight have regained all of it back within 5 years. In other words a 5% success rate for weight maintenance.

Well, in my research with (as Heather likes to call it) Dr. Google, I stumbled across a site that some of you might be interested in. It is called the National Weight Control Registry. It is run by two PhD's who are interested in learning about the characteristics of those who are actually successful in maintaining some kind of weight loss... and you can join the study! You can register with the NWCR if you have lost at least 30 pounds and have kept it off for more than a year. Go to their website and check it out!

A few interesting notes on their site about the people who have lost weight:
  • 98% of Registry participants report that they modified their food intake in some way to lose weight.
  • 94% increased their physical activity, with the most frequently reported form of activity being walking.
  • There is variety in how NWCR members keep the weight off. Most report continuing to maintain a low calorie, low fat diet and doing high levels of activity.
    • 78% eat breakfast every day.
    • 75% weigh themselves at least once a week.
    • 62% watch less than 10 hours of TV per week.
    • 90% exercise, on average, about 1 hour per day.

Yesterday's Run
7.0 Miles
5.0 mph

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

This one's for you o' dear husband!

All the rain we're having has been relegating me to the treadmill for most of the week... According to the revised forecast, tomorrow isn't looking any more promising.

My DH calls my treadmill workouts "hamsterizing." So, imagine my joy when I found this pic today!

And just for fun, a little role reversal...

Yesterday's run
11.0 Miles
4.9 mph