Archive | May 2013

Summer Running

Sunday’s race taught me a few things.

First, it showed me that it is possible for me to run faster.  Watching my friend clock in nearly three minutes ahead of me surprised me.  I knew she’d probably pass me, but it was a lot of time.   I’ve been kind of subscribing to the belief that I’ll always be a slow runner, and that distance will help me improve my short run speeds.  And it has.  But knowing my friend has only been training for three months and blew my PR out of the water, by a lot showed me that if I trained differently, more towards that goal, I could improve speed.

Second, it kindled my desire to run faster.  I’ve been focusing on distance for over a year, and not doing anything that works on speed.  I’ve read about speed training, hill work, fartleks, all of these things, but I’ve eschewed them to build up distance.  But with summer coming, those long runs of 90 minutes or more are going to be a tough sell.  The heat will kick in, and I’ll need to pull my runs off before 7am….neither of which is conducive to training with long runs.

So I thought about it, and realized that it’s time to really work on this.  Time to really train for speed.  So I’m going to embark on another 5k training plan, but this time, I’m going to use those intervals that I originally used just to not be walking to work on speed.  Yesterday, I pulled up my RunKeeper’s 5K training plan and started the first run:  essentially the equivalent of a Week 1 Day 1 in Couch 2 5K.  I’m using the RunKeeper for several reasons.  One, I like that all of my running activities are tracked and in the same place.  Secondly, it will track my distance with GPS, which my original Couch 2 5K app did not do.  The RunKeeper training is very different….longer runs combined with interval training.  I think this will work better with my fitness level.  I don’t want to give up just straight running.   The combination of the interval runs with regular runs sounds like a perfect fit.

And then I saw this other thing going around the fitness blogs that sparked my interest:

runners-world-rwrunstreak-pardon-my-streaking

The Summer Challenge from Runner’s World is to run a mile every single day from Memorial Day to July 4.  Just a mile.  This is doable.  Combining this with my training and the bootcamp classes I think will really help keep me accountable and honest.  Even on “rest days” I should be able to log in a mile, even if it’s a slow one.  And on training days obviously I’ll run more.  Last year I found summer to be a huge challenge, and committing to something like this will really help me make staying on top of my training a priority.

I’m excited about both of these things I’m doing.  I feel like I’m working again towards a goal.  I would like to, sometime around July 4, find a 5K to run to gain a real sense of how much improvement I’ve seen.  I want to realistic, but I think if I really push and work towards this I can see some improvement.  Later in the fall, I’d like to start working towards half marathon training.  By then the weather will be cooler and I’ll have more time to train.  But for now, I feel the need for speed.

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Wednesday Weigh In: Back on Track

Last week’s weigh in took a day for me to post.  This one, I came right to my computer to get to writing it.  You know what that means?

It’s a loss this week, thank heavens.  But actually not thank heavens.  It’s not divine intervention.  It’s smarter choices, that’s just all there is to it.  Weight loss doesn’t just magically happen, or not happen.  It’s the direct result of the choices we all make.  It’s possible, it’s doable, and when it isn’t happening for me, there is only one reason why:  my choices.  As my boot camp instructor said last week (this really stuck with me), “No amount of exercise can make up for a poor diet.”

I have been so focused on my exercise lately that I have lost sight of the food choices.  In fact, I was making that classic mistake of eating more because I felt like I had “room”.

This week, I really worked on those choices.  Not counting calories as much or tracking but the choices.  I made myself greek yogurt with fruit and granola rather than reach for pretzels.  I limited my nuts to one snack per day (I’d been eating way too many of them).  I tried to keep most of my carbs whole grain.  And while I did drink (because it’s what I do), I didn’t drink as much and stuck to lower calorie options.

I am working on my exercise via the boot camp and the running challenge I just gave myself (more on that in an upcoming post) but it’s really the food choices that has stalled my weight loss.  This is where I have really worked this week and it showed on the scale.

Special thanks to my friend who gave me the kick in the pants I needed after reading my last weigh in post….it also is part of why I was able to get my head back in the game….thank you!  It is very true that the level of support you have around you helps.  Having that ability to talk about this stuff with someone who is going through it too has also been helpful.

So, a good week.  I feel like I am in a much better place.

Current Week:  -2.2
Total Weight Left To Lose:  16.8 lbs
Age:  42
BMI:  28.7

Memorial Day 5K Recap

So I’ve been running with my girlfriend for a few months now.  She had embarked on the Boot Camp classes I’ve mentioned previously, and she actually did Couch 2 5K a few years ago (part of what inspired me to try it).  She had wanted to try the running thing again now that she was committing to being healthier and asked if I would do some of her training runs with her.

It was kind of amazing to watch her transform.  We went from running such slow miles that I counted them as walks to, at the end of her training, her literally passing me up and running faster than me.   The boot camp classes, combined with her 25 pound weight loss, had improved her fitness that much.  It’s inspiring to see!   So inspiring that I’ve now signed up for those classes she takes; they clearly do a serious job of improving your cardio.

Since we’d trained together, we wanted to run a 5K together.  We looked around for a 5K that would take place close to the end of her training and found a great one in Danbury.  This race takes place on their parade route on Memorial Day, and benefits Building Homes for Heroes, an organization that helps build homes for seriously injured veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.  I love races with a theme and a good cause, and this had both.  Plus, you get to run along the parade route, which already has people getting in place to watch that; lots of spectators!

We got up to the race site nice and early, parked close by, and got the lay of the land.  It was clearly a smaller race, maybe 250-300 people, but the weather was great so they were rocking the race day registrations.  We milled about, stretched, picked up some swag from the Building Homes for Heroes folks and got ourselves mentally ready.

There’s just something awesome about a race.  I am sure people wonder why I keep doing them, since I’m clearly not very fast or ever going to win a prize.  But I was trying to explain it to my friend yesterday; the energy, the community, the everyone doing the same thing all at once, the challenge….I love it.  I don’t have a competition mindset about it because I’m so slow, but I do try to compete with myself and improve my times.  I always look around and am amazed that there are all types of people at a race.  I used to think that they are just for skinny athletes.  But there are always a great mix of people.  I am inspired each time I step up to a start line, and that’s why I keep doing it.

Finally, we were off and running.  As I expected, my friend pulled in front of me almost immediately.  No matter.  I loved the course, the crowds and the weather.  It was a beautiful day for a run.  I felt strong the whole time, felt confident the whole time.  The first mile was flat and easy, but I could tell that I’d paced a little too fast so I slowed it down a bit during the second.  I kept waiting to find the water stop to take a bit of a break, but weirdly, there wasn’t one on this course.  I’ve never seen that before.  I guess on a 5K you don’t really have to have them.  They were lucky the weather was 50 or so because had it been 80 and humid we would have all been dropping like flies without a water stop.

Anyway, it was an out and back, although the back was definitely shorter than the out.  I started passing a few people which always feels good (including the woman in the “Don’t Finish Last” shirt….she finished behind me!).  I couldn’t see my friend anymore, so I knew she had to be significantly ahead of me.  My RunKeeper was telling me that I would clear the race in under 36 if I kept up my pace, so I pushed for towards the end.  Sure enough, as I rounded the corner for the final bit, I heard the RunKeeper tick off the 35 minute mark.  I ran faster than I ever have towards the timing device (8:21 min/mile, unheard of for me) and I finished in 35:56.  Not a PR, but still one of my better times.

My friend was waiting at the finish for me.  She’d finished in 33:07!  I am still in awe that she was able to run so fast.  It gives me inspiration that if I work a little harder, I could become faster, too.   So proud of her.

Here’s a photo us afterwards, taken by a Navy Seal guy who hadn’t even broken a sweat.  Clearly, we had:

memdayafter
Next up:  my local 5K.  I’m not running it, I’m in charge of it!  I have a lot that I want to write about it, this week, before it happens, but there is so much to do.  Hopefully I will find a minute!  🙂

Wednesday Weigh In: Yeah, I Know, It’s Thursday

So I didn’t post my weigh in yesterday.  You know why.  It’s because I’m not happy about it.

It’s not a huge gain, but it’s a gain.  Which makes this the third week in a row of gains.  It puts me up .6 for the week, and 1.6 over three weeks.  Doesn’t sound like a lot, but if I kept that up I’d gain something like 20 lbs over the course of a year.  Yeah, that would suck.

I’m not sure where the disconnect is, but the reason why I didn’t write about it is frankly I’m sick of writing the same shit on a different day.  Yay, I’m down this week.  Crap, I’m up this week.  Over and over and over.  I weigh the same today that I did like…uh….last November.  I’m tired of writing it, so I’m damn sure that my two or three faithful readers are tired of reading the same damn thing.  Static, static, static.  Boring!

When I was at boot camp classes on Monday (which I am liking so far but omgosh they are so hard) the trainer said something that really made sense:  “No amount of exercise can make up for a bad diet.”

Clearly.

I am honestly probably in the best physical shape of my life.  I can lift weights and run and do all sorts of things I’ve never been able to do  before.  I have more stamina than I have ever had.  But I am still twenty pounds over where I’d consider a healthy weight for me to be.  And while I feel great about my exercise, I feel like total crap about my appearance and my weight.

And what kills me is when I was at a healthy weight, I was never working as hard as I am now physically.  I couldn’t run.  I couldn’t lift what I can lift now or do burpees or pushups without dropping to my knees.  What gives?

What gives is my food choices.  100 %.  Still.  Now.  Always.  I am SO SICK OF TYPING THIS IN WEEK AFTER WEEK.

If I was reading this in someone else’s blog, I would be reading it thinking, “Well, do something about it.  Stop bitching.  You know what to do, so just do it.”

Why can’t I get my head in the game?

Current Week:  +.6
Total Weight Left To Lose:  19 lbs
Age:  42
BMI:  29.1

Wednesday Weigh In

Up by .2.

I’m a little surprised by this, but I think I know why it’s happening.

I have been much better about food this week.  I’ve been careful about my snacks, choosing better, less carby options and I’ve gone back to tracking again.  I had a nice celebratory Mother’s Day, but I also ran a 10K that day.  Probably didn’t cancel out my celebrating but certainly mitigated the damage.

The only explanation I can figure on for the gain is water weight from the new workout program I started on Monday.  I am sore in places I’ve not been sore before, and I’m guessing all of those muscles are holding onto some water while they repair themselves from the strenuous workout they got that day.  I’ve heard this from boot campers, that the first few weeks are surprisingly “heavy”….even though you are doing a lot, the results don’t show up on the scale right away.

The trick is to stick with it.

My head feels in a much better place than it has since March.  More in control, more aware, more able to say no to the things that aren’t going to push me towards my goals.

So while I find this trend over the last little while alarming (my 90 day progress overall is up, not down), I’m not going to let it mess with the good things that I’ve put in place in the last seven days.

Current Week:  +0.2 lbs.
Total Weight Left To Lose:  18.4 lbs
Age:  42
BMI:  29.0

Boot Camp

So, my girlfriend joined this boot camp challenge last February.  Actually she’s the third person I know who’s done this challenge and been super successful with it.  The classes are challenging, very challenging.  I’ve been curious about the classes for a while now, but they have always sounded too daunting for me to want to try.

I’m actually not a great exercise class person.  I think that’s why I took to running so well.  Out on the road, it’s me against me.  Even in a race, I’m not truly competing with anyone but the time clock.  I’ve always been too prone to compare myself to others in classes, and I get discouraged.  I joined the Y a few years ago and did some classes, but never really enjoyed them.

So when my friend Sue started truly loving these classes, I thought, maybe.  In three months, the classes combined with sensible food choices, she’s lost 25 pounds.  She looks fantastic and just finished the Couch 2 5K program.  Truth be told, she passed me the last time we were out running.  It was the kick in the pants I needed.

I signed up for boot camp the next day, and the first one was this morning.

Yes, I know I ran a 10K yesterday.  Normally today would be a rest day.  But my friend encouraged me to come try it out today, and so I did.

The classes I signed up for are held outside, with minimal equipment.  You bring your own yoga mat and weights.  In the winter she runs classes at a studio (also, when it’s raining) but when the weather is good, she takes it outside.

I knew the class would be hard right off the bat when I got winded during the warm ups.  We went from warm ups to an exercise I’d never done before:  worm walking.   You walk out to a pushup, do the pushup, and then walk your legs in as close as you can get them to your hands.  Then you walk out your hands again from there, do the push up, walk the legs in again…you get the idea.  Yeah, we did that up a hill.

Wow.

After that we shuffled and did jumping jacks with resistance bands around our ankles.  I got brave and put on the “harder” blue band.  Why?  I didn’t want to look like a chicken.  It was hard, but not as hard as the worm walking.

After that, we were instructed to jog down a steep hill and then sprint back up it.  Yikes.  After the third time I was thinking I might vomit.  Fortunately, as I was starting down for my fourth round, time was up and we went back for the “easy part”:  ab work.

Ab work consisted of using a bench to do a sort of backwards pushup, sideways planking (I am still not sure I did that right), sit ups of various styles and contortions, regular planking (on a bench, no less) and then back extensions.

After that, it was time for cooldown stretching and class was over.

Overall, I liked the class.  It’s challenging, no question.  But the women were nice and friendly, and the trainer has a great rapport with everyone.  It seems very personal.   I think that probably is the key to its success:  you’re not an anonymous person in the back.  Everyone knows your name and pushes you onward.

I am looking forward to seeing how these classes, which are a great mixture of cardio and strength, help my running times.  Plus, also, it would be awfully nice to get the scale moving back downward again.  We’ll see!

 

 

Mother’s Day 10K Recap

The Reader’s Digest version of this race is that it started out slow, felt hard during and fantastic afterwards.

Got up before 6am this morning for the race; start time was 8am, but I wanted to get there early to put the race brochures from our 5K on the registration table.  I was fine until I got to the race site, which was settled on a lovely local beach on Long Island Sound.

It was cold, rainy and registration wasn’t even set up yet even though I arrived 15 minutes after it was supposed to have started.  It was not even 7am and I thought:  it’s freaking Mother’s Day and here I am all alone in this parking lot with a bunch of strangers getting wet.  What was I thinking?

Not to mention driving in past the mile markers.  Um, 6.2 miles is not nothing.  My head was not in the game, let’s just say that.  I was worried about my lack of running mojo lately and thought about just packing it in and driving back home.

But then I saw the race shirt:

Norwalk Mother's Day 10K Shirt
In case you can’t see the ribbon, it says Boston Strong.  And we all know the iconic colors from this year’s marathon.

And if that wasn’t motivation enough, I saw my friend who was in Boston that day.  He was here, running, his first race post Boston.  How on earth could I not give this race a shot when there are people who, after that day, would give anything to be able to run, walk or shuffle through a 10K?

Alright then.

The rain continued on.  I decided to take the guys up who had come to give people pre and post race massages.  They didn’t have any takers in the rain.  But I was already wet, so who cared?  It was wwwonnnderful and got my head right in the game again.

With just a few minutes left until start time, I waited with the other runners under awnings.  The more experienced told me this was mostly to keep our feet dry until it was time to start, because obviously no one cares about getting wet during race; you get soaked with sweat anyway.

Finally it was time.  I lined up well in the back, looking for people that looked like me.  Not too many at a 10K.   Oh well.

The race started and the rain stopped.  I found myself well behind the herd, as per usual.  I started with a manageable pace and tried to just keep it steady.  The first mile was no problem.  I found myself weaving back and forth with a woman in orange.  Her strategy was to run as fast as she could for a while, and then walk.  We kept passing each other.

The second mile, and the rain was definitely gone, though I was being careful with my footing because of the slippery, wet roads.  By this time I could still see the herd but they were well beyond me.  At this point I was wondering where the water stop was, and it thankfully showed up just a bit after the 2 mile mark.

By the third mile, I was starting to get discouraged.  While I could still spot a few people in front of me, I worried I would lose my way.  I was in an unfamiliar area, and the herd was long gone now.  Just about four or five stragglers ahead of me.  I still had such a long way to go.

The fourth mile was probably the hardest.  This was where the one decent sized hill was.  I walked it.  There was another water stop.  I walked it.  I was catching up with a few of the stragglers in front of me as their energy flagged.  That felt good, but I was definitely getting tired.

By the time I hit the fifth mile, I recognized where I was; we were looping back towards the beach on the route I’d driven in on.  I walked a bit and started to feel a bit better, knowing I was in the homestretch.  I passed a fairly athletic looking guy, and then caught up with a woman who had been solidly ahead of me the whole way.

We hit the final stretch towards the beach, and I dropped to a walk for a bit to finish strong.  I saw the woman in orange about a minute ahead of me.  I guess her strategy worked.  She, and the end of the race, looked so incredibly far away.  I still couldn’t see the timing device.   Finally, I forced myself to do the “looks like walking, feels like running” slow jog for the rest of the way.

Just after the final turn, where the park staff guy assured me I was “almost there”, I saw the timing device, and my family waiting for me.  And I felt that burst of energy everyone who runs knows about when you’re near the end.  You don’t know how you’ve got it in you after six miles and change, but somehow, you do.  I ran for the finish line as fast as I could muster.

Norwalk 10K

Even though I’m far out here, I like that you can see my little guy waiting for me at the finish line with flowers. Also, that there is someone behind me. 🙂

I mustered enough energy to wave at the family, smile and push towards the end.

Smiling because I know it's nearly over.

Smiling because I know it’s nearly over.

Still waiting on the final times, but I am pretty sure I shaved off a few seconds from my 10K time in January of 79:22.  Not as many seconds as I would like, because this route was flatter, but I’ll take it just the same.  I think it will end up being around 79:15 or so (update:  my official time was 79:10).

Afterwards, I recovered quickly.  I saw my friend, who probably finished half an hour before me, and felt a little embarrassed when he asked me how it went. Here he was, a marathoner who placed third in his age category in this race.  I must look like a bumbling fool to him, I thought.  “Harder than I thought it would be,” I answered honestly.

“You’re here, you finished,” he said encouragingly.  “That’s all that matters.”

Excellent point.  Very excellent point.   I finished, I wasn’t last, and I felt fine just a few minutes after.

I think maybe I found some of that lost running mojo out there today.  Maybe just a little bit.

But sometimes, a little bit is enough.