I hadn’t planned to run a race today. I am running a 4 mile race in NYC and I didn’t think that it would make sense to run races two weekends in a row. But when I got up this morning at 6:45, I knew I needed to get in a decent run today to prepare for that race. My runs this week were all below the three mile mark, and I needed to get a longer run in. I intended on running four miles.
But I knew this race was going on up in Newtown today. I had seen it online and knew someone running it. And the first thing I thought of this morning when I was putting my running clothes on was the race this morning. If I was running anyway, wouldn’t it make sense for it to mean something?
I went online to check out the particulars, wavered for about ten minutes. I’ve never done a race day registration, I’ve always signed up in advance. I didn’t know where the race was being held, hadn’t eaten properly the night before, wouldn’t know anyone there. But something told me I’d regret not going if I didn’t. I left as soon as I decided, not giving myself time to change my mind. I was sure when I got up to the park where it was being held that it would feel like the right choice.
I was right.
I got to the race site early, and it was already warm and humid. The park was easy to find with my GPS and I got my bib number quickly. It gave me an hour to kind of soak it all in. The race benefits Newtown Youth and Family Services, and surely they need a lot of support after this last year. But the mood pre-race wasn’t morose or sad. It was communal. This race is in its 8th year, so it wasn’t a special event just because of what happened. The people running this race mostly ran it last year, and are locals. It felt like this was the heart of the town. These were people who really cared, not people who just showed up because of the magnitude of the tragedy. It wasn’t a badge of honor for these people to be there; it just was something they felt strongly enough to do.
And I did end up knowing someone at the race, after all. As I was walking around to warm up (already being plenty warm, actually, with the heat) I saw a friend who is working for our local cable company. He was coming to cover the race for the public access channel. I hadn’t expected him there and it was lovely to see him and catch up with him.
The hour passed quickly and I lined up in the back of the pack, nervously chatting with those around me about the hill I could plainly see up ahead. It was warm and humid. All the people who knew the course mentioned several different hills; not a fast, flat course like the last few I’ve run. I resolved to just do what I could do. I wasn’t here to do anything but get in a good run and have it help towards a good cause.
We started out. The first hill was, as expected, unpleasant, but fortunately not very long. I eased into a nice steady pace, not making my usual mistake of starting off too fast. There were no mile markers, but I had my RunKeeper in my ears; the first mile ticked off fairly well. With 600+ runners I had plenty of company in the back of the pack, but no one really keeping pace with me.
Around the second mile we hit another decent hill; I took my first walk break to get to the crest of it. I could really feel the humidity wearing on me, but thankfully, it wasn’t sunny. There was a bit of a breeze too. I kept going until the water station, where I took another quick walk break. I downed half of the water and poured the rest over my head. I never have done that, but today was the right day for it.
Somewhere around mile 2.5 we left the roads and entered a trail for the remainder of the race. It was hard to keep focus because so many people around me were walking. It was a totally mental thing: I saw them walking, and I wanted to walk too. I walked another quick thirty seconds and then kept going. I looked at my RunKeeper and saw we were at 2.6 miles. I felt that same awful tiredness I’d felt at the same point a few weeks ago. I wanted to stop, I wanted to walk, it was so hot. I slowed down and enjoyed the downhill until we got close to the park again. At 35 minutes my RunKeeper told me I was at 2.92 miles, and I knew my time was going to be slower than I’d like. I couldn’t make myself go any faster. I took another quick walk break so I would be able to have the strength to sprint at the end.
We finally made the turn towards the end and I could see the timing device said 38 something. Oh well. I ran as fast as I could towards it and crossed at 38:41. I was so hot and sweaty and out of breath that I went off to the side, not even ready for water, and tried to settle down. After a full minute or so, I finally felt OK and went to get water and an apple.
So obviously an even worse time than my last 5K, by over a minute. But I actually felt better about this time. The course was hilly, and challenging where the other course had been dead flat. It was a good practice for next week. If it’s hot, I’ll be OK. I know there are a few hills on next week’s course, so it was important for me to have hills in my run today. And honestly, I didn’t go out there to run fast. I went out there mostly to just be amongst those who have suffered so much, their friends, their family, and quietly give them my support and sympathy. I wanted today’s run to mean something. Even if it was hot. Even if it was slow. It was meaningful to me. I thought of those kids, those families, this struggling community as I pushed through those hot, sweaty hills. And I hoped that somehow, they are doing a fraction better today knowing that 700 people came out in support of them on a humid morning in August.
It was a good day.
Alright, so I gained this week, and I fully own it. I made bad choices, and I thoroughly enjoyed all of them (well, until I stepped on the scale this morning, that is).
We had a mini vacation last week, to visit Washington DC as I mentioned in last week’s post. I did OK on a lot of counts:
- walked every day but the travel day home
- got in a run on our busiest tourist day
- ate healthy breakfasts from the hotel buffet consisting of eggs, fruit and yogurt every day
Where I got tripped up was the dinners. As usual for me on vacation, there was more drinking involved. And while none of my dinners were unhealthy (the worst being a lobster crab ravioli…mmmm…..the rest were all protein and vegetable combos), and while I didn’t eat bread anywhere, restaurant food is notorious for being filled with salt and more calories than if you would make it at home.
When we returned home after a long drive on Sunday, we ordered takeout Chinese. And while Szechuan beef is one of the better options, let’s face it: it’s still Chinese food.
So I gained a pound this week. I know why, and it sucks, and I’ll own it. I still feel good about the other good choices I made this week. Here we are with school just starting. This time last year I was six pounds heavier and hadn’t run in over a month. This year I have exercised consistently all summer and feel so much better. So while I’m not happy about August and my post vacation gains, it’s nearly September and I am pointed in the right direction.
Current Week: +1 lb
Total Weight Left To Lose: 16.2 lbs
Well, I did post a loss this week, which is good. Back in no gains world.
Unfortunately, I did not meet my goal of getting back down to my prevacation weight. It was looking good all week, numbers were right on target until the weekend. A little too much indulgence on Sunday threw off my game (plus a bit of a pity party post race on Saturday) and while Monday and Tuesday were good, they weren’t enough to bring my weight further down.
I lost -.2 lbs this week, not the one pound that I wanted to erase my vacation weight gain. So obviously this week’s goal is the same, to get down -0.8 lbs plus more, to get rid of that gain and get back in loser land.
Challenges: we are traveling again for a long weekend this weekend. We will, though, be staying at a hotel with a fitness center so there really aren’t any excuses for lack of exercise while I am away. My goal is to exercise every day but travel days (might even be able to sneak in a run on the day we leave since we have to wait out rush hour).
Another challenge will be that my bootcamp trainer goes on a two week vacation while I am away. She won’t be back until 9/9, so I’ll be left to my own devices for my non running workout days. This also coincides with my kids’ school starting which will make for a hectic time, during which workouts will seem easy to skip. Hoping that the schedule smooths out fairly quickly and I can build a new routine.
So that’s where I’m at this week. Still in the game, still working hard and still screwing up sometimes.
Current Week: -0.2
Total Weight Left To Lose: 15.2 lbs
Three days out and I still haven’t written a race recap for this race. Bad girl.
Since I put together my local 5K here in town I got to know a few other race directors. The one who puts this race together, a 5K to raise money for MADD, was one of them. He offered me free race entry into this race (a common practice amongst directors). I hadn’t been sure if I would take him up on it until the last minute. After all, it’s August and might be hot, and I’d just gotten back from vacation in Puerto Rico, where I ran only once (and by run, I mean struggle on the beach in the heat until I ran/walk in spurts until about the 2 mile mark where I gave up and walked back to the condo). I only had one good run in under my belt since returning, but when I saw the weather forecast was for cool(er) and sunny that morning, I decided to go for it.
This race was held at a local beach (I see a theme in my race choices….lots of beaches represented) on Long Island Sound and in the surrounding neighborhood. It seemed to be a smaller race judging by the race numbers being passed out. I got there nice and early, as is my usual practice. The day had indeed dawned sunny and gorgeous, low humidity, but a tad warmer than it had been the previous few days.
This is the first race I’ve run since May alone. My girlfriend had been joining me for races this summer, but she wasn’t able to come this time. It felt a little weird to be all alone in the lead up to the race, but since that is how I always used to do races, familiar. Running is usually a solitary thing for me, so I allowed myself to just get my head into the game and tried to talk myself into a fun, enjoyable race where I wasn’t worried about pace.
Even though this race was a smaller one, I did notice that our governor was amongst the runners getting ready. I actually ended up walking up to the start line with him and having a brief conversation. I didn’t want to stop and have a photo taken with him or anything, but it was kind of cool to just chat with him.
I set myself up in the back of the pack and waited for the race to begin. I could hear the usual kvetching around me about late start, not being able to hear the announcements, people eager to get moving. Finally, we did.
The first mile was fantastic. Sunny and warm, with views of the Sound, there was a nice breeze most of the way. I was surprised when I passed the first mile marker so quickly. The herd thinned, as it always does, and I found myself in a pack of about five people. One Really Old Guy, One Guy About My Age, One Girl About My Age, and Two Much Younger Fit Looking Girls. Guy My Age was a little bigger and really huffing to stay on pace. Girl My Age kept passing and then dropping behind me as she walked. Same for the Younger girls. Really Old Guy started out in front of me and stayed there for much of the time.
I started to feel my energy flag around Mile 2. I hadn’t done a lot of longer runs this summer, and I hadn’t done much over 2 miles at all in weeks. I could feel it. Plus it was getting warmer and we had moved away from the beach, so there wasn’t a lot of breeze (or shade). I still felt OK though and just slowed my pace. I ended up staying close to pace with Guy My Age. Younger Girls ended up actually walking behind me for a while. Really Old Guy slowed too and I passed him. Girl My Age weaved back and forth.
It got harder and harder. Even though there were no hills. Even though I wasn’t going that fast. I am not sure if it was the bootcamp class I’d done the day before (and was still sore from), if it was the two glasses of wine I’d had with dinner the night before, or the increasing heat, or the longer running capris (rather than the shorts I’d debated on wearing) but the heat was wearing on me. I grew tired. Around 2.6 miles I allowed myself a thirty second walk. My five friends all were around me, and I saw the distance between them and I grow.
I hate when a race ends like this. I just hit a freakin’ wall. In a three mile race! Ugh. I struggled that last half mile. It was sunny and full on hot by this time. Really Old Guy started catching up with me again. Young Fit Girls and even Guy My Age were ahead now. I gave myself two more brief walk breaks before I spotted the finish line. It seemed a million miles away (in reality: .2 miles). I willed myself to keep moving and not walk.
Finally, it was time for the spurt. I ran as fast as I could muster to propel myself across the finish line. Really Old Guy was neck and neck with me. I pushed myself to beat him, but he kept right with me, and put his foot down on the pad .4 of a second before I put mine down (I know this from the race results. I also found out that Really Old Guy was 80 in the race results. Great ego boost). I stopped and caught my breath and got some water.
It was a good course, decent weather, but it just wasn’t my day. Between being a little out of training and probably pushing too hard at bootcamp the day before, I just ran out of energy before the race was over. My time was 37:28, which is my worst 5K time so far this year. 😦 I suppose it’s better than sitting home on my couch. But still.
Anyway, it was a good cautionary tale for my next race, which is a four miler through Central Park to raise money for Autism Speaks. I don’t want to hit a wall during that race. So this morning I got up and got in a good four mile run. It was a good run. All I can do is keep at it, and that’s what I’m doing.
Post vacation, and I’m not surprised to see a gain stepping on the scale this morning. What I was surprised was that it was *only* a pound.
I put the asterisks around the only because I really shouldn’t be happy about it, but I am. After all, I blew my goal of not gaining on vacation. I didn’t do my 7 minute workout every day; in fact, I only did it that one time. I walked every day, but only ran once. And while I was careful about my food choices, I didn’t turn down the fried appetizers that came my way, or the second rum drink I was offered on the last night, or the tres leches cake that my sister in law wanted to share. Truly, I could have done better.
That being said, last Christmas I gained SIX pounds on my week away from the scale. SIX. So to have gained *only* one, with all of the missteps and sidesteps feels like a victory of sorts. I enjoyed my food, although I never ate to bursting. I made my fish dinner last three days by taking it back to our condo and parceling it out for lunches. I did walk every single day, over two miles, every day. Plus swimming and tourist walking besides. So it wasn’t a total loss in my choices, either. There was balance. I’m OK with it.
When we arrived home, after a week of not tracking, I could feel myself slipping. I wavered. I didn’t exercise that first day back; it was so hectic with family staying over and laundry and chores and the kids. The second day home, I didn’t exercise either. More of the same chaos, true, but I had made a conscious choice to roll over in my bed rather than go to my 5:50 am exercise class or go for a run. On the third day, there were no more excuses. I was clearly at the cross roads that you find yourself at when you’ve stepped away from the good habits for a while. You can either stay away, or go back.
I went back. It was raining outside so I hopped on the treadmill for thirty minutes. I feared that it would be hard after a week of not running, but it was the opposite. The rest days had made me stronger and I ran one of the best treadmill runs I’ve ever done. I ate a healthy lunch, made whole wheat pizza crust from scratch and engaged the family in making personal pizzas for dinner. It was a good day. And when my girlfriend texted me asking to go to the 5:50am class today, it was the push I needed. Yes, these are my new habits. No, I am not walking away from all of my hard work over these last few months. We went to class together and while it was super hard, it also felt really, really good. Good to work hard, knowing that I can work hard, that I’m stronger than I used to be and that next month, I’ll be stronger than I am now.
So all in all, I’ll take the gain. But my goal for next week is (again) to not only not gain from this point, but to go below my last low point. Translation? One pound. I need to lose at least one pound this week to meet that goal.
Current Week: +1
Total Weight Left To Lose: 15.4 lbs
Well we’re away on vacation this week, with no access to a scale. But if I had to guess, I would guess that it would likely be up. I need to get my thought process back in line a bit and out of the “well, we’re on vacation” anything goes mentality, so a brain dump here on my blog is in order.
Things I’m doing right so far on vacation: I’ve been active every day since we got here. While the running in this tropical locale is less than perfect (super slow and interspersed with lots of walking), the walking is fabulous and I’m racking up lots of that. There’s also plenty of swimming and outdoor time which is great. This morning I did a workout via an app on my phone with pushups, planks, etc. What a great find! I’ll be adding that for each day of the rest of the days we are here.
I am also being careful about how much I’m eating. Not so much the type of food, because where we are, you have to be careful about fresh food (“only eat things you can peel”) so what we are eating is fairly carb and protein heavy. Still, I’m sticking to the better options with what’s available and stopping when I feel full, and not starting until I feel really hungry. We also haven’t had any sweets at all, so that’s good.
What I’m not doing so well with: one guess. The booze. There’s plenty of that, and I need to watch myself there. Also, the water here isn’t drinkable so I’m on bottled water, and not drinking all that much because there’s a limited supply. No real help for that, other than going home and flushing out all of the salt and crap.
Anyway, I am enjoying myself, and I definitely am more conscious than usual about what I am doing, and plan to make these last few days even better. 🙂