Just a few days ago I decided to run a 5K this weekend. It happens every so often, that a race starts looking good at the last minute. Sometimes it is about weather, sometimes it is about a cause. Today it was both.
I’m involved with the Chase Kowalski Memorial Foundation (CMAK) here in SWCT. He was one of the victims at Sandy Hook, a seven year old blond boy that loved to run, swim and bike. I’ve posted here about other events I’ve run with this organization. Chase’s mom, Rebecca, has decided to try and take part in ten athletic events before Chase’s tenth birthday next year, which will take place on Halloween. She’s challenged her family and friends to join her, to raise awareness for the foundation they started in her son’s name.
Of course I knew I’d take part. I try to run a race a month anyway, so it was a natural fit.
I’ve actually run one race already that qualifies (since technically she started the challenge on his ninth birthday, 10/31). Rebecca, however, was starting her challenge today at the Fischang-Cichetti 5 Mile/5K run in Waterbury, CT. I wanted to join her, but last year this race was cold and awful. After my experience in the rain a few weeks back, I wasn’t sure I was up for another awful weather race. However, when the forecast became clear late this week, I jumped online and signed up.
Another friend and I agreed to carpool; I picked her up at 7:30 this morning and we made our way up to Waterbury.
CMAK had a table in the gym of the Y where the race started and finished, so I was able to get a gander at the new hoodies they had created for us taking part in the birthday challenge. They are Halloween themed for Chase’s birthday. They are actually a really high quality hoodie so of course I snagged one.
I visited with those I know in the organization before it was time to take a group photo and head out. How much do I love a November race that has indoor waiting area? And real bathrooms? Very much.
We lined up, in the back of course, and headed out. The weather was perfect for a race; 40 degrees, mostly sunny, no real wind. All of us, the 5 milers and the 5K ers started out together; our turnaround was just earlier than theirs (I signed up for the 5K). I had no real time expectation for this race. After not making my goal for the Vicki Soto race a few weeks ago, I haven’t run that much. I had trained for that one but hadn’t really kept it up for this one, maybe running two easy runs a week since. No intervals, no real hills, nothing serious. Plus this race was billed as a hilly course. So I figured I’d just go out and enjoy the run.
For the first half mile it felt as if I probably could have gone faster, but the knot of people was fairly tight, and I wasn’t worried about time. I was surprised, therefore, when my RunKeeper told me I was doing a pace of 11 min/mile and change during the first mile. In fact, the ten minute chime on my RK told me 10:56/mile. I couldn’t believe it. I just went with it, not worrying about time.
When the hills came, and they did, I did what I could, but there was definitely some walking. Still, once I crested the first one, I could feel that I had plenty of steam to pick up speed on the downhill that followed. I weaved and passed people and continued to feel pretty strong.
The turnaround had to be somewhere around mile 2, at the end of a slow, gradual uphill that I took my time with. The water stop was not far from the turnaround, but I knew I didn’t want to sacrifice the time so I kept going. I saw my friend not far from the turnaround going up the hill; she asked how much further? I assured her it wasn’t much longer.
By now I was well into mile 2 and feeling good. I really wasn’t paying much attention to my RunKeeper at this point, just pushing to the point of uncomfortable and then pulling myself back to catch my breath before pushing myself again. I kept this pattern up the whole second half of the race.
Finally I saw the finish line. It was probably a good three tenths of a mile away still, but seeing it up ahead gave me a boost and I pushed towards it with all that I had. I couldn’t believe when I saw the time clock reading 35 and change. I crossed at 35:40, which is my third best 5K time ever.
I’m really amazed by my time, to be honest. It’s only 14 seconds slower than my PR, which I did on a flat course. This course had two significant hills, one being a long slow incline of probably four tenths of a mile. Plus probably four or more smaller ones. I didn’t even really go into this race thinking about time, and I actually had several walk breaks on the hills to catch my breath. If I’d been pushing, really pushing? I probably would have had a PR. Then again, maybe it was because I did a few walk breaks that I could really push when I did run. I don’t know. All I know is it was awfully nice to not even be thinking about time today and get such a good result.
So needless to say, I’m very satisfied with today’s race. I found all of our fellow challengers after the race; everyone seemed very happy with their races as well. The day had turned from a partly cloudy day to a gorgeous sun filled one. We all agreed Chase had helped us all to a good time.
So grateful to be able to run and help causes like this.
For the first time in a long time I’m going to try and actually post a one week weigh in rather than a two week weigh in.
This was a good week. I am 1.2 pounds less than I was this time last week. And it is definitely because I am making a concerted effort in one area: portion size.
I had been beating myself up a lot over eating the wrong foods, but the reality is I don’t actually eat a lot of unhealthy stuff. What I do is I eat a lot of whatever it is I am eating. I tell myself that I am able to eat until I am full because whatever it is I am eating is healthy.
I should know better.
The thing that I remember about when I lost weight successfully in the past (using Weight Watchers) was that I pretty much never thought anything was off limits. But what I did do was made sure I didn’t eat until I felt full. I ate until I felt not hungry or satisfied, but not full. Of whatever it was. And I also didn’t freak out if I got hungry. I drank some water, and made myself wait until it was time to eat again. I didn’t just dive into a snack to get rid of the hunger. I thought about it, assessed it, and if it was legitimate hunger, I ate something. I thought about it. I was careful.
That’s what I’ve tried to do in the last seven days. I didn’t worry so much about the cake. I just had a super small slice. I didn’t worry about the pasta. I just had a small portion and filled in with salad. I didn’t worry about the wine; I just had less of it and drank water in between.
So this is what I’ll be working on for the next seven days. Just taking each choice, each day, one at a time.
Current Week: -1.2 lbs
Total Weight Left To Lose: 16.2 lbs
I’m down from my weigh in last week (which I did not post about because ugh) but up from when I checked in last.
It’s finally come down to reality. My clothes are tight. You can’t gain seven-nine (depending on day, time of day, etc) without you feeling it. But I hadn’t really noticed it much as the scale has crept up. One, two, five pounds, it hadn’t hit.
Then like a lightning bolt this week, suddenly, everything is tight. Nothing looks good, nothing feels good. It’s finally real. You know how you do the thing where the scale is moving up, but then you kind of get used to the higher numbers? The number that used to freak you out no longer does? And then it goes higher than that, and you’re just hoping to get down to that number that used to piss you off when you saw it on the scale?
Yeah, that’s where I am at.
Plus I haven’t been running/exercising as much due to work on the house we’re having done, and I’m sure that’s part of it.
The worst thing? I have a friend who has been doing one of those cleanse programs, and she came up to me yesterday and said, “You always work so hard, but for some reason you don’t ever seem to get the results you are looking for. I think you’d really benefit from the cleanse.” (For the record I have always been extremely against cleanse programs based on pills and shakes because I think they aren’t as healthy as using real foods. Then again, my waistline is pretty much up for anything that will reduce its size at this point).
Seriously. This wasn’t said out of malice, or trying to gain a sale, or anything other than real, genuine concern. Which means that if *I* can feel and see the gain, so can everyone else.
And we’re heading into the holidays.
So it’s time, for the fifty billionth time to get my crap together.
Current Week: -0.6 lbs over last week, +0.8 over two weeks ago
Total Weight Left To Lose: 17.4 lbs
What a difference a year makes. Last year, when I ran the Vicki Soto 5K, the weather was perfect, the event felt so spiritual and meaningful, and it was a huge celebration we didn’t want to end.
This year, the weather started looking ominous for race day early in the week. The forecast fluctuated between rainy and cool and windy and cold and snowy and cold. It had started looking like it wouldn’t be that terrible, but when race day dawned yesterday?
Rainy, cold and windy. In the 40s, with a biting wind and rain.
Such a shame, because the race had sold even more spots this year, they had lined up even more food and post race fun, and it was clear the day just wasn’t going to turn out the way the organizers had hoped.
I went down to the race early with my friends hoping to get a good parking spot. Last year, we spent this extra time milling around, visiting the vendors and soaking in this moment of peaceful reflection with those of us who still live with the Sandy Hook tragedy every day. This year, we spent most of the pre race time in our cars, hiding from the elements.
Finally, it was time to get moving towards the start line. The organizers stated that only about half the people registered had shown up, and thanked us for doing so. I could believe it, honestly; I’ve never run in such miserable conditions. A little drizzle, sure, or a few flurries. But never had I stood out intentionally in pouring rain for a run. Never. Every time we talked about how awful it was in our group, we reminded each other that this woman died protecting little first grade kids from a maniac. We could at least put in three miles in the rain for her.
Still, that last ten minutes waiting for the race to start was terrible. When we finally were off, I felt stiff and cold and clumsy. It took several minutes to make it to the starting mat, because there were still probably 1500 or so people running. And of those people, somehow, we had gotten stuck in a huge crowd of walkers. It was an insane challenge at first to weave in and out of them, and I was slowed down as a result.
This frustrated me, because I had been using this race as a mental goal post for the last three months. I knew this race, knew if I trained and pushed, I should be able to get in under 35 minutes. I’ve been using my Asics training plan, pushing, working. When RunKeeper told me after the first five minutes that I was at a 16 minute mile (at least two of that was walking to the start mat and wouldn’t count, I knew), I was pissed. I pushed through and finally found myself in a group of people that seemed to be mostly running and powered forward.
The first mile passed quickly and I was feeling good. We got down to the area near Long Island Sound and despite the rain and gray skies, it was truly beautiful. By now I had warmed up and the rain and wind felt mostly good. There were cheerleaders and kids from the local schools out cheering, despite the weather, and I felt strong.
I could hear the RunKeeper telling my pace was powering down each five minutes so while I wasn’t sure where I was exactly, I knew by my body that I was going strong. Suddenly, I found myself at the big overpass I remembered from last year. It’s the really only big hill on the whole course (the rest being mostly flat or slow inclines) and I was determined not to walk it. Last year, by this point, I felt tired and couldn’t make it. This year I pushed up that sucker and honestly didn’t think it was as terrible as I had thought it would be.
But it took its toll. I tried to push faster on the decline from the bridge, but found myself winded. The rain and the wind blasted me fiercely going down the hill and I could feel myself having to push through it, like sludge. I had to adjust to a slower pace to catch my breath. I knew, even as we ran over the start line, that the course wasn’t a straight out and back. The finish line was still probably a third of a mile away, and I had to get there. I had no idea what my time was because I’d started my RunKeeper before I’d hit the start mat. I heard it chime off 35 minutes, and just hoped I that the time it had taken me to get to the start mat was enough that I would still meet my goal. I kept telling myself, “No regrets, no regrets,” over and over. I didn’t want to regret not pushing myself during this race. Even if I didn’t make my goal, even if I didn’t hit my goal time, I wanted to feel like I ran the best race I could.
I sprinted for the finish, seeing the clock tick just over to 38 minutes. Had it taken me three minutes to get to the start mat? I didn’t think so, but I was hopeful. I ran through, hoping for the best.
In the end, I didn’t meet my goal of beating last year’s time, or my goal of under 35 minutes. My time was 36:07, which was five seconds SLOWER than last year’s time.
At first, I was angry, really, angry with myself. How could I let that happen? I have been training for months for this race. How could I not have met my goal? But honestly, the rain and the wind were absolutely a factor. Terrible running conditions. The wind definitely slowed me down at the end. And secondly, the sea of walkers impeding my progress at the race start was a factor too. My friend who ran with me was a minute slower than her time last year. Her husband was a minute off of his best 5K time too, and this course should have been a PR course for him.
And, I was 5 seconds faster than my time last week, which was a flatter course with ideal running conditions. Also, it is my second fastest 5K this year. I am getting faster. Is the progress as fast as I’d like? No. But if I keep pushing and training, I will. I will never be one of those people that can just show up at a race after not having run for months and run a 33 minute 5K. That’s clear to me. Sure, I could be upset at that, or I could do whatever it takes to improve my own times. Because at the end of the day, the only person I’m competing with out there on a race course is myself.
After the race was over, I found my friends. For the first few minutes we were fine standing out in the wind and rain because we were still warm from running. We went to the food tent and got some pizza and beer (because it was there, don’t judge me for drinking before 11am) and ate quickly. Just in the few minutes of standing there, our bodies started to cool and we felt chilly standing in our soaked running clothes and shoes. We hated to do it, but it was time to go.
All in all, a good race. A really good race. I felt really proud of showing up in the rain to run this race. Proud to support this cause. Proud to be part of this community that time and time again rallies to support our heroes. I’ll be there again, next year, no matter what the weather is, hoping for another good time, and keeping the spirit of those 26 angels close to my heart.
Well the end of another month so it’s time to get a sense of where I am at.
Last month at this time, I felt completely out of control. Off the rails. This month (although truly just in the last two weeks) I feel like I am more committed, more accountable. I am tracking again in MyFitnessPal. I am exercising more regularly having found a new bootcamp class. I saw what the next decade looks like and I decided that I didn’t want to go there.
Have I been perfect? No. Yesterday I was having a stressful day and we are having construction done at home. I went to my favorite takeout place to grab lunch. I should have grabbed a salad. Instead I very purposefully ordered a soup and sandwich. Granted they were healthier options than say a Big Mac and fries, but I knew they weren’t ideal. I’m still a work in progress. But I feel like I am on the right track staring down the last two months of the year, which is progress.
1. Run at least one race a month.
I ran one official race this month, last weekend, a 5K. I also ran an unofficial 4 mile run while away in Vermont that was technically a virtual race. I keep seeing virtual races online and somehow, they just don’t feel official to me.
2. New Goal: 5K in under 35 minutes.
I actually will be running another 5K today and hoping to reach this milestone. Last weekend’s race I was off by over a minute, and I’m not sure why. It was a flat, fast course and I should have been able to muster this goal after the training program I have been working on through MyAsics. I’ve prepared better this week to be ready for today, so here’s hoping. Unfortunately the weather is not looking great for today so I’m not sure if that will help or hurt (rainy, 40s). Last year I ran this race in 36:03, so I need to shave over a minute off of it. We’ll see.
Finally reach my goal weight.
I am actually the same weight I was at the start of October, so no progress in this department. And up 3.5 lbs since January, so obviously backwards from Jan 1. Sigh. All I can do is take each day and try to start fresh no matter what I did the day before. One win? No Halloween candy last night. It’s the little things, the little choices adding up, that will get me there.
If I could honestly be down ten by the end of the year, I’d take that. Even five. Just not where I am right now.