Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

So I'm not dressing up this year. Sad, but definitely saved me a lot of aggravation of the 'what-kind-of-slutty-portrayal-can-I-do-this-year?' sort. However I'll put up this picture in honor of Halloween. Not exactly what I was last year (a firefighter), but rather what I was the day after, a ho. On November 1 last year we rented a party bus for a Pimps and Hoes (or is it hos? I never can tell...) Party to celebrate two friends getting married. Sort of a joint Bachelor/Bachelorette Party. So as you can imagine, this is about the only picture that came out of that whole mess that is suitable for the masses (Without a lot of black bars/ blurred areas, that is).

Anyway, I'm glad to not have to dress up tonight (I am going to a party, but luckily the host decided that since it is only a small gathering we didn't have to feel a little weird dressing up for 10 people, you know? Not that I'm not normally psyched for any opportunity to dress like a skank...I just don't have money to invest in these right now.

Since I'm not dressing up, and the get together is an hour away, I'll also probably be home early and hopefully get some sleep before my attempt tomorrow morning at a sub 25 minute 5k. Not feeling too hopeful, but who knows? I was out sick yesterday and missed my 6 mile run, so maybe I'm well rested? We'll see....

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Warning: contents may explode in your face

Today turned bad at about 10 pm last night :( That was when I was making corn chowder for a co-worker's birthday today and failed to heed Laura's wise advice regarding the blending of boiling soups. So yes, it exploded all over me and all over the kitchen. It was burning my hands and arms, and I rushed to get water and clean up the mess. Then, like an idiot, I figured it had had time to cool and DID IT AGAIN. So stupid. I finally got to bed by 11:30, only to be woken by my husband at 12:15 telling me he was home.

I hate this, and it's something we argue about all the time. DO NOT WAKE ME UP!! I am the world's lightest sleeper, and will never fall back asleep. I stared at the clock for basically forever, and finally took a sleeping pill at 4 am. I have to get up at 6:15, but the thought of going to work after never having been asleep was much more horrible than dragging all day. So I probably fell asleep at 4:30. My alarm went off, and my mind was all, "Hell no", so I somehow reset the alarm and woke up at 7:09. I am supposed to be at work at 7.

So I rush out the door in a haze...and there is FROST!! Did I mention that while I don't like the heat (for running anyway) I HATE the cold??? So I grab the evil corn chowder in the crockpot and put it on the passenger side floor. Where it promptly empties its contents onto the floor mat as I take a turn too sharp in a hopeless attempt to only be a HALF HOUR LATE. Ugh. Is it Friday yet?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

11 miles....check!

Yesterday was actually cold. Yes, I know- I thought the day would never come. I had 11 miles on the schedule (a new longest distance for me!) and I was so glad I wasn't going to have to do it in 80 degree heat and humidity. I did, however, make the mistake of thinking I could still get by in shorts and short sleeved shirt, and was actually freezing!

Miles 1-3 I took slow and steady, and finally by the third felt as though I'd hit some sort of rhythm, something that has been missing from my running for a while. I started to feel really good, but kept it slow so I could finish the whole thing.

Miles 4-6 were also good. I hit some ground I've never been on before which was great. The direction I'd headed out on the trace is my usual, but previously I'd always turned around at mile 4 (since 8 miles is the furthest I've ran before this, outside of races!). It was clean and crisp, and the sun was shining, I felt fantastic. And this was even with my ipod with my husband at work....grrr! I had to do 11 miles with no music. But it was actually so peaceful. I had time to do so much thinking and organizing. I realize I do miss those runs without music where you can focus and concentrate on the task at hand, and alternatively plan your next day, your evening, etc.

By mile 6 I was a) happy I was more than halfway done, and b) freezing. My knees started to ache, and it wasn't even soreness, seriously I think it was from the cold! So I was thinking, great, finally some cold weather and my legs are still aching! I had this vision in my head that running would be effortless as soon as it cooled off. But you know still pretty much was, so I shouldn't complain.

I started playing my game at mile 7, of just trying to make each mile a little better than the last. By mile 9.6 a crazy headwind picked up. All I could think was please God why now! I felt like it was taking all of my energy to go forward, and my arms and knees where numb.

Finally I hit my street, and started to walk as soon as I hit 11 miles. It was that weird know, like right after a race where running seemed so natural and then you try to walk and feel like you're going to fall over. I stumbled to the house, and went in.

It was the first time in AGES that I wasn't pouring sweat. I should have weighed myself before and after, because I'm really curious how much water I lose with no hydration. I know it's bad, but I just haven't figured out a good way to deal with that yet, and I really really don't want to carry anything with me. As for nutrition, I ate a Power Bar Energize Smoothie bar in Berry Blast about 45 minutes before I went out....and I have to say it was disgusting....but did the trick, I guess, because I wasn't tired.

My legs were sore last night, but nothing serious. I wish I'd had more time to ice, but I usually do, so once won't kill me. I do think that was probably my last afternoon long run. I just don't have the energy then and it's usually right before I have to head back to work, so I think I will have to start making room on the weekends.

Anyhow, the miles went like this: 10:50, 10:28, 10:12, 10:05, 10:02, 10:11, 10:15, 9:57, 9:54, 9:51, 9:41. So clustered really nicely, and almost perfect negative splits. What I'm learning is that while I may never be fast, I am a really good pacer.

Next up...12 miles Sunday! But first, my Saturday attempt at a sub-25 minute 5k....

Monday, October 27, 2008

First skipped race :(

So I feel a little guilty that this past Saturday is the first time I've skipped a race I planned on doing. It was only a 5k, but was my last practice before trying to hit under 25 minutes November 1. I basically can't do speedwork on my own (I know- it's in theory possible but it just doesn't happen), and it was also for a good cause so I feel bad :(

I had everything all laid out the night before, but worked late and found myself heading to bed at 1. The race was at 8, and I hadn't registered, so I was planning to get there at 7:30, so up at 6:45 = 5:45 hrs of sleep? No good. I was exhausted all week, and fretting about this caused me to still be watching the clock at 1:30.....which led to me switching my alarm from 6:45 to 9:30. Oops.

So I felt a little guilty. But that being said, I oddly don't regret it. I have 11 miles scheduled today, and just felt I needed the sleep. So I slept in, went to work refreshed, and felt great all day. I tried to squeeze the 5k in before the wine party I had to go to that night, but that didn't go as planned.

I tried to imagine it was the race, and figured that in 5ks I pretty much just go with the crowd, which is always much faster than my natural pace. In trying to imitate that, I found myself at the half mile mark at 3 minutes, with a cramp in my heart. I swear, in my heart.

Or at least that's what it felt like. So I quit, went home, and went out to drink about 2 bottles of wine, with loads of nicely paired food....ugh. So no calories burned, and about 3,000 in....not looking good for my 21 day Habit Challenge of eating healthier and knocking off a couple of pounds. :( Hopefully better news tomorrow, after I have achieved my new longest distance of 11 miles!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Running and Weight

This weeks TiaRT topic over at the Runner's Lounge focuses on Running and Weight. Now thinking, reading, dreaming and practicing running is a lot newer to me than thinking, reading, dreaming and practicing (notice I don't say perfecting) weight loss. While I've only been dabbling in running for about the last 4 years, trying to lose or maintain weight has been something I've struggled with for 10 years. I'll describe it here, along with some good habits I've picked up along the way....

I grew up thin, and was always in sports, so managing weight and watching what I ate was something I never had to do. Until I was 21 I never thought about what went in my mouth. That year my activity level and metabolism reached an all time low, and I spent most of the next 5 years significantly over my ideal, and the last 5 yo-yoing up and down within a smaller range of pounds.

The year I turned 21 I was 1. able to drink, and 2. therefore often hungover and needing fat laden recovery food :) I also moved home to commute to college so 3. had lost access to a gym and 4. worked at a diner similar to Denny's where free junk food was plentiful. I don't know how much beer I drank or potato skins filled with sour cream I ate, but judging by my ever increasing waist line it was a lot! This pretty much continued through March of 1999, at which point I got an internship at a wildlife refuge.

I moved to Arkansas probably having lost a little, but still probably close to 30 pounds over what I am now! Lucky for me, the job was very physical, and even if my eating didn't improve I probably returned home 6 months later and 10 pounds lighter. At this point I had my first of four experiences with WW, or weightwatchers, for those of you not in the know :)

My dad was doing WW, and having amazing results. I dabbled in following along, and also got a gym membership. Over the next four months I dropped to what seems to be my body's preferred weight of 157 or 158. I'm 5'10", so this is an acceptable weight for me. I probably only stayed there 6 months, however, because in the spring of 2000 I began a serious relationship (translation- no longer have to worry about how you look! Lots of dinner dates!) and graduated college, moved back to Boston and started The Job Search and contemplated What Am I Going To Do Now? (Translation...STRESS...EAT!!).

This gain was probably about 20 pounds...and I was introduced to WW again. This time my sister was going (and ended up losing 100+ pounds!!), and I stole and copied all her recipes, tips, and exercise ideas. I loved the 'points' system and found it easy to follow, and even (gasp!) fun. I probably got rid of 10 lbs of extra weight, but eventually fell off the wagon again.

Two years later, in 2002 I moved to CA and started grad school. I was actually very disciplined about exercising through the next few years, but still eating badly. Enter WW x 3. This time I enrolled myself with a friend. It was summer of 2004, and also when I started running. I went from 171 to 143 in a year! I felt great, had tons of energy and was really in control of my fitness and nutrition.

I bounced up and down a bit over the next year, and was back at 155 by June of 2006, when I got married. Looking back, it was inevitable that I would gain weight. In the fall of 2004 I had met my now husband, and enter again the world of dinners out, and not having to maintain the 'dating weight'. We moved in together in July of 2005, and that first year of domesticity led to lots of caloric meals (my husband is one of those annoying people who struggles to gain weight), cookies and wine. Right after the wedding (like 5 days!), we moved here, to Louisiana, for a job I'd accepted.

Once again I started the cycle of eating badly and not exercising. This time, however, it wasn't entirely my own fault....we moved without securing a residence, and therefore spent the first three months living in a kitchen-less guest house (actually room) of a family our realtor had hooked us up with. Three months of fast food and ramen noodles definitely didn't help my physique, and neither did that fact that Louisiana is basically the hottest, most humid place on Earth. I swear.

So WW x4. This time with a coworker. I quickly got back down to 153 or 154, but my Lifetime Member weight at WW is 150, so unless I was less than that I had to pay. Pesky 4 pounds! Needless to say, being tight on cash and not loving the meeting leader here, I stopped going...Again. We moved into our house in October of 2006, and finally able to cook again I lost a couple inches again, and regained some lost fitness as well. I continued only occasionally exercising through 2007, but found myself still above my ideal weight.

In the fall of 2007 it finally cooled down, and I got serious about running. I was going several times a week, and finally going further. In the past, even at my most fit I was generally never running over 3 miles. A coworker and I signed up for the Crescent City Classic, a 10k in New Orleans in March, and I found I really liked following the 10k training schedule we found online. We did a couple of 5ks also, and ended up doing Disney's Women Run the World 15k in May, which was so much fun. got hot. Ugh. I took most of the summer off, and combined with summertime food and drink (Yay margaritas!) the scale was creeping up again.

I finally got back into running in September, and have had great progress getting back in shape. I still have a hard time watching what I eat, but the 21 Day Habit Challenge couldn't have come at a better time. Now, on Day 4, I am 153.8 (but this means nothing as my weight fluctuates greatly on a day to day basis). Fitness and Nutrition will remain an ongoing struggle for me, but one that gets easier as I go. The yo-yo still goes up and down, but not half as far as it used to.

I have learned many things about healthy eating over the years, and my diet mistakes are rarely in ignorance any more...I just don't heed advice that I know works! Some of the things I do believe in:

1) WW. It works. Period. Not having foods that are taboo makes you feel free-er; you can have the brownie, you just have to count it. I always turn to this when things really get out of hand.

2) Hydration. Many people don't realize how much better a properly hydrated body burns calories.

3) Portions- this is something WW really helped me with. There analogies are given comparing measured amounts (say 4 oz of meat) with recognizable objects (like a cassette tape). I have also learned how your mind tricks will think you've had a serving only to find out you've had 3. For this reason I divide things. If a serving of tortilla chips is 13 chips, I will take a bag and count out 13 at a time and store them in Ziploc bags. I buy cheddar cheese that has 8 servings in a block. I divide each half into four, and keep in a Ziploc bag.

4) snacks! self sabotage is less likely when you're not starving (though these need to be healthy snacks; I've ruined myself recently with junk snacks!).

5)shop from the perimeter of the grocery...where the fresh food is. Avoid the middle aisles.

6) fill up on the lo-cal stuff. Eat tons of veggies.

7) fiber. while not necessarily good in large amounts of a runner's diet, I found it to aid greatly in weight loss in the past.

8) identify problem times. For me this is at night when I read or watch TV. I will inevitably find myself wandering to the pantry.

9) get rid of the extras that contribute fat and calories but not much else. You can replace so many ingredients in cooking and baking that shave calories here and there for an overall savings throughout the day.

10) journaling. I will probably always have to log everything I eat. I just go overboard otherwise!

So learning about and understanding nutrition and weight loss is like running for me- a work in progress. I refuse to be a slave to a diet, but I don't want the extra pounds either. I want to eat my cake and be thin too :) The route to learning more involves reading more, so I'll leave you with the simple but true formula of nutrition writer Michael Pollan: 'Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.'

"To use the word 'try' is to quit with honor...."

Tuesday night on Biggest Loser I heard that phrase, or something like it. I wish I could remember exactly what was said. They were doing some challenge and one of the participants said he would 'try'...the trainer responded with that. I don't know exactly what he said because I was watching while making dinner (mmmm....sausage and pasta!) but it stuck with me nonetheless, and came in handy yesterday when I started thinking around mile 3 that I would try to do six, but might walk at 4 or 5. It worked, and I made it the whole six.

I've been wanting to walk a lot lately, I've noticed. My legs never feel great, and usually hurt. I know this is because I don't stretch. Ever. I know this is awful, but I hate it. It hurts, is boring, and I just don't have time :) I know you will say, 'but if you stretched regularly, it wouldn't hurt, and running probably wouldn't hurt either'....but I just can't get myself to do it.

My plan for today is to try to stretch and do core exercises (my other MAJOR weak spot) during commercial breaks of Survivor. I always read that this is a good use of otherwise pointless advertising time, but I tend to tivo everything, so I fast-forward through commercials. Always. Even if I'm home I tape shows and start watching them about 20 minutes late so I can speed through all the useless commercials. But tonight I will change that, and see if I can get myself to stretch if only in 3 minute increments :)

Does anyone have any other advice on how to cure sore legs? I never used to have this problem. In the past my speed and endurance was dependent on respiration, not muscles. Lately I find I never get out of breath, just my left knee, both hips, and sciatic nerve are all irritated. I still don't think I've found the perfect shoes either, so this could be contributing. The one thing I am good about, however, is icing, so hopefully that's helping a little.

In 21 Day Challenge news, things are off to a good start. It's amazing how much more substantial meals can be when you stop wasting your daily calorie allotment on snacks! Now if I could only cut out the wine...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Day 1: Success!

So day 1 of the 21 day habit challenge (see previous post) went well! I tell you- all I need is a little accountability. Amazing how that works. Tell people you are going to do something and then you HAVE to. That and documenting it. I was glad that Jenn gave the little calendar to go with the challenge. Documenting progress will also ensure I do it. It's sort of like how I am about schedules. I will do whatever a schedule says to be able to check it off. (This goes under how I am about lists). So this challenge is sort of the same. If the calender is going to say 'down 5 lb' at the end, I know that that has to be accomplished somewhere in the middle, so the daily logging of weight helps me see this happen, and therefore I can check it off my list. See how that works?

So day 1 was a success, in that I avoided the ever-tempting junk food at work and home, and managed to stick to my planned meals and snacks. I suppose the part that wasn't a success was the initial 'weigh in'. Now I could have made this a qualitative challenge for myself, but I'm a numbers person. I wouldn't really feel like I had succeeded in the 'habit' of say, getting in better shape if it wasn't quantified somewhere. So ugh- here it is- initial weigh in 158.4.

So for success in the challenge my weight at 3:30pm on Sunday, November 9 has to be 153.4 or less. To clarify, this is possible (and not too extreme) for two reasons:
1) about three pounds is very recent weight. I usually find recent weight to be particularly easy to lose...almost like it hasn't entered your cells yet :) Now this isn't true, of course, and I'm not talking about water weight here....but for some reason weight that has only recently been gained is more easily lost. and,
2) I'm tall. 5'10" to be exact. Therefore for me five pounds isn't as much as it would be for someone who is 5'4". I can gain and lose 10 pounds at about the rate someone of that height can gain/lose 5. This is a blessing on the 'gain' side, as I can pretty much gain 10 lbs before it's obvious, but annoying when you can lose 10 lbs and no one can tell!

So yeah, it's possible, and I'll show you! :) This has come at the perfect time, and I found it so ironic that the Runners' Lounge post today (and leading up to Thursday's TiaRT discussion on weight loss and nutrition) touched on several of the things I need to work on to turn this into a real Habit. (The post itself even mentioned Jenn's challenge!).

To clarify one more thing- while I want to lose 5 (ok really 10) pounds, I by no means think I am overweight. I put myself in the 'few pounds to lose' category. Every inch taller someone is than someone else they should be around 5 lbs heavier, so if I'm 6 inches taller than someone of same build, I should be about 30 lb heavier....So no worries about a weight loss challenge going off the deep end! (Besides, I am way too much of a foodie).

What I really hope to accomplish is the habit of eliminating mindless eating and snacking on chips and sweets. This is where I REALLY sabotage myself. My meals are all healthy, I drink 80 ounces of water a day, and exercise. THEN I sit down to watch TV and munch THAT is what I really hope changes. I think I need to keep some sugarless gum at home. Seriously. My brain associates TV with eating. And I know, I know, I shouldn't be rotting my brain with TV either, but cut me some slack...I work 80 hours a week and am trying to train for a marathon...I need some time to just veg out! :)

Ok- so on to yesterday's run. With all my new-found motivation for my diet, I had stuck to not snacking in the afternoon besides my designated afternoon snack of a quaker protein granola bar....which I ate immediately after lunch. This is another thing I need to the time lunch comes I'm hungry, so I eat my lunch and my snack at the same before lunch I have breakfast and a snack, but I'm at work for 7, so I'm starting to think maybe I should try more a.m. calories...But anyway- so I ate my 2:30 pm snack at I was looking at three hours before my run with no food! When this happens I usually eat a small, easily digestible snack right when I get home at 3, and then try to at least wait 30 minutes before running if it's a long run, short ones I find it doesn't bother me. (I have actually gone running out of guilt after complete pig-out sessions with no ill effects also).

Soooo, since I needed a small snack, and have been waiting for next weekend to try the gu, I figured what the heck. I felt kinda silly since I was only going 6 miles, but I sucked down the Chocolate Outrage flavor (and a small glass of water) and headed out. It was delicious! I was shocked. I thought it would taste disgusting. I found it to taste exactly like Betty Crocker chocolate frosting. Not sure how I'd feel about that after 10 miles, but before exercising it tasted great.

So I was curious to see if I would have a little energy boost about 25 minutes into my run, and I guess I's hard to tell. Afternoons are REALLY bad for me in terms of feeling tired and sluggish, and my afternoon runs usually reflect that. The miles were 10:04, 9:27, 9:24, 9:24, 9:24, and 9:06. Now I would love to say it was perfect negative splits, but if you want to split hairs the second 9:24 mile was 9:24:59, so almost a second slower than the first one :)

Regardless, I'm happy with that, though the last mile was really tough for me. I can't wait to get some of these shorter runs back in the 8s, but I need to be patient, I suppose. (I did take four months off, and this is only my second month running again, so what can I expect?).

Monday, October 20, 2008

New challenge and Free stuff!

With my nutrition not exactly, um, on track shall we say (translation: pigged out all weekend) Laura's post about Jenn's 21 Day Habit Challenge came just in time. I had a horrible weekend eating. I will repeat it here only to shock myself again and hope that the horror of seeing everything I ate in print will scare me out doing it again. (The scale this morning probably would have accomplished that if I had dared to get on it!):

Friday: wake up 6:30 am
Quaker Lower Sugar oatmeal for breakfast...banana snack....chicken noodle soup for lunch...granola bar snack...not a bad start, eh? Brings us to 2pm:

***something inside me snaps*****

2pm: I eat 8 snack size candy bars at my Day Job. Feeling the day is shot, and knowing I have no time to exercise, I go all out and stop on my way to my Night Job..

3:30pm: ....for a whopper Jr and side of fries! I eat this, feel sick for about 6 hours, and then as the night winds down at the restaurant where I work at night, I find 'dead' food in the window. This is what we call food that was accidentally made, or cancelled by a table, that never is served.

9:30pm: So I found an appetizer order of Blue Crab Claws (served in a lemon vinaigrette made with about a pound of butter)...I proceed to dip a biscuit in the sauce after eating the claws, and our biscuits are made of like 3/4 lard and have around 400 calories each (seriously- it's online!)..when the biscuit is done I start in on a chicken Alfredo (fried chicken, pasta in a sauce of pure cream and Parmesan cheese...oh yeah, and butter of course). Then I switch back to the sauce from the crab claws this time dipping Cheese Toast (this is brioche bread brushed with oil and toasted, spread with Alfredo sauce then covered in mixed shredded cheeses and toasted again like pizza)....finally I feel sick again and stop.

11pm: about lo leave work when a coworker shows up in the kitchen (as I'm eating Corn and Crab Bisque out of the empty pot on my way to send the pot through the dishwasher) and asks if anyone wants the rest of her carrot cake. "I do!" I yell before I even comprehend what she has said...I just know it's about food so of course I want it :) So yeah, then I eat a half a slice of carrot cake, which is my favorite, and which everyone knows is the Most Caloric, Most Fattening Cake. I know- deceiving, huh? Considering it has vegetables in it... no fair! :(

11:30pm: Arrive home, and sensibly realize I don't need dinner after all that, so instead I just eat a bowl of frozen peas and drink 3 beers. GREAT NIGHT.

Saturday, am: I do great on Saturday during the day, a granola bar for breakfast, work through lunch...looking good...then I get hungry at work. Always bad..

3pm: don't want to spend any money, so I pilfer fries and eat them with the Restaurant Ranch. I emphasize Restaurant Ranch because everyone knows it is way more delicious than any store bought kind...this is because (most) restaurants don't have to publish nutritional information for their menus...and they add a ton of buttermilk and other fattening deliciousness that makes their dressings soooo good, but if you knew how many calories these had you'd never eat them, so store bought brands can't make theirs as good (at least that' s my explanation).

I make it through the rest of the afternoon on nothing (I know- bad) and even get a run in because I'm saving my calories for the Red Sox game.

7pm: friends come over to watch the game. We decide to try to imitate stadium fare, and have chips with guacamole (about a pound of it), corn dogs (I had two), southwest egg rolls (the Friday's version sold in the frozen food section), jalapeno poppers (also Friday's), toll house ultimates chocolate and peanut butter cup chunk cookies (or something like that) and of course like a case of beer. Oh yeah, and queso dip.

Sunday: slept horribly due to all the junk. Too tired to run.

am: granola bar for breakfast. Work is really busy, nothing during work.

3pm: eat a banana after grocery shopping. Not doing too bad! Get home and realize my husband doesn't want to do anything even though it's gorgeous out so I read a magazine and eat the rest of the jar of queso dip and half a bag of tostitos scoops.

6pm: Feel guilty so go for a 3 mile walk, inadvertently stopping on the way at the store for a king size bag of m&ms..oops!

7pm: watch the Red Sox game, eat dinner (steak, potatoes and corn).

10pm: read before bed while eating about 1/2 the m&ms....

And that brings us to today. So far so good....and I'm starting this challenge with my goal being to cut out junk food (anything that isn't borderline nutritious) and lose 5lb in the 21 days. I will have my first weigh-in tonight, and will let you all know what it is to keep me honest! Any advice on how to curb junk food cravings (or how to cut yourself off if you've fallen off the wagon and are thinking about a real food bender..) is greatly welcome.

Good news from this morning is that I won something! I participated in last week's Free Stuff Giveaway over at Runners' Lounge, and won a t-shirt from One More Mile! Can't wait to see it...I'll have to link a picture. But yay! I never win things! The Giveaway question was about what you listen to while running. If anyone cares what my answer was, it's here.

Bad news from this weekend the Red Sox lost last night in game 7 of the ALCS. But the Rays won, so I'm happy for another team making history!

**edit: due to my dietary downfalls, I am very excited about this week's TiaRT topic...hope you all have some great tips ready!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I am le tired.... borrow from my favorite animation. Really. I feel very uninspired this week. I guess the 10 miles on Sunday took more out of me than I thought. Tuesday's 3 miles were ok. I actually felt the urge to pick up the pace and pass a guy running just ahead of me. I felt like I had energy and went through the three pretty quick, but then I was wiped out.

On Wednesday's 5 miler I just felt kind of blah. I tried to keep it slow so I wouldn't tire, but after 3 I really felt dead. My left knee was hurting, and FOR ONCE I decided to listen to my body and walk a bit. I ran/walked the fourth mile, and then was planning on walking the 5th, but halfway through a good song came on and I decided I could handle jogging the last half mile. My knee had stopped hurting and it actually felt pretty good. My legs were really tired that night at work, however, so I think I'm not getting enough rest.

Yesterday's 3 miles were the same. Didn't have much energy...first mile 10:02. Felt a little better in the second, and it took 9:33. The last mile I think was on track for the same, but at about .6 miles in I tried to turn it on a bit and it was 8:40. This is only good because seriously the first .6 were probably at a 9 1/2 minute pace, so that last .4 must have been pretty quick (for me!).

Regardless all this so-so running has left me uninspired for the weekend. I was planning on a 5k Saturday morning, but my body is begging for a sleep-in day, and I think I'll run 6 on Sunday, so not sure if I'll do the 5k afterall. Actually I'm not sure about my schedule at all. Technically I have 6 on the calendar for this week, then 11 next weekend, but I have a lot more free time this I'm considering switching them? Not sure if it's a good idea, though, since I think the reason for the step-back this weekend is obvious from the fatigue I feel. Whoever makes those schedules up must be familiar with how first-time-marathon-training runners feel a couple weeks must be time for a long run break? I have no idea...I'm strictly going off the advice of those that do!

I actually think part of the reason I want to do the 11 miler this weekend is that I'm anxious to try gels. I have never tried them before (or any during-the-run nutrition), and I'm not expecting to like it, but I am hoping for a brief boost in energy. Any advice on flavors/brands is definitely welcome. I bought two yesterday, but would obviously only try one on the 11 mile run. I picked up Tri-berry and Chocolate Outrage (I think those were the names?). I am a total chocoholic, so I thought I would love that one, but I was disappointed when I got home and looked at it to see that it has only 20 g of carbs (compared to tri-berry's 25), and 2 g of fat and 3 g of sugar! Fat is something I'm not looking for in a gel, but again, all advice on personal experience with these and other gel flavors extremely needed! Has anyone tried the plain? That just sounds so disgusting to snot or something...(shiver), but considering I had a hard time stomaching even the gatorade on Sunday maybe plain's the way to go?

In other news the Red Sox SOMEHOW managed to eke out a win last night. Really, where did that come from?? I went to bed depressed at 10:30 and they were down 0-7 in the bottom of the 7th....and I wake today to find they somehow pulled it out 8-7??!! Go Sox!

Good luck to you all who have races this weekend!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Lakeshore Drive 10 Mile Run

Well, the race on Sunday was pretty blah.... I did make 1:40 (according to my garmin), but since the garmin said 10.07 miles when I crossed the race clock said 1:41:03 or something...I crossed the starting line at 15 seconds, but that still puts me over 1:40:00 ....ugh. I didn't even feel tired; I just wasn't in it at the time. After Saturday night's wonderful nutrition choices and only 5 hours of sleep, the last thing I wanted to do was go drive an to run almost 2. My stomach was in knots due to my brilliance with the cheetos, and I was already stressing about how many bathrooms would be on the course. I stopped to do business at a gas station about ten minutes away. Mission accomplished, but not completely it seemed, so I was still stressed. I knew it wasn't going to go's a brief recap:

The Good:
This is a new Longest Distance for me! That really helped 9.3 to the finish go by really fast and effortlessly. (9.3 or 15k is the longest I'd done before this, and only once, in May). So it was the longest and much, much easier, which must mean my conditioning has improved. In Disney in May I was ready to keel over once I crossed the line. It was also good that I found the start so easily, and good that it started so early. Lakeshore Drive in New Orleans is really pretty. It (obviously) skirts Lake Ponchartrain which is huge, so it felt like running along the ocean. One last good thing was that during the short loop (out and back 1.5) there were potties every quarter mile or so. This gave me reassurance that when the urge struck, I wasn't going to have to run to someone's yard :)

The Bad:
The bathroom problem. I got my number and immediately got in line for the disgusting port-o-lets. I was lucky enough to get one with toilet paper, but couldn't go. I knew would cause problems later, but what could I do? The announcer yapped forever while everyone was at the start, which is something I also hate. Just start already! It's already 80 degrees at 7:30, are you waiting for it to get hotter??? Finally we're off. It was two laps, an out and back 3 mile for the 5kers, and then an out and back 7 mile for the 10 milers. This was incredibly boring. I hate out and backs, and it's even worse to do it twice! On the Outs there was wind driving at you. It was actually good the second time out because it felt cooling as it whipped against all the sweat pouring down my face (gross, I know). But it also felt as if it held you back. Oddly, I didn't feel it helping me on the Backs...all it seemed to do was blow all my sticky hair to my face so I couldn't see :( It also sucked that the sun was BEATING down on us the whole time. None of this was shady. I got a blister on the side of my foot that bothered me from 2 miles on. Now I mentioned there were a lot of potties on the first out and back. Therefore this also covered first 1.5 of second 7 mile loop. So that brings me to 4.5 miles. Finally I get to see some new ground, and guess what? No more bathrooms! Residential neighborhoods :( My fears of course became stronger, which, in turn, made me feel like I had to go. It wasn't urgent yet, so I kept on moving. By mile 6 I saw one! This reassured me, and since I knew the turn around was in half a mile, I kept going, figuring I could walk back if I was suddenly stricken. I made back, and was now at 7 miles, so the game began of how to avoid hitting the outhouses. I saw the one from 6 miles, and thought...'well, it's only 1.5 to the next one, I can wait'...and so began my game. I did make it, all the way, in fact, only to finally cross the line, get some water, and get stuck in a conversation with someone I didn't know who wouldn't shut up! All of a sudden I was just like, 'excuse me!' as I ran away when the guy was mid-sentence. Luckily I did, again, get one with tp.

The New:
this race had one element I wasn't prepared for: Hills! I always liked running hills in CA, but I was a lot more prepared for it then. Needless to say, on the way out there was a downhill, and two up-and-downs. I vowed that on the way back I would pass someone on each up....and I did! Actually the last guy I passed was around 8 miles, and he came up to me after to tell me he tried to pace off me when I passed him, but couldn't keep up!

So the miles weren't all bad...I think the last two were somewhere in the 9s. And I could have pushed it for sure; I was just worried about passing out from dehydration (see Saturday's post) or going in my pants...

The weird thing was, usually when I finish after a few minutes I am invigorated and full of energy. Yesterday I felt like crap all day. Was I just hungover? Not sure. But it definitely put the fear in me to watch what I eat/drink before a race! Next up a 5k this coming Saturday, I think....maybe I can get closer to the 25 minutes flat I need by November 1..

Saturday, October 11, 2008

5 servings of Cheetos Puffs and 4 beers

Yep, that's right...that was my pre-race carbo load dinner. :) Probably an absolutely horrible idea that I will pay for tomorrow, but hey, that's what I was in the mood for.

I'm thinking of following it up with some merlot and junior mints, but haven't yet decided. It is 10:40, and I have to be up in 7 hours, so I should be thinking more about sleep than the creamy deliciousness of Junior mints (which are made by Tootsie Roll Industries, did you know that?) but what can I say? I relish self destruction :)

Seriously though, what good thinking on the company's part to come up with two perfect Low Fat Foods. And they probably weren't even thinking about diets back in the fifties when they came out! Back then people were perfectly happy (and even aspired!) to be rounder.

Alas, that is no longer the case, so I eventually have to crack down on my binges ;( In terms of racing, though, I figure it can only help me during the training process. If I will eat like this, not drink any water and sleep too little, and then do a 10 mile race at 7:30 am (an hour drive away), I can go no where but up! I mean, I might be slow as sh*t tomorrow, but it will only look that much better when I rock the half marathon in a month, huh? No? Come on! Shut up and let me enjoy my warped way of thinking! :)

So for tomorrow I am hoping realistically (given today's turn of events) to finish at about 1:40, but let's say my reach goal is 1:30. Totally doable on an ordinary day, but maybe not this day due to my excellent choices so far. The one smart move I made is that I actually took yesterday and today off from exercise, and I didn't even work last night! That is a big step for me, because as I've said, I dig a schedule.

I eat exactly the same thing for breakfast everday (oatmeal right now), rotate between two lunch choices (lean gourmet lasagna or progresso chicken noodle soup), and between two dinner choices, "my salad" or "my stir fry". I say this because I will call my husband on the way home from work and say, "make my salad" or "make my stir fry".

They are both simple. The salad is romaine lettuce, 1/4 of an avocado, a couple teaspoons of honey roasted almond slices, 1 oz. of sliced Cabot sharp cheddar cheese, and Olde Cape Cod fat-free balsamic vinegarette dressing (I know I spell vinegarette wrong but like I said before shut up!) and one glass of Kendall Jackson Sauvignon Blanc. I emphasize glass because in this day and age (and back in the 60s) that meant about 4 or 5 ounces, but that is ridiculous so I use large wine glasses and fill it the brim, so my glass is an easy 8 ounces if not more. But it sounds so much better to say that I have one glass rather than two (or let's get real- three!) I may buy the glass that they sell in so many wineries that holds a whole bottle (hint hint, Christmas is coming if any of you are planning on buying me something...haha). "My stir fry" is even easier. A whole bag of stir fry veggies, about 10 medium frozen shrimp, Miracle Shrimp Seasoning, and a 24 oz Bud Light. Seriously (for some reason I prefer the 24 to two separate bottles or cans). And my husband knows that when I order either of these two meals, all parts are necessary or I will flip. Nothing annoys me more than to get home to "my salad" and have there be no avocado. As I've mentioned before, how does anyone live without avocado? But I digress.

The point is, I am a creature of habit and like a schedule, so two days off was a stretch for me, but I needed it. I ran the night I hosted the Around the World Dinner Party (aka an excuse to drink too much wine on a weeknight), albeit only 3 miles. And guess what? I was still sick Thursday night and Friday, so maybe I've finally learned my lesson. I now feel good, so hopefully tomorrow's 10 won't suck the life back out of me.

And yes, I am now drinking merlot and enjoying Junior Mints. But come on- it's Saturday night, and if this is the highlight of my week that's pretty sad, so you should let me enjoy it. At least until tomorrow, when I'm sure I'll be hating life. But I'm pretty sure I did the same thing last weekend, and I PRed in the 5k then, so maybe it's a good thing? Speaking of which, finally the photo evidence that I did PR:

and a couple others from that morning:

In other news I finished the second book in the Twilight series, and am at least intrigued enough to read the third. I've also finally caught up on Heroes, though I'm now so totally confused (after the 9 month lag between seasons) that I have no idea what's going on. Survivor and the Hills are, as usual, annoying me, but I will watch nonetheless.

Now, however, I have to force myself to go to sleep. I am ridiculously tired, and it is 11:30 and my alarm will go off at 5:40. Ugh. Wish me luck....ten miles will be a new Longest Distance for me!

Friday, October 10, 2008


I was tagged by Leana. I have to write six random things about myself and tag ten other people. Hmm....Let's see....

1) I am a very caring, compassionate, and empathetic person. I can't watch many commercials (especially anything from Visa, Cotton (the fabric of our lives), or the Humane Society), romantic movies, or anything on Animal Planet without getting upset. My mom says when I was only like three or four I used to cry when we passed the nursing home, and ask why no one took care of the elderly people.

2) I love schedules, day planning, to-do a child I used to get more excited about school supplies than new clothes. I loved getting a new calendar or planner and writing down all the things I have to get done each day, checking them off one by one. It makes me feel like I've accomplished something. I think this can only help me in marathon training; I will do what the schedule says each day, because I have's in writing and I need to check it off!

3) I pride myself on super efficiency, and I can't stand watching someone do things the long way. Most of the time I probably seem lazy, but really it's only that I've done what everyone else had to do (be it a class, work, chores) but a lot faster. :) I am an excellent multi-tasker, a skill my husband completely lacks, to my dismay.

4) I am very OCD about some things. I could be ten miles from home and I will turn around convinced the curling iron is on, when in fact I know that it's not. I check my alarm clock like 100 times, and at red lights put my car in first gear over, and over, and over until the light changes.

5) I like to drink, like most people I know, but in particular I love the aesthetic of it. I love the sound of ice being dropped in a cup, the way wine looks in a glass, garnishes on martinis. I love classic cocktails and bartenders that make them well. (Don't get me wrong- I do way more than my share of cheap beer drinking, but I truly love the fancy stuff).

6) I am a caffeine addict. I have tried various methods to rid myself of this habit, but I drink four cups of coffee each morning and usually a diet soda at lunch. I know- it's bad. :(

I'm tagging:

More on the Peruvian food night later...Ugh. I am so tired...6 hours of sleep is not enough for me! Maybe worknight parties are a bad idea...

Thursday, October 9, 2008

How quickly we forget....

that we are sick! So I get home yesterday with every intention of NOT exercising...but I couldn't help it (oops). Not that I'm some die hard fitness buff, just that I am terrified to get behind on my schedule. I am convinced that it will snowball until I am weeks behind, and then I won't be able to finish the marathon. I know this isn't true, it's just my mind's poor prediction of future events.

So I did the five miles anyway. I know, I know....and I felt crappy afterward...of course. But the run was good! Part of why I went was because it was so gorgeous outside, and that made it worth it. No ridiculous sweating, and I actually felt fairly strong. I still haven't gotten back to the really free feeling I used to have; my muscles still feel locked up and stiff somehow. But it's getting there! I think the miles were as follows: 10:03, 9:52, 9:48, 9:27, 9:33. I was really trying the last mile, but apparently it just wasn't enough.

As soon as I finished it seemed the floodgates in my head let loose and I spent the rest of the night (and most of today) trying to not spray the world with snot during one of my million and one sneezes...I know- TMI, but it's true. I feel as though the worst is over (and I'm aware I said this yesterday) and I'm hoping that prepping for my Peruvian food party tonight will keep me too busy to run the 3 on my schedule for today.

Peruvian food? Curious, I know. We are starting Around the World parties at work, and I wanted to be first. My husband is Peruvian, and according to him I do fair renditions of some of the classic dishes. I'll have to post some pictures if any of it comes out good. To anyone who is curious, seek out a Peruvian restaurant in your city...the food is excellent fusion cuisine influenced by the Inca culture as well as waves of immigration from Spain, India, China and Africa. To me it's most reminiscent of blending Thai and Latin flavors. Yummy!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

27 hours of sleep in two days...

Well...the 9 miles didn't go as planned. It was ridiculously hot, and I had already been getting the slightest hint of a sore throat all day...I should've known what was coming. Unfortunately I have a 10 mile race this Sunday, and didn't want to go into it with my longest run being 8 miles 2 weeks ago!

So I tried, and it just wasn't happening. It was so humid, and I was soaked by the end of the first mile. Then my headphone wires decided to keep trying to tangle up, get in front of my face, or fall out of my ears. The first 4 miles were still ok, and I kept telling myself if I could get to 4.5 then I just had to "go home". This is what I always tell myself, and it usually works. Of course I'm usually on an out and back run, so I have no choice. This time I did a strange loop that brought me to the center of town at 6.1 miles. I stopped to drink from the fountain and felt like I was going to die. I had blisters on both feet since I was so soaked, and I just knew 2.9 miles more wasn't happening.

I wobbled back to the trail and started up again, heading back home instead of the .8 more in my current direction I would need to hit 9 at home. I walked from 6.1-.2, then attempted a jog again for another quarter mile. I stopped at 6.45 and walked the rest for a total of 7.25 :(

This wouldn't have been the end of the world, except then I noticed that my little sore throat was now a full blown I-feel-like-crap cold. I still had to get ready to work that night, and I felt sore and achy, my head was stuffed and my throat was SO SORE. It wasn't a bad night money-wise at work, but I just knew I was going to have a crappy night.

And that I did. And the whole next day was the same. Of course I stayed home, and slept until 3 pm so when I say the whole next day I mean from 3 pm until 10pm, when I headed back to bed. Now it was congestion in my sinuses and a horrible headache that woke me up at 3 in the morning until 5...ugh. I called work again to say I was going to be late, and finally pulled out of the worst of it around 9 am. At least I if only I can avoid the temptation of the 5 miler I have scheduled for this afternoon....I know it would make me feel crappy again, but I just hate getting off schedule!

Monday, October 6, 2008


Yep, that's right. A new 5k PR!! By almost 2 minutes! I cannot begin to describe how excited I am by this...Saturday morning was REALLY warm, and my hopes of coming in under 27 minutes were dwindling with each sweaty minute before the start of the race. I also had some digestive complications which sent my running to the restroom 3 times before the start...I was slightly worried I wouldn't even be able to start the race, let alone PR.

Something that may have helped was that I had a fan for the first time! My husband was finally able to come to a race, and I think it really inspired me to try my best. He was also able to get a couple of pictures, which I'll put up here when I get the chance. It was really great to have him there for my best race to date, and I hope he can see many more. I came in second in my age group, so I got an age group award also but haven't been able to pick it up yet because I had to leave for work.

I worked 7 hours and then headed off for race number two...(I know can you believe it? A new PR and my first two-a-day...). This was another Oktoberfest race and luckily I could partake in the free beer at this one! This was a much larger race, and after the morning's efforts I wasn't able to keep the same pace (26:49 for the 3 mile course), but it was a lot of fun and it felt great to still have energy after doing two races (albeit short ones). They had great technical shirts at this one also. I really wish more race directors would realize that most people would pay a little extra to have a shirt they can actually run in rather than another men's t-shirt to throw in the closet. (That's my other irritation- if you must do a t-shirt can't you at least have a women's cut and a men's?).

So in all it was a good weekend. 9 miles on the calendar for today, but it might get a little dicey...I am coming down with something and have the worst sore throat (clarification- if I ever mention a sore throat it will always be the worst. I hate sore throats!!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Yay for the shuffle....(ipod that is; not my running technique..though I suppose it's close to that!)

Yesterday I had a great run. I headed out for 5 miles and for the first time in ages it felt good...right from the start. I didn't feel dead tired in the legs, and definitely still felt relatively fresh when I finished...not exhausted like I usually do. Truly I could have gone a lot further, but I'm trying to stick to my training plan and not over do the short runs.

My ipod definitely spiced things up. I did miss the solitude I've been enjoying lately, but it was also invigorating to have something to run too and not have to think! I haven't heard these songs since I broke my last Shuffle in May, so it was really cool to hear my favorites again and the miles whent by really fast. Well, in my head they went by fast, in actuality they went like this: 10:42, 10:10, 10:06, 10:02, 9:28. The last mile I thought I was going A LOT faster, but hey, it still felt good and I was really pumped about my races on Saturday. I had decided that my small goal would be to just beat my current fastest of 27:28, and my bigger goal is to be under 27 minutes. If I can do that, I think I'll have a chance to get to 25 minutes by 11/1 for the Crescent City Fall Classic and get a seeded position for the 10k spring Classic in April.

At least this was what I was thinking until the pinched nerve under my shoulder blade turned to raging pain when I woke up this morning. I am about to head to the doctor and hoping they can give me some serious meds because I can't even turn my head or look up....Grrr! And to think it had actually loosened up alot last night. What a bummer....

I still plan to be under 27 minutes, though....I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Exciting news...

I can do pictures! Here are a couple of the trace. This is the paved path I mention that I run on pretty much exclusively:

More info can be found here. It's just like this the whole way, with occasional intersections with real roads. It's really convenient to get to with an entrance about a half mile from my house. In total I think it is about thirty miles long, stretching from Covington to Slidell. The view shown above is heading south, the way I usually go. You'll notice the sun is on the right, to the west, and below the tree line making it shady in the afternoons. From the map you can see the part I run on is the vertical north/south part, with the direction I went the other day (to the west) being the little curve to the left it takes in the upper left of the map.
Look at that! Pictures and links in one post. I'm growing more techno-savvy by the minute!
In other exciting news we now have local channels back! Don't worry Survivor, ANTM, Heroes, Biggest Loser...I haven't forgotten about you...I've just been watching you on the internet cursing our satellite...but it looks like now I can actually use the tv again. A good day all around..

A whole new world....

So after really hurting after a 5k on Saturday, and a rather disastrous 8 mile run on Monday, I finally sucked it up and went shoe shopping. I went to a different store and the selection was much greater. I went to this place because it's run by a guy with a PhD (I assume in exercise phys or the like), and being the science-minded person that I am, decided that this meant he Knows What He's Doing. I was therefore a little disheartened when I entered the store (in a house...really cute actually...if you're ever in Mandeville, Louisiana check out Varsity Sports) and found that the salesperson helping me was....a 15 (ok maybe 16) year-old girl.

Now nothing against kids, but I was just a little skeptical that someone so young would really be able to assess my gait and judge by my height, weight, ability, and intensity of training what shoe I should be in. But I was wrong! She watched me walk, and asked what I had been wearing recently. When I told her the Asics Kayano 14, she immediately said she thought that that was way too much stability for me, with a pretty neutral arch. I 100% agree, as that shoe feels like running on two bricks (to me), and has hurt my feet (specifically the inside of my ankle) since day 1. And I never mentioned to her that it wasn't working out for me.

So with my new found trust she proceeded to show me several models. I hate the process, because how do you really tell which is best? I tried to not get wrapped up in the look, but it's so hard! I am slightly vain, and do want something that is both functional and stylish. This is something I find majorly lacking in most women's shoes. Seriously, why are they all so ugly??? WHY do designers choose those colors? And why, please tell me why, does everything have to be metallic? I hated most of them, but tried not to let this get to me and hope I made a decision based on function. With the many suggestions from others, I tried on the Asics Axiom, Asics Nimbus, Brooks Glycerin, Saucony Trigon Ride, and some Mizunos the girl grabbed. I was disappointed they didn't have the Pearl Izumis, as those had been recommended as well, but I'll try 'em on if I ever see them anywhere.

I finally narrowed it down (actually based on fit!!) to the Mizunos and the Asics Nimbus. The Nimbus was only available a whole size too big, but seeing as I'd read that you should get running shoes at least a half and up to a whole size larger than you normally wear I didn't think about it too much. They felt a little bulky, but nice and soft, which was something lacking in the Kayanos. I worry that I may not have been fair to the Mizunos since I have never worn this brand before, but in the end I went with the Nimbus.

Yesterday I went for 3 mile run and it went great! The miles were 10:49, 10:04, and 9:18, so I'd say they should work out for me. I had NO foot pain after, which I had become accustomed to, but my knee was a little tweaky. This went away towards the end, and I think it may just be a matter of getting used to shoes that don't hurt.

The great part is that they are the older model, so they were 30% off! I figure if they work out long term I can then get the new model a half size smaller. Hopefully I don't trip! We'll see this weekend.

I also finally took some pics (that my husband was supposed to upload last night and didn't grr...) of the trace where I run. I'll put them up soon. I also got a new ipod! Finally some running with music! I broke the last one at some point in May, and have been running tune-less since. I have actually really enjoyed the serenity and the chance to focus on nature and my form and breathing...but 9 miles is a long time to be introspective (for me anyway) so some distraction will be nice. Plus for better or worse I run faster with music.

So the big question is what do you listen to? I know this has been asked a trillion times, so if any of you can just point me in the direction of some of these discussions that would be great. I like fast music for running, and don't really like country (during running) for that reason, but all suggestions welcome...I need to freshen up my playlists!