Friday, April 27, 2012

Big Day Tomorrow

It's 9:30pm and I am headed to bed.  I've had nothing to drink today but LOTS of water, and I've eaten really healthy food all day (remembering to "eat like you're in training" - because I am in training.).  The alarm is set for 4:35am, my gear is laid out and ready, clothes, shoes, iPod loaded with my running playlist, stopwatch, PowerBars, and a change of clothes for after the race.  Tomorrow is my longest race of the season, a 10K - about 6.2 miles!  It's my second time on this course and I'm hoping for a PR - wish me luck!!

But it turns out tomorrow will be a HUGE day for several reasons!

1)  I get to see an old college friend before and after the race - it's been at least 10 years since we last got together, and I'm super excited to have a chance to catch up!

2)  After the race, I'll drive the 60 miles home and try to squeeze in a nap, before heading 60 miles the other direction:  Another friend of ours is having a surprise WEDDING tomorrow afternoon - they just announced this morning, they're getting married in the afternoon and we're hitting the reception at 4pm.  We've known them for many years and love them both dearly, can't believe they finally decided to tie the knot and determined to do it so quickly!!  We'll get to see nearly EVERYONE we know tomorrow afternoon, and help celebrate our dear friends' long-overdue nuptials - I'm really looking forward to it, and it's such a wonderful unforeseen happy coincidence we were already planning to be in town, because...

3) A whole separate group of dear friends, former co-workers from my auditing / public accounting days, formed a band years ago - they're very good and we always enjoy seeing them play when they have a gig.  Occupational hazard:  they go on hiatus each year during Busy Season (what the rest of the world calls "tax season").  This weekend the band comes out from under the rock they've been hiding under for four months and has their first show of 2012 - we've been planning to attend for months.  So after the race, after the (possible) nap, and after the surprise wedding reception, we'll head to a local watering hole and rock out with the band!!

4) Once we get home from this raucous and insanely busy day and night, I go straight to bed because I get up Sunday morning to catch a flight... another 60-mile drive to the airport and off to Cleveland I go for a week.  My bags are already packed and ready to walk out the door.

I hope I have the stamina for all this:  tomorrow I'll need to go non-stop (at top speed, no less, at least for the race!) like a kid who's still in college, not a woman in her mid-30's!

All I'll need is... 

more coffee, please.

Photo by Paul:

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Happy Hump Day

I've had a rough up-&-down week.  Saturday I did a practice 10-K to prepare for this weekend's race.  Coty & I had a nice run, 8-minute running intervals with 1-minute walk breaks and a couple of long walk / water stops.  I don't think we've gone that far in months!  So that was great, but it left me so wiped out I was incapable to doing anything else the rest of the day.  Sunday I got my son to walk the dog for me and got some much-needed yard work done.

So, great weekend, right?  Then Monday... I just could NOT stop noshing, grazed all afternoon and evening.  But I got a really nice, long walk in with the dog.  Didn't feel up to any running, I think the 10K on Saturday really wore me out.  I decided that was OK since normally the last week of training before a big race, you really want to take it easy.  Tuesday (coincidence?) I was completely lethargic, unmotivated, exhausted all day.  It was like I hadn't slept at all the night before.  By the end of the work day, I just prayed Justin had already taken care of the dog because I was ready to go to bed and it was only 5:30pm!  The dog was relaxed & happy, already taken care of, so no exercise for me.  I just helped make dinner, and couched all night.

Thank goodness!  Today I woke up feeling much, MUCH better!  Motivation was restored, I felt rested and ready to take on tonight's training run.  On tap for tonight was a Catch The Wave group practice run of the Lake Run Inner Loop - 4.37-mile route we'll race on May 7.  Tonight's plan was 9-minute intervals with 1-minute walk breaks.  Coty went with me and we had a terrific time! 

The best part: I conquered The Hill.  The Lake Run route goes out the first mile, then makes a lollipop and you come back for the end of the race along the same mile.  Heading out, you go uphill a bit, then a long, not-too-steep decline.  The whole route is lots of rolling hills, most quicker than that, but coming back on the last mile going UP that long slow incline is a real challenge.  The only saving grace is that there is a water stop at that one-mile-to-go marker.  I've run this route countless times over the past several years, and each time I spend 5 minutes swearing, cussing like a sailor, cursing the man who designed that road and all his children.  NOT TODAY.  Coty needed some water, and they did have a water stop set up for the practice run tonight, so we took a longish break there and she had two cups of water.  I told Coty it was time to run another interval and we weren't going to stop till our 9 minutes were up.  We headed out fresh and mentally ready for that long incline.  That couple of minutes at the water stop really made a difference, because that interval was one of the best, most relaxed intervals we ran on the course today - 9 minutes took us to the top of the hill plus another 50 yards or so, and we took a short walk break and finished the remaining 1/4-mile strong.

 Me, at the top of that damn hill, two years ago.

All in all, a tough couple of days, but back on track for Wednesday, who knew?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Critical Mass and the End Game

END GAME:  At the end of the day, I have one goal in terms of my health:  I want to be the fittest, healthiest that I know how.  That's what this blog is all about for me.  The journey to a healthier body and mind requires that I improve my strength, flexibility and cardio endurance and lose weight... from my starting point, about 45 pounds. I started back on my diet & exercise plan in November and it's been slow, but I'm about 15 pounds down at this point.  Fifteen pounds in 5 months: it has definitely been slow, but I'm enjoying the process and keeping focused on the ultimate goal:  not just weight-loss, but better overall fitness!

This was a big week for exercise:  2-miles run on Monday, gym workout Tuesday, 4 miles Wednesday, and 6.2 on Saturday.  I was hoping all that activity would balance out the junk food I had while I was on the road Thursday and Friday.  I weighed myself this morning and found I'd lost 2 pounds!  This brings me to a total of 7 pounds over the past 30 days, which if you did the math above, is phenomenal performance for me.  This follows a 6-week plateau where my weight just would NOT budge.  Throughout the whole month of February and most of March, my body was just clinging to every ounce, every calorie I took in. 

I'm not so delusional as to even hope to continue a streak like this one:  I'm not calculating how long it will take to lose the remaining 30 or so pounds I want to lose at a rate of 7 per month.  I am hoping it indicates the training, exercise, the diet and food choices, the whole process... I'm hoping I've reached that CRITICAL MASS, where my body is finally working with me and not against me.  Finally getting with the program and responding in positive ways to the stresses I so carefully and strategically place on it in hopes of becoming Stronger, Faster, Better.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Reflecting on my final Miles update

Tonight, I completed the last of the 69 miles that were assigned to me by my friends and members of the LRC for my New Year's Challenge!!  It has been a great journey and a pleasure.  So glad to have great friends helping and encouraging me along the way, and a terrific group of supporters and running partners!!

FINAL MILES UPDATE:  The last two miles in the New Year's Challenge were for Amy Themer Tell and Christal Kneer!!  Strangely enough, my name never came up in the random-number generator that I set up!  I think it's fitting that the last mile is for me... as well as all the miles to come.

With this goal behind me and my jogging endurance back to where it should be, my next challenges are:
  1. continued weight loss, specifically getting to the 20-pound mark which is only 6.2 pounds away.  It doesn't sound like much but realistically I'm at least a month from the finish line on that one.
  2. improving my pace to a solid 5.2 mph average, especially over longer distances.  I'll have plenty of opportunity to work on this with three races in the next three weekends!  I'm running a 10k on April 28, my second one, and I'm hoping to shave several minutes off of last year's time.  The following week is a 4.37 mile competitive run, and the week after that, Race for the Cure in Peoria, 5k run with about 25,000 of my closest friends.  More on that on another day.
 I've decided to continue my weekly "pack run" with Coty and the Lake Run Club by doing the Thursday Night Accumulative Marathon (TNAM) again this year.  I had a toe injury last year and skipped it, but completed the program in the 2010 season and it was really great.  Basically, the program works like this:  The Lake Run Loop of 4.37 miles is an accurate 1/6 of a marathon.  In the eight weeks following the Lake Run race, you meet up with a group of TNAM runners each week and run it again.  After 6 times through the course, you've officially completed you first "marathon"!!  It was a lot of fun and a great way to keep up my endurance, and you get the beautiful landscape of Lake Bloomington to break up the monotony of the treadmill or the sidewalks around the neighborhood each week.  Plus, the dog LOVES it, so many wonderful smells and little holes to explore!

So that's it for today.  THANK YOU to everyone who has been following along with all those miles posts on Facebook, and all those who have sent messages of encouragement and motivators the past 3 months.  I appreciate you so much.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

What's with the Miles Updates?

Most of my Facebook friends know but for those who don't, I posted a New Year's Challenge on January 1 this year, on my own page and on the Lake Run Club Facebook page, asking anyone who was so inclined to "Like" my post, and I would run one mile for them in 2012.  When all was said & done, I had been assigned 69 miles (including two for myself, and SIX from my sister-in-law, who is a slave-driver).  I'm all about structure, so I established some rules for what counted as "running" a mile:  no walking counted toward the goal.  It's been three months now.  I've been just plugging away at this goal and slowly but surely, two and sometimes four miles at a time, whittled it down to just those last two miles!

Along the way, I've become obsessed with MILES UPDATES on my Fb page and I'm sure most of my Fb friends are nothing short of sick of seeing them, but the process kept me honest, accountable, and forced me to take account of my progress toward the goal, and let people know that, yes, I ran a mile for you, just like I promised.  if there's one thing people should know about me, it's that I find enormous value and take pride in ALWAYS doing what I say I'm going to do.  (Sometimes it takes a while, because I'm a committed procrastinator, but if something needs doing, I ALWAYS get it done.  Eventually.)

In the time since my original Miles Post, I have run and walked countless miles, with and without my dog, on the treadmill, on Constitution Trail, with my running group, on my own, in rain, wind, and on one memorable occasion, 6.5 miles running and walking in 3 inches of snow and temperatures below freezing.  (Thank god the dog was with me that day!)  I've also diligently continued my weight-training and cross-training at the gym, increased my endurance and my average pace, and lost 10.4 pounds.

So tomorrow night, after my running group, my Facebook page will once again read:  MILES UPDATE:  Today's miles were for:  ___________________... will my friends be watching and waiting to see who those last two miles were for?  I don't really know, but I will really enjoy putting it out there.  I'm really proud of the work I've done to get through all 69 of those miles.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A runner? A blogger? What's next?

I've noticed lately my posts on Facebook are getting pretty repetitive with updates on my progress with running, so I thought perhaps I should create a page specifically for discussing my exercise & weight-loss journey, especially my quest to become a "real runner".  This is mainly intended for friends and family but I do believe it's available for public viewing, not sure how to control that.  Gonna have to figure it out.

So this being my first post, I'll just start with a miles update for yesterday's run:  This weekend's miles were for: Kimberly Sand Nemec, Michelle Summers, Thom Rakestraw, and Betty Gracey.  With only 4 miles left on my New Year's Challenge, I've been thinking about what's next.  I'm willing to take suggestions... I'm currently leaning toward a goal of 60 miles in 30 days, but I do think that's a stretch.  I don't want to choose an unattainable goal and set myself up for disappointment.  I'd have to average 15 miles per week to make that a reality... I'm doing about 12 now.  Also, I'm obsessed with rules, so of course I have to work out whether walking counts??? My 10-minute warm-up & cool-down for each run pretty much guarantees an extra mile added onto each run.

All these things will work themselves out.  In the meantime, feel free to comment below, definitely suggest other challenges as a decision will have to be made soon - I'll probably kill off those last four miles tomorrow!

I'll work more on the blog site to try & make it pretty, add some links to articles and blogs / other pages that I enjoy as well.  Guess I'll see how I feel about this whole blogging thing.  Let me know what you think!

Champaign Illinois 10K April 2011 - first attempt!  Second attempt is only two weeks away now!