Monday, February 25, 2013

Only a Flesh Wound

Duly noted:  a little adult language ahead.

I'm happy to report my ice-related-injury of Saturday is healing quickly and I believe I'll be able to run in the Miller Park Zoo Stampede 5k this weekend!

Saturday night was a blast!  We had a great time celebrating our friend John's birthday:

Our dear friends Barbie and Tony

Me, John, and hubby Jason

Seems I can't take a picture with my eyes open, but aren't we cute?  :-)

I love that in these pics you can't see the mark on my chin.  (you know, because lucky me, my face broke my fall on Saturday.)  I do have a little mark on my chin where it hit the curb, but that didn't really become visible until Sunday morning, and actually it's not too obvious - looks a bit like a shadow and not really road rash.  I WISH I had a photo that included my legs - I had these super-fantastic-sparkly-patterned tights on, and the most awesome multi-colored blue/black/turquoise 4-inch heels!  Had a little too much to drink and stayed up past my bedtime, but we got to hang out with some great friends that we don't see too often.  SO much fun!

Sunday morning I woke up early (isn't that just the way when you have all day to sleep in??) and headed downstairs for my weigh-in.  Boo.  I was up 0.4 lbs for the week- which I take as no change - I mean, we're talking less than 8 ounces... up OR down, who cares, it's a zero sum game.  Disappointing after the really good week I'd had.  Frustrating.  I think it's time to do some research and figure out what's going on.  Pretty sure this is a food issue, rather than an exercise issue; feel like I'm doing great on the exercise side of this equation.  Time for a trip to the library.

I was in a lot of pain on Sunday.  A lot.  Mostly due to my leg, but it may have been exacerbated by a mild hangover.  But after some serious couching and limping heavily whenever I got up, I braced myself to take the dog for her walk.  Jason offered to go with me... partly just to hang out and jokingly to be there "in case you fall down again."  With the ice / snow situation on the sidewalks in our neighborhood, we decided to drive to a local park where we could pick up the Trail.  I was limping pretty badly at the start, but we walked at what I'm going to call a very leisurely pace for a little over an hour and covered just under 3 miles.  After about 30 minutes, I was walking almost normally.  Almost.

Found this here on Facebook and could NOT stop laughing.
When we got home from our walk, I was about ready for a nap.  Seriously, it really took it out of me.  It seems silly - it was just a one-hour walk, for crying out loud! - but I was ready for a break. Jason had another idea though.  He had some errands to run and talked me into joining him for a trip to the grocery store and The Dreaded Menards.  Menards always seems to take FOREVER - Jason loves wandering around and investigating new toys and tools to play with... but he was right, it was good to keep moving and keep that leg loose and warmed up for as long as possible.  And he promised to keep the wandering to a minimum!  So I got about another hour, hour and a half of walking in... I don't really count that as "exercise" but it was good for my leg.

Today was hard but much easier than yesterday.  The pain is localized in that muscle on my thigh - my knee and ankles feel pretty close to normal but that thigh muscle is tight and sore as hell.  It feels like someone PUNCHED me really hard on my leg. I was still limping, especially in the morning, but knowing how much the exercise helped yesterday, I made a point of getting up every hour or so at work and wandering around the building, either going to the bathroom, walking to the kitchen for more water, whatever I could think of.  At one point I was doing some research and just got up and paced around my desk and flexed my legs while reading reports.

After work, I took Coty for another 3-mile walk.  My leg was feeling much better and after about 15 minutes I was able to do the rest of the route without limping.  I didn't try any running but think I'll give that a shot tomorrow!

So screw the scale:  I'm still moving forward, weight-loss or no.  There's hope for participating - maybe even running! - in this weekend's 5k after all!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Becoming Calloused

Well with the new job I'm struggling a little with making some time for blogging but I'm still doing my thing over here.  It was a great week at work - I'm totally loving the new job.  SO glad I decided to make this change!  So... workout rundown for the week:

Monday:  pouring down rain.  Of course, it was clear but cold all day, right up until I got off work and headed home for a 3-mile run!  It started pouring down while I was getting changed into running clothes.  I actually had to talk Coty into going for a walk.  That's how bad it was.  Completely insane.  Do you have any idea what it takes to make that dog LAY DOWN when you suggest going for a walk???  So we did get in one mile... one very fast mile and got completely soaked through in under 15 minutes.  :-D

Tuesday was a long day - I had to go out of town for work, so up at 5am, on the road at 6:15am, worked 8am - 5pm at a client, then the 1 1/2-hour drive home.  No workout for me.  I call that a "rest day."

Wednesday was the first night for Ride the Wave!  I've been so excited for this, and made sure to eat "clean" all day - a really healthy lunch (one i was so pleased with, I took a picture!) and hefty afternoon snack to fuel up, and left work early so I could change clothes and be there right on time, at 5:15pm.  There was some socializing and introductions, some discussion of what the program is about, etc. and then a 2-mile assessment run. We had an opportunity to warm up with about a 1-mile jaunt to the "starting line" so I did an easy 2-minute walk / 2-minute jog to warm up on that distance.   I was hoping to run the entire 2 miles and average about a 11:30-min pace.  It was dark, so although I had my Garmin on, I didn't have much opportunity to monitor my pace, and the point is to run at a "comfortable" speed, and as I said, a speed I can maintain for the full 2-mile run.  As expected, I was one of the last to complete the assessment (compared to the 50-odd other participants, I'm definitely one of the slowest!) but I'm happy to report I came in at 22:54 - RIGHT ON PACE with my goal.  Awesome.
Full Garmin details here

Thursday was a gym day and I started with 20 minutes of interval training on the stationary bike on Level 5.  That one is still pretty tough but it may be time to consider trying Level 6.  Got in 5 miles before the timer went off. Then I did a "full-body" strength training workout - three sets each of 11 different exercises, hitting all muscle groups.  Highlights:  I bumped up my barbell curls from 20 lbs / 10 reps to 30 lbs / 6 reps.  That was tougher than I expected.  Will have to work on that.  Another new Bosu Ball Exercise:  squats on that wobbly thing!  Pretty self-explanatory, but I found a video for you anyway.   That was challenging - think I worked on balance more than glutes with those squats - but MUCH easier than the side-to-side lunges from two weeks ago!  Another new exercise:  "Fireflies" - this is awkward and I don't like to think what it looks like if you're a fellow gym-goer and have to watch me do this, but it feels good, works practically the whole body, and it's difficult!  Check out the video below.  Oh and this will be relevant later on... we had a snowstorm Thursday night.  Started around 4pm and it was fun looking out the gym windows and seeing all that snow dumping out of the sky!  (Didn't hurt that the weather kept the gym attendance low that night!!)

Friday I was a bit sore (the good kind) from the gym workout but feeling fantastic.  As always, Friday is a rest day so after work, just chilled out till Jason got home and we headed out for an evening together.  Burger baskets, beer, and oh yeah, something in the basement of the bar CAUGHT FIRE.  That pretty much cleared the joint out, but of course, we finished our beer and made sure to settle our tab before we headed home.  In all honesty, it was really more of a smolder than a fire but it's more fun to say the place was in flames, don'tcha think??  The fire department never even showed up but they located the source of the smoke and took care of it inside of maybe 20 minutes or so.  All's well that ends well - Jason had to work today anyway so we had planned to make an early night of it.

So today I planned a 3-4 mile group run.  The roads were relatively clear of all that snow but there are still patches of ice and packed snow here & there.  Well, wouldn't you know it, I found the ice!  About 4 minutes into our run, my left foot hit a bit of (what appeared to be) wet pavement (but which was in fact, wet ice) and went sliding at freaky-fast speed directly to my right.  I went sprawling.  UGH when will I learn not to fall down all the damn time?!?!?!  I landed HARD on the outside of  my left knee and the outside of my thigh, tweaked my ankle just a bit, and my face hit the curb.  (I had a nightmarish flash-forward of how I was about to lose my teeth.  Thank goodness I just hit my chin on the curb.  My teeth remain intact.)  I'm SO GLAD Meg was running with me, she encouraged me to stay still, evaluate my condition and then we walked for several minutes, tried some more running, and finished the run.  We just took care, took our time, ran some, walked some, and chatted.  Got about 3 miles in after all, just slowly - about 54 minutes (including my time on the ground).  There was a stretching demo set for after the run so I stuck around for that and gave my very unhappy leg/knee/thigh muscle some solid stretching.  Once my body began to cool off, it REALLY started to tighten up.  I'm taking it easy for the rest of the day, RICE (Meg taught me this great acronym) Rest, Ice, Compress, and Elevate.

So now I'm limping.  I took a bunch of Advil & I'm RICEing it.  We'll see how it feels tomorrow.  I don't think I have a serious injury.  Just some bruising and, apparently, some balance issues!

Tonight is our friend John's Big Fortieth Birthday so I'm planning to wear Extremely Un-Sensible Shoes, have dinner out, and party like a 40-year-old rock star later.  Hope my leg holds up to the abuse!  And as always, tomorrow will be another weigh-in day.  Have fun out there!

Last thought for the day:  found this on Facebook this week and I loved it.  I love the thought that "Your mind becomes calloused to effort."  We can train our minds the same way we train our bodies, and at the same time.
BTW, here is where I found it:  Not sure the source, it was on my friend's wall.

Sunday, February 17, 2013


It's been a few days since my last post but luckily I've had a pretty mundane few days...  Wednesday was my last post so you know that was a Gym Day, but all running, no strength training.  Thursday was supposed to be another gym workout - all weight training - but it turns out that was also a holiday of some sort... what's it called?  Oh yeah, Valentine's Day.  So here's the thing... I came home to change clothes and got... um...  distracted by a nice dinner & movie night with my dear husband.  No Thursday night workout for me!  oops.

Friday was another rest day (this one planned - I really hate working out Fridays after work and then having to take another shower & get dressed to go out),  

So back to the routine on Saturday:  here's a hint:  my Facebook / LoseIt! updates yesterday afternoon looked like this:  

"AWESOME RUN TODAY! Walked 1/2 mi, ran 1.5 mile, then felt so good I decided to reset my timer and run a 5k to see what kind of time I might get - so another 3.1 miles followed by a 1-mile walk (the rest of the way home) - THAT'S RIGHT I set a NEW Personal Record for 5K today, just screwing around on my dog-walk!! And total mileage for the day 6.2.

BOO-YAH!! :-)"

Here's how it happened: (gotta share because it just felt kind of magical)

I headed out with a loosely-defined plan of running & walking 5-6 miles, heading to Constitution Trail from the house and going south.  I walked the first 1/2-mile, then combination walk / run (mostly run) another 1/2-mile to warm up.  Then I really felt ready to get going and ran a full mile. During that mile, I kept noticing my mind wandering and I would think - "Oh crap, I've slowed down!" and check my watch... only to find it was solidly between 11:00 and 11:30 each time, which is a fine pace for me.  "Easy run" for me is in the neighborhood of 12:00 - 12:30 and I wasn't looking to push for speed, just a basic endurance run.  But MAN, it felt so good and I felt really comfortable (Note to self:  this is what it feels like to have two days off before a long run.)  Then my mind got to wandering again and I started thinking about the upcoming race schedule.  I'm excited for this year's races, feel like it's going to be a very successful year for running.  Now I'm getting off on a tangent, but that's exactly what it was like.  The first 5k of the year is just two weeks away, and you know how goal-oriented I am... I began thinking What should I have as my goal pace for the MPZ Stampede?  My stated goal for the year is to run a 5k under 35 minutes... but man if I'm feeling comfortable right now at 11:20... what does that work out to?

Yes, I'm an accountant; I could totally do that math in my head, but who cares about the MATH??  I decided I wanted to know what I could do, like NOW.  So when I hit the 2-mile mark, I decided to walk a few minutes, reset my Garmin, and start the clock over.  I'll run a 5k today, in the middle of this long run, and see just how fast I can do it.  Simple plan, plus it had the added benefit of Immediate Gratification.  

I filled Coty in on the plan; she seemed to be on board, and off we went!  No walking, and I tried not to check the watch too often, just run as fast as I felt comfortable doing, and with the exception of a couple of emergency pee-breaks requested by the dog, kept moving as fast as possible until the 3.1-mile marker.  At the end of the run, the watch said 36:15!  My previous 5k record was 37:18 last October at the CISAR 5k Leg Lifter, so I shaved MORE THAN a FULL MINUTE off my previous PR!  And check out those stats!  I managed a negative split on mile three but that first mile (which was Mile 3 if you're keeping track from the start of the day's workout) was a SOLID 11:25.  Sweet!

That.  Was.  Awesome.  

Here's a photo of my tired, happy dog after what turned out to be a practice 10K run on Saturday.

Man, it's hard to capture her eyes - her face always comes out as a black blob.  Oh, and yeah, it's winter.  The yard looks like crap.
Today was a lazy day.  (As most Sundays are around here.)  It was also weigh-in day - I came in at exactly the same weight as last week (believe me, I stepped on the scale 5 times, damn thing never budged!) - so zero gain / loss this week.  I did head out for a 3-mile run / walk with Coty and attempted a Test Mile.  That was a bust, but only because Coty decided to be a jerk and behave in a menacing manner toward another runner on the track, interrupting BOTH our workouts.  I had to stop the watch, put her on her back and scold her, and keep her on a short leash for the rest of the run, including the second half of the Test Mile, as consequences (aka punishment) for her growling and barking at a stranger who was completely within his rights. Bad dog.  

Anyway, the test mile came in a 10:05 - still pretty great for me, but not a new record.  I can feel great about that time, but I'm disappointed in Coty's behavior.  

Well, I'm off to bed, gearing up for another great week at work! Oh and Ride the Wave starts this Wednesday so I'll have a new, structured training plan readying me for the Lake Run 12K the first weekend in May (and in the process, also for my 10K at the end of April!!)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

5k Days

Quick post... this week is going great so far.  All-day orientation for the new job on Monday, followed by interval-training run - 3 rounds of 6-minute intervals at "medium-hard" (which I defined as 11:00 to 11:30 pace) and 2-minute "easy" run (around 12:00-12:30).  Total time around 45 minutes with walk / run and got in a 5k!  

Tuesday was my first "real" day in the office, and more training (software I'll be using, company history, staff updates, etc.).  I stayed a little after 5pm and ended up home too late to make my Tuesday night running group (shoot!  That's 2 weeks in a row!) but took Coty out for another 5k in the neighborhood.  My training schedule called for a 30-40 minute "easy" run and that felt great.  Total time about 44 minutes, with some warm-up and cool-down walking thrown in there.

Today was cool - I got started actually doing some real work, reading some recently-issued financial statements & checking out workpapers & audit documentation.  There is a team in the field who had a question and I was able to help answer it for them, and I learned some interesting things about some of my new clients.  Man, all I could think about all day was, "why the hell did I ever leave public accounting???" I loved this job.  I'm excited to find I'm still enjoying it like I used to.

Okay.  Enough gushing about my new job.  It's going well and I'm happy I made the change.  I realize no one wants to hear how much fun it is being an anal auditor accounting freak.

But here's a photo of the name plate on my new office door!

And tonight was a gym night (Jason has the day off work and took care of the dog-walking duties).  My training schedule called for a Hill Workout so I hopped on the treadmill and hit that little button for "Rolling Hills" (a button which I have never before pressed) and set the timer for 40 minutes.  My calves were feeling SUPER tight so I did as much running as I was comfortable with and allowed myself some walk breaks.  The hills weren't really the hard part - challenging but not too hard - I think it was just that three days straight of running = tired legs & calves.  I got through it and ended up with - you guessed it - 3.1 miles in about 40 minutes!  (Theme for the week?)

Oh one last thing:  Jason went to the grocery store today & got himself all excited, wanting Rice Crispy Treats.  He bought all the ingredients (even READ the RECIPE) and begged me to make them.  So they are currently cooling in the kitchen, with Nestle Tollhouse peanut butter & milk chocolate morsels spread on top.  I'm going to try not to "help" too much in making them disappear.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

I'm All About the Research

I'm getting excited about race season starting up again!  Just 3 weeks until the first 5K of the year!!  And of course there are 11 weeks left before my first 10K of the year - the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon Event on April 27.  As I have the past two years, I'm running the 10K distance in this event.  (They also hold a 5K, half-marathon and full-marathon.)  (Yes, I wimped out and registered for the 10K, not the half.)

I found a training plan on the Athleta web site and spent some time this evening tweaking and transcribing the plan into my Training Log (thanks again, Heidi & Ben, I'm using that thing DAILY and I love it!) to follow my normal weekly workout schedule.  Here is the base plan that I started with:  Training for a 10K

I sort of tweaked it from an 8-week plan to an 11-week plan.  One of the alterations I made was to extend the long runs in the last few weeks, similar to how I trained for the We Care Twin Cities 10K last September.  I really felt great on race day after conditioning my body to run slower, for longer distances.  I got myself "used" to going 7 and 8 miles, and that made the 6.2 on race-day feel fast and easy.  I want that again!  (Plus, can't hurt for training for that half later in the year.)

I picked up this book at the library a couple of weeks ago and have been really enjoying it.  I'm about 2/3 through it now, and I'd like to look back through in the next few days and review what I've gotten from it... sort of a little review I guess.  So you've got that to look forward to.  In the meantime, here's a little sneak-peek:

Photo from

She had me right from the start.  Check out this passage (which begins on page 1) (Really, page 1, she had me!):
Listen to those millions of women runners.  Listen to their quiet breaths as they talk in predawn pairs before the rest of the family wakes or with their group of friends on Saturday morning before lattes.  Listen  to the lessons and the laughter, the questions and camaraderie they share to the rhythm of stead footsteps: “I feel so much stronger… “ “I’m ready to take on a new challenge…” “I never thought I could, but now…”
Women develop a special sorority on the roads.  The bond is based on an understanding of the empowerment that comes with running, full realization of the capabilities of mind and body, appreciation of how far they have come, and a knowing wink that says how much is yet to be gained.  Running, in short, is growth.  Movement.  Progress.  To run is to feel alive.  And so they talk and share – and run.  Singly and in groups, swiftly and slowly, they run.
Now, the whole thing isn't this flowery, it's really quite practical, but those two paragraphs really grabbed me and I've gotten a lot of great tips along the way.  She also includes training plans for beginners, intermediate runners, and for those training for a 10K, half, and marathon.

Okay, now that's about all I have to say for today.  Seriously, three posts in one day?  What is up with me??
Must be the weather.  It's been raining and windy and cold all day.  It's my "rest" day as far as the workout schedule goes, and I even made the hubby walk the dog.  I did a little housekeeping but otherwise, all I've done all day is watch TV and blog.  I gotta admit it's a pretty great way to spend a rainy day.

Weekend Update

Some fun stuff:  
I attended the annual Lake Run Club Awards banquet last night.  It was lots of fun to mingle & socialize with my fellow runners, in "real" clothes!  I had been nominated for a couple of awards, which I didn't win, but after the "official" awards were given out, they had some other "Scandalous Honors"... examples:  "Spits really well, for a girl"  - "My wife beats me, and I'm happy about it" - "Most races completed in the least clothing" - "Don't Wait for Me, I'm Running Late" - and Coty won one of those!
I've been saying for years that she's the best running partner a girl could hope for; now it's official!
I often joke that people are more likely to recognize the dog than to recognize me because she's ALWAYS with me.  I love that she won an award for best running partner - it's SO appropriate!!

Blog Business:  
My gym workout on Thursday left me a little sore to say the least.  Those funky moves with the Bosu Ball utilized some muscles that had been lying dormant.  Friday's plan was to clean house and do a 4 mile run.  That didn't go so well.  It was just one of those runs, it took about 1.5 miles before I started to feel loose enough to run for any length of time but I was really just pretty stiff.  I did a lot of walking, jogged whenever it felt comfortable.  Eventually I settled on a revised goal for the day of completing the 4-mile route in under an hour, and I did manage that.  They can't all be awesome runs.  Sometimes you just have to trudge through and finish, even when it doesn't feel perfect.

Yesterday, more housekeeping was in order (does it count as "nesting" if you're prepping for a new job rather than a new baby??) and another 4-mile run.  I waited for the weather to warm up a little (36 degrees and not too windy) in the afternoon, and decided on the fly to make it a 5-mile run.  I'm wanting to run longer segments and get used to running at least three miles without a break, so I did my normal warmup walk / run for a mile, then ran 3.1 miles without a stop, and walked (with a little jogging thrown in) the remainder of the way home.

You can clearly see here my walk then run for the first 1.0 miles, then running at a pretty steady pace from 1.1 to 4.2
And check out the NEGATIVE splits for the three miles in the middle here!
Negative splits:  I could get used to that.

Now THAT felt GREAT.  Finished about 5.2 miles in 1:15.  Average pace was about 14:30 which of course is not great, but my aim was for steady, strong, and not stopping so goal achieved for the day.  Speed workouts are for another day.  You just never know what today's run will be like until you get out there and GET GOING!

"The great thing about athletics is that it's like poker, sometimes you know what's in your hand and it may be a load of rubbish, but you've got to keep up the front."
--Sebastian Coe
I found this little gem at

More Blog Business:
Well it's Sunday, which means it's Weigh-In Day, and today was a good one:  this morning I was down 1.4 lbs from last week - hooray for Tangible Evidence of Progress!

Last Thing:  
Tomorrow is my first day at the new gig.  I'm looking forward to it, excited & a little nervous... hope I get a good night's sleep.  Things I'd like to do tonight (AKA Things I Would Do Tonight If I Was Smart):  come up with a meal and exercise plan for the week.  Planning has proven to be key to my success so far, and with a new job, it's a big question-mark what my schedule will be, how it's all going to work, etc.  Tomorrow all I know is where & when to show up, and that I'll be in orientation all day.  Think I'll pack a lunch that I can leave in the car (it's cold enough outside, it will be like it's in a fridge), and then if I'm free for lunch I have something planned already.  And some snacks in my purse as well for my mid-day snack.

Wish me luck!

I actually had a couple of other items I wanted to post about this evening... but they don't feel like they belong in this post!  Perhaps another post is in order tonight.  We'll see...

Epilogue: More on the Bosu Ball

Since my last post, I've still been thinking a lot about my experience with the Bosu Ball Alternating Side Lunges.  Seems I haven't posted all I have to say on the subject, so I'm starting off today with a little Epilogue, if you will.

I don't know about anyone else, but for me, I try to focus only on myself when I'm at the gym.  I'm always very conscious of the fact that, let's say, "I don't look my best" in gym clothes.  I'm sweaty (if I'm doing it right). I'm wearing clothes that are functional, not flattering.  My hair isn't done.  I may have makeup on if I stop in after work, but once I'm all red in the face and sweating with effort, I'm not sure that's doing me any favors in the looks department.  That's all fine, and as it should be, but it doesn't make that bit of self-consciousness go away.  In my everyday life, I wear things that are flattering to my body, no matter what size I am, and I pretty much go through my days feeling good about how I look, so no scolding me for being down on myself, please... I'm just saying in this situation at the gym, it's a little hurdle I have to get over.  I cope by focusing inward.  I don't spend much, if any, time socializing, and I don't really know many people that use the same gym I do, so this all works out pretty well for my state of mind when working out.

When I went & picked up the Bosu Ball to do my first set of Glute Squeezes, a woman was stretching and doing some core work nearby.  She looked at the ball, asked me about it a little.  I explained I'm just learning to use it, but was really excited to find it was available.  And kept myself from jokingly asking her not to laugh at me while I figured it out.  We talked for a couple of minutes about the different exercises we've seen people doing with the ball, and laughed a bit about the awkward balance between trying to watch someone do something we've never tried, without staring at them like a creepy gym stalker.

Later when I started trying to figure out how to do the Alternating Side Lunges, feeling awkward and uncoordinated on that Bosu Ball, one thing I didn't fully explore in my previous post is the INTENSE feeling of self-consciousness I was battling.  It was almost as if I thought, if I stop what I'm doing right now and look around, I'll see everyone in the gym gaping at me, maybe even pointing and laughing!  I mean, clearly this is irrational and I didn't REALLY think that, but... well maybe a little part of my brain thought it could happen.

So if you're reading this and you've ever had that same feeling when trying something new and feeling uncomfortable, here's what ACTUALLY happened when I looked up:

There was a big muscle-y guy lifting weights on a bench a few feet from me, and when I stopped to catch my breath and glanced around, he caught my eye and said "Man, I couldn't do what you're doing!"

My first thought was Dude, right now, neither can I! But no, Chris, negative self-talk is one thing, it's even worse when you say it out loud.  I stopped myself from saying that, and the first thing that popped out of my mouth in response was, "Yeah, I am WAY outside of my comfort zone right now!"  (I gotta give myself a little pat on the back for turning that negative into a positive.  That was a good one.)

And he said, "That's what it's all about - you gotta get out of that comfort zone to make progress.  Keep it up!"

How about that?  NOT pointing and laughing.  Encouraging.  Yeah, this is where I'm SUPPOSED to be:  OUTSIDE of the comfort zone.  Getting it done.  Maybe I should talk to people more often at the gym.  Maybe there's a little something to the idea of interacting with people in that context.  I gotta say, I like my gym more and more.

One more word on this:  I came across a great quote on the subject in my random Internet browsing tonight:
“You only ever grow as a human being if you’re outside your comfort zone.” -Percy Cerutty

I found it here:

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Bosu Ball Bumbling

Yesterday was my last day at what will henceforth be referred to as My Old Job.

The new gig starts Monday and I'm hoping to make the most of my four days off between jobs. Today is mainly a spa day but I kicked it off with a trip to the gym. After a 20-minute warm-up on the stationary bike, I started a Circuit Training / Strength workout. I tried two new exercises this morning - Bosu Lying Glute Squeeze and Bosu Ball Alternating Side Lunges. I've done Glute squeezes in various forms before, so that was pretty straightforward, but this side lunge thing was a whole other matter.

Yes, I've done lunges before, but this involves keeping one foot on this completely unstable surface, doing your side lunge, then "hopping" across the ball to do the lunge on the other side. Seriously, this was more akin to a cardio workout than strength training. I was supposed to do ten of these (each side, of course). My first attempt essentially consisted of me repeatedly falling sideways into a vaguely lunge-like position. Completely unstable, uncontrolled movement. Not a purposeful motion. I became concerned that I might injure myself due to a complete lack of coordination! This is about the time I determined I needed a professional for some assistance.  Luckily, my gym has several personal trainers on hand and I was able to catch one of them and ask for some tips.

Here's his advice:

  1. Set up one of those aerobic steps and do some alternating lunges using that.
  2. Do NOT try to match the speed of this sample video.  Concentrate on making your movement smooooth and controlled.
I did both of those things and on my next set, I maybe did 5 properly.  (maybe not that many.)  My third set, I simplified it a bit more and did all of the actual lunges on the step and just practiced going across the ball in a smooth, controlled motion.  Guess I have a new project for the gym:  I have to make that Bosu Ball my bitch.

The remainder of the day was spent doing some shopping, mall-walking, mani-pedi, fresh hair cut and a trip to Sam's Club for provisions.  Tomorrow:  clean the house. And the car.  And put the laundry away.  (Won't be as much fun as today.)  Plus, a run!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

January 2013 Goals & Challenge Update

It's time for my first monthly Miles Update for 2013!
Reminder in case you weren't paying attention at the first of the year:
My official goal for 2013 is to run, walk and / or bike 500 miles as quickly as possible.
The other Challenge items for this year are:

  1. Ultimate mileage goal is to run/ walk 500 miles (excluding bike miles).
  2. Complete my first half marathon race.
  3. 5K race time under 35 minutes.
  4. 10K race time under 1 hour 10 minutes.
  5. Test Mile time under 10 minutes.

"Racing teaches us to challenge ourselves. It teaches us to push beyond where we thought we could go. It helps us to find out what we are made of. This is what we do. This is what it's all about." 
-PattiSue Plumer, U.S. Olympian 

I ran this month's miles for:

Ellen Bruno 4.0
Cari Landreth 5.0
Ben Willis 3.0
Joe Wolford 3.1
Peg Stark 13.1
Maryann Thomas 1.0
Cheryl Kagemann Williams 10.0
LRC Kelly McBride 15.0
LoseIt! Ashley Grace 16.0
Terry Patterson - SUB 11-min miles 3.0 
ME! 3.12

Total mileage for January 76.32

For anyone who's a freak for stats & data analysis like I am, here's how it breaks down:

Any stats I forgot?? 
How about these random notes:  four runs in the snow, three trips to the lake, five group runs, one run cut short by an incredible thunderstorm, and seven gym workouts.

"Ask yourself: 'Can I give more?'. The answer is usually: 'Yes'." 
-Paul Tergat, Kenyan professional marathoner

So here's the thing:  I've ALREADY MET ONE OF MY 2013 GOALS.  

See that stat above that says Best Test Mile time:  9:50?  Yup, that's the one.  That's better than the 10-minute pace goal I set!  I'm pretty excited about this, but a little disappointed in my goal-setting skills.  I have seriously underestimated my ability to work on speed.  This means I need to revise my 2013 1-mile pace goal, and I need to get aggressive about it.  Or at least it should feel like I'm being aggressive about it.  I'm thinking 9:00 but open to suggestions.

And as long as I'm looking back at progress for the month, here's a graph of my weekly weigh-ins from January 1 to January 31.
The chart helps me, with the slow progress I've been seeing weight-wise over the past few months, it's nice to see that, yes, over time, the weight is coming off.  It's just s...l...o...w.

Thanks, January:  despite the RIDICULOUS weather you keep throwing at me, that was a pretty awesome start!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Food Orgies & A Reckoning

Continuing my update on last week:  (warning this is a long post so if you're pressed for time... sorry.) Thursday and Friday both started off well but ended up as food orgies.  It was a little ugly.  Here's how it went down:

I headed to the office Thursday morning armed with my standard Greek-yogurt & granola for breakfast, and some leftover black beans & rice for lunch.  I was eating fairly light since we had the group dinner to look forward to after work and I figured it would be a sure calorie-blow-out, and of course I wouldn't have a chance to hit the gym.  Work went well and I got out of there by 5:30.  By the time we were seated, I was starving. (Have I mentioned how hungry I've been all week? It's the weirdest thing...)  I started off with a raspberry cosmopolitan and had a few bites of the various appetizers that went around the table.  I ordered a salad with honey-mustard dressing, the chorizo-stuffed pork tenderloin, about a 1/2-cup of Yukon gold mashed potatoes, and steamed green beans.  Somewhere in there, a second raspberry cosmo happened, and then there was dessert.  We ordered several for the table to share, and I had more than a few bites of them as well, though I must admit, none of them actually tasted as good as they looked, so it wasn't too hard to put down the spoon. There wasn't any nutritional info to go by, but my best-educated-guess is it ended up around 1,100 calories for the one meal.  So yes, a bit of a food orgy.  A great time was had by all, and yeah, I ate a ton of calories, but I didn't end the day feeling over-full or sick from high-fat fried foods... I was glad I ate conservatively during the day!

Friday.  This is where, I have to admit, it all completely went off the rails.  Once again, it started out alright, but Friday was the first day of the month, a HUGE busy day for us cost accountants, and it was a tough one this month.  I had my yogurt & granola for breakfast but by the time lunch came around, I was 3 hours behind schedule, stressed, and not in a frame of mind for making healthy long-term-goal-affirming food choices.  We sent the take-out menu around for Famous Dave's, and someone went to pick it up for everyone.  I ordered the Devil's Spit burger, no cheese, with fries.  I did eat all of the burger and maybe 1/3 to 1/2 of the fries.  I'm gonna call it about a 700-calorie lunch.  Recoverable... but that's not the frame of mind on this day.  By 6:30pm, everyone in the group was still working hard, with no end in sight, so the boss ordered some pizza.  There were 3 pizzas, one Veggie, one Supreme, and one Taco. I had one slice of each.  I know this was a poor choice, I mean literally, while I was taking that third slice, I asked myself... "If there were only two kinds of pizza here, would you really be having a third slice?"  The answer was definitely NO. But I ate it anyway.  I finished my long, long day just before 9pm and got home to find my loving husband hanging out, drinking some beer, and listening to all our favorite music.  I was exhausted and annoyed and really needed to decompress, so I busted out a bottle of Shiraz & joined him on the couch, enjoying a well-put-together medley of mid-to-late 70's hits and little-known gems.  I had three glasses of wine (which is to say, it turns out my wine glass is perhaps a bit large... I found when I poured the third glass, it emptied the bottle.  Yup, I topped off this insane food-orgy day by drinking an entire bottle of wine.)

I have no defense or rationalization for Friday's indulgence - no it's not indulgence - Thursday was an indulgence, Friday was just this side of a binge.  That was a real shit-show.  All I can do is move forward.  Saturday was all about reckoning.  I had a light breakfast and headed to work to finish up - spent about 3-4 hours at the office and my month-end Close was finally done.  I headed straight home from there and took Coty out to the Lake for a 4.37-mile run.

It was cold windy out there, we'd gotten about an inch of snow overnight.  But the roads were pretty clear.  Well, maybe not "clear" as there was snow on the road for about 2.5 miles of the route, but it was packed and not slippery so I was able to run about 3.5 miles of the loop.  That first mile felt a lot like punishment for my "sins" of the previous 48 hours or so, with the wind in my face and my body not yet warmed up, but I kept reminding myself that I'd be warm soon enough if I could just keep pushing until my heart rate got going.  Again in the last mile, I was away from the protection of the tree line and the wind was cutting in, while running up that nasty hill.  I literally talked myself through it.  I imagine it would sound pretty funny - I should tape my audible self-talk during a difficult portion of a workout!  Here's about how it went:  "Here we go - this is not a problem.  Hill? What hill?  This ain't no hill for a climber.  We love the wind, don't we Coty? Wind.  Thinks I'm gonna slow down?  We'll show that wind.  Nothing's going to slow this run down.  It's frickin' COLD out here, it'll only be colder if we slow down, I'm just gonna keep on jogging up this hill and once we turn that corner we'll be out of the wind and we can relax and ease on down to the finish line and get in that nice warm car."

 Now THAT. Felt. GREAT.

Last night I headed out with Jason for burger baskets and a few cocktails at our favorite watering hole.  We even ran into a dear old friend who we haven't seen in years!  It was a great way to cap off the week.

Our friend Pete.  Haven't seen him in years!
What a treat.
Bubba caught a good snap of me at some point.  Found it on my phone this morning, forgot he took it!

Today started with a great bowl of Cream of Wheat - made with milk, no salt, and 2 tablespoons of brown sugar.  Wonderful, healthy-ish(?) and warm start for a very cold day.  I ran to the grocery store for avocados, which quickly devolved into a QUEST for ripe avocados (I was so distracted with work all week, I never thought to pick some up and let them ripen on top of the fridge.)  While I was out & about, Jason texted me that he "Needs 2 McDoubles".  And that The Teenager needed 2 McChickens as well.  I've been contemplating Friday's excesses and managed to exercise some control.  I got their sandwiches, and nothing else.  I had yogurt and granola for lunch!  I win!

And of course today is Superbowl Sunday!

As a Sunday, today's a weigh-in day.  I was up about 0.8 lbs over last week's low.  Not a shock considering the food intake of the past couple of days.  Could even be a normal water-weight swing too, so I'm not going to let myself get twisted up about it.  I should be able to work that off with one good on-plan week and be back on track.

On a lighter note, we are heading to a friend's house this afternoon to watch the game.  The guacamole is made and I can't wait to enjoy this annual tradition!!  The SuperBowl is my second-favorite holiday (behind Halloween, of course).  I just have to remember that I'm NOT there to eat a bunch of junk food.  I AM there to enjoy the company of our dear old friends and all the best that the U.S. has to offer:  spectacle, showmanship, marketing, and maybe, just maybe, even a little football.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Experimenting - Food and That Thing with the Funny Name

This week sort of got away from me in terms of finding time to write, but I really wanted to report back on Wednesday's workout & sort of a download on the rest of the week's goings-on.

The plan was a gym workout on Wednesday & Thursday (excellent timing for the two coldest days of the week!) but Thursday's workout was scrapped early Wednesday when I found my coworkers had planned a farewell dinner for me.  My last day isn't until next Wednesday, but with the normal month-end hectic schedule it was the last chance we'd have before then.

I've been experimenting this week with eating a bit more - about 200 more calories a day - which worked out well since I was for some reason feeling really hungry all week.  I had a pretty normal breakfast & light lunch Wednesday and started feeling hungry again in the late afternoon.  Knowing I had to was going to hit the gym, I grabbed a 240-calorie protein bar about an hour before leaving the office.  That's a bit of a high-calorie snack for me, but strength training + growling tummy = quitting my workout before it's finished, so there you have it.

I started off with 20 minutes on the bike - about 5 miles - then did weights (biceps, triceps, core & chest) and decided to bookend my weight training with some more cardio, so I hopped on the treadmill for another 10 minutes.

Bosu Plank
Two things:  1) I found the gym's Bosu Ball and did a new exercise using that.  My iPersonal Trainer app often assigns me activities using this thing, but I've never had access to one before, so i was pretty excited about it.  I tried Bosu Planks and plan to try some others next time.

2) I've been reading a book on improving your running training (more on that another time) and learning about some different ways of doing speed workouts.  The one with the funny name - FARTLEK - is actually a thing - it's Swedish or something and it means "speed play."  I decided to try it out on the treadmill where it seemed safer and I could easily control my speed without having to stare at the Garmin.  This was, in fact, kind of fun!  I started out with an easy 5.0 mph speed to warm up for a few minutes, then periodically changed up the speed.  5.5, 5.8, 6.0, 5.2, then 5.5 again, etc.  My mind began to wander, as it often does while running, and I remembered my miles challenge for 2013.  Specifically, my mother assigned me 20 miles, even more specifically, 20 miles at a sub-11-minute pace.  I'll have to check the logs, but I've gotten only 2 or three so far at that speed.  I'd planned to run just 10 minutes but realized if I settled in around the 5.8 mph pace I might get another one in before the end of January! Sure enough...

I don't know if my mother is a regular reader of this blog (thought I suspect she may be), but I'm happy to report another sub-11 mile for her.  So mom, if you read this, this one was for you!

Well, you can't really see the time... but if you squint you can see the bottom of the 0 in 10:30... 
Well my time is up, it's time to get ready for an evening out with my dear husband... so the rest of the week's activities will have to wait.

To be continued...