52 Lists for Happiness

I stumbled across a blog mentioning the book 52 Lists for Happiness. The writer is posting entries weekly on her blog. I liked the idea so much that I immediately ordered the book myself and decided to try to follow suit. The next year is bringing a lot of changes, so it seems like a perfect time to prioritize and search for happiness.  I’ve decided to use this exercise as an opportunity to get ideas from Liam as well.  We walk Banjo twice a day, allowing plenty of time for discussions.  These walks are some of my favorite times, even when Liam talks my ear off about Zelda or Minecraft. I’d love to ask Liam to create as many of these lists as possible and share them with him when he gets older.

Week one is pretty straightforward: List what is making you happy.

Mike and Liam: They’re both such great people! I am truly blessed.

Spring: Finally! We will soon be complaining about the heat and humidity, but for now, let’s enjoy the warm weather, open windows, and longer days. This is the first week Liam and I didn’t have to bundle up during our morning walks. Last night, we ate dinner outside. It is such a welcome change!

My friends: Without them, I would never have signed up for a half-marathon, nevermind been excited about it! My friends keep me laughing and trying to be a better person! What more could one ask for?

Fitness Challenges: Last weekend was the half-marathon. I’m also participating in a challenge through Laid-Back Fitness. I’m interested to see how my body changes when I focus on strength over cardio.

And from Liam:

Banjo

Going for walks with Banjo

Playing with Banjo (Do you see a theme?)

You and Dad

Harry Potter

Making my First Communion

I love the idea of focusing on the positive things in our lives. While the next few months will bring a lot of changes, there are a lot of great things going on in all of our lives. Perspective helps keep us all finding the positive things happening in our lives.

First Half-Marathon Recap

I don’t even know where to begin when talking about this weekend!

             

Liam made his first communion Saturday morning. He did such a great job! I am beyond blessed that he is a part of such a fantastic school community. I love his school and the fellow families who attend. After the church service, we went back to our house for a cookout. It was perfect: low-key and casual. Liam was thankful for his day!

I went to bed early Saturday night because the half began at 7:30. I planned to be out of the house by 6. Liam woke up with me at 5:15. We tried to be as quiet as possible. Because he wasn’t sure if he would wake up with me, he left me a note for the morning with the bagels Mike picked up from Panera.

I was trying my best to be organized, but nerves were starting to kick in. In being hopelessly proactive, I applied Tiger Balm to my calves as I got dressed, only to panic when realizing I had not yet put in my contact lenses. Somehow, I managed to put in my toric lenses into my puffy, allergy-hating eyes one handed! My goal of getting out the door by 6 was only off by six minutes.

One the ride down to the race, I decided to listen to Hamilton, my go-to “Let’s do this!” music. The Spotify account was set to the Kitchen Echo. Luckily, people slept through the music blasting through the kitchen speakers for four seconds while I wondered why it wasn’t playing in my car.

The atmosphere before the race was calm and cheerful. We chatted and laughed until it was time to gather by the starting line. The gentleman who coordinates the races explained a few things about the race and the course, beginning with, “I don’t give a sh*t who comes in first as long as everyone finishes.” His cell phone number was on every sign; if you couldn’t finish, he informed us to call for help. He would come get us and provide free admission to any future race.

We started off together, separating by the time we made the first turn. My friend Kerri and I stayed together. We were hauling! My goal was to finish the race in three hours, requiring a 13:42 pace. Kerri assured me I could do that. My first mile was 11:36! I became scared of burning out. We slowed down, clocking our second mile at 12:46.

Our third mile was back in the 11’s.

“Should we slow down?”

“We’re good. Our goal is 2:45. You can do this. You are stronger than you think you are.”

So, three miles in, my goal changed!

The course was beautiful. We ran to Charlestown Beach and back through country roads. Kerri and I stayed together for the first ten miles, then she went ahead. At the next mile, I encountered a girl I “knew” from a Facebook running group. On the way out in the race, I stopped and hugged her, then let my social anxiety kick in, worrying that she thought the worst of the crazy, sweaty random person who hugged her. The next time I checked my phone, I had a friend request from her. I saw her again just after Mile 10. She took pictures and shared them with me, including one of my favorites of Kerri and I high-fiving when we reached double digits!

Just after Mile 12, I hated everything! I was done running, my shoulder was sore, I was gross and sweaty and wanted to be done.  As I turned the corner, I saw two of my Rhode Runner buddies! I have never been happier to see anyone! Ignoring how sweaty I was, I left into each of their arms and expressed my love for them both! I began to cry as I ran up that final hill, overwhelmed by the support and the fact that I was actually about to complete this huge accomplishment. Hold it together, I told myself, you can’t run if you’re sobbing.

After that encounter, I was recharged and ready to finish this race, pushing myself through the last bit. When I turned the corner towards the finish line, my friends cheered me. I was at 2:44, I still had a chance to reach my goal! And I did, finishing in 2:44:59!

I don’t even care if this picture is flattering. It was taken immediately after finishing the race! I was ecstatic!

 

I was deliriously happy! My friends surrounded me and cheered for me. Then I realized the problem with finishing fifteen minutes faster than I planned: Mike and Liam were not yet there. I had told them to get there for 10:30; I finished at 10:15. They arrived a few minutes after I finished.

My friends are amazing! In this entire process of becoming a runner, they are my favorite takeaway! They make terrible runs tolerable and push me.  They are supportive and silly. We gathered and ran in with the rest of our group.  We stayed for over an hour after the end of the race, eating and celebrating.

Many times, I consider running a solo sport. Because of my schedule, the majority of my training was done by myself. However, races are what bring everyone together.  We made friends with others in the parking lot before the race and at the finish line. People we have never before met cheered for and supported us.

I’m still riding the high that comes from reaching a goal. My next half is in October, allowing a few weeks to regroup and decide the next goal. I’d like to work on speed; I think I doubt myself and fear burning out at the end when I need energy the most. It’d be great to take a minute off of my 5K time.

For now, I need to thank my husband and son for supporting me. For screwing up weekends by filling them with long training sessions. I need to thank my running friends, now simply known as my friends, who pushed me out of my comfort, convincing me to accomplish what had previously seemed impossible! I don’t think you will ever understand how much I appreciate your support and friendship!

What Comes Next?

It’s weird to feel the first half creeping up on me. Tomorrow, I will complete my last long run before the big day. During the following week, I will take advantage of Liam’s first communion rehearsals to get in three runs during the week. When I look at the weather forecast, it tells me that the weather will be cloudy and in the low 60’s on the day of the race. The fact that the ten-day forecast includes half-marathon day is incredible and terrifying!

I’m wondering what that first week after the half will be like, a week without the pressure of training and making sure I fit runs into my schedule. I will admit that I slacked during the week. While I was great about the long runs on the weekends to increase my endurance, I did not get out three times during the week to work on speed. My weekday runs are shorter than the training plan suggests. It is challenging to get the runs in with Liam in school and Banjo running alongside me. The most Banjo can run is two miles; after that, he is exhausted. Poor pup hasn’t learned to pace himself. Those two miles are the fastest miles I run all week, then he wants to walk.

What comes next? My next half is in early October, allowing a short break before beginning another training session in July. This month, I am participating in a challenge through the gym where Liam and I take classes. After months of focusing on running and cardio with one weight-training class mixed in, I am interested in seeing how moving the focus to weight training will affect my body and my ability to run. I know my diet is holding me back, proving that one cannot out exercise a bad diet. My meals are pretty good; it’s mindless eating that counts, even when I don’t count it: the handful of Liam’s Chex Mix, etc.

It’s been a fantastic journey, one that I believe is only beginning.

In the past, I’ve been setting realistic, thoughtful goals, such as a three-hour half-marathon and a thirty-five minute 5K.  Here are a few of my superficial, egotistical goals:

  1. I want to be able to run in a sports bra. Yes, I possess the ability to do so now. Let me clarify: I want to be able to run in a sports bra without feeling judged. It looks so freeing and would love to be able to do so without worrying the entire time that I look like someone who has no business running without wearing at least a tank top.
  2. I want to run and truly zone out. It’s happened a few times during my long runs, and it is glorious. I think the burden of completing the first half will alleviate some of that pressure. During recent runs, I find myself focusing on distance or speed instead of just trying to enjoy the time to myself.
  3. I want to truly not care when people ask me “You’re a runner?” or “You lift weights?” It doesn’t happen as often as it used to, but it still happens. I want to be able to say, “Yeah,” without following it with a comment about loving food as well as running or not being a fast runner, feeling the need to downplay my hard work.

Two Weeks to Go and Wondering about Writing

Two weeks from now, I will have a 13.1 sticker on my car! (Reminder: order 13.1 sticker this afternoon.)

I had high hopes for running last week since I had the week off for April vacation. The universe had other plans. Monday was miserable. Liam and I spent the morning watching the Marathon, amazed at runners who complete the marathon under ideal circumstances, nevermind gale force winds and excessive rain. Thursday also brought rain. Yes, I could have gone out for a run, but I chose not to. I did run four miles on Wednesday, which became my only run of the week. I did not go out for my long weekend run because we were in New York City. I will consider the thirty miles we walked in three days a workout and call it good.

Last week, I submitted a writing piece to She Can & She Did, one of my favorite running blogs. I am part of Kelly Roberts’ Facebook group; I love the positivity and support. I decided to share my story, that I had gone from accepting the fact that I “just wasn’t a runner” to being two weeks away from running my first half. It was the second story she featured on her website!

I decided to share the link on my Facebook page, officially letting my friends, family, and coworkers know that I have been writing. Writing is so personal that I hadn’t told anyone I was writing for three months after I started the blog. There were two fears:

  1. I had no business writing about running
  2. I had no business writing period. (I had nothing new to offer the world.)

The response to my writing has been so positive, yet again proving that magical things happen when stepping out of your comfort zone.

I am thankful for the time and energy to focus on running. I am also thankful to make the time to write. Liam watches me do both; it is good for him to see his mother trying to better herself. It makes him want to do both activities. I love his stories! In challenging myself, I am teaching Liam lessons about perseverance and stepping out of comfort zones.  This weekend, we purchased Crown Access tickets to see the Statue of Liberty. Once we began climbing inside the statue, Liam was scared. There were many spiral flights of stairs in a very tight area. At one point, he began to cry that he didn’t want to go any further. Honestly, I was also claustrophobic and relieved that he could possibly be my ticket out of it. However, I reminded him that being brave means doing things, even when they scare you. We continued to the top of the crown. It was a rare experience; the last separate times Mike and I visited the Statue, access inside Lady Liberty was closed. We were doing this! We were all so happy that we faced our fears. The view was amazing!

Lady Liberty’s face from inside the statue

I also learned another lesson about being brave: the climb down the Statue of Liberty was far worse the climb up. One the way up, we were focused on our goal and looking up (literary.) On the way down, it was difficult not to focus on the significant distance below us. I feel like there is some sort of philosophical meaning or take away from that experience, but I haven’t yet decided how to express it in words, something about the importance of planning after reaching a goal.

Running and writing have created opportunities for me to be a model for Liam, one of the greatest unexpected byproducts of this journey.

 

View from the top

 

Biggest Loser Dropout

I made a promise to myself that I would not weigh myself during April. #noweightilmay has proved easier than I imagined. To be honest, I looked myself up and down and felt my tummy for a few days to gauge how my body felt and looked.  I can tell by merely putting my hands on my hips whether or not I am bloated that day. Anyone who knows me knows that I hate surprises and need to know what is going on. While not seeming the number has been nice, it is difficult to relinquish that control that accompanies the scale.

I paid into the second round of Biggest Loser with my coworkers. We were supposed to weigh in each Monday. I skipped last week but was curious, more because I didn’t want to give up my chance at the monetary prize than for the number on the scale. Without getting on the scale, I had managed to stay the same weight for almost two weeks. Yes, I would be happy if it had gone down a few pounds, but I was pleased that I did not gain weight when I was not holding myself accountable with daily weigh-ins.

Hoping that I would be down a little, I went to the weigh-in. The scale said I was up a half pound. Whatever. I had a realization about this contest: I was not going to win. We are on vacation next week and won’t weigh in. The following Monday, I will weigh in after spending three days in New York City. We don’t get down there very often. Therefore, it would be a crime not to eat my weight (whatever that number is right now) in black and white cookies and whatever other treats I encounter. When I go away, I prefer to eat like I had been just voted off the reality show Survivor.

The kind lady who supervises the weigh-ins tried to give me friendly advice: “Just watch your portions and go for walks.”

“I ran ten miles on Saturday.”

“Oh… it’s okay; you’re not that big.”

I know her intentions we well intended. I truly believe that. If I have learned anything through my adult life, it is this: my body does not believe in being anything below a size ten. For the six months leading up to my wedding, I watched every calorie, attended back to back workout classes, ran miles and miles, and never made it below 155 pounds. (This was also before my hypothyroidism was discovered, but the weight doesn’t move below 160, even when my thyroid is in check.)

I work out a lot and eat a pretty good diet. It could always be better, but most people could say the same thing about themselves. I drink plenty of water. It has taken me a long time to accept the fact that I will never be tiny.

During this round of Biggest Loser, I have run my fastest mile. I have run my longest runs: ten plus milers. I PRed my deadlift: 210 pounds!

My obsession with my weight gives me a weird ability to remember what I weigh at any picture I see of myself. I keep an album on my phone illustrating gains and loses.  As I get stronger, the number might not go down.  Sometimes, It might go up. I need to remind myself that as I continue this journey.

I weigh less in the first picture than I do in the second one, proof that I need to get over the scale obsession!

The final weigh-in of Biggest Loser is the day after the half, May 7. I may jump on the scale to see if my final weight qualifies me for a prize. Or I may finish the race, go for a beer with my friends, celebrate that we worked together to reach a fantastic goal, and not worry about what the scale says on Monday morning!

Four Weeks and Go, Red Sox, and Feeling Like an Adult!

Four weeks from now, my car will have a 13.1 sticker on the back window! Is it sad that I am ridiculously happy about that?

This weekend, I went out with a group of fabulous Rhode Runner ladies for a long run on the East Bay Bike Path. It is one of my favorite places to run but because it is about a half an hour from my house, I rarely go there on my own. Sometimes, Liam, Mike, and I will venture over there, visit an amazing playground, order Subway sandwiches for a picnic lunch, and walk along the bike path. It is beautiful, and I have sworn that if I lived closer, I would be the sanest, fittest person around.

The following pictures are a few years old, but they illustrate the beauty of this bike path and playground:

        

As we met up that morning, I was unreasonably nervous. Yes, I had already run ten miles. Yes, I knew all of these ladies. We’ve pushed each other through self-doubt and celebrated so many victories. Honestly, my anxiety, which hasn’t shown up in a long time, decided to visit. Ten miles will take us well over two hours. That is a lot of time to chit-chat. What if I say something silly or inappropriate? What if my fear of silence kicks in and I talk too much? What if my fear of talking too much kicks in and I don’t say enough, causing everyone to think I don’t want to be there? I had a knot in my stomach as I drove there. Once we got going, I was fine. I am so thankful to this group of ladies who encourage me to do things I would never do on my own. We ran ten miles, laughing most of the way. This past year has been focused on stepping out of my comfort zone. Yet again, I am glad I did! I am so happy that I faced my fear and met up with them! I cannot wait for all of the hugs and tears that will flow freely as we cross the finish line of the half-marathon… in twenty-seven days!

My knee pain has plateaued. I am aware of it when I run and lift heavy weights, but it is manageable and not getting any worse. I’m glad I visited the doctor and know that it isn’t anything serious. I’ve been really good about icing it and stretching. As long as it doesn’t get any worse, I can manage the pain. Even though I followed doctor’s orders not to run for a few days, I still managed to have my busiest week ever in my five plus years of owning a FitBit!

Yesterday, we went up to Fenway. It was bitterly cold, and we went up there knowing that we probably would not stay the entire game. Liam has been attending games since he was a few months old, often enjoying the State Street Pavillion seats occasionally offered to us for free. Last year, when we sat in the grandstand during the tickets I bought Mike for his birthday, Liam complained that we had to go and get our own food instead of having it brought to us by a waitress. “You mean I have to get my own hot dogs?” he exasperated. Yesterday, he realized quickly that right field seats do not come with access to an indoor viewing area. Mike and I were well into our twenties before either of us had visited Fenway; I hope Liam someday realizes how fortunate he is to have so many experiences at a young age. Even though it was sunny, by the fourth inning, my toes were icicles. The game was moving at a snail’s pace, they were down four to one, and we decided to cut our losses and head home. Even though they came back in the seventh inning, we stand behind our decision. I love that we have a tradition. Even when they lose in thirty-degree temperatures, I’m never disappointed to head to Fenway.

  

While I would never want to live in the city, I do enjoy walking around Boston. After the game, we strolled Newberry Street and Copley, enjoying the excitement of next week’s Boston Marathon.

     

Can I tell you how much I love Amazon’s Subscribe and Save? Seriously, I have an unhealthy love for it. For the most part, the prices are cheaper than at Target or the local markets, and I never feel more secure and put together than when I realize that I will never again run out of granola bars, Nuun, or Lysol wipes. While it was weird to do the math to figure out how many poop bags Banjo uses in a month so we could order the correct amount, but Subscribe and Save makes me feel like I have my life together! Nothing makes me feel like a successful adult more than having a box containing contact lenses solution automatically mailed to my house each month.

Speaking of feeling like an adult, my texting and phone habits created the ultimate “You’re really an adult” realization this weekend. Saturday morning, the group texts began just before seven. A few years ago, I would have cursed whoever thought of texting me at that hour of the day. Now, the texts began while I was washing the pan I used to cook myself breakfast. This morning, my first text message came through before six. I was already up and getting ready.  I am amazed that I rarely sleep past 7 or stay up past 9:30, even on weekends. For years, I had read about the importance of maintaining a steady sleep schedule. I finally understand how much truth is in this sage advice!

Five Weeks to Go, Injuries, and #noweightilmay

Wow, that’s a long title!

This first half is quickly approaching! While ordering Liam’s lunches for the month, the calendar brought me to the weekend before the half. How is that happening? It seems as though I was just nervously and excitedly texting my friend on Thanksgiving, assuring each other that we could complete a race that was scheduled six months from then. But now the almond milk in my fridge expires after the race; it will be here before I know it!

The expiration date on this milk is after my first half. Why did this make me nervous?

So this is not the worst time to get hurt, but it certainly isn’t ideal. I was able to run Saturday and Sunday with just enough pain to let me know it was there, but I don’t want it to get worse and stall my training entirely. Because I had been experiencing knee pain for over a week, I scheduled an appointment with my doctor, who informed me I had pulled a tendon. It could definitely be worse, but I need to give my knee a week off from running, then gently try again. If it still hurts, then we can try physical therapy. Hopefully, the resting will work and I can get back on the road soon!

If I had to hurt my knee and take a week off, I’m glad I’m off on a week with terrible weather. It snowed Monday and has rained Tuesday and today. There is a chance of snow on Saturday, the day we are meeting up to attempt a ten-mile run.

So I am terrible at balancing a healthy diet. I tend to follow “all or nothing” extremes. My thyroid does not make this easier. This weekend was proof of this. Mike and I had a date night. We ate pizza and had a beer at the local place walking distance to our house. I indulged on Easter. Monday, I was up six pounds in a week. I’d like to think most of it is just bloating from sodium. However, it is so frustrating that I can inflate so quickly. Yes, I indulged, but I wasn’t over the top. If I am really on point, it will take two weeks to get rid of it. It is really discouraging not to just throw in the towel and admit defeat, but I need my body to be strong to accomplish my goals.

Because of these moments, I am aware that I am obsessed with the scale. On one of my Facebook running groups, someone suggested not stepping on the scale during the month of April. In a rare moment of punny brillance, I suggested calling it “noweightilmay.” So, I am going to avoid getting on the scale not just during April, but until after the half-marathon, deciding to focus on how my body feels and how my jeans fit rather than the number on the scale (that I currently step on several times daily). I am curious to see how eliminating the pressure of seeing a certain number on the scale affects me.  Obviously, I am hoping the scale goes down a few pounds, but I will just as happy if I can adjust my mindset.

Almost a “Real Runner”

During the past week, I’ve had a few things occur that make me feel as though I am making the transition to “real runner:”

I needed a calorie boost while running!

During last week’s ten-mile adventure, my sugar dropped about mile seven. I happened to put a pouch of Justin’s Almond Butter in my running belt. Good thing I did; I needed it! As I picked at it, I felt like a real runner. Mike joked that I was taking nothing more than Nutella shots while exercising. Shush! I was refueling!

 

 

My favorite running pants are discontinued

I love Athleta pants! After trying several pairs, my loyalty fell towards their Relay 2.0. I love the pants because of their multiple pockets. Anyone who knows me knows my unhealthy love of pockets. The Relay 2.0 have the back zipper pocket and two front pockets that are big enough to hold my phone. Hands-free running! I visited the store Sunday to purchase another pair only to discover the Relay 2.0 are being replaced with the Up for Anything pants, which do not have the back zipper pocket. I was able to find a pair of my beloved pants on eBay. While I was sad that Athleta discontinued my favorite running pants, my sadness associated with this made me feel like a “real runner.”

I have my first real injury

 

Oh, Providence Bagels, how I love you so!

 

I have known for years that I have a touch of arthritis in my knees.  I am careful to stretch before and after running. I take two yoga classes and at least one weights class weekly.  When my legs hurt after running, I alternate applying ice and heat. I know I am doing everything that I am supposed to, yet the pain remains. I have an appointment with my doctor next week. Hopefully, it is something simple that a few PT and chiropractor sessions can fix. This wish is mostly because I love running but also because I enjoy eating like someone who runs fifteen miles weekly.

I genuinely look forward to my long runs

I’ve always enjoyed working out, especially in group classes.  I like the camaraderie and friendly sense of competition, even if it is just with myself. (“She’s using that weight; I can, too.”) The thought of not going out this weekend makes me sad. I am hoping my knee cooperates. Like most people, my days are pretty busy; I love getting lost in my thoughts or a good audiobook and letting the miles go by.

I have an awesome running group!

Running can be a pretty lonely sport. I’m glad that I am a part of something bigger than me.  I have someone cheering me on, encouraging me, and reminding me that it’s not always difficult. We laugh and cry and celebrate together. They push me out of comfort zone. And that, my friends, is where the magic happens.

Six Weeks to Go and Double Digit Runs

I need to start by bragging that this past week was a week filled with PRs!!!  During Monday’s strength class, I PRed my deadlift: 210×3! Yes, it was only by five pounds, but a PR is a PR! Tuesday, I ran with Banjo after school. His energy is contagious! We ran 2.11 miles in 23:52, coming in at an 11:20 pace. My second mile was 10:57, my fasted yet! I’d love to sometime run a ten-minute mile; this is a start!

Last week, I was able to get out for three short runs and one long training run. The plan called for a nine-mile run, but I was excited to break double digits and went for ten. Two miles in, I stopped to tie my shoe, pausing my FitBit but reminding myself that there will be no pause buttons during the actual race. I resumed my run, making good time. A few minutes later, I began to wonder why I hadn’t heard the “three miles” announcement from my FitBit interrupt my audiobook. Turns out I didn’t hit the “resume” button hard enough and ran a third of a mile paused. Even with my pause, I was determined to make it to ten miles. So my ten-mile run was really 10.3 miles. Mentally, this run was not as bad as last week’s run. I’m proud that I was able to reach the next goal.

That being said, my left knee started to hurt about mile seven. I’ve known of arthritis in that knee for five years now and use it as another reason to keep active. I had attended a morning yoga class as well as a conditioning class before the run; I knew I had warmed up plenty before the run.  I iced it twice yesterday and went to Rhode Runner to purchase a knee brace. I wore it around the house yesterday and on our walk with Banjo. The first run with it is tonight. Let’s hope it helps! My thought has always been to as much as I can to help before heading to the doctor.  If I do more stretching, icing, and Advil and it still bothers me, then I will head to see the doctor.

Also during mile seven, my sugar dropped. I’ve read a little bit about gels and, honestly, I feel like they are beyond where I am right now. I don’t drink caffeine so I am hesitant to try them. When Stop and Shop and Justin’s Almond Butter packets on sale a few weeks ago, I bought three to keep in my car in case I ever needed a quick boost. Something told me to grab one before heading out Saturday. Good thing I did; it saved me when I felt myself getting woozy! While taking little bits of it during my run, I felt like a “real runner!”

 

 

It doesn’t seem real that this half-marathon is only six weeks away. Since it is the day after Liam’s first communion, the next few weeks will fly by! I have another half scheduled for October so I know I have to keep up with training. I am really wondering what comes after this. I’ve spent so much time working towards this that I am wondering what life will be like the following weekend when I don’t “have” to go out and run for two hours on Saturday afternoon.

Thanks to training, I have been enjoying the benefits of having a lot more freedom in my diet. Last week, I ate a Providence Bagel Thursday morning and stopped at Knead Donuts yesterday (after buying the knee brace at Rhode Runner). I still managed to lose weight this week. I could imagine how toned I would be if I really was disciplined in my diet and continued to work out this much, but that just seems silly because I love food and have finally found a good balance instead of being “all or nothing” when it comes to dieting.) Yesterday, I had eggs and turkey sausage for breakfast, yogurt for lunch, and an old-fashioned sour cream donut for dinner.  It’s all about balance, and I am finally managing to do that.

This Saturday, I will complete another ten-mile run, this time with friends. I am actually looking forward to. Five weeks later, we will finish a half-marathon, many of us for the first time.  I am eternally grateful to the people who inspire me to become stronger, to push myself in ways I never considered possible!

Seven Weeks to Go!

Oh, no. This is starting to get real. Back in November, signing up for a half-marathon seemed like a great idea. It was six months into the horizon, providing ample time to train and zero excuses not to be prepared. It was so cold over the winter that any thoughts of completing the long training runs were non-existent. February brought the official beginning of the twelve-week training program. It started off pretty easy, without much difference between what I was already doing.  Week five of training requires an eight-mile tune. This week’s training includes a nine-mile run.

I was excited to run seven miles, signifying completing more than half of the half-marathon distance. Eight miles represented steady progress. For my second eight-mile run, I set out on a completely different route, a huge square around the airport, forcing me to finish the run if I wanted to get home.  Next week, I can take a different way home to add an extra mile.

The run itself wasn’t too terrible. I started out struggling to find my motivation, but I was okay by mile two.  I almost immediately regretted wearing a second pair of pants. Even though it was 23 degrees with the wind chill, by my second mile, I was sweating. Many times, I considered taking off the extra layer, hiding them in a bush somewhere, and returning for them after I finished my run. I smiled to myself as I ran past the local Irish pub that we used to frequent. Even in the early afternoon of Saint Patrick’s Day, the normally quiet pub was packed. Ten years ago, Mike and I would have been there. Now, I am running past the pub rather than sitting in it. Funny how life and priorities change as we get older.  I enjoyed going a different route; it made the run a little more interesting. Instead of my normal mindless or easy audiobooks, I listened to White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America. It’s interesting and informative, sharing parts of history that I had never yet heard. While it is definitely heavier than A Man Called Ove and Scrappy Little Nobody, I’m thankful for the time to exercise my mind and body. By mile six, I was tired and sore, perhaps because unlike last week’s long run that came three days after having a wisdom tooth removed, I had not taken three Advil before going out for the run. Because I was two miles from home, I didn’t have any choice but to run home. My plan to hold myself accountable worked!

I came home on Saturday afternoon feeling pretty accomplished. For a second time, I had run eight miles. Not only did I run the eight miles again, my pace was three seconds faster per mile! If I kept this pace throughout the half, I’d reach my three-hour goal. (Last week, my pace was 13:45, setting me up for a three hour and one second completion time.) I was feeling pretty good about myself until I started doing the math. Over eight miles, three seconds equals twenty-four seconds, not even the length of a single commercial. Yes, I had just run eight miles, but on race day, I will still have to run another five. I have been working so hard, yet I still have so far to go.  As an English teacher, the stereotype is that we are supposed to hate math. At that moment, it was a reality; I hated math because it let me know that I had a lot more work to do. It spent the rest of the afternoon trying not to have a full panic attack. Why did I think I could do this? Before signing up for the race, I had never even walked thirteen miles over the course of a day. (According to my Fitbit, my best day ever was walking twelve miles and change over a whole day.)  Now, I thought I could run thirteen miles… in a row! Seriously?!

The novelty of training for this is gone. This is hard! That being said, I set a goal and I am going to accomplish it. I don’t care if what I have to walk. I know there will be tears when I cross the finish line.  I will reflect and complete the process again at the Newport Half Marathon in October. This experience will become another reminder that I can do anything I set my mind to! That still doesn’t mean that I have to love every minute of it!