My Week of Firsts

For an average week, I experienced quite a few firsts.

Interval training After spending twelve weeks focusing on increasing my distance, I have been focusing on increasing my speed through interval training. The more I read about it, the more confusing it becomes. 4×400? 4×300? It seems like a lot of science and thinking and I am just not there yet. After doing a bit of Google research on interval training, one minute of running followed by one minute of walking seemed easy enough.  My last session before my half-marathon was my first interval session. It wasn’t too bad; I’d run a minute at a pace in the 10’s then walk. My weekday runs with Banjo have been intervals, but the waist leash belt I wear with Banjo did not properly hold my phone, causing it to fall out every time I increased my pace. I was looking forward to getting out on my own Sunday morning to see what I could accomplish.

#sportbrasquad  I got over my fear during Sunday’s interval session. It was 63 degrees when I started my run but quickly moved up to 70. I was pushing myself. I was dripping with sweat and had thrown up in my mouth a few times. There was a beautiful breeze and decided to shed the shirt. I watched the first few cars that passed, waiting for some sort of judging. Nothing happened. It felt so good! My self-consciousness kept me off the main roads, but it felt amazing!

Big, Run-ending Injury So I was feeling like a badass, running fast and feeling strong. I decided to push myself a little more during a downhill interval. Suddenly, I felt like I had been shot in the left calf; my leg just gave out.  I actually had to call Mike to come get me. It was a humbling reminder of how quickly situations can change. I missed church, staying on the couch alternating ice and heat.

My First Massage I have a weird issue with paying for certain things. If I hadn’t messed up my hair more times than I care to admit, I would not pay someone to touch up my roots every four weeks. I hate paying for manicures and pedicures, counting my lifetime pedicures on one hand.  I didn’t even have one before my wedding. After being in a constant state of recovery between half marathon training and weightlifting, Mike offered to buy me a gift certificate for a massage for Mother’s Day. He was upsold to a package that included a facial and massage and scheduled the appointments to run back to back yesterday.  The massage was fantastic! It is so nice to move my shoulders and back and not feel any knots or stiffness. The facial turned into a sales pitch. The esthetician talked my ear off about all the products she was using, how I should use them, and which of the many facial issues I have would be fixed by these elixirs and creams. I was so annoyed throughout the facial that it was not enjoyable. I will still consider the experience a positive one. I started out very self-conscious but actually dozed off towards the end of the ninety-minute massage.

Pictures of Me I Didn’t Hate This one is huge! Usually, I find something wrong with every picture of myself. I hate the picture of Liam and I from the mother-son dance because my upper arm looks fat, reminding me not to wear sleeveless dresses. One of the instructors at Laid-Back Fitness took a video during our Strength class and posted it on Instagram. When I saw myself, I thought about how strong I looked performing kettlebell swings and real pushups. I was swinging a heavy kettlebell and my form looked pretty good during the pushups. I watched the video loop a few times before the epiphany hit: I didn’t think of any negative as I watched the video several times, proving that my focus is moving from skinny to strong. When another video was posted during Saturday’s class, I wished I had adjusted my pants so I didn’t have a muffin but was overall pleased with how strong I looked.

       

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.

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!

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!