Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Wake Up Call

This week has been a time of wake up calls for me. I was not a runner before I got pregnant. In fact, I was 100lbs overweight. Never thought I would admit that in public. Honestly, it hurts to even type that, and I'm so ashamed that I let myself get to that point. I'm almost halfway to my goal weight now, but I've still got a long journey ahead of me. Running has been an integral part of this journey, along with my beloved bootcamp class with Christina Landry at DumBell Fitness. She pushes me and inspires me to do better and be better for myself, and for that I am eternally grateful. She guides me, but I've done the work, and I've put out the blood, sweat, and tears (literally!) to make it happen. I'm proud of what I've accomplished so far, and sometimes it's hard for me to see that big picture.

Today, my baby is 10 months old. Before, the thought of running was so far outside of what I thought I was capable of that I didn't even have the courage to try. Now, just 1o months after giving birth (with my husband being deployed from 6 weeks before A was born until she turned 5 months), I am less than 3 weeks away from running my first half marathon and am planning on running a full marathon in December. How crazy is that???? Thinking about this in terms of my progress, it makes me realize how hard I am on myself most of the time. People (particularly my wonderful and incredibly supportive husband, minus his humor over my sports bra woes) are constantly telling me that I need to cut myself some slack. I'm starting to get what they're saying.

So, here are my wake up calls for the week-

1.) My diet is far from perfect, but it's so much better than it used to be. Do I still eat crap sometimes? Of course. Ok, make that frequently. I'm sure my friend K is chuckling even as she reads this just thinking about the bag of cinnamon bears I practically inhaled on our walk home from the mini-mart the other day. But I'm getting better, and as long as the good outweighs the bad, I think I'm still moving in the right direction.

2.) Yes, I am still slower than your average, um...well, bears are actually pretty fast (have
you ever wanted to try to outrun a bear? Yeah, me either), so we'll go with cow here, but I am a LOT faster than I was when I first started running. I could barely waddle at a snail's pace for 30 seconds at a time when I made my first attempts at running. On Sunday, I ran 9 miles-9!!!-without stopping to walk or dying on the side of the road. I started running when A was a month old, so in 9 months, I went from LITERAL couch potato to 9 miles. Yay me!

3.) I have been VERY lucky as a runner. Aside from a minor sprained ankle back in March, I have been injury free throughout this process. However, Sunday afternoon was a huge,
painful smack in the face that I am not immune from this dreaded visitor. Actually, it was a smack in the hip. everything felt fine the entire run, and even pretty good right after I finished. But by mid-afternoon, my left hip and left lower back had started to twinge and ache a little. By the time I got the kids in bed, I was in excruciating pain. I could barely walk. It hurt to sit, it hurt to stand-it was awful. I took 3 motrin and iced my hip and back before I went to bed. Amazingly, I woke up and the pain was completely gone. Ahhhh, the power of motrin and ice. But talk about a scare. I was nervous about how it would feel after my run today, but it felt great before, during, and after, so I'm cautiously optimistic that it was just a product of my first 9 mile run, and I'm hoping it won't return after my 11 mile run this Sunday. Or ever, for that matter. But it also reminded me that it is practically inevitable, no matter how careful I am, at any point, I could get injured. That's a scary thought.

4.) I am so incredibly lucky to be surrounded by friends who share my newly discovered passion and who are so awesomely supportive of each other. My run this morning was 5.5 miles, and my wonderful friend J was kind enough to come over and watch my heathen so I could run stroller-free for the 3rd straight time. I got a late start though and it was not only hot but CRAZY windy. Even without the stroller, I was feeling the burn from the breeze pushing me back. Just as I hit mile 2 and headed out onto the Bridge, I passed 2 of these amazing friends on their way back, both pushing strollers. Now that's dedication!! Even with that brutal wind, they were both smiling. Nothing gives me a greater boost than cheering each other on as we pass by. I'm telling you, military wives are some
seriously tough Mamas!!!

Those are just a few of the things I've been contemplating this week. Tomorrow, my 2 friends and I are buying our plane tickets to Maui!!!!! As excited as I am to run my first ever half, I'm even more excited to be going with 2 such amazing and supportive friends. They are both strong, caring, wonderful women and I am so proud to call them friends. They have also both overcome some pretty serious injuries on this journey, and their strength is inspiring. Like I said, military wives, Navy in particular;), are some SERIOUSLY tough Mamas, and I cannot WAIT to get a group picture of all three of us at the finish line!!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Brutal Truths

The Maui half marathon is 4 weeks from today!!! I cannot believe how fast the time is flying by, at least as far as training has gone. I've had some really great runs in the past 2 weeks, and some really BAD ones too. I've also broken my own cardinal rule and strayed from the training plan (oops!). Last Tuesday I ran a last minute 5k race instead of running my scheduled 4.5 miles on Wednesday. I know it was shorter, but I ran it significantly faster than my usual pace. I actually set my personal best 5k time! And I didn't come in last! I beat 6 people-Hooray! But then this week, on Friday, I was supposed to do another 4.5 but I only did 1.3. I had the double jogger and it was insanely windy, my ipod was dead but I didn't know that until I hit play when I started running, and I was tired. Not so much physically, but mentally. As I'm learning, training isn't just physical. It takes a lot of mental work to train for a race. I have to plan my days, my meals, my wake-up and bedtimes-everything-around my training. With my husband deployed, I have to arrange a sitter for my kids on the morning of my long run each week. When I up my mileage, I have to plan new routes. It's a lot tougher mentally than I thought it would be, so I'm cutting myself some slack and writing off Friday as a mental health day. I was back out today for my 8 mile run, and while it wasn't the best run I've ever had, it is the longest so far, and it felt pretty damn good.

Running in general, and this training in particular, is forcing me to be brutally honest with myself. Which is a good thing. I think. Mostly. When I say brutal, I mean kick-in-the-teeth, no-holds-barred
brutal. If I didn't drink enough water or get enough sleep, I'll feel it on my run. If I've been particularly bad diet-wise and eaten fried foods-watch out. I'll be paying for that on my run, and probably the rest of the day as well. Hit the wine (or the Captain and Diet Coke, depending on how bad the week was) a little too hard? Yeah, running gets me for that too. Running is an intensely honest assessment of how far my fitness has come as well. Brutal truth? I'm S-L-O-W. Even my personal best 5k time is slow. But on the flip side, I ran 8 miles today. There is no way I could have done that at any other point in my life aside from maybe right after I got out of bootcamp, but I was a lot younger and a hell of a lot thinner then.

Some other brutal truths running has pointed out to me recently? With each mile I add, I WILL have a new spot that chaffs. Bodyglide will fail EPICALLY at some point, in some spot, on any run longer than 6 miles. For some reason, 8 miles feels a lot longer than 7 miles did. Training takes a lot of time and commitment, a lot more than I had anticipated. And finally, it looks like I'll be sacrificing the nail on the second toe on both my feet to the gods of running :( They are both starting to pull away from the skin at the front of the nail. While I knew this was fairly common for runners, I a) don't think of myself as a runner so I didn't think it would happen to me and b) common or not, it is gross and makes me sad.

Honestly though, I love this aspect of running. I can't fake it. I either can do my run that day, or I can't. And at this point, if I can't, it's more than likely because of something I did or didn't do, not because I'm not physically capable of doing it. I've been lucky to avoid any serious injuries so far aside from a rolled ankle back in March, but that is another way of running giving you the brutal truth. If you go too hard, too fast, running will make you pay. It's hard to watch my friends who are injured have to sit out and not run. And it's scary. As hard as running is, as mentally and physically draining as training can be, I can't imagine my life without it. Trying to reach this one goal of running the half marathon (and probably the full Honolulu marathon in December-yes, I am a little bit crazy) is helping me reach a lot of other goals. I'm losing weight. In general, I've got more energy. I'm not quite as stressed out as I used to be and I'm a hell of a lot more focused. All because I can't fake running. I don't want too many of those brutal truths catching up with my slowness all at once though, so I'm going to force myself to get back on track, stick to the training plan, and see where this ride takes me.

*As a footnote,I came across this article on active.com (one of my favorite sites) and, although gross, it's very funny, and it kind of plays into the theme of this post.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

It's all about perspective

After my 6 mile run this morning, I can officially close the book on week 5 of my training. It was another amazing long run. I felt incredible from beginning to end, which is actually pretty unusual for me. I generally spend the first 2 miles of my run trying to settle down and stop thinking about how much it hurts. Today though, even those first miles felt like smooth sailing. It's been a bit of a roller coaster week, with some highs and a VERY definite low. My 4 mile run on Monday was certainly my lowest point, not just this week, but of training so far. I woke up late, my kids slept late, and I really wanted to go back to bed. But, not wanting to deal with the inevitable guilt I would feel later if I skipped my run, I forced myself to just put on my big girl panties and do it. Oh, so unwise. I should have listened to my body telling me it needed a break after a hard lower body strength workout on Thursday, 4 miles with the stroller on Friday, and 5.6 on Sunday. It was one of the worst runs I have ever had. I was miserable from beginning to end. It was insanely windy and pushing the stroller felt like running with my hands braced against a brick wall. For the first time in a long time, I was in a worse mood after a run than I was before. Not a great way to start my day or my week. Lesson learned though. I will be taking Mondays off from now on after my long run on Sunday, and moving my training runs to Wednesday and Friday.

Once I crawled out of my hole of self-pity, my week did improve. I had weigh-ins at bootcamp, which, generally, would fall into the "low point" category, but I lost 7 lbs this month and am feeling quite pleased with myself about it. Now, I understand that, compared to some people, 7 lbs may not sound like much, but it's all about perspective. I could have lost no weight at all. I could have gained like I did the two months prior to July. So, given that information, I'll take my 7lbs and celebrate it, thank you very much.

Perspective is something I like to ponder and quite a bit, and I was thinking about how it applies to my running this morning. I woke up to a cloudy, drizzly kind of day. Normally, that might not be a reason to rejoice. From the perspective of someone about to go out and run 6 miles, however, I was dancing a happy little jig because it meant I would have a nice, cool run without the sun beating down on me the entire time. Hooray for perspective! Then during my run, at around mile 4 when I realized just how good I felt, I started looking back at how my perspective on running has evolved since I first started. In December, running one mile without stopping was a big deal, and I was proud when I accomplished it. By the time I ran my first 5K in February, I was running 3 miles as my daily run, when just 3 months ago that would have been almost impossible for me. I wasn't even thinking of it as a long run anymore. My perspective had changed. Now, my perspective has changed again. While my "long run" this week was 6 miles, it didn't actually feel long to me. Back in January, if you had told me I would be doing a 6 mile run and wanting to go longer, it probably would have made me shoot whatever beverage I was drinking out my nose. Now, I can't imagine NOT doing it. My overall fitness and health has grown in leaps and bounds since then, but, just as importantly, my perspective on running has improved too. What seemed impossible is now normal for me, and I cannot wait to continue increasing my mileage and challenging myself. See? It really is all about perspective!