Pushing Through

First, go check out my guest post on my pal Katie’s blog, Skinny Minnie Moves! If you want to know how to get super fit through weightlifting, she’s your girl. I obviously wrote about running because I know nothing about weight lifting.

Second, if you make it all the way through this post, I have a surprise for you at the end!

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Sneak peak!

I’ve had a really good few days since I last posted. I think I’m starting to get into the swing of things with my new schedule, and I’m terribly impressed with how productive I’ve been this weekend. It probably didn’t hurt that AJ has been out of town since Thursday night, but nonetheless, I’m pleased. A brief recap:

I ended up staying at work an hour and a half late on Friday, long after my boss had left, so I could finish something up I had promised him. I definitely didn’t expect to be working late on my first Friday at the new job, but it is what it is, and I liked what I was working on. I ended up writing a proposal and an entire report this week plus some other stuff, and my boss was thrilled with what I gave him – a huge relief since I had pretty limited experience with the type of proposal I was writing. I went home and made dinner and then went to bed early in preparation for Saturday’s long run! I was determined not to skip it after last week.

Of course, waking up on Saturday morning I had instant feelings of regret. I may need to think my workout schedule because my legs are just brutalized by the time Saturday morning rolls around. They actually feel worse Saturday after taking a rest day on Friday than they do on Friday after working out the whole week, so I’ll need to work on that. Fortunately or unfortunately (since his presence forced me out the door), my friend Chuck had agreed to meet me and run my whole 16 miles with me for God knows what reason. It was my first time running with my group since getting back from Tulsa, and as excited as I was to see everyone, I was not excited about the stifling humidity outside. I wasn’t feeling great after 10 – pretty dizzy and weak, thanks to the absolutely profuse amount of sweat dripping off my body (seriously, I was the sweatiest person in our group). We had looped back to our cars at that point, and I gave serious consideration to just going home and finishing the other 6 miles later in the day after I had rehydrated a bit.

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And I hate looking at pictures of myself, so this should give you a good perspective on where my head was.

Ultimately, I decided to keep going. I’m not really sure why – possibly the swarm of gnats buzzing around that made me want to run away – most likely because I knew deep down there was a limited chance of me heading back out the door by myself a few hours later. So Chuck and I waved goodbye to everyone else (who had been much more sensible and quit at 7 or 10) and headed back out. It was mostly fine until 12.8 miles, when I just could not run anymore. I was way too dizzy and weak and felt like absolute crap, but we had to get back to the cars, and I’ll be damned if I wasn’t putting 16 miles on my legs that day, so that’s what we did. I can’t decide if it was the right decision or not, but it’s done now. I didn’t feel right the rest of the day and actually ate my lunch sitting on the kitchen floor because I was too tired to walk the 10 feet to the table. Then I watched hours of bad reality television and Criminal Minds and succeeded in scaring myself to death – smart idea when I was home alone, no?

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It’s really unfortunate that I find crime shows so fascinating when I am the most easily frightened person alive.

Today, I was an epic tornado of productivity! I wrote a guest post (I have the hardest time with those because I never have ideas)! I worked on Ramblen! I cleaned (I do not clean)! I did dishes (AJ always does the dishes)! I did all the laundry, including the comforter (I hate washing the comforter)! I went grocery shopping and bought PRODUCE like a mfing adult. I made all of AJ’s lunches for the week and mine. I made dinner. I planned out all the meals for the week. And I also tricked Chuck into riding two loops around Fort Jackson with me for a total of 24 of the hilliest, most brutal miles I’ve ever ridden. So actually, he probably tricked me, because I was all “Hey, want to ride tomorrow?” and he was all “Yeah totally, let’s meet at the Fort” and I was all “OK, that sounds like fun!” and then he probably cackled to himself because I had no idea what I was in for and good Lord, those are some big, nonstop hills. But, I did them, and I’m proud of myself. And now I’m continuing the productivity by writing this post! Look at me go!

I also have a new favorite song. Hearing this just put a huge smile on my face all weekend. While I might not ever have this much body confidence, it’s nice to hear from someone who does!

Ok, now your reward for making it through this post! After I mentioned last week about eating a Kind bar before my long run, one of my lovely readers (who works for Kind) contacted me and said she would send me some goodies since I love the brand so much! Well, I was completely overwhelmed when three HUGE boxes of Kind snacks ended up on my doorstep last week. It only seemed fair that I would share some of that great stuff with y’all, too! So I’m having a little giveaway to say thanks for sticking with me.. You’ll get: two packages of granola, a 12-pack box of Kind bars, and some other fun surprises!

 
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Giveaway Winners, Coupon Code and a Life Update!

Thank you all SO much for your amazing enthusiasm over my giveaway with Qore Performance! I’m happy to announce that the winners are Melissa and Conni, and they have been notified via email. But I have good news for you too!

Qore Peformance is offering a coupon code since so many of you wanted to buy the shorts! Use code “staycooltrex” to get 20% off through next Wednesday (8/19), and 10% off through the end of the summer! This is HUGE so take advantage of it while it lasts!

In other news, I started my new job this week! It’s certainly been a whirlwind. I think when you’re an adult, you kind of think of your first day at a new job like the first day of school. There will be a lot of annoying paperwork, some lectures, maybe a few meetings, but at the end of the day, you won’t really do anything of substance. Well, that was not the case for me! I think they had been looking for someone for so long that they had a ton of work that had piled up, so it all got dumped on my desk within an hour of my arrival on Monday morning. Whoa.

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I mean, WHOA

Any time I have started a new job, no matter how qualified I am for it, I have been terrified and felt inadequate. I think a lot of people feel that way. So when my boss asked me to write my first proposal before the clock had even struck 9 am, I was a little unnerved. That said, it was quickly evident that there was way too much work to be done to dwell on whether or not I could do it, so I just got to work. Admittedly, it’s an interesting adjustment heading back to an office after a year of making my own schedule. The Columbia branch of the company only has 3 people in the office including me, with everyone else spread out throughout the state. I have my own (big) office, but nothing in it, so I need to work on that. It’s nice and quiet, and I’ve been working on getting into a routine.

So far, I’ve been waking up at 5 am most days so I can head to a class (either at the gym or at barre). I shower and get to work by 7:30 and leave sometime between 4:30 and 5. I’ve started doing yoga at lunch since I bring my lunch to work and have room to stretch out in my office, which I think is a rather efficient use of time since I generally hate taking the time to stretch. Every day after work this week I’ve headed out for either a run or a bike ride since Amanda is in town for work and I want to make the most of things while she’s here!

Please forgive me for being potentially a little sparse in the blogging/response department for the next week or so. I’m just trying to survive at this point!

And now, a serious question: Do you have a heart rate monitor? What kind? Do you love it or hate it?

And now, a not serious question: Does everyone get nervous on the first day of work or am I the only person who gets worked up about such things?

I Skipped My Long Run

I skipped my long run this weekend. But first, if you haven’t entered my awesome giveaway from Qore Performance yet, DO IT NOW!!

I started out with great intentions. First, I was going to run on Friday morning, since I knew I had to leave fairly early on Saturday to drive down to Kate’s wedding. That plan was screwed up when I found out that I needed to go into my new job for a few hours for a conference call right in the middle of what would have been my run, so I decided to make Friday a rest day and go Saturday instead, even though I knew I’d be very tight on time. Of course, my legs were killing me (sore from a week of tough two-a-day workouts) and it was pouring rain, so I decided to give my legs another day to rest and figured I’d be less stressed running Sunday morning instead.

When I woke up this morning, I was exhausted and I really didn’t want to run, but I got up. I put my clothes on, strapped on the ol’ Garmin, ate a Kind bar, and headed out the door. With thunderstorms off and on, it wasn’t ideal, but I was determined anyway. Then I stepped outside. As I waited for my Garmin to find its stupid satellites, I thought “No.” I just did not want to go out there. Usually I can convince myself that a few miles will be fun and then I end up doing more, but today, I just didn’t have it in me. My legs still don’t feel right, I’m exhausted, and my stomach is in shambles, as it has been for the past few days. So, I went back inside, put my pajamas back on, and went back to sleep.

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I know, I KNOW.

I can’t decide how I feel about it.

Part of me thinks it’s not a big deal since it’s definitely not the norm. I don’t tend to skip my runs or workouts regularly. We hear a lot that running should be fun or there is no point in doing it, but today, I knew it wouldn’t be fun. I was sore, my stomach was upset, and it wasn’t a good situation all around.

The other part of me wonders if all of that is a cop-out and I should have just pushed through. After all, there will be a point during the marathon when I want to stop, right? Not everything in life can be fun – sometimes we just have to do it. In theory, I agree with that, but for some reason I just don’t feel bad about skipping this run. AJ will be out of town next weekend, so I can devote my whole Saturday to the 16 miles I have planned. I’ll have time to run with my group and not worry about other obligations, and hopefully my stomach will be feeling better by then.

To stop myself from completely slacking off, I decided to punish myself with a few hours of group fitness classes in the gym. I started out with Zumba, which is basically my idea of fitness hell because I am so atrociously uncoordinated at it. I get a good workout, but I feel so ridiculous the whole time that it’s hard to enjoy it. And why is there always that one person at Zumba that is a freaking professional dancer and does all the moves THIS BIG and knows the entire routine without flinching? I spend half the class distracted by how this person can possibly be good at Zumba and forget to workout. I then did Bodypump, which I generally enjoy but which was really hard today. Also, the instructor could not stay on the beat of the song for the life of him and I kept getting distracted by  that. Hmm, I am sensing a theme…perhaps I am the problem. Nonetheless, I followed that up with Bodyflow, which was a new class for me and basically the most confusing thing of my life. “Yoga/pilates/tai-chi set to Top 40 hits? What? Oww oww oww my legs don’t bend like that owwww!” That pretty much sums it up. In short, I’ve learned my lesson and I won’t be skipping my long runs again for the foreseeable future.

LEAVE A COMMENT: Did you do your long run this weekend? Do you ever skip workouts?

I Put Ice Packs Down My Pants and It Was Awesome

The title means exactly what it says. I recently put ice packs down my compression shorts while running, and it was awesome.

Let’s back up.

One of my best friends from high school had been posting some articles recently about a new company he is involved with called Qore Performance. The company designs compression shorts and sleeves with built-in pockets that are designed to hold cooling packs or hot packs (like those instant hand warmers), depending on the weather. The guys that founded the company are golfers who were looking for a way to keep cool on the course during the summer, and they struck upon the idea of placing packs at strategic locations along the body’s main arteries that would help cool your core temperature.

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Qore Performance shorts with packs inserted

The reviews for the product are already amazing, but they have a very specific application – golf. As I read them, I decided to text him to see if the company was interested in testing out the applications of their product for sports like running and cycling. To be honest, I just really was dying for something - anything - that would give me a respite from the summer heat. None of the guys in the company are runners or cyclists, so they agreed to let me test out the shorts and sleeve to see what I thought and if there are any potential uses for their product in the more active sports.

To start, the shorts are insanely comfortable. Instead of making them out of polyester blend like most moisture-wicking fabrics, they’re made of nylon. The shorts have mesh paneling along the femoral arteries and crotch, which helps keep things delightfully cool, shall we say. The 7-inch inseam length is appropriate for wearing under baggier shorts or alone, and there are no worries about chafing! Qore is working on producing shorter inseams soon for those who prefer less coverage. The rechargeable packs can be cooled by dunking them in cold water (they freeze at 58 degrees) or freezing them – I chose the latter, figuring it was the only way to beat the Oklahoma heat!

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Close up on the mesh panels (with an appearance from Headsweats)

I took the shorts for multiple runs of varied lengths both with and without the packs. On shorter runs (45 minutes or less), they are golden! The packs stay nice and cold and you can truly feel the cooling effect. Does that mean I was cold during my runs? Um, no. It was 90 degrees with 80% humidity. There’s only so much these things can do. But those packs did give me cool spots to focus on that definitely improved my performance. Was it a coincidence that my first runs in the shorts were the fastest I had done since surgery? Maybe, but I don’t think so. That being said, for long runs, it is a bit tedious to recharge and replace the packs, so it’s probably best for workouts under an hour. The good news is that the shorts are so comfortable (and the mesh paneling so cooling in itself) that you can wear them by themselves and still have a great experience!

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Because the internet can never have too many pictures of me in compression gear…ugh

These shorts are a game changer for me. I seriously want to wear them every day (Scott, send me more!!) even without the packs. The packs themselves don’t cause any chafing and they soften as they melt, so there is no discomfort or restricted motion. I can only imagine how awesome they’ll be when the weather is warm but not boiling!

I also tested out the arm sleeve, which features a space for one pack along the brachial artery. I didn’t think the shorts would be great to bike in, so I tested out the sleeve. Generally speaking, I hate arm sleeves, which is part of the reason I never carry my phone when I run – they’re too hot! Made from the same material as the shorts, though, this sleeve is cool and comfortable. I rode for about an hour, and although the effects of the pack wore off in about 45 minutes, I could definitely tell a difference! It would be effective on the run or bike, depending on which you prefer and what type of gear you like to wear.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Qore Performance gear will help you work out for longer while feeling more refreshed than usual. Will you still be hot if it is 95 degrees outside? Yes, obviously. It is not an ice bath. If you’re looking for comfortable, moisture-wicking, light weight gear that can help you stay cool in the summer with or without the use of ice packs and warm in the winter with the addition of heat packs, this is your product!

I’m giving away one pair of Qore Performance Shorts and one arm sleeve! Enter below now or I will keep them for myself.

 
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Disclosure: I was sent the Qore Performance Compression Shorts and Arm Sleeve for free in exchange for my review. All opinions and effusive compliments are my own.

Things Are Looking Up

Well, I had quite the busy week last week! After what has been quite a lot of stress recently, it seems like things might finally be starting to fall into place. I’ve held off from talking about it until it all came to fruition, but now I can!

1. The Job - I got back to South Carolina a week ago. Ultimately, it didn’t make sense for me to stay in Tulsa and be away from AJ if I didn’t have a job out there. I decided I would head back home and continue applying for jobs in both South Carolina and Oklahoma to see what sticks. As sad as I was to leave Tulsa behind (and I really was – God bless those miles and miles of wonderful trails), it has been nice to be home. My main reason for coming home that particular weekend was that I had a job interview this past Tuesday that I needed to be home for! I had spoken with the company on the phone and thought the position and opportunity sounded really promising, so I was excited about the possibility. Sure enough, I was offered the job the same day as the interview, and after spending a day negotiating terms, I accepted! I’ll be doing work that I genuinely enjoy (lots of writing, of course) at a great, growing company that is small enough that I’ll be able to make a real impact. Even better, it’s a step forward in my career, and they were comfortable with me continuing to work on Ramblen on the side! Wins all the way around! I start August 11th.

2. A Great Run - Last week, I had a run where everything just clicked. I ran 5 miles and averaged under 9:00/mile, including one 1/4 mile walk break, and my last mile was 8:13! That’s probably my fastest mile of 2014. I was absolutely ecstatic, and even better, I allowed myself to just revel in the moment rather than thinking “So what, you used to run half marathons at a much faster pace than you did those 5 miles!” Ok, fine, I did think that, but I quickly pushed it out of my mind and decided to just be proud of myself. Of course, my next run was pretty crappy, but I had one good one. That means there will be more good ones! And I also did my long run in the pouring rain by myself this week – score one for mental toughness!

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#rainselfie

3. A New Car – This started out as a bad thing, as I certainly was not planning on getting another car this week! I absolutely loved my truck (Dodge Ram) but I started to have more and more problems with it. It wasn’t anything earth shattering - another new set of tires, a motor in the door that broke, faulty tire pressure monitoring system, and a bunch of other things – but they all needed to be fixed, and the costs were quickly adding up. I had a lot of miles on that truck, and the thought of starting a new job and constantly taking it to the shop and having to work around that was really stressing me out. I decided to go look at new-to-me cars and seeing if I could get a great deal. Interesting fact about me: there is almost nothing that gives me greater joy than negotiating for anything, but especially cars. I basically live for it. I love the research, the conversations, the back and forth – all of it.  Long story short, I worked out an incredible deal on my dream car (Jeep Grand Cherokee) with no increased financial stress on my end!

Awkward story: after I signed the paperwork, the salesman asked if he could take my picture with the car so he could put it on the dealership’s social media accounts. I said yes and didn’t bother asking him to send the picture since I figured I could get it off social media. So I went back and checked all their social media accounts….yeah, they have never once posted a picture of a customer with their new car. I’m feeling a little violated.

4. Wedding Stuff – I’ll be the first to admit that wedding planning is not exactly my favorite activity, but it’s a necessary evil. That said, AJ and I decided to really sit down and look at what we wanted out of the day. We decided we wanted something relatively small – 50 -60 people, with an outdoor ceremony, a casual reception, and a focus on all the stuff we think is important (food, alcohol, fun) and none of the stuff we don’t care about (table linens, dancing, extraneous flowers). This weekend, we made huge strides towards getting everything planned out and booked, and we are so excited!  The wedding will be April 11, 2015!

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Why yes, our wedding reception IS at a brewery, thankyouverymuch.

Overall, things are definitely looking up! I’ve got a great giveaway coming up on the blog this week, so stay tuned!

LEAVE A COMMENT: How was your weekend?

The Plan for Fall

I’ve been thinking a lot about how I want to approach the fall marathon season and about what, if anything, I want to train for. It’s been hard to know exactly where to set my sights since I haven’t known what my back would be able to handle. While in Tulsa, I drank the Dom-N-8rz (Patty’s running group) Kool-Aid. Because she has been injured for awhile as well, it actually really helped me to feel more optimistic about fall races. I guess running with someone else who is hurt made me feel like I wasn’t as far behind. As I’ve been building up my mileage, I’ve had pretty great results – not necessarily with my tremendous endurance, because I certainly don’t have that back quite yet – but in terms of my back cooperating with the process, I really couldn’t ask for more. After a great 14 miles this past weekend, I’ve laid out a plan for how to proceed in the fall and I’m finally ready to share it! Watch everything go to shit now.

Training

I’ve decided that this training session will just be base building. No speed work, no hill work, nothing crazy. Just lots of easy miles and getting my groove back. I will be sticking to a run-walk plan for my long runs for the foreseeable future, as it’s working really well so far and I don’t want to push my luck. After my fall marathon is over, I’ll start easing back into the harder runs. I’m going to stick with the 3 times per week plan for now and supplement with lots of cycling and other cross training to keep my fitness up. Why mess with a good thing? Plus, it’s just really hot and running in the summer kind of sucks, let’s be honest.

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I don’t know what my excuse is.

September 6 – Bird-in-Hand Half Marathon, Bird-in-Hand, PA

I’m out of control excited for the Bird-In-Hand Half Marathon. Running with the Amish? Are you kidding me? Um, I absolutely signed up on the first day registration opened…last October. I wish I was kidding. My mom and I will be driving up to Pennsylvania and I’ll be running the half with JC! I have no time goals for this race, but I’d like to run the entire thing except for walking through the water stops. I think that is viable, and mostly I just want to have fun! I mean, that is pretty much always the case, but you know what I mean. In my long runs over the month of August, I’ll be focusing on stringing together longer running segments and fewer walk breaks to build my endurance and get my body used to running for extended periods of time.

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I’m going to become best friends with every Amish person since I obviously won’t be blinding them with my speed like this guy. (Image from Lancaster Online)

October 12 – Prairie Fire Marathon, Wichita, KS

After waffling back and forth on whether I would be ready for Prairie Fire, I felt a lot more confident this week after finishing 14 miles. I definitely felt like I could have kept running. Although we were doing run/walk intervals, I’m ok with that – I often walk parts of marathons anyway, especially at the end, so why not actually train for that and follow my program? I’d like to do 1 mile running and 1/4 mile walking, so I’d end up running over 20 miles of the race. I feel good about that, especially in terms of keeping myself healthy. Since I’ll only be able to do 4 or fewer marathons per year now, I need to be strategic about which ones I do, meaning no marathons in states I’ve already done. The Dom-N-8rz are all headed to Prairie Fire, and Patty and I will be running the race together since we’re both in the same boat. I haven’t run a marathon in the state of Kansas yet, so this seems like an ideal race to slate as my comeback.

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Pretty sure this is what me and Patty will look like during Prairie Fire. More or less.

I’m feeling really good about my fall training schedule and races. It isn’t necessarily the traditional plan, but I think it is what is best for my body and my mind. Of course, my health is my priority, so if I start having any pain as the long runs get longer, I’ll definitely pull back. We’ll see what happens!

LEAVE A COMMENT: What are your fall racing plans?

Life With Ed, Part 8: When You Try to Lose Weight The Normal Way

Disclaimer: This is a series of posts about my experiences with anorexia and bulimia.  Many of the things I discuss could be extremely triggering if you are dealing with an eating disorder, so please read at your own risk. I am not an doctor or a therapist. I am simply telling you my story.

Thankfully, it’s been awhile since I’ve written a Life With Ed post. I’m happy to report that I’ve made a lot of progress in my recovery, particularly in the realm of my actions. I’ve mentioned previously that the key for me in the early steps of my recovery was learning to control my actions first and then my thoughts later, because the actions were a lot more manageable. So, I’m happy to say that I have not purged since February 17, 2013, the day before my stomach surgery (hey, one for the road, you know?)! I never thought I would be able to say something like that.

That being said, I’ve also touched on the fact that I’ve gained some weight since my back surgery that I’m not happy with. While it was only about 8-10 pounds, that’s a lot for me, and it put me at the highest weight I’ve ever been, which sent alarm bells off in my head and nearly triggered a jump into the deep end. It wasn’t only the weight that was worrying me – it was the age-old battle of how to eat, diet, work out, etc. in moderation without triggering a relapse. Historically, I’ve only been able to maintain recovery if I don’t count calories or track my exercise. I get too competitive and freaked out if I keep track, so I generally just run based on my training plan and eat based on what I feel like eating and hope for the best. It always evens out one way or another.

So what to do when you’re a recovering anorexic/bulimic who wants to lose weight without triggering a relapse?

Well, I wish I could answer that question, but I can’t. I’ve never done it successfully.  I can only tell you about my experience and what I’ve been doing so far. To start, there was clearly an issue with how much I was eating versus how much I was exercising. Calories in vs calories out – basic math, right? So I started tracking what I’m eating using My Fitness Pal, which is a free app and website. At first, it was so challenging for me to get my calories where they need to be because I was used to eating as much as I wanted and drinking tons of beer. Plus, I wasn’t able to exercise very much at that point, so it was hard to “earn” any extra calories with exercise.

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Oh hello, evil eating disorder brain

Let me stop right there. One of my big challenges right now is struggling with the mentality of “earning” my food. I feel terrible about eating on the days when I don’t exercise. So I always exercise. I’ve been working out an insane amount to try and lose weight and not feel bad about what I’m eating. Even though I’m making the healthy choices, I still feel like I don’t deserve them. Yes, I know my body needs fuel, and yes, I know that I have to eat enough to prevent injury and make progress in my training, but that still doesn’t change my thought process before every meal. It’s always a battle. Last week, I forced myself to take a rest day on Friday in preparation for my long run on Saturday because my body was exhausted, but I was a nervous wreck all day trying to keep my calories down even thought I knew I needed the fuel and that I would make up for any “extra” that I ate during the run the next day. That is stupid. I know it is stupid and I can’t help but feel that way. It’s annoying.

As motivating as apps like My Fitness Pal are for some people, they’re dangerous for me. For example, each day when you complete your food diary, it tells you how much you would weigh in five weeks if you ate like that every day. The problem? On days when I burn a ton of calories (like long runs or days when I bike and do Body Pump) and can’t possibly eat enough to catch up, I see these super-low (to me) numbers on the screen and I think “I can totally do that.” Again, it’s a battle because part of me knows I shouldn’t, but the other part can’t help but be extremely tempted to undereat, overexercise, and see those crazy numbers.

Ultimately, what I’ve realized is that I really am just ready to be back to my normal weight and be done with this. I don’t want to relapse, and I feel like I’m mentally torturing myself every day. That being said, it’s not as simple as saying “well, don’t worry about the scale” because regardless of what the numbers say, I feel like crap when my clothes don’t fit or I’m noticeably bigger anyway. Would I love to tell you that I’m one of those people who loves their body? Sure. Absolutely. Can I say that honestly? No. So far, I’ve been able to eat healthy food and a decent enough quantity to feel like I’m at least doing ok and not taking things too far. I guess I just wish my brain would shut off and let me be in peace, for once. That being said, as much as I’m having a hard time with my thought process, at least I have been able to restrain myself enough to keep my actions in check. That was impossible a year ago, so I have a lot to be proud of! Who knows? Maybe this time next year, my brain will be in check too.

LEAVE A COMMENT: Do you have a hard time with the mental of aspect of losing weight, one way or the other?

Half-Marathon, Maybe? – Moonlight Miles Race Report

This might be the most delayed race report in the history of this blog, so I apologize about that. As you may or may not recall, I signed up for an event called Moonlight Miles a few months ago and did an interview with the race director, who just so happens to be my awesome friend Bethany. My goal when I had my surgery was to be able to complete the 10k (the event has both a half-marathon and a 10k) in some form or fashion, whether it involved walking, running, or crawling across the finish line.

Bethany had kindly invited us to gorgeous Grand Junction, CO to promote Ramblen at the event, and Natalie and I were thrilled to have the opportunity to check out some great running and cycling routes and healthy restaurants while we were there. I’ll spare you the complete run-down of how many types of amazing gluten-free bread I had, but suffice to say there were a lot and I would totally be willing to live in Grand Junction.

The Riverfront Trail is a sight to behold

I really wasn’t sure what to do heading into the race. I knew without question that I could finish the 10k with a solid run/walk combo. However, I’ve also been building up my long run mileage in hopes of a fall marathon, and I had 10 miles on the schedule for that day. My options were to either do the 10k and then turn back around for another 3.8 miles, or do the half-marathon and get some bonus mileage and a medal.

Let’s not pretend for a second like there’s any question about what I picked. Obviously, the half-marathon was the only way to go. My reasoning was as follows:

  1. Out of the 10 miles I needed to finish, I intended to run 8 of them.  If I walked the extra 3 miles, that would not be additional impact on my back, so I wouldn’t be likely to hurt myself.
  2. The course is a double loop, so if I was in any way uncomfortable after the first loop, I could stop.
  3. Medal, duh.
  4. The thought of going back out for another 4 miles after finishing a 10k was entirely unappealing.

Perhaps most importantly, Bethany strives to make her races an amazing and memorable experience for all runners, including the person who finishes last. If there was ever a time to be at the back of the pack, this was it, because I knew there would be plenty of food and fanfare still going on when I was done.

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I wanted one of these stickers SO BAD, but alas, it was not my first half.

Remember when I held a giveaway on the blog for a free entry to the race? Well, the lucky winner was Whitney! She came all the way from New Hampshire and brought her mom and her sister along for a fun girls’ vacation out in Colorado. How cool is that? See, you can’t help but travel when you join Team T-Rex!

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Ice cold cloth for your neck – good idea in theory, bad idea in pictures.

Whitney and I started the race together and ran about a mile before I started my first walk break. My plan was to run a mile and walk a quarter mile, since that’s what I had been doing on my long runs thus far and I wanted to make sure my back didn’t have any issues over the longer distance. Around that time, I saw a woman named Gia who I had met prior to the start. She has been injured and having a rough time training, so we ended up walking together and chatting. I was really worried about run/walking by myself for such a long distance, especially since the race took place at night and I’m not used to running by myself!

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We started just before dark so I tried to get a few pictures of the path

Gia and I had a great time running and walking together. We ended up walking more than I felt like I needed to, but I think it was probably a good idea since they mileage was substantially more than I had planned on doing. I figured it was better to be safe than sorry. Besides, we were having so much fun that I definitely didn’t like the idea of running by myself! The only thing that wasn’t fun were the bugs. Now, when Bethany warned us that there were lots of bugs, I was super panicked about lots of mosquitos. That’s because I live in the South and our main bugs are mosquitos. What she actually meant was gnats! Thousands and thousands of gnats. I ate more than my fair share and tried to keep my head down as much as possible, but it was still pretty gross.

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At least there was a gorgeous Colorado sunset to look at while I choked on bugs!

This race really reminded me why I love running so much. Since I normally always run races with one of my good friends, it’s not as common for me to meet someone out on the course and spend the rest of the time learning their life story. Gia and I had such a blast talking about anything and everything (side note: Why is it that TMI never applies when you’re running? You talk about everything!) and it was great to just enjoy being out there again instead of thinking about how hard running is. It also didn’t hurt that the aid stations and volunteers were FANTASTIC and people were always cheering us on!

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Apples and Nutella at an aid station? I DIE.

And of course, Moonlight Miles got its name for the giant full moon that lit up the skies that night! Watching it rise over the mountains was absolutely spectacular. I’ve never done a night race before, and although I was a little wary at first, it was a lot of fun! It didn’t hurt that I couldn’t see very far in front of me and therefore couldn’t agonize about how far away the mile markers were.

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I assure you, it was much more exciting in person.

My back never hurt throughout the entire race, and when we crossed the finish line 2 hours and 50 minutes after we started, I wasn’t disappointed about my time. I was just happy to have had a wonderful experience, made a new friend, and finished a half marathon, no matter what pace it took. And Bethany’s whole thing about making sure the back of the pack had just as wonderful of a finish line experience as the front? Totally true. There were plenty of freshly grilled hot dogs, veggie dogs, brats, and s’mores for everyone! They even had free beer. Now that’s my kind of party.

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Me and the best race director, Bethany! Can we all please just take a moment to marvel at how tan I look for some unknown reason? When did that happen?

I have to thank Bethany and the Starunner Enterprises staff for an amazing race experience, and of course, my new friend Gia! Like my favorite quote says: “A journey is best measured in friends, rather than in miles.” – Timothy Cahill

 

Training Lately

Oh, running. You elusive, saucy minx. You cruel charlatan.

I’ve been running for a month now. It’s crazy to think that it has been that long! It definitely doesn’t feel like things have changed all that much in a month, although when I look back on it, I know they have. My training routine in the post back-surgery era has changed significantly from what it used to be, and it probably will continue to change going forward. Here’s where I’m at right now.

Before: Running 5 days a week, 35-40 miles/weekly

After: Running 3 days a week, whatever I can manage

One thing I knew for sure was that my running volume would have to change significantly in order to keep my back as healthy as possible. For now, that means running three days a week (Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday) with the possibility of working my way up to 4 eventually. I’m doing run/walk right now and likely will for my long runs for the foreseeable future. This past week, I ran 3.5 miles without stopping to walk, which was by far my longest effort since I started running again. I was so proud of myself that you would have thought I just ran an ultra. Usually, I try to increase the amount I run without walking one day a week. The other day, I do a shorter effort with a walk thrown in. On long run days, I’m currently running a mile and then walking for a couple of minutes, then running again.

I have to say, it’s been more frustrating to get back to running than I thought. I’m struggling a lot with the mental aspect -specifically, I’m constantly comparing what I can do now to what I could do before, which is obviously ridiculous. I can’t seem to help it, though. I do have a great time talking with my friends, and of course I enjoy actually being out there and running again. I guess I just thought that my fitness would come back more quickly than it has. Obviously, I thought that because I am insane, since it makes no sense. The good news is that my leg turnover has stayed decent, so I’m running somewhere between 9:00-9:30 without consciously trying. The bad news is that my cardio system isn’t quite there yet, so I mostly feel like I’m dying. I’m sure I’ll catch up to my legs soon.

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Before: Cycling when I feel like it, maybe once a week

After: Cycling 3 days per week

Oddly enough, I’m a better cyclist than I am a runner despite how much I try to avoid cycling and how much more effort I have historically put into running. Cycling has been a good way for me to work on my cardio and leg turnover without the impact from running, so I’ve made a serious effort to incorporate it into my routine. And you know what? It’s really not as bad as I thought. I’m riding my road bike, which is a more upright position, twice a week and my triathlon bike, which has the aero position (aka kind of hunched over), once a week. The most challenging thing about cycling, particularly in South Carolina, is finding places to ride where I feel safe and where the roads aren’t terrible. Also, the clothing is challenging. I look hideous in it. Those shorts are a joke, right? THE WORST.

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Before: AVOID STRENGTH TRAINING AT ALL COSTS

After: Begrudgingly attend Body Pump classes

I hate strength training. It is the worst. My ex was a personal trainer, so this was a constant source of irritation to him, but I just could never get into it. The burning muscles? The feeling like you’re about to drop hundreds of pounds onto your face? No, thank you. Not my cup of tea. I’ve always known how important strength training is, but I’ve just flat out refused to do it, unless you count yoga as strength training. Unfortunately, I don’t really have that luxury anymore. I’ve been working out in the gym with my physical therapist (to make sure I’m doing exercises that are safe for my back) but I’ve also been attending Body Pump classes at the gym here in Tulsa. While I still mostly hate it, I actually hate the spinning class that Patty does as a warm up (worst idea ever) more, so strength training seems not so bad in comparison. At least the class moves quickly and the instructors are good. I know I’m working hard and I know I’m helping my back, so that’s all that matters, and if that means I have to strength train forever, then so be it. Look for my bulging muscles, coming soon to photos on this blog.

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Before: Ab work? What ab work?

After: Barre classes and 8 minute abs

Ab work is right up there for me with clawing out my own eyeballs. I know so many people who absolutely love it, and I cannot for the life of me understand why. It should not hurt when I laugh. Sadly, it no longer matters what I think of ab work because the health of my lower back depends on some serious core strengthening. I’ve started making a concerted effort to do some type of core work each day, whether that means doing my workout at physical therapy, taking a barre class, or the best 8 minutes of my life as broadcast through YouTube each day.

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What’s that? There’s been a more modern version of 8-Minute Abs made recently? Don’t care. Have you listened to this guy? He is amazing. Even AJ cracks up. And you know what laughter is? An ab workout. Gang, if you don’t know him, get to know him. Then thank me later for your rock hard abs, chiseled by laughter.

So I guess you could say that I’ve gone from someone who hates exercising in general but loves running to someone who tolerates exercise and loves running. I’m proud of the fact that I’m actually doing the smart thing and taking care of myself for once, and it’s nice to be able to change up my routine. Who knows, maybe I’ll even get really crazy and incorporate swimming into the mix eventually? You’re right, that would be ridiculous.

LEAVE A COMMENT: How do you cross-train? Do you enjoy many forms of exercise or just one?

Real Talk

You may have noticed that I’ve been a bit more quiet than usual on the blog lately. It’s not for lack of humiliating things to write about – apparently returning to running is actually, like, really hard - or lack of adventure or anything like that. As much as I don’t necessarily feel like spewing my personal problems all over the blog, since we all get sick of that, I think transparency is really important.

The truth is that I am in the middle of a really rough patch at the moment. As you know, I’ve been out in Oklahoma for the summer working on Ramblen. Natalie and I have gotten a lot accomplished since I’ve been here: we’ve added new content to the site, picked up some new clients, and gotten tremendous exposure in the Tulsa business community. Things are definitely on the upswing, which is great. The problem is that we are running out of money, and while we are bringing on new clients, it is not going to happen quickly enough for me to continue to work on the company full time. As we are trying to save money to build the second phase of our site, it could be a long time before I’ll be able to work on it full time again. So, I need to get a job – and pretty much it needs to be a full time job.

That in itself is theoretically not such a big deal, except that I don’t know where that job will be. The industry I left in Columbia is on a downswing, and there are almost no jobs there right now. There may be some coming up in the future, but there may not. In Tulsa, there is a lot more opportunity, but I own a house in South Carolina, which makes things a little more complicated. And as much as I would love to live here, that can only happen if I get a job here, because it would not make sense for AJ to leave his job and the accompanying security if I’m not financially stable. So I’m applying for jobs in Tulsa and in South Carolina, and I have no idea where I’ll be living or what I’ll be doing, if anything (dear God, let it be something) this fall.

I’ll be honest: the anxiety, the stress of not knowing, is basically killing me. I am terrified that I will end up on a jobless streak that will last months or years. I hate the idea of being a burden on AJ, as I have always provided for myself financially. Add that to the fact that I’m having a hard time coming back to running – news flash, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows when you’ve been out for 6 months and it’s 100 degrees outside – and that I’ve gained weight and I’m spending the summer away from the only person who stands a chance at calming me down (AJ, the world’s most relaxed human), and you pretty much have disaster.

I’m not known for my coping mechanisms. To put it lightly, I suck at coping mechanisms. My current focus right now every day is to make it through the day without doing something insanely stupid. In the past, I haven’t really had that kind of self control, but this time, the silver lining is that I’ve learned over the past 12 years what I can and cannot handle when I’m upset or stressed out. I know that the best thing I can do for myself is basically become a hermit. This may sound counterintuitive to a lot of people since the generally accepted idea is that it helps to talk about your problems. I’m not a person who spends a whole lot of time talking about my emotions or thoughts. I think a lot about how I feel, I just don’t really talk about it. I like to work my problems out in my head and then talk about them once they are resolved. I often find that talking about things, particularly when I’m in the height of dealing with them, makes me feel much worse and much more stressed out.

As such, I’ve been talking to my friends and family as little as humanly possible. I’ve been blogging only when I feel like I have something remotely positive to say, because I don’t want this to turn into some whine-fest. At the same time, this blog is, and should be, a reflection of my life. It’s not always fun, and I think it’s important that I be honest with you all about where I am right now. And right now, I am a hermit.

LEAVE A COMMENT: How do you deal with stress?